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Dissertation and defence

Rules and procedures

Three months before you hand in your dissertation, you and your main supervisor will receive an email from GSNS with practical information about the process. The general rules and procedures for the PhD dissertation and defence are described in Sections 11 and 12 in the GSNS rules & regulations.

Note, in particular:

"If the thesis is composed mainly of manuscripts or papers (regardless of whether the complete texts are included, or they have been edited to form a coherent monograph-like thesis), the thesis must include one or several introductory sections in the student's own words (i.e., not re-using text from papers not solely written by the student) encompassing the following elements (not necessarily in this order):

  • A brief description of the proposed research questions in the papers
  • A summary of the results and an assessment of the applied methodologies
  • A clear description of the student's own contributions to the work, including an outline of the student's role in writing manuscripts or papers included in the thesis
  • A critical review in which the PhD student relates his or her own work to the most state-of-the-art work within the field. The PhD student must also demonstrate that he or she has an up-to-date knowledge hereof and is able to put this knowledge into a broader perspective"

Writing your dissertation

You may use this LaTeX template for your dissertation.

PhD dissertations at Department of Computer Science, AU are often, but not necessarily, structured into two parts:

  • Part I: Overview – your new text, puts your work into a broader perspective
  • Part II: Publications – one chapter for each published paper or manuscript 

It is important that you explain how the sections in Part I are connected to the sections in Part II, and to emphasize any differences between the chapters in Part II and the published papers (e.g., only layout, or any extra material).  If you prefer to reorganize the parts to obtain a more coherent flow, then remember to explain carefully what parts (chapters/sections/paragraphs/figures) come from published papers, and which parts are new. 

When writing the introductory chapters that are intended to put your work into a broader perspective, it can be useful to ask yourself generic questions like these:

  • What are the research challenges you address? Why is it important they are addressed? (Motivate your work also for non-experts!)
  • What common themes tie together your results? Is there a logical order of presenting your results? (Not necessarily chronologically)
  • What is your research methodology, and why is it appropriate? (Importance of this depends on the field)
  • If you have a special focus on the research topics, why? (The reader may be interested in the same topics but with a different focus)
  • What foundation does your work build upon? What work by others does the reader need to know about to be able to understand your results? (In research papers, there’s usually not much space for this)
  • What new knowledge have you produced? (vs. what work have you done?)
  • How do your results and approaches differ from related work by others?
  • Has the state-of-the-art changed over the duration of your work? If so, how has that affected your work?
  • Which questions remain unresolved?
  • What can your results be used for by others (in academia, industry or society)?
  • What future work does your thesis pave the way for?  

Screening of PhD dissertations

All PhD dissertations handed in at the Faculty of Natural Sciences will be screened for plagiarism (and self-plagiarism) using iThenticate. If the system registers duplicate text, this will be checked by the head of the PhD school and the head of the CS PhD programme. If problems regarding plagiarism are detected, you will be notified within two-three weeks after handing in your dissertation. 

To avoid (self-)plagiarism, please read Section 12.3 in the GSNS Rules & Regulations. The library has published some good advice on their website. If you have any specific questions regarding the screening of your dissertation or plagiarism please reach out to your supervisor or Anders Møller, who can advise you.

Most importantly, the contents of Part I (if you choose to structure your dissertation as suggested above) should contain your new text, not material reused from the publications and manuscripts. The purpose of the overview chapters is not to repeat what is in the papers, but to put your work into a broader perspective. If you need to reuse any text, figures, etc., remember that text copied (or paraphrased) from other sources must be clearly marked, and the original source indicated. This includes text copied (or paraphrased) from your own previous work.


The PhD defence begins with a 45 minutes lecture by the student, followed by (typically) 45-60 minutes of discussion between the student and the evaluation committee.

Final version of the dissertation

PhD students often wish to perform minor corrections of the dissertation after a successful defence, for example, to fix typos. If you wish to make such corrections, you need to describe the corrections in detail to the chair of your evaluation committee and get the approval before uploading a new version to PURE. If you can't access PURE you can send the new version as a PDF, together with the approval by the chair, by email to our PhD manager. That version will then be made available online and at the library instead of the one that was handed in before the defence.

Note that this possibility is limited to minor corrections only - considerable revisions are not permitted. Unless other agreements are made, this process must be completed within two weeks after the defence. 

PhD reception

When you have finished your PhD at Computer Science, you may want to organize a small reception for your colleagues, friends, and family. The reception is arranged by you and paid out of your own pocket. The reception usually takes place immediately after the defence.

If you do not want to prepare food yourself, we can recommend ordering food (and don't forget to ask for plates, forks, and spoons) from either Matematisk Kantine or Studenterhusfonden (around 70 DKK/person). Remember to ask for a giro card, as the department will otherwise receive an electronic invoice. 

Wine and champagne glasses can be borrowed from the kitchen (Hopper-229) or coffee room, and must be placed in the dishwasher in the coffee room after the reception.

Most choose to have the reception in the exam room. If the reception is outside normal lunch hours (11:30-13:00) you can book the Hopper coffee room for the reception via the calendar system (5346-242). If the reception is during lunch hours, contact Henriette G. Farup for other options. Note, that Matematisk Kantine will not deliver food, if the reception is in the Nygaard building. Used service from the canteens must be placed in Ada-113 after the reception for pick-up the following day.

Remember to clean up after your reception.

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