Chapter IV. Presentation and defence of the PhD thesis

Regulations Governing the Management of Doctoral Studies

Article 13. Documents to be submitted.

Upon completing his/her PhD thesis, the student must submit it to the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission which shall give authorisation for it to be defended. For this purpose, authorisation must be received from the supervisor, the tutor, the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission and the department to which the student is attached.

Before the supervisor can authorise defence of the thesis, he/she must first check the document using the plagiarism detection tool provided by the university.

One bound hard copy and two soft copies of the thesis must be submitted, together with the following documentation:

  1. Document of activities.
  2. ‘International Doctorate’ application form, where applicable.
  3. Application for Certificate of Exemption from Accreditation of Level C2 in the Basque language, where applicable.
  4. Application for ‘Industrial Doctorate’ distinction or mention of collaboration with external organisations, where applicable.
  5. Proposed composition of the thesis examination committee.

The thesis abstract must also be emailed to the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Studies Service.

In addition, the following documents must be included in the bound hard copy of the thesis:

  1. Authorisation for presentation of the thesis from the supervisor or co-supervisors of the PhD thesis, containing their original signatures.
  2. Authorisation from the tutor, with his/her original signature.
  3. Authorisation from the members of the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission, with their original signatures.
  4. Authorisation from the department to which the student is attached.
  5. PhD Degree Certificate.

Article 14. Composition of the examination committee.

The examination committee of the PhD thesis shall be made up of either five or three members. In the former case, five full members and three alternate members shall be designated; in the latter case, three full members and three alternate members shall be designated. Wherever possible parity criteria must be fulfilled.

For each PhD thesis, the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission shall, at its own discretion, choose one of the two options.

At the act authorising presentation of the thesis, the department’s board, following consultation with the supervisors of the PhD thesis, the tutor (where applicable) and the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission, shall present its proposal for the composition of the examination committee to the Postgraduate Commission. Depending on whether the committee is to be composed of five or three full members, the proposal shall contain eight or six names, respectively, of which five or three must be full members and the other three alternate members.

The proposed committee members must hold PhDs and must have accredited research experience in the last 10 years in an area related to the subject of the PhD thesis.

The majority of the members of the examination committee shall be external to the university and to the institutions collaborating with the Doctoral School and the doctoral programme.

For the purposes of these regulations, the following shall be considered as personnel with ties to the UPV/EHU:

  1. Ramón y Cajal and Ikerbasque researchers attached to the UPV/EHU.
  2. Retired UPV/EHU faculty, other than professors emeritus, who are considered to be UPV/EHU staff.
  3. Research staff from mixed institutes, in which the UPV/EHU participates, hired by those institutes.
  4. Teachers external to the UPV/EHU who form part of the doctoral programme.

For the purposes of the appointment of examination committees, teaching and research staff in the health sciences listed in the Healthcare Accord (Concierto Sanitario) shall be considered as permanent teaching and research staff.

The following people may not be proposed as examination committee members:

  1. The supervisor of the PhD thesis, the tutor of the PhD thesis (except in the case of PhD theses presented within the framework of bilateral agreements or cotutelle agreements with foreign universities where this condition is stipulated, provided the oral defence is to be held in the other university.
  2. Any person with a direct interest or for whom there are other legal grounds for abstention.
  3. PhDs who are currently on employment leave.

Article 15. Requirements pertaining to full and alternate members of the five-member examination committee.

Proposals for five-member examination committees must contain the names of eight people. The following conditions must be met:

  1. Of the five full members, at least three must be full-time teaching and research staff or full-time researchers in public research bodies.
  2. Three of the proposed members must be from the UPV/EHU: of these a maximum of two shall be included among the five full members and the other shall be an alternate member. At least two shall be full-time teaching and research staff, one of whom shall act as the chair or secretary and the third may be from the group of persons with ties to the UPV/EHU.
  3. With the exception of the members from the UPV/EHU, no more than two members may be from the same university or research centre.
  4. The list of proposed members may include a member from an organisation unrelated to public research bodies and foreign research centres of similar characteristics.
  5. Three of the proposed members must have served two or more six-year periods. At least two shall be full members of the examination committee, one of whom shall chair the committee. In the case of international members, those with ties to the UPV/EHU or those from external bodies must have authored 10 publications judged to be relevant, based on CNEAI (Comisión Nacional Evaluadora de la Actividad Investigadora - National Research Evaluation Commission) quality criteria and related to the subject of the thesis.
  6. The other proposed members must have served at least one six-year period. In the case of international members, those with ties to the UPV/EHU or those from external bodies must have authored 5 publications judged to be relevant, based on CNEAI quality criteria, related to the subject of the thesis.
  7. When an application is being made for the ‘International Doctorate’ distinction, at least one of the full members of the examination committee and one of the alternate members must belong to a foreign university or higher education or research organisation. The person who has certified the sojourn may not form part of the examination committee, unless there is another international member amongst the full members of the examination committee.

