Organizing your thesis defense

A thesis defense is organized in close collaboration with all those involved in the doctoral program. Students must enter a defense request in ADUM.

Composition of the jury

The jury must have at least four members (and no more than eight), and at least half of them must be professors or have an equivalent level. Half of the jury members must also be leading figures from outside of the institution and the doctoral school, who are chosen for their scientific or professional expertise or their reputation in the relevant field of research.
Gender equality is sought in the jury composition. The rapporteurs should not have taken an active part in the candidate’s research and are required to maintain a critical and objective perspective on the work produced. The thesis supervisor and any other person who participated in supervising the thesis may not take part in the decision.

Role of the thesis supervisor

The thesis supervisor or supervisors are members of the jury. They take part in the discussions and their contribution is essential to ensure that the research they have supervised is properly understood. They can contribute to the discussions leading up to the final decision, but they should not lead the discussions. Although they witness the deliberations, they do not take part in the final decision. When determining the ratio of jury members from inside and outside the university, the thesis supervisor is included in the count.
The supervisor does not sign the deliberation minutes, but signs the defense report. When the defense report refers to deliberations, it must specify that the decision was made by the members of the jury with the exception of the thesis supervisor(s).
The thesis supervisor is included in the list of jury members and also mentioned in the legal deposit.

The president of the jury is elected by the members of the jury before the defense. The president must be a professor or have an equivalent level.
Recommendation: the jury president must attend the thesis defense.

The doctoral student fills in the application form on ADUM.
The authorization to defend a thesis is granted by the head of the institution, with approval of the director of the Doctoral School granted at the request of the thesis supervisor. The thesis supervisor must have previously proposed two external rapporteurs, whose opinion will be decisive.
Once the request has been approved, the doctoral student downloads all the defense documents for the jury from the student’s ADUM profile.

Embargo or confidentiality

The head of the institution may exceptionally waive the requirement for defending the thesis publicly if the thesis content is proven to be confidential (art. 19, decree of May 25, 2016)

What is the difference between embargoed distribution and manuscript confidentiality?

Essentially, the embargo is grounded in literary and artistic property law, and it gives the author time to approach publishers with a view to getting the thesis published.
Confidentiality, on the other hand, is based on the need to protect scientific results, industrial secrets or an innovation, with a view to industrial and commercialization or pending patent registration.

A document requesting confidentiality and/or a defense behind closed doors is available in the doctoral student's space on the ADUM platform. The request, with reasons, must be signed by:

  • The thesis supervisor
  • The doctoral student
  • The head of the institution

The Center for Doctoral Studies also provides Doctoral Schools with a template agreement that can be used to keep the research confidential from jury members, participants or rapporteurs (in the case of a thesis defense held behind closed doors and/or in cases where confidentiality is contractually imposed, notably by an industrial partner).

Video-conference defense

In exceptional cases, the president or director of the institution, after consulting the director of the doctoral school and on the recommendation of the thesis director, may authorize the doctoral student and members of the jury, in whole or in part, to take part in the thesis defense by any means of telecommunication that allows them to be identified and guarantees continuous and simultaneous effective participation in the debates, and confidentiality of the jury's deliberations.
The technical resources implemented must allow debates to be open to the public.
Recommendation: the jury president must attend the thesis defense in person.

The doctoral oath

At the end of the defense and if the degree is awarded, doctoral graduates take an oath, individually, committing to respect the principles and requirements of scientific integrity throughout their professional career, whatever the sector or field of activity.
The doctoral oath relating to scientific integrity is as follows:

“In the presence of my peers.

"While completing my doctorate in [xxx], in my quest for knowledge, I have conducted demanding scientific research, demonstrating intellectual rigor, ethical reflection, and respect for the principles of scientific integrity. As I pursue my professional career, whatever my chosen field, I pledge, to the greatest of my ability, to continue to maintain integrity in my relationship to knowledge, in my methods and in my results."

Defense and deliberation

After the defense

  • The members of the jury sign the minutes of the defense.
  • They write and sign the defense report.
  • The president of the jury completes and signs the jury’s opinion regarding reproduction of the thesis.

After deliberation

The president of the jury sends the following to the doctoral school secretariat:
- The minutes of the defense.
- The defense report

- The jury's opinion regarding reproduction of the thesis specifying the name of the president of the thesis jury (no copying or pasting is accepted for this document).
Find here all the instructions for completing the documents.

These documents must be completed and turned in to the Doctoral School, no later than 15 days after the defense.