Procedure

A summary is given below of the steps in the formal procedure leading to the public defence of your dissertation.

1. PhD candidate

The PhD candidate should contact the professor most appropriate to the field of research to discuss the intended research project and to verify whether the professor in question is prepared to supervise the PhD research. This professor will inform the candidate as quickly as possible in writing whether or not he is willing to act as supervisor, and will submit a copy of his response to the dean of the relevant faculty.


The PhD candidate should check that he meets the statutory academic requirements to take part in the PhD programme. If he does not meet these requirements, he may ask the dean for an exemption from this condition (see 'Admission to the doctoral defence').

As soon as the PhD candidate has received the confirmation from the professor of his willingness to supervise the PhD research, he should ask the dean to appoint the professor in question as supervisor. The form at appendix 2 should be used for this purpose. The candidate should enclose with the form a certified copy of the certificate verifying that he meets the statutory academic requirements, or a request for exemption from this requirement. In this last case, he should also enclose a number of other documents (see 'Admission to the Defence'). Form/appendix 1 should be used for this request.

2. Dean

Once the dean receives the request to appoint a professor as supervisor, he will determine whether the PhD candidate meets the relevant academic requirement. If this requirement is met, or if the candidate has been exempted from this requirement, the dean will appoint as supervisor the professor who has expressed willingness to take on this role and will confirm this in writing to the professor in question, to the PhD candidate and to the Doctorate Board. At the request of the PhD candidate, the dean can appoint a second, or in exceptional cases, a third professor (who may or may not be from within the faculty) as supervisor.

If the PhD candidate does not meet the statutory academic requirement, and is not exempted from this requirement, but has submitted a request for exemption, the dean first has to make a decision on this issue.

3. Supervisor

Within six weeks of being appointed as supervisor, the professor in question will draw up a supervision plan for the PhD candidate, itogether with the candidate, and will sent a copy of this to the dean. The plan should include regular discussions between the supervisor and the candidate, with a written report of each discussion.

If two or three supervisors are appointed, they will agree a division of responsibilities, in discussion with the PhD candidate. This division of tasks will be confirmed in writing and a copy will be sent to the candidate and to the dean.

If he feels itis appropriate and once he has discussed it with the PhD candidate, the supervisor can request the dean to appoint a co-supervisor. The supervisor should first verify that the co-supervisor proposed is prepared to take on this role. The request can be made in any stage of the PhD research.

4. PhD candidate

The PhD candidate will present the manuscript of his dissertation in its entirety or in parts to the supervisor to verify whether the work meets the requirements that have to be met for admission to the PhD defence.

The PhD candidate will modify the manuscsript in line with the changes agreed between himself and the supervisor and will then submit the complete dissertation to the supervisor for approval.

5. Supervisor

If the supervisor believes the manuscript meets the necessary requirements and can therefore serve as evidence of the candidate's competence to carry out independent research, he will approve the manuscript. If a co-supervisor is appointed, the supervisor will not approve the manuscript until he has received the assessment of the co-supervisor.

Within six weeks of the submission of the manuscript to the supervisor, the supervisor will notify the candidate, using form 3, that he has approved the manuscript as a dissertation, or that the manuscript is not approved. He will foward a copy of this notification to the dean.

6. PhD candidate

As soon as possible aafter the manuscript has been approved, the PhD candidate will present to the supervisor a minimun of four propositions relating to the field of the research and a maximum of four propositions on one or more subjects of his own choosing.

7. Supervisor

The supervisor will inform the candidate whether the propositions in his opinion meet the relevant requirements. In the case of a positive response, the supervisor will forward the propositions and his assessment to the dean.

Once the supervisor has approved the manuscript as a dissertation, he will request the dean to appoint a PhD committee. He will include with this request a proposal regarding the composition of the committee, having first verified the willingness of those concerned to accept this role.

The supervisor will include with his request sufficient copies of the dissertation for distribution among the members of the committee.

8. Dean

A maximum of three weeks after receiving the decision of the supervisor to approve the manuscript as a dissertation and being notified of the propositions, the dean will appoint the PhD committee as requested by the supervisor.

9. PhD committee

Within six weeks of receiving the dissertation, the PhD committee will respond in writing indicating whether the PhD candidate's dissertation is considered evidence of his competence to carry out independent research such that he can be admitted to the doctoral defence.

10. Supervisor

The supervisor will immediately convey to the candidate in writing the decision to admit him, or not to admit him, to the defence, using the appropriate form (apparendix 3), with a copy to the dean.

11. Dean

As soon as possible after receiving the copy of the decision of the PhD committee that the candidate can be admitted to the defence, the dean will determine whether the candidate can be admitted to the defence. He will confirm this without delay to the candidate, the supervisor, the beadle and the Doctorate Board, using form/appendix 6 for this purpose.

12. PhD candidate

The PhD candidate will register with the beadle for the defence of the dissertation, using form/appendix 7.

The PhD candidate may only make the necessary copies of the dissertation once the Doctorate Board has approved his admission to the defence and the dean has confirmed this. (See 11).

The preliminary and supplementary material of the dissertation and the propositions may only be reproduced once these have been approved by the dean. The editing of the title page and reverse of the dissertation require the approval of the beadle.

13. Beadle

The beadle will determine the time of the doctoral defence having discussed this with the supervisor, the candidate and the dean. The date of the defence cannot be set until the dean has confirmed that the candidate may be admitted to the defence (see 11).

The wishes of the candidate will be taken into account as far as possible regarding the date of the defence. The beadle will inform the candidate in good time regarding the title page and the reverse of the dissertation.

14. PhD candidate

At least three weeks before the date of the defence, the candidate will deliver ten copies of the dissertation and the propositions to the office of the beadle, for the opposition committee. He will deliver five copies of the dissertation to the the University Library. He will also provide the Library with a digital version of the dissertation, in a format to be determined by the Chief Librarian, for inclusion in the University's institutional repository (IR).

At least three weeks before the date of the defence, the candideate will provide the University with a licence for non-exclusive publication of the dissertation in digital format, if necessary under a temporary embargo. As a prerequisite to this licence, the candidate is required by the Executive Board to sign the standard licence agreement form/appendix 4.

15. Supervisor

The supervisor will provide the dean with a proposal regarding the members of the opposition committee.

16. Dean

The dean will approve the composition of the opposition committee and will confirm this in writing to the PhD candidate, the supervisor and the beadle.

17. PhD candidate

The candidate will defend the dissertation in public, in the presence of the opposition committee.

Last Modified: 11-03-2015