Review of the thesis and public defence

Submission and review

Doctoral candidates have to submit the final doctoral thesis to the StudiesServiceCenter for the doctoral programme in Social Sciences, both in printed and electronic form (via, in German only). The thesis has to fulfil certain formal requirements. Please note the relevant information sheet (in German only), the instruction sheet for the submission of doctoral theses (in German only) as well as the information regarding copyright and the use of images (in German only) and data protection in the social sciences (in German only). Please check whether the title page of your doctoral thesis fulfils the formal requirements of the University of Vienna.

The thesis is presented to two reviewers. Together with their supervisors, doctoral candidates can propose three experts to act as reviewers (forms SL/D3 and SL/D4 (abstract)). The Studienpräses appoints the reviewers.

Please note that the supervisor of the doctoral thesis MAY NOT be a reviewer. One reviewer should be an external person (external = not a member of the University of Vienna). The second reviewer may be a member of the University of Vienna. Only in special cases, the supervisor can act as a reviewer. In this case, the second reviewer HAS TO BE an external person.

The doctoral candidate has to submit a curriculum vitae and a list of publications of the external reviewer along with the forms SL/D3 and SL/D4. Both internal as well as external reviewers have to be professors, or have a similar adequate position, or be habilitated. Note that the supervisor and the external reviewer may not have regular research-related contact (e.g. joint publications or research projects).

The reviewers have a maximum of four months after the written submission of the thesis to review the thesis and write their report. Only if both reviewers submit a positive report on the thesis, the doctoral candidate can register for the public defence. If a reviewer assesses the thesis negatively, the thesis is handed to an additional reviewer. If he/she assesses the thesis negatively as well, the overall result is negative. In this case, the doctoral candidate has to revise the doctoral thesis before he/she can resubmit it.

Public defence

Following the positive assessment of your doctoral thesis and provided that you have completed all achievements required by the curriculum, you can register for the public defence at the StudiesServiceCenter for the doctoral programme in Social Sciences.

The public defence of your doctoral thesis is the final step in your doctorate. The purpose of the public defence is the oral defence of your written thesis, i.e. your hypothesis, findings and research design, in front of reviewers and the examination committee. Public defences are public events, i.e. an audience may be present. The public defence will be announced in the form of a notice (stating the doctoral candidate, topic of the doctoral thesis, date, venue) at the office of the StudiesServiceCenter for the doctoral programme in Social Sciences and on the website.

The Directorate of Doctoral Studies is responsible for nominating the members of the examination committee. However, you have the right to suggest members for this committee. You have to submit your suggestion for the thesis committee by e-mail to the representative of the respective discipline within the Directorate of Doctoral Studies (DSPL) before scheduling a date for the public defence. The examination committee of a public defence has to comprise at least three persons. Usually, the committee consists of the two reviewers as well as the chair of the examination committee. Your thesis supervisor may act as a member of the examination committee, but does not have to.

Generally, the Director of Studies serves as chairperson, but this role can be delegated if required. All members of the examination committee contribute to the grading of the candidate. If a reviewer cannot attend in person, he/she may select another person holding a habilitation qualification to represent him/her. Upon request, the initial reviewer can attend the public defence by video conference. Only one reviewer may attend the public defence by video conference. The University of Vienna supports the participation of external reviewers in a public defence and allocates a maximum of € 500 per public defence for this purpose to cover travel expenses incurred.

It is your responsibility to contribute to finding a suitable date for the public defence. Please first schedule two to three possible dates in consultation with the reviewers (or their representatives) as well as the representative of the respective discipline within the Directorate of Doctoral Studies (DSPL). Inform Ms. Birgit Muskovich (, Tel.: +43-1-4277-491 21) about the dates you scheduled with the reviewers and the DSPL by submitting the form “Registration for doctoral thesis defence (SL/P4)”.

A public defence lasts about one and a half hours. It starts with your 20-minute presentation. Your presentation must clearly define the thesis project and justify your findings and research design. It is important that you specifically tackle the comments in the reviews and defend your doctoral thesis in the solid academic sense. The colloquium then commences and is usually opened by the person chairing the examination committee. Then the reviewers or their representatives put more in-depth and advanced questions to you.

Following the public defence, each member of the examination committee gives a numerical grade (1–5) on the entire examination. If the members of the committee come to a majority decision, , i.e. the majority of them award the same grade, this grade will be the final grade (e.g. 1, 1, 2 –> majority decision for “excellent”). If each member of the committee gives a different grade, the arithmetic mean will be used to determine the final grade (e.g. 1, 3, 5 –> arithmetic mean 1+3+5=9 divided by 3 = 3). The result of the assessment is a numerical grade.

Following the successful public defence, doctoral candidates are awarded the academic title “Doktor/Doktorin der Philosophie” (doctor of philosophy) by official notice as specified in the curriculum. The doctoral candidate has the opportunity to celebrate the completion of his/her doctoral studies with a graduation ceremony. For further information, please follow the link to the website of the Conference and Event Management service unit.

ViDSS activities: Career Development

ViDSS and the Graduate Centre of the Faculty of Social Sciences offer a range of workshops for early postdocs, for example on grant proposal writing or strategic career development.