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Public defense of the doctoral thesis and PhD degree

When you have met all the formal requirements for postgraduate studies, have completed all your courses and written your thesis, you are ready to publicly defend your thesis. If you are aiming for a Licentiate degree (at the Faculty web) instead, the public defence takes the form of a departmental seminar.

The doctoral thesis is to be a carefully thought-out and reasoned presentation and discussion of a candidate’s own work in relation to the broader research field and can be designed either as a compilation thesis or a monograph.

Compilation theses

PhD theses at the Department of Biology are almost exclusively compilation theses, consisting of attached copies of a number of research articles or manuscripts, along with the actual dissertation, which is a comprehensive summary and synthesis of the individual chapters (Swedish – kappan). The research articles are to be of a quality corresponding to the requirements for publication in recognized academic journals with peer review procedures, and it should be possible to distinguish the doctoral student’s contribution to the work.

It is rarely the case that the research papers in a compilation thesis are solely authored by the doctoral student. For this reason, importance should be attached to the summarising chapter that, on the one hand, gives the doctoral student the opportunity to demonstrate an autonomous and independent intellectual performance and, on the other, enables assessment of the doctoral student’s autonomous and independent contributions.

The summarising chapter should provide an introduction to the papers and place the scientific questions, theories and results achieved into a general context. Therefore, the summarising chapter must be written in a different form from the papers in the thesis and must be read as an independent academic text. The summarising chapter must not contain extensive copying of text, figures and tables from the papers compiled in the thesis.


The monograph consists of a cohesive report including a description of the research assignment, scientific questions and theories, working methods, analysis, results and a discussion. For monographs, it is particularly important that the candidate’s own research is presented in such a way that the methods used, results achieved and conclusions drawn can be understood and assessed.

Demands on the content

The thesis must relate to the learning outcomes of the Higher Education Ordinance, which means the outcomes for both the compilation thesis and the monograph are principally to:

  • demonstrate up-to-date specialized knowledge and a broad and advanced understanding of the research field,
  • demonstrate the ability to place the thesis into a broader theoretical and scientific context,
  • state clear goals of the thesis project and its most important hypotheses and issues,
  • demonstrate familiarity with the methods and analytical tools used within the research field, and an ability to assess and evaluate them,
  • demonstrate an ability to reflect on the importance and limitations of the candidate’s own research,
  • make a significant contribution to the formation of knowledge in the field and identify the need for further knowledge.

The summary is the PhD student's own text and should be written by the doctoral student and not be rewritten by advisors or other faculty. However, the latter may give comments and suggestions. All advisors and the departmental representative should have read the summary before it is submitted for printing, to assure that it is up to standard with the goals and guidelines.

The physical appearance of the thesis is to follow the University’s graphic profile.

  • Instructions and templates for the appearance of the document data sheet are provided on Lund University Library's (UB) web.
  • In connection with the list of the papers included in the thesis, the thesis is also to include a list of the doctoral student’s contributions to the various papers, as well as those of the co-authors. The following sentence is to appear here “All authors in the list of papers have given their consent for the use of their work in the thesis”.
  • The thesis is to be fully paginated (regardless of the pagination of the papers included in the thesis).
  • The summarising introduction is to be written using the Adobe Garamond Pro font or if it includes many symbols, Times New Roman.
  • No designations of divisions or research teams are to appear on the cover or the title page. The only designation allowed is "Department of Biology, Lund University" with no variations.
  • The thesis is given two ISBN numbers according to Lund University's regulations on the central library website.
  • The cover must follow Lund University’s graphic profile as specified in the graphic manual on the Lund University Staff Pages. In order to facilitate this, there are prepared grid templates in Indesign for the cover, available for download from Lund University's image bank (log in with your LUCAT identity). The templates are accompanied by a couple of examples and a description of the different elements in the template that can be useful to look at even if you decide not to use the template itself. Media-Tryck (the printer) also has a number of examples of possible cover designs.

The front cover of the thesis is to:

  • feature the partial seal of the University in the bottom right-hand corner,
  • have the title in a white text box with the stated font including a bronze-coloured line (see the graphic manual),

The back cover of the thesis is to have:

  • a complete University seal in the bottom left-hand corner,
  • an address block in the bottom right-hand corner
  • a list of the papers included in the thesis.

If you have questions concerning the graphic profile, please address them to the graphic profile officers at Lund University or, if they are more general questions on the design of the thesis, to Media-Tryck, the printer.

Media-Tryck can help with the typesetting and design of the thesis if you wish, but in that case, remember to start on this in good time. They have information on printing theses; they also offer a course, “Writing, formatting and delivering a thesis in ready-to-print PDF format” which can be helpful on the road to a completed thesis.

Please note that the rules concerning the appearance of the thesis apply regardless of the printing company used to produce it.

You can find information on how to book a date for the public defence of your thesis and how to register it, on the composition of the examining committee, what is required of the faculty examiner, and other useful details, at the Faculty of Science.

Obtaining an ISBN number for your thesis

The main office of Lund University libraries is responsible for allocating ISBN numbers to doctoral theses.

More information on how to order an ISBN number (at UB's web)

Remember that the Biology Library would also like to have two copies of your printed thesis! They do not receive any of the copies you give to the University Library.

Directors of Postgraduate Studies

Emma Kritzberg

Telephone: +46 46 222 40 79
E-mail: Emma [dot] Kritzberg [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Klas Flärdh

Telephone: +46 46 222 85 84
E-mail: Klas [dot] Flardh [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Biology Doctoral Students Council

BDR – Biology Doctoral Students Council

Graduate research school

The graduate research school in integrative biology on our external website.