Thesis Defense | A Guide to Prepare Best (2023)

Thesis Defense | A Guide to Prepare Best (1)


  • 1 Definition: Thesis Defense
  • 2 FAQs
  • 3 Before the Thesis Defense
  • 4 What happens in a Thesis Defense?
  • 5 What to include?
  • 6 Tools for Thesis Defense
  • 7 Thesis Defense Anxiety
  • 8 Manage Thesis Defense Anxiety
  • 9 In a Nutshell

Definition: Thesis Defense

A thesis defense is an act of presenting your work to a panel of professors so they can grade your presentation abilities. In retrospect, the argument is essential to ascertain that you understood the topic. You have to hand in your paper first so that the lecturer can grade it before you appear for the defense.

As a university student, you need to hand in a high-quality thesis paper and defend it before a panel of professors. So what is this that takes place during a thesis defense? Read along to find out.


What is a thesis defense?

A scholarly thesis defense is a forum that allows students to present their paper’s contents and defend their thesis topic before a panel of professors. The student is then required to answer all questions asked by the lecturers. At the end, the student is required to leave the room whilst the professors decide whether the thesis is ready to be published, or if it needs corrections.

How long is a thesis defense?

There is no general length for a thesis defense. The defense of a master’s thesis will take longer than the defense of a bachelor’s thesis. You will need to fit in an introduction, a literature review, your findings and even more into the time frame for your thesis defense, so it’s important that you’re well prepared. All in all, it depends on your paper and your academic field. Usually the thesis defense will last between one and two hours, but it also could be less than one hour.

What is the oral defense of a thesis?

Oral defense is simply another name for your thesis defense. If you’ve completed your thesis, you are required to defend it in front of a panel of professors. It is designed so that the committee can ensure that the students completely understand their thesis topic. The oral thesis defense is an examination of a completed body of work. Students will be assigned a date to defend their thesis.

What happens after the thesis defense?

After your thesis defense, you will be told to leave the room whilst the panel discusses your results. There are normally 2 outcomes. You may need to make changes to your thesis’ formatting or content. If this is the case, don’t stress! You’re able to try the thesis defense again once you’ve incorporated any required changes. The preferred outcome is that the panel is happy with your thesis and it’s then ready to be signed and published.

What defines a good thesis defense?

The thesis defense is the final step for your academic work. It’s important that you’re prepared and you’ve outlined what you’re going to say in each section of the defense. You need to know your thesis statement better than the back of your hand, otherwise you risk being sidetracked. Just like your thesis itself, your thesis defense has a specific structure. You can read more about this further on in the article. Try and prepare yourself for the potential types of questions that the professors will ask you so that you don’t have to think about your answers on the spot.

Before the Thesis Defense

Before the day of the thesis defense, the qualifying students receive a timetable that shows the chronology of how the day will be. You are required to keep time, or else you will have to wait until the next allocated defense to present your paper. To qualify as a defending student, you have to hand in your paper at least one month before the thesis defense date.

What happens in a Thesis Defense?

Once you get to the hall, you need to introduce yourself and your topic, then present your paper to the lecturers. The professors will allocate you ¾ of the allotted time for the thesis defense. The remaining time is used up in the question and answer forum. Prepare yourself to answer several questions, such as:

  • Your plans after completing the research
  • The limitations you faced
  • Things that you would change if given a chance
  • How you chose your target audience
  • How you intend to further your study on the subject
  • The reasons for choosing your topic
  • The most significant deductions you learned from the survey
  • Reasons for choosing your research methodology, etc.

In some cases, the board may ask you to summarize your deductions from the study. The questions asked are not standard, which means you have to be thoroughly prepared to answer whatever the panel throws your way during the thesis defense. Other things that take place during the thesis defense include:

  • Deliberations – At this point, the board of lecturers will ask you to leave the room as they deliberate on your thesis defense performance. They will then decide whether you move to the next level or you will defend again.
  • Verdict – Finally, the team will invite you back in and tell you how you performed in the thesis defense. These panel members may ask you to make a few corrections before you can go ahead and publish your paper. You have to present your corrections to your facilitator, who will then give you the go-ahead to publish.
  • Signing – The members will then sign your document to ascertain that you were part of the thesis defense team on the selected date.

GOOD TO KNOW: Read our article about Thesis Statement!

How much time does a Thesis Defense take and how many people should be in the room?

During a thesis defense, each student appears before the panel individually. The facilitators will ask you questions concerning your topic to see if you fully grasped the concept. Each thesis defense will vary from the other depending on the technicality of your paper and the kind of degree you are pursuing.

