The day of the PhD defence


PhD defence ceremonies at Erasmus University Rotterdam take place on Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, only for Erasmus MC, in the Prof. Andries Queridozaal, Eg-370, and on Thursday and Friday, in the Senaatszaal, Erasmus building of the Woudestein complex for all faculties.

Dress code

The following dress code is customary for a defence ceremony:

  • PhD candidate (male): dress suit with a white shirt and white bow tie, black socks and shoes
  • PhD candidate (female): smart clothes in keeping with the nature of the ceremony
  • PhD candidate’s assistants (male): as the PhD candidate
  • PhD candidate’s assistant (female): as the PhD candidate

Waiting room

Approximately thirty minutes before the ceremony, the PhD candidate and his or her assistants are expected in the waiting room. At Woudestein this is Room A1-18 in the Erasmus Building. At the Erasmus MC the waiting room (zweetkamertje) is on the 4th floor of the education center. From here, the PhD candidate (and the assistants) are accompanied to the auditorium by the beadle.


Two colleagues, family members or friends may act as the PhD candidate’s assistants during the defence ceremony. This is a purely ceremonial function.


It is permitted to take photographs during the ceremony, except during the 45-minute question period. If you would like to hire a photographer you can contact Frank van der Panne, T 06 13 21 37 09, E or Chris Gorzeman, T 06 53 556929 E or see www.phdphoto.nlOpens external


In light of the solemn nature of the ceremony, we recommend that you do not take children under the age of 6 to the ceremony.

PhD defence session

After the PhD defence committee and the PhD candidate, accompanied by the beadle, entered the room, the chairperson opens the ceremony and invites the PhD candidate to give an introductory speech. In this speech the PhD candidate is given the opportunity to speak for fifteen minutes about what has been researched, why the research was carried out and what the results of the research are. The purpose of the introductory speech, also known as the ‘layman's speech’, is to explain to the audience what the thesis is about. It is permitted to use audiovisual aids during this speech. Subsequently, the PhD candidate is required to answer questions put forward by the committee. This takes 45 minutes. In general, the order of persons asking questions is: external committee members, internal committee members, supervisors and co-supervisors. When defending the thesis it is customary to use the following terms of address when answering the questions:

  • ‘Sir Rector’ (when announcing the introductory speech to the chairperson)
  • ‘highly learned supervisor’ (when answering a question by the supervisor)
  • ‘highly learned opponent’ (when answering a question by a professor)
  • ‘very learned opponent’ (when answering a question by a committee member who is not a professor)

After 45 minutes of questioning the beadle enters the room and proclaims ‘Hora Est’. This signifies that the person speaking at that moment has to stop. The chairperson adjourns the ceremony and the committee retires for consultation. After the committee returns, the ceremony is re-opened and the PhD candidate receives his or her degree certificate, followed by a ‘laudatio’ (commendation), after which the ceremony is closed. The committee is first to leave the room, accompanied by the beadle. Then the doctor who has just earned his or her PhD – followed by a partner if applicable – and the assistants (paranimfen) are accompanied to the reception area. The PhD defence committee is the first to congratulate them.

Hora Finita

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