Skip to content
Home » Departments and Centres » History and Civilization » Rules & Forms » Thesis Preparation and Ph.D. Defence

Thesis Preparation and Ph.D. Defence


Setting up the examining board

When supervisors conclude that the doctoral work progress justifies the establishment of an examining board, they shall propose the composition to the Department. The composition of an examining board for a PhD defence is the responsibility of the Department and then of the Executive Committee. The supervisor proposes the composition of the jury after having consulted with the candidate and, in cases where an external supervisor is involved, with that person. Researchers must not contact potential examining board members directly.

The Board is normally made up of two internal and two external members. The four members should not all be nationals of the same state or be currently employed in the same state. No more than one external member may be appointed from the same institution and at least one of the external members must be a current university professor. The thesis cannot be sent to the Examining Board members before the final approval of the Executive Committee.


Thesis submission

The doctoral dissertation should be a work of independent research. It should reveal the ability to formulate a problem or research question, gather, analyse and interpret source material, demonstrate knowledge of the literature relating to the subject, describe the methods and procedures used, report the results, and display the researcher’s ability to discuss fully and coherently the meaning of the outcome of his/her research. A doctoral dissertation which has been written in the EUI’s PhD programme must be defended at the EUI. 

At the end of the 4th year (or at the latest by the end of the 60th month of registration) the researcher hands in the thesis together with the anti-plagiarism receipt and a 300-word abstract to the Departmental Coordinator. The submission date is the date when the supervisor confirms that the thesis is ready to be sent to the Examining Board. The thesis needs to be defended within 11 month from the date of submission. Normally the defence date is scheduled for 4 months after the submission date. For an overview of the whole procedure see the outline of the PhD defence workflow.

Examining Board reports

The administrative assistant of the supervisor is in charge of the organization of the PhD defence after the submission of the thesis. Each examining board member sends in a report on the thesis within two months after receiving it (within three months if during the summer). The reports are circulated among the examining board members and the PhD candidate only after all four have arrived. If the reports ask for revisions, such revisions have to be carried out within no more than six months. All changes to the thesis have to be recorded in a letter which will be sent to the Examining Board members. No later than one month before the date of the defence the final thesis has to be printed by the print-shop and sent to the Library for public consultation. 

Student status and access to EUI resources after thesis submission

A student status can last up to 60 months. Researchers should submit their final thesis before the end of the 60th month of registration, and no submission will be allowed after the expiry of the said student status.  The thesis counts as submitted only if the supervisor accepts that it is ready to be sent to the Examining Board for defence.  Se article 11.3 of the Academic Rules and Regulations for possible extensions of student status due to extenuating circumstances.

- If researchers submit before the end of their fourth year, they maintain their student status (and fourth year grant payments if applicable) until the 48th month of registration

- If they submit within their fifth year of registration (between month 49 and 60) the student status ends on the date of the submission.  

Researchers are expected to defend their thesis within a maximum period of 11 months after the date of submission. Between the submission and defence dates, researchers are provided with a temporary access to EUI academic facilities and all library resources to facilitate the preparation for their defence. 


Formatting and language revision of theses

The thesis needs to be sent in as one pdf file.

Language correction subsidy

Researchers may be eligible for a subsidy to help with the costs of the language corrections to the thesis. The granting of this subsidy will depend on whether or not candidates were asked to follow language classes when they arrived at the EUI, and whether in fact they followed the classes. For details see the webpage of the Centre for Academic Literacies and Languages.

What the department offers is a contribution, not the full reimbursement of the cost of language revision. The allocation of the language correction subsidy depends on the level of correction needed (as proposed by the supervisor and approved by the Head of Department). This sum will be transferred to the candidates once they provide evidence that they have paid the language corrector.


The day of the defence

Before the defence, the Examining Board shall choose its own chair by consensus. The thesis supervisor and co-supervisor (if any) are precluded from presiding and have no vote. If needed, the Examining Board shall take its decisions by the majority of voting members participating. The chair has a casting vote.

The defence generally lasts a couple of hours, and includes:

- a presentation of the thesis by the candidate lasting approximately 20 minutes
- comments and questions by members of the Examining Board, which must be confined to the candidate’s research topic
- a general discussion

At the end of the discussion the candidate and guests will be asked to leave the room for a few minutes while the examining board deliberates in camera. The jury shall decide on the basis of the thesis submitted and the way the candidate has defended it. A reasoned report on the thesis and its defence shall then be adopted within no more than three months after the defence.

In order for the Academic Service to prepare all relevant documents, PhD researchers who have defended their dissertation should indicate to the administrative assistant in charge in which language(s) they defended and in which language(s) the diploma and the certificates should be issued. The Doctorate of the European University Institute is ungraded, and this fact will be clearly stated on the diploma.

EUI status ceases on the day of the defence, however PhD researchers who have received the EUI doctoral degree can retain some EUI rights by registering as EUI Alumni

Page last updated on 31 July 2023

Go back to top of the page