  • Undergraduate degree – Your panel may include at least three lecturers from your faculty. Additionally, the defense may last up to one hour.
  • Masters degree – You get to interact with four professors at this level, and each student is allotted 1½ hours to present and answer questions.
  • Ph.D. degree – Considering that this is the highest education level, five professors avail themselves to vet you. More so, you may have to engage them for two hours.

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What to include?

A thesis defense follows a particular format, which cuts across all types of degrees, which is:

  • Introduction– Explain the need for this study
  • Literature review– Explain what other scholars have found on the subject
  • Research methodology– What research method did you use, and why did you use it?
  • Findings and discussions– In your research, what were the key deductions that you came upon?
  • Implications, limitations, suggestions, andconclusion– Here, you have to exhaust the setbacks you encountered during the study, the consequences that your target audience will face if they do not follow the deductions, and then finally sum up the discussions.

Tools for Thesis Defense

Considering that a thesis defense may take you at least 45 minutes to present, it is essential to make the presentation lively. So, you can incorporate a slide show and use images to make it less wordy. Bullet points also make the text easier to digest as opposed to a block of text. So, a laptop and a projector will help you ace your presentation.

Thesis Defense Anxiety

Standing before a panel of people waiting to hear how you conducted your research can be intimidating. This is especially so considering that you will be standing before a group of professors, who you believe to be superior to you in regards to the topic knowledge. More so, if you are not familiar with public speaking, it is easy to develop stage fright while defending.

Manage Thesis Defense Anxiety

In case you find yourself fidgeting before you begin presenting, use the following tips to help you get your composure back.

  • If you have a problem with eye-balling the lecturers, look at the tips of their foreheads instead.
  • Take a few seconds to breathe in and out so you can stabilize your speech if you begin to stammer.
  • Go into the room with a positive mind, knowing that you will do your best.
  • Most importantly, rehearse your thesis defense severally before the D-day.

In a Nutshell

So, there you have it. These tips should help you present your thesis defense and ace it. Remember that:

  • You should present facts that are in the paper. Do not add any new information
  • Make the thesis defense as enjoyable as possible
  • Arrive early enough
  • Do not exceed your allocated time
  • Confidence goes a long way

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Thesis Defense | A Guide to Prepare Best? ›

It is usually very tough to do, even if the argument doesn't have to be formalized. Many students make the mistake of picking this kind of thesis to defend. It requires serious experimental evidence to defend, unless your real thesis is of the previous form, i.e., only process X is possible.

What is the best way to prepare for a thesis defense? ›

Here are a few tips to help prepare you for the defense:
  1. Learn about the structure. ...
  2. Outline the parts you'll present. ...
  3. Attend another defense. ...
  4. Talk to colleagues who've successfully defended. ...
  5. Anticipate possible questions. ...
  6. Practice, Practice, Practice. ...
  7. Dress the part.

What questions should I prepare for a thesis defense? ›

17 Thesis Defense Questions and How to Answer Them
  • What is your topic, and why did you choose it? ...
  • How does your topic contribute to the existing literature? ...
  • What are the key findings of your study? ...
  • What type of background research did you do for your study? ...
  • What was your hypothesis, and how did you form it?
Jan 10, 2023

What do you need to take note of in preparing thesis defense? ›

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your thesis defense.
  1. Anticipate questions and prepare for them. We've mentioned it before but you can really prepare for most of the questions you will be asked. ...
  2. Dress for success. ...
  3. Delegate. ...
  4. Have a backup plan. ...
  5. What to do when you don't know the answer. ...
  6. Dealing with your nerves.

Is it hard to pass a thesis defense? ›

It is usually very tough to do, even if the argument doesn't have to be formalized. Many students make the mistake of picking this kind of thesis to defend. It requires serious experimental evidence to defend, unless your real thesis is of the previous form, i.e., only process X is possible.

What to say if you don t know the answer in a defense? ›

“Can I connect you with someone who might be better able to answer your question?” “I don't know, but I'd be happy to look into that and get back to you with an answer.”
Use these tips to help you respond appropriately when you are caught off guard:
  • Don't fake it. ...
  • Reframe shame. ...
  • Respond honestly.
Dec 29, 2020

How many slides is a 30 minute presentation? ›

If we have to perform a presentation in 30 minutes and we want to make it on time, let's imagine every slide should take 2 minutes as most. Then, using 15 slides we'll be able to present it in a timeframe of 30 minutes.

How many slides should a thesis defense have? ›

During your defense you will typically have 10-15 minutes for your presentation. There are approximately 9-12 slides. They have read the study, so focus more on findings and implications, less on literature.

How long should a thesis defense presentation be? ›

The presentation should be 20-30 minutes in length. It should not be interrupted by questions. Ask each member of the Examination Committee, in turn, to question the candidate. The Research Supervisor should be called upon last.

