PhD assessment

PhD assessment committee

This section contains information about the following elements:

  • Establishing the assessment committee - rules and regulations
  • Information regarding the assessment procedure - including the mandatory template for the assessment
  • A mandatory read for the chairman of the assessment committee
  • Flow chart for the defece
  • Inspiration for the moderator speech manuscript.
  • Download decleration for members of the assessment commitee

Click on the topics below to find the required information,

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    Flowchart PhD defense

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    Information regarding the establishment of an assessment committee

    In connection with PhD dissertations at the Doctoral School in Medicine, Biomedical Science and Technology, the below mentioned standards must be met by the members of the assessment committee.

    • Minimum level equalling Danish associate professor cf. the Ministerial Order no 1039 of August 27. 2013 on the PhD Programme at the Universities and Certain Higher Artistic Educational Institutions – see footnote.
    • Actively publishing within the research area concerning the dissertation, documented through publications in internationally acknowledged journals and conference proceedings with peer-review within the last three years.
    • At least one external member must have experience with PhD assessment and at least one member must have finished a PhD project as main supervisor with a positive assessment.

    The Doctoral School encourages that more than one gender is represented in the assessment committee in line with Aalborg University’s overall strategy for equality and diversity.

    Assigned professors cannot be members of the assessment committee as external members. 

    Diversity in the election of external members is desirable, so that one main supervisor does not repeatedly use the same assessor.

    Concerning competence to act the regular competence to act regulations apply cf. The Act on Public Administration §3-6, pls. see footnote. Special attention must be shown to the following:

    • Members of the assessment committee cannot be in an up-downwards management layer compared to the main supervisor:
    • Example 1: The Head of Department cannot be a member of an assessment committee for a PhD student in his or her own department.
    • Example 2: A section leader cannot be a member of an assessment committee for a PhD student in his or her own section.

    It is not possible to be a member of an assessment committee if there are joint publications with the PhD student.
    If the PhD student or the main supervisor is fully or partly financed or has a sideline occupation at an external company, then assessors from the company in question cannot be used.
    Members of the assessment committee (incl. the internal chairman) and the supervisor(s) should not be too closely related (e.g. close scientific collaboration) - respect the 'arm's length principle' from public administration.

    The following documents must be enclosed when an assessment committee is forwarded to the PhD Board for approval:

    • CV incl. an updated list of publications. The CV must reflect the above mentioned standards.
    • A brief argumentative report if the above mentioned standards are not upheld.
    • Completed check list must be included

    Footnote: cf. The Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme §16 paragraph 2 the members of the assessment committees must be acknowledged scientists within the relevant academic area. Cf. the act on research counselling etc defines acknowledged scientists as "...persons who have been actively engaged in research at a scientific level for a number of years, and who are at a minimum level of associate professor- or senior researcher.

    The danish version of the rules incl. excerpt from the Act on Public Administration.

    In order to ensure that the members of the assessment committee complies with the regulations, the department must apply the checkliste provided below. The list must be enclosed as the front page when forwarding the assessment committee for approval.

    Checklist for submitting an assessment committee.

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    Inspiration for the moderator speech

    This documents presents inspiration for the moderator at a PhD defense - Danish - English

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    Role of the Chairman

    Role of the chairman in assessment committee for PhD thesis

    The assessment committee has three members and the AAU employee is the chairman. The chairman’s task is to ensure that the assessment takes place in accordance with the Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme and the local regulations at the Doctoral School. The chairman is responsible for ensuring that the deadlines are met.

    Deadlines and responsibilities:

    days after the committee has received the thesis: You must contact the external members and outline the tasks ahead, the deadlines and distribute the writing tasks.

    Example: the thesis is composed of 3 papers and one overview. One opponent prepares the first draft of the critique on papers I+II and the other opponent prepares critique on paper III and the overview.

    As chairman it is your task to compose the preliminary assessment based on written material from the opponents. You should follow the template for the preliminary assessment strictly and ensure an equal amount of critique of all papers. The preliminary assessment is a common statement that is signed by all three members.

    Specific guidelines for the preliminary assessment:

    3 weeks before defense date:

    • The chairman submits the preliminary assessment to the Doctoral School signed by all three members of the committee.
    • The assessment committee cannot request any information from the PhD student. Should some material have gone missing or if something is unclear, please contact the Doctoral School.

