Dissertation and defense

The doctoral thesis is the central element of all doctoral programs at the University of Vienna. The doctoral thesis proves the ability of the doctoral candidate to conduct independent scientific work on a high academic level. It shows the capability to comprehend and reflect the latest state of art in the field of research and extends this through methodologically founded contributions. 

Due to the differences in scientific customs of the various disciplines there are no strict guidelines concerning length and form of a doctoral thesis. For the humanities the thesis might be written in form of a monograph,  for many other disciplines a cumulative dissertation might be the preferred format. This is a compilation of several articles touching a similar topic. Crucial is to follow the standards of the own discipline, also with regard to the language, in which the thesis is written. The decision how the thesis will look like (language, form) should be discussed with the supervisor. In any case, the doctoral thesis has to comply with the international standards of the discipline.

Final phase of the PhD project

Here we explain the general procedure of the completion process. However, it is necessary to follow the guidelines of the respective SSC and the practical implementation in the departments and institutes.

To complete your dissertation project you have to hand in your thesis at the respective StudyServiceCenter. As of now, the upload of theses for plagiarism check will be done via u:space. Please go to the "Graduation" section and select "Plagiarism check". You will then be guided through the submission process.

Assignment of reviewers

The thesis is presented to two reviewers. Together with the supervisor(s) the doctoral candidate can suggest three experts as reviewers. Please hand in a CV and a publication list of all suggested external reviewers. The appointment of the reviewers however will be done by the Studienpräses.

Please submit the Assignment of your thesis to reviewers (SL/D3) approximately one month before the finalization of your thesis. Within this form, you will suggest together with your supervisor up to three external experts (e.g. no member of the faculty, no co-author of the relevant publications) to become reviewers of your thesis - it makes perfectly sense to get their commitment in advance. In addition you will need both CV and publication record of the potential reviewers, an abstract of your thesis and the forms mentioned below, to be send to the respective SSC Life Sciences/SSC Psychology. 

Two reviewers will get approved by the (Vice-) DSPL upon their match and independence (see above). The same experts usually will be also nominated as examiners for your public defense. In case they are not available for the public defense, you will nominate alternative expert(s).

The reviewers have a maximum of 4 months to review the thesis and write their report. Only if both reviewers submit a positive report on the thesis, the doctoral candidate can register for the public defense ( see section below). If a reviewer assesses the thesis negatively then the thesis is handed to a further reviewer. If this reviewer also assesses the thesis negatively then the overall result is negative and the thesis has to be revised before it can be handed in again. 

NOTE: In case of a blocking request, please also submit the form "Blockage of the doctoral thesis".


With the positive assessment of the doctoral thesis and when all demands of the curriculum have been met, a registration for the public defense is possible with Registration for doctoral thesis defense (SL/P4), to be send to the relevant ssc.lebenswissenschaften@univie.ac.at / ssc.psychologie@univie.ac.at.

The location, time and examination committee of the public defense will be proposed by the PhD candidate together with the supervisor(s) within this form. The examination board consists of a chair and two to three examiners. At the faculty, it is common that the two persons who have also examined the paper act as examiners - at least one of them should be part of the examination board. The chair is usually taken by the (internal) supervisor or the DSPL of the study program discipline. The registration will be approved by the (Vice-) DSPL, only then the examination committee and audience should get invited to the public defense.

The public defense consists of a presentation of the central findings followed by a general discussion about the research subject with the examination commission. Usually the duration of the defense is in total 60 to 90 minutes with your ppt. presentation of maximum of 20-30 minutes (depending on the standards of the institutes and departments). We recommend to visit public defenses at the respective faculty prior to your own defense and/or discuss with your supervisor/DSPL.

The presentation of the dissertation is followed by a question and answer session and, after a closed meeting of the examination committee, the result of the examination is announced immediately with grades (1-5).

After the positively assessed dissertation, the academic title according to the curriculum is awarded either during a ceremony or by mail.