What are 5 good research questions? ›

The Five Research Questions
  • What information do I need?
  • Where do I find information?
  • Which information can I trust?
  • How can I use new information in my writing?
  • How do I use information ethically?

What is a good introduction for thesis defense? ›

Stages in a thesis introduction
  • state the general topic and give some background.
  • provide a review of the literature related to the topic.
  • define the terms and scope of the topic.
  • outline the current situation.
  • evaluate the current situation (advantages/ disadvantages) and identify the gap.

What do you say at the end of a thesis defense? ›

Conclusion - Concluding slides should restate your original research questions, represent the results of your research, suggest future research and make any final recommendations.

What are the things not to do during proposal defense? ›

During the defence, one's duty is to answer probing inquiries about the study; one will not have the answers to all queries. If one does not, state “I'm not sure.” Avoid attempting to bluff one's way through a defence. One will only lose if one attempts to appear to know when one does not.

Can you fail Masters thesis defense? ›

A majority of the committee must approve the thesis, and a candidate cannot be passed if more than one vote of “fail” is reported. The results of the thesis defense must be submitted to the Graduate College immediately after its completion.

Can someone fail master thesis? ›

Another common result given is 'failed, entitled to resubmit'. This indicates that you have not passed your thesis, but can resubmit all, or part of your assessment work, for further consideration by the examiners. The results for such resubmissions are typically 'capped'.

What happens if I fail my thesis? ›

If you fail your undergraduate dissertation, you can still graduate as long as you have enough credits, although this may be with an ordinary degree. However, if you fail your master's dissertation or PhD thesis resubmission, you will not be allowed to graduate. The topic of failure is quite daunting for most students.

What is the 5 5 5 rule in PowerPoint? ›

Follow the 5/5/5 rule

To keep your audience from feeling overwhelmed, you should keep the text on each slide short and to the point. Some experts suggest using the 5/5/5 rule: no more than five words per line of text, five lines of text per slide, or five text-heavy slides in a row.

What is the 10 20 30 rule? ›

To save the venture capital community from death-by-PowerPoint, he evangelized the 10/20/30 rule for presentations which states that “a presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.”

What is the 10 20 30 rule in preparing slide presentations? ›

You may also have heard of the 10-20-30 rule. Created by former Apple brand ambassador Guy Kawasaki, the 10-20-30 rule states that a PowerPoint presentation should have no more than 10 slides, never last longer than 20 minutes, and should use a minimum point size of 30 for the font.

What does a thesis defense look like? ›

A thesis defense is an oral presentation and discussion of a thesis study. The purpose is to share the results of the study and to demonstrate to the committee and the academic community that the author has done work of sufficient quality to receive the master's degree and is able to speak to it in an open forum.

What counts in a thesis word count? ›

Word counts

*In all cases above, the word count includes quotations but excludes appendices, tables (including tables of contents), figures, abstract, references, acknowledgements, bibliography and footnotes (as long as the latter do not contain substantive argument).

How many arguments you should write in thesis statement? ›

A thesis statement must give three points of support. It should indicate that the essay will explain and give evidence for its assertion, but points don't need to come in any specific number.

How do you start a thesis introduction? ›

How to write an introduction chapter for a thesis
  1. Capture the reader's interest. ...
  2. Give an overview of your research topic. ...
  3. Detail how your research is going to make a contribution. ...
  4. Explain what your interest is in the topic. ...
  5. List your research objectives. ...
  6. Give a forthcoming chapter overview. ...
  7. Learn from others.
Jan 31, 2019

Can I finish my thesis in 3 weeks? ›

It's doable. Even make it 500 words a day. If you start with three weeks to go, you can write 10,000 words in twenty days. But some days you will write more than others and your word count will be more like 15,000 by deadline day.

What are the 4 W questions in research? ›

Who, What, Where, When, Why: Using the 5 Ws to communicate your research.

What are 3 common problems in thesis statements? ›

  • The thesis is obvious, uncontroversial, or simply factual. Examples: ...
  • The thesis is vague. ...
  • The thesis is too broad to be addressed comprehensively in just a few pages. ...
  • The thesis is too detailed. ...
  • The thesis addresses multiple issues or makes more than one argument.

What are 4 characteristics of a strong thesis statement? ›

Features of A Successful Thesis
  • A thesis must consist of a claim. ...
  • A thesis should not be obviously true or false. ...
  • A thesis should not be overly abstract or general. ...
  • A thesis should be original. ...
  • A thesis should be arguable. ...
  • A thesis should be clear. ...
  • A thesis should be concise. ...
  • A thesis should be obvious to your reader.

What 3 things must a thesis statement have? ›

A thesis statement generally consists of two parts: your topic, and then the analysis, explanation(s), or assertion(s) that you're making about the topic.

