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PhD dissertation

The PhD dissertation must document the author’s ability to apply the scientific methods of the field and the author’s contribution to research in the field, and such must correspond to the international standards for PhD degrees awarded in the field. The PhD dissertation may be either

1. a monograph, or

2. a collection of scientific articles including a summary accounting for the relation between the publications and their individual contribution to the complete PhD project.

The monograph as well as the collection of scientific articles must include research contributions which have been published in or are potentially publishable through recognised publishing channels. The number of pages for both publication types depends on the nature and quality of the contents. The monograph is typically 150-300 pages, while a collection of scientific articles must generally consist of three to six papers. 

Part of the dissertation may be written in collaboration with others, e.g. supervisors, but must include entirely independent contributions of major scientific importance. If the dissertation contains co-authored papers or chapters, co-authorship statements identifying the student’s share of contribution must be included. 

The dissertation may be written in Danish or English, and a brief summary in Danish and English must be enclosed. The head of the Graduate School may permit submission of a dissertation written, in part or in whole, in another language than Danish or English. Application for submission of a dissertation in another language must be forwarded to the head of the Graduate School and must be signed by the principal supervisor and the chairman of the relevant field committee. 

Approval of the PhD degree programme

At the end of the enrolment period, the principal supervisor must make a final report on the PhD degree programme, including details on the completion of the individual components listed in the PhD plan. The dissertation may be accepted for assessment only if the PhD degree programme as a whole has been completed in a satisfactory manner. 

If the principal supervisor concludes that the PhD degree programme as a whole has not been completed in a satisfactory manner, the student must be allowed at least two weeks to put forward his/her comments to the supervisor’s statement.

On the basis of the principal supervisor’s statement and the PhD student’s comments hereto (if any) and the progress reports, the head of the Graduate School will then decide whether the PhD degree programme as whole is found to have been completed in a satisfactory manner.

Submission without prior enrolment

Pursuant to the Danish Ministerial Order no 18 of 14 January 2008 on the PhD Course of Study and on the PhD Degree, an institution may accept a PhD dissertation for assessment without prior enrolment. Submission of a PhD dissertation to the Graduate School of Business and Social Sciences requires a specific fee to be paid to cover expenses relating to the assessment of the dissertation and the following public oral defence.

The following procedure may be employed in connection with submission of a dissertation to the Graduate School of Business and Social Sciences without prior enrolment:

  • The dissertation must be submitted to the graduate school together with a statement explaining how the applicant can be said to conform to the requirements of a PhD degree programme as stated in the Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at Danish Universities, including documented proof of activities listed in such statement. The dissertation must also include a statement written by the applicant clarifying whether the dissertation has previously been submitted to any other institution, and if positive to which.
  • The dissertation must initially undergo a general evaluation by the relevant field committee in order to establish whether the dissertation may be accepted for assessment, including whether the applicant may be considered to have obtained qualifications corresponding to a complete PhD degree programme at the Graduate School of Business and Social Sciences.

If the field committee can accept the dissertation for assessment, payment of fee will be arranged and an assessment committee will be set up in accordance with the governing rules and regulations. Hereafter, the standard procedure for assessment of a PhD dissertation and public defence must be followed.

Assessment of PhD dissertation

The setting up of an assessment committee

No later than immediately after submission of PhD dissertation, the dean must appoint an assessment committee consisting of three members. Appointment must be made in accordance with the recommendation drawn up by the field committee.

Members of the assessment committee must be recognised researchers in the relevant field and must be at the rank of full or associate professor. Two of the members must be from external institutions of which at least one must be from outside Denmark, unless this is found undesirable from an academic point of view. For industrial PhD programmes, at least one committee member must have business-relevant research experience within the field in question. The PhD student’s principal supervisor is a non-voting member of the assessment committee.

Immediately after appointment of the assessment committee, the head of the Graduate School must inform the candidate (dissertation author) of the appointment. The candidate must then be allowed one week to present objections to the composition of the assessment committee.  

The role of the assessment committee

The assessment committee must carry out an impartial and qualified assessment of the submitted PhD dissertation. The committee must draw up a recommendation for the Academic Council, which must be forwarded to the dean through the head of the Graduate School. The recommendation must state whether the dissertation, in the present version, in combination with a successful public defence is found to comply with the quality requirements laid down in the PhD Order.

The recommendation must be motivated and may be determined by simple majority of votes in case of disagreement. The recommendation must be suitable for forming the basis of the decision in the Academic Council on award of the PhD degree in accordance with the PhD Order and the Danish Public Administration Act.

Please refer to the ’Guidelines for assessment committees on award of the PhD degree’ for further details on the specific requirements to the recommendation.  

The preliminary assessment

The assessment committee must work out a preliminary written assessment of the dissertation no later than two months after submission. It must appear from the assessment whether the dissertation in the present form is satisfactory for public defence and award of the PhD Degree. Read more about the preliminry assessment in the rules and regulations of the Graduate School of Business and Social Sciences.  

Public defence

The public defence of the PhD dissertation must take place no later than 3 months after submission of the dissertation, unless special circumstances apply. The chairman of the field committee, or a representative for the chairman, will be in charge of the public defence.

The public defence must be conducted as a public lecture of no more than 45 minutes on the topic determined by the assessment committee (in connection with the preliminary assessment of the PhD dissertation). The introductory lecture must be followed by a discussion on the basis of questions presented by the members of the assessment committee, followed by questions from the audience. A public defence should generally take 1.5-2 hours and no more than 3 hours.

The public defence must allow committee members to account for the impact and quality of the dissertation, and the student to present and defend the dissertation. In addition, the defence should also invite others to participate in the discussion.  

Award of the PhD degree

The assessment committee must in immediate continuation of the oral defence decide whether the PhD degree can be awarded and must inform Aarhus University and the author of the PhD dissertation of such decision. The recommendation must include an assessment of the PhD dissertation and of the public defence. The committee’s final recommendation must be announced verbally immediately after the defence session and must be available in writing as soon as possible hereafter.

If the committee’s final recommendation is negative, the Academic Council may decide to allow the PhD dissertation to be re-assessed by a new assessment committee if requested by the candidate within one week after the defence.

The Academic Council can award the PhD degree if at least two members of the assessment committee recommend award of the PhD degree.