    The thesis must be assessed in its current form and the preliminary assessment must reflect a thorough reading of the thesis.
    Should a thesis be at a level where it cannot be accepted for defense, the preliminary assessment must clearly state what needs to be corrected in order for it to be accepted for defense. It must also contain a timeframe for the student to implement these changes (according to the Ministerial Order, this must be no less than 3 months).

    When the assessment committee accepts a thesis for defense, the preliminary assessment must not contain any form of contingencies or demands in relation to the thesis and its contents. It is perfectly fine to address weaknesses and shortcomings, but a positive assessment cannot demand any changes. The assessment is an assessment of the submitted thesis and not a review leading to an updated version of the thesis. A new/updated version would require a negative preliminary assessment.
    The conclusion of the preliminary assessment must reflect the general content and attitude found in the assessment.

    Specific guidelines for the final assessment:

    Prior to the oral defense: You are responsible for the preparation of the final assessment. Follow the template for the final assessment strictly. Typically the two opponents expand the sections they

    prepared for the preliminary assessment. It is a common document with no appendices. Do ensure that both opponents accept the final wording.

    • At the day of the defense: Meet with the opponents before the oral session to discuss the actual oral defense. After the defense, a description and conclusion of the oral part is added to the final assessment document. The signed document is handed over to the Department that forwards it to the Doctoral School.
    • After the defense: The Doctoral School processes the final assessment. If changes are needed, the chairman is responsible for revising the document.
    • Academic Council: The Academic Council awards the degree.
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    The assessment process & Template

    Composition of the Assessment Committee

    The assessment committee is composed of three members who must be full professors, full-time associate professors or hold equivalent qualifications. At least two of the members must be external to AAU. The supervisor(s) of the PhD student cannot be member(s) of the committee, but shall take part in the work of the committee in a non-voting capacity.

    The assessment committee is appointed by the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Aalborg University upon endorsement from the PhD Board. Usually one member of the assessment committee is from Aalborg University and this member is normally appointed chairman of the assessment committee.


    Task of the Assessment Committee

    The assessment committee shall submit a recommendation as to whether the PhD student, through the publicly defended thesis, has fulfilled the requirements laid down in the Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities.


    Acceptance of the PhD thesis for public defence

    Within two months after the thesis has been submitted and not later than three weeks prior to the defense the assessment committee is requested to write a preliminary recommendation stating whether the thesis in its preliminary form can be accepted for public defence. The chairman of the assessment committee forwards the preliminary recommendation to the Doctoral School who makes sure that the author receives a copy of the recommendation. If a majority of the members of the assessment committee accept the PhD thesis, the chairman of the assessment committee, the other committee members and the supervisor(s) in co-operation set the date for the public defence of the thesis.

    If the assessment committee cannot accept the thesis for defense in its current form, this must be clearly stated in the preliminary assessment. A timeframe for implementation of the required changes must also be provided. This period must have a duration of no less than three months.

    The PhD defence

    The main supervisor and the department are responsible for handling the practical matters in connection with the defence. This includes booking hotel rooms, announcing of the defence, as well as the recommendation to the Faculties concerning the moderator for the defence. Announcement of the defence and the recommendation for the moderator should be forwarded via the department to the Doctoral School.

    The defence shall take place following the recomendation in the preliminary assessment. This is done no later than three months after the thesis is submitted. Based on the rules in the legislation on inventions, or if special circumstances apply, the institution may decide to postpone the defence.
    Prior to the defence, the moderator, must arrange a meeting with the assessment committee and the supervisor(s). This meeting usually takes place 1-2 hours prior to the defence. At this meeting it shall roughly be agreed how the examination shall proceed. The total examination time (question time) must not exceed 2 hours and the members of the assessment committee and the supervisor(s) shall prioritize their questions in such a way that they confine themselves to this timeframe.
    The PhD student gives a lecture explaining the research work carried out. The duration of the lecture should be approximately 45 minutes.


    The most significant role of the moderator is to ensure that the agreed upon plan (cf. number 2 above) is followed. This includes ensuring that all the members of the assessment committee get the opportunity to ask questions and that the PhD student's time to answer is limited in such a way that the assessment committee can obtain answers to their questions within the time limit.



    Immediately after the public defence the assessment committee shall submit to the department its based on the PhD thesis and the public defence as to whether the PhD degree should be awarded. Afterwards the department forwards the recommendation to the Doctoral School


    The assessment must follow the provided template - instructions are found within the template.

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    Travel re-imbursement

Contact Information


Kroghstræde 1, 2nd floor, Room 3021

9220 Aalborg East

Phone: +45 9940 9638