Dissertation & Defense

What should you know?

When you are about to finish your PhD visit the Faculty of Science checklist for all important information you need including a template for your dissertation title page and a fact sheet for the defense.

Also have a look at the UZH Plagiarism-detection software PlagScan-in-a-BOX and its video tutorials and manuals.

How to finish your PhD?

Final approval

1. Figure out the defense date first

Talk to your supervisor about the date of the final submission of your dissertation when planning your defense date. There should be 10-12 weeks between your dissertation submission and your defense date. Make sure your thesis committee members are available at your defense. The defense can take place no sooner than 4 weeks after and must take place within 12 weeks following the online application.

2. Get final approval from your committee members

Before you submit your dissertation, get the final approval from all your thesis committee members.


After final approval through your thesis committee submit your dissertation to your responsible professor. She/he will than start the review process including the expert reports and the circulation round.

Inform coordinator & book room

Once you know your exact defense time and date inform the PhD coordinator and contact the responsible person of your institute to book a room and the apéro.

At EBPI this is Doreen Gilles, the scientific manager.

Complete registration for the defense

1. Online registration

Submit the application form for the defense of the PhD thesis to the Office of Student Affairs of the Faculty of Science.

  • Dissertation as pdf
  • Defense date (no less than 6 and no more than 12 weeks after registration)
  • List of earned ECTS signed by responsible professor
  • List of completed teaching duties signed by responsible professor
  • Students with a non-Swiss Master diploma: Copy of the letter "Gesuch" which you got prior to your immatriculation from the Office of Students Affairs. This letter confirms the completion of any conditions and restrictions to start a PhD at the Faculty of Science.

2. In person registration at Student Affairs Office

In addition to the online registration you have to personally submit a hard copy of the following documents:

  • 2 copies of the title page of your dissertation
  • Copy of an ID or passport

Please check the opening hours of the Office of Student Affairs.

Dissertation review

After successful submission, the responsible faculty member of your PhD committee organizes 1) the expert reports and 2) the circulation of the dissertation in the Faculty of Science.

1. The expert reports

The expert reports must be finished 15 days prior to the defense.

  Role Write an expert report
Responsible faculty member Official/direct supervisor yes
Second faculty member Direct supervisor yes, if official and direct supervisor are not the same person
External expert*

Selected by the committee and contacted by official supervisor

yes, must be external to UZH, not directly invovlved in thesis, not a co-author

*not the same person as the external member of the PhD committee!

2. The circulation round

The responsible faculty member of your PhD committee will submit the dissertation and the expert reports to the circulation round at least 14 days prior to the defense. The circulation round consists of at least five EBPhD Program members with the right to confer a PhD at the Faculty of Science of which:

1) at least two are faculty members of the Faculty of Science MNF and

2) none is on the thesis committee.

It can be enlarged to include external faculty at the discretion of the supervisor. Members of the circulation round may announce objections to the dissertation or the expert reports up until 4 days before the defense. The PhD committee then rules on objections.


The PhD defense consists of a maximally one hour public colloquium on the dissertation as well as a disputation of at most two hours, which is closed to the public. Members of the PhD committee, the dissertation’s reviewers as well as teaching staff with the right to confer PhDs are permitted to take part in the examination at the disputation. At least 3 examiners must be present at the defense and no fewer than 2 must possess the right to confer PhDs at the Faculty of Science (Promotionsrecht).
After finishing the defense, a signed transcript of the proceedings should be conferred to the Office of Student Affairs of the Faculty of Science.

What if I have changes to my dissertation after submission?

There must not be any changes between the online submitted dissertation and the final printed dissertation unless requested. If you still have changes, a printed copy of the final version of your dissertation (plastic binding) needs to be sumitted together with the defense protocol to the Student Affairs Office before the validation process starts.


After successful defense, the responsible faculty member of your PhD committee submits:

  • the signed protocol of your defense
  • all expert reports on your dissertation
  • a list with the circulation round's signature

to the Student Affairs Office. The doctoral degree will be validated by the Committee for Student Affairs for review by the Faculty Assembly.

Submit 4 hard copies within 6 months

Once the Faculty of Science has approved the PhD title, the Vice Dean of Studies determines that your dissertation is ready for print. You must submit 4 hard copies of the approved dissertation to the Central Library within 6 months of the faculty's decision.

Subsequent changes to the content of your dissertation must be approved by the chair of the PhD committee and the Vice Dean of Studies.

Please note that you must remain matriculated at the University of Zurich until the final diploma has been issued. You may only carry the title of doctor (PhD) after having received the Confirmation of PhD Degree.


A graduation ceremony takes place 2-3/year. The Office of Student Affairs will send you an invitation as well as further instructions. Please talk to your supervisor if you will attend or not as she/he will be asked to give a short laudatio.