Preparing for your PhD defense

For further information

Preparing for your PhD defense

  • What is the purpose of defending my thesis in public?
  • What are the main issues of a thesis defense?
  • How should I prepare the presentation?
  • How can I communicate effectively in these circumstances?
  • What kind of questions may I expect?


“Very reassuring and useful.”


The thesis defense is a major step of your PhD. It is therefore important to prepare it in a careful and methodical way. This workshop gives you the tools, advice and support in order to best prepare this event.

Both the form and content of your presentation will be addressed during this workshop. You will be guided throughout the process, receiving tools and ideas in order to anticipate and prepare questions of the jury. Participants will be offered the opportunity to discuss their experiences and ideas in order to share different points of view and reflections with other PhD students coming from different disciplines.

This workshop gives you the opportunity to test your oral communication skills. You will present a part of your research in 5 minutes and will receive constructive feedback from your peers and the instructor immediately afterwards.

This workshop is open and useful for both PhD students whose defence will be soon (to be well prepared) and for those who will finish later. For the latter, it will provide time for reflection on what is expected from doctoral students and will also give an overview of the different steps you will go through to reach the defence. Furthermore, the communications skills covered during this workshop are necessary in a lot of situations you may encounter (seminars, congress, teaching or competitions).

*** Next session : 13th march 2019 ***

Course objectives:

  • To practice and enhance your presentation skills
  • To determine the content of your presentation
  • To identify the actual stakes of your thesis defense
  • To anticipate and prepare for the questions of the jury


“A strong point was the time dedicated to the participants' presentations and the discussions thereof. It is a real challenge and hence a good practice to present one's thesis in five minutes to colleagues from other backgrounds.The fact that it was a mixed group was also a strong aspect, since it permitted an insight into the different traditions of defense in the respective fields.”



External phd students: 250 CHF
UNIGE phd students: free


In addition to the workshop, it is also possible to organise a mock defense (defense simulation or viva). You will receive feedback on your overall presentation (structure, communication aspects, etc.). You are also encouraged to invite colleagues to attend your mock defense in order to receive feedback on a content level as well. The mock viva can be arranged as a complement to or as a replacement of the workshop.

Send us your request to: formdoc(at)


Please note that our services are free only for the PhD students who are registered at UNIGE.

Wish to participate?
“Gives key points one would not think about.”

PhD student, 2014, Faculty of Arts


Want to organise a mock viva?

background image

PhD students took part in this workshop in 2016-17