Does the hook come before the thesis? ›

The introduction begins with the hook, which is followed by the bridge, and then it ends with the thesis statement. The length of an introduction is usually correlated with the length of the overall essay. For example, in a standard 5 paragraph essay, the introduction would be a paragraph long.

How do you lead a thesis statement? ›

Provide relevant background. Preview key points and lead into the thesis statement.
Make sure to include the following points:
  1. Briefly describe the motivation for your research (if you haven't already in the first sentence)
  2. Describe the topic and scope of your research.
  3. Explain the practical relevance of your research.

What's an example of a thesis statement? ›

A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you're writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say: World hunger has many causes and effects.

What should the last sentence of a thesis be? ›

The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation should include the following: A restatement of your research question. A summary of your key arguments and/or results. A short discussion of the implications of your research.

What is the last sentence of a thesis statement? ›

A thesis statement is the main idea of an essay. It consists of the topic of the essay and the writer's claim about the topic that will be proven throughout the essay. The thesis usually appears at the end of the introduction, often as the last sentence, and lets the reader know what to expect.

How long should a thesis statement be? ›

Thesis statements are often one sentence, however, in some cases (e.g. a very in-depth or detailed paper) it may be appropriate to include a longer thesis statement. You should ask your professor for their advice if you think you need to use a thesis statement that is longer than one sentence.

Can you fail proposal defense? ›

Yes it is possible to fail a PhD defence and it does happen. Thankfully this is rare.

How long should a proposal defense be? ›

The proposal defense should take 1-2 hours (2 hour maximum). 3. The committee chair oversees the defense and keeps the process on track (advisors can chair the preliminary oral defense).

What is the best title for thesis? ›

The thesis title should be concise, engaging, descriptive and explanatory without being informal or cute. Avoid too much jargon, abbreviations, initials, acronyms and redundant words unless the requirements specify it. Capitalise all the necessary words, including all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs.

How long should a thesis defense take? ›

The defense typically lasts about two hours and may be open to the public. The defense aims to accomplish two goals. First, it will provide an occasion for the presentation and recognition of the completed doctoral work. Second, it will furnish the opportunity for discussion and formal evaluation of the dissertation.

How do you answer a thesis defense question? ›

Plan a strategy to answer the panel's questions. Keep your answers direct, but elaborate on the research details wherever necessary. If you do not know the answer to a question, that is alright. The key is to be able to formulate an answer even if you do not possess enough knowledge to answer at that point in time.

What is expected in a thesis defense? ›

A thesis defense is an oral presentation and discussion of a thesis study. The purpose is to share the results of the study and to demonstrate to the committee and the academic community that the author has done work of sufficient quality to receive the master's degree and is able to speak to it in an open forum.

How many people fail to defend their thesis? ›

Mind you, about 40–60% of Ph. D. students never make it far enough in the program to defend a dissertation. They will wash out during qualifying exams, or wash out by not finishing their graduate coursework, or wash out by “running down the clock” on their graduate funding by taking too long to write the dissertation.

Can you finish a thesis in two months? ›

Writing a master's thesis is completely possible to write a thesis within two months as long as you stay completely focused on your writing and you do a little bit every single day. I was able to write my thesis (master's and PhD) in approximately two months – but I did have some of the sections already prepared.

What two questions should a thesis answer? ›

You can develop a thesis statement by answering three questions:
  • What is my topic?
  • What am I trying to say about that topic?
  • Why is this important to me or my reader?

What happens if you fail your master's thesis? ›

Unless your college's rules say otherwise, it is usual for students to have an opportunity to submit a revised thesis or dissertation, and/or do another viva voce (oral examination). You should most certainly 'try again'!

What is the common question in title defense? ›

Top 50 Likely Thesis Defense Questions and Answers
  • Question 2: What's your motivation for this study?
  • Question 3: How will this study contribute to the body of knowledge?
  • Question 4: What is the significance of the study?
  • Question 5: Did you bridge any gaps in your study?
  • Question 6: What limitations did you encounter?
Mar 17, 2023

What happens if your Phd thesis is rejected? ›

The most likely outcome is that you will be asked to make minor revisions, and then your school will have some procedure to handle this time-wise. Usually the examiners do not need to see the thesis again when resubmitted after minor corrections.

Can you fail a masters thesis defense? ›

A majority of the committee must approve the thesis, and a candidate cannot be passed if more than one vote of “fail” is reported. The results of the thesis defense must be submitted to the Graduate College immediately after its completion.

What is the difference between thesis proposal and thesis defense? ›

A proper thesis defense should be a rigorous formality. No advisor should ever let her student stand for a defense unless the advisor is convinced the student will pass. Thesis proposals, on the other hand, rarely pass without an objection requiring a modification to the proposal.


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