For assessment committees

Guidelines on the assessment process for the PhD programme in Social Science and Business.


The guidelines below contain information about what is required of an assessment committee when assessing a PhD dissertation at the PhD programme Social Science and Business. These guidelines should be seen as supplementary to the official Guidelines for assessment committees on award of the PhD degree. See link below. Should you have any further questions, please contact either chairman of the PhD field committee Torsten Kolind ( or special consultant Stine Birk Kristensen ( ).

The PhD programme in Social Science and Business

The field committee for Social Science and Business currently consists of Niels Mejlgaard, Allan Gross, Torben Andersen and Torsten Kolind (chair). The field committee are responsible for the PhD programme in Social Science and Business and for the assessment of applicants for PhD fellowships.

The programme has two main objectives. The first is to accommodate projects that span across the entire range of fields covered at BSS. The programme thus includes interdisciplinary projects. There are several cross disciplinary research environments and centres at BSS e.g. the Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy, the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, the National Centre for Register Based Research and the Centre for Teaching and Learning where most of the PhD students on the programme are employed. The programme also accommodates cross disciplinary PhD projects outside the thematic scope of the centres. The second objective is to grant fellowships to PhD students with projects that do not fit within the graduate school’s six field programmes, i.e. projects within fields that are not included as part of the six programmes but fall within the research scope of specific environments at BSS (e.g. the above mentioned centres) and/or projects that for other reasons are relevant and important to the graduate school.

An important criterion for admission to the PhD programme in Social Science and Business is that relevant supervisors are available at BSS to supervise the project.

The assessment takes place (cf. above) with due consideration of the fact that the dissertation is not limited to one field or one academic tradition in particular. The assessment committee should be composed of members whose fields of expertise reflect the PhD dissertation’s focus and field of research.

Responsibilities of the assessment committee, including the chairman

The assessment process is addressed in section 12 of the official guidelines and in a special set of guidelines for assessment committees.

The chairman can assist the other members of the committee in questions regarding travel, attendance and defence procedures (cf. below). The department secretary is responsible for travel and hotel bookings. If an agreement has been made between the research centre and the department, this must be complied with, of course.

Public defence

The defence is addressed in the guidelines section 12.6 and 12.7.

The defence is chaired by the chairman of the field committee or a representative for the chairman. A public defence should generally take 1.5 - 2 hours and no more than 3 hours. Following the welcome by the chair of the field committee or proxy, the candidate proceeds with his or her introductory lecture, which should not exceed 45 minutes. Following the lecture, each of the members of the assessment committee have 25 minutes at their disposal to comment on, ask questions and enter into dialogue with the candidate. The speaking order of the assessment committee may vary, but it must be agreed in advance. In many places it is also customary for the chairman of the assessment committee to initiate the dialogue following the candidate’s lecture with a general assessment of the dissertation (approx. 5 minutes). There may be a short break of 10 - 15 minutes after the candidate’s lecture or after the first opponent has been in dialogue with the candidate. After the defence proceedings are concluded, the assessment committee leave the room to deliberate.

The comments and questions posed during the defence should serve to ensure a fruitful dialogue and discussion with the candidate and should not just be an examination focusing on detailed content from the dissertation. The aim of the defence is also to foster an enriching discussion about the problem area covered by the dissertation, including the methodological challenges and perspectives. It is customary practice that the critical points raised during the defence are related to the points made in the assessment report, so that the candidate is not taken aback by entirely new critical questions.

To avoid overlap, the assessment committee’s comments and questions should be agreed upon in advance.

Practical framework for the defence

The department secretary is in charge of booking the room for the defence, ordering technical assistance and for preparing the approval form that the members of the assessment committee must sign after the defence. Depending on the agreement between the centres (CFR, NCCR, CFA) and the department, the centre secretary may be responsible for announcing the defence both internally and externally through e.g. BSS’ newsletter and printing the dissertation in an agreed number of copies ahead of the defence.

Normally, there will be a lunch ahead of the defence for the members of the assessment committee, principle supervisor and the chairman of the PhD field committee (or representative). Ordering lunch and booking rooms also fall under the department/centre secretary’s area of responsibility. The assessors are invited by the chairman of the assessment committee, and it is also his/her responsibility to lead them to the room where the defence takes place. The chairman should also organise a dinner the night before the defence, if the members are available.

The defence is usually followed by a reception. Usually, this is the department’s responsibility, and the department secretary organises the reception. However, practices may vary depending on which department the PhD student is employed at. This may also fall under a given centre’s area of responsibility.