Should it be necessary to replace a full member with an alternate member, this circumstance must be reported to the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission, which shall appoint the corresponding alternate members.

Article 16. Requirements of the full and alternate members of the three-member examination committee.

Proposals for three-member examination committees must contain the names of six people. The following conditions must be met:

  1. Of the three full members, at least two must be full-time teaching and research staff or full-time researchers in public research bodies.
  2. Two of the proposed members must belong to the UPV/EHU, one as a full member and the other as an alternate member. At least one must be a permanent member of the teaching and research staff, who for preference shall act as secretary; the other may be a person classed as having associations with the UPV/EHU.
  3. The full members must belong to different institutions.
  4. The list of proposed members may include a member from an organisation unrelated to public research bodies and foreign research centres of similar characteristics.
  5. Two of the proposed members must have served two or more six-year periods. At least one shall chair the full examination committee. In the case of international members, those with ties to the UPV/EHU or those from external bodies must have authored 10 publications judged to be relevant, based on CNEAI (Comisión Nacional Evaluadora de la Actividad Investigadora) quality criteria and related to the subject of the thesis.
  6. The other proposed members must have served at least one six-year period. In the case of international members, those with ties to the UPV/EHU or those from external bodies must have authored 5 publications judged to be relevant, based on CNEAI quality criteria, related to the subject of the thesis.
  7. When an application is being made for the ‘International Doctorate’ distinction, one of the full members of the examination committee and one of the alternate members must belong to a foreign university or higher education or research organisation. The person who has certified the sojourn may not form part of the examination committee, unless there is another international member amongst the full members of the examination committee.

Should it be necessary to replace a full member with an alternate member, this circumstance must be reported to the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission, which shall appoint the corresponding alternate members.

Article 17. Submission of the PhD thesis for academic registry.

  1. Once the documents set out in Article 13 have been submitted to UPV/EHU’s General Register and once it has been verified that the doctoral student meets the established requirements, a 15-day submission period shall be established for the receipt of any pertinent declarations (submissions). The date of the submission for academic registry shall be posted on the website of the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Studies Service.

  2. During the 15-day submission period, the PhD thesis may be examined in the Postgraduate Studies Service by any PhD, who may submit any declarations (submissions) he/she sees fit regarding the contents thereof. These declarations, which will be confidential, should be addressed to the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission and submitted via the General Register. The UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission shall send a transcription of any declarations to the thesis supervisor, the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission and the student, to allow any of the aforesaid to submit any responses they may deem fit to the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission any responses.

Article 18. Authorisation for defence of the PhD thesis.

  1. On completion of the submission period referred to in Article 17, the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission, having examined the texts received and any additional information it may obtain from any specialists it deems fit, shall decide whether to authorise defence of the PhD thesis or whether, on the contrary, it shall withdraw it. Once the defence of the thesis has been authorised, the chair of the University of the Basque Country’s Postgraduate Commission shall appoint the full members and alternate members of the examination committee, in accordance with the report from the Postgraduate Commission, within a period of no more than 15 calendar days from the final date of the submission period.
  2. Upon designation of the examination committee, the chair of the University of the Basque Country’s Postgraduate Commission shall send the appointment and authorisation of defence to the full members and alternate members of the examination committee, to the supervisor of the PhD thesis, to the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission, to the Doctoral School, to the department to which the student is attached and to the doctoral student him/herself.
  3. The department to which the student is attached shall have ten calendar days from the date of issuing of the appointment to send the members of the examination committee copies of the PhD thesis, together with the customised document of activities. No quantitative score shall be awarded for the latter document, but it will constitute an instrument of qualitative assessment to complement grading of the PhD thesis.
  4. The Postgraduate Studies Service shall request the respective Service Commissions from the universities, research centres, etc.
  5. Once authorisation has been given, the student must enrol to defend the PhD thesis and pay the corresponding fees.
  6. In no case may the thesis be defended within a period of less than 30 calendar days from the start of the submission period.

Article 19. Notice of the date of defence of the PhD thesis.

  1. Once authorisation has been received for defence of the thesis, the chair of the examination committee, following consultation with the other members, shall give at least three working days’ public notice of the date, place and time of the viva voce exam, and the secretary of the examination committee shall notify the chair of the University of the Basque Country’s Postgraduate Commission. This notification shall be published on the website of the Postgraduate Studies Service.
  2. This information must be notified to the supervisor of the department to which the student is attached and the administrator of the UPV/EHU centre where the viva voce examination is to be held, in order to take all necessary administrative steps required.

Article 20. Enrolment for defence of the PhD thesis.

The enrolment fee for defence of the PhD thesis shall be as established by the Basque Government in the table of public fees for the corresponding academic year.

Article 21. Defence and grading of the PhD thesis.

The PhD thesis shall be assessed at the viva voce examination which will be held in public session. At this act, the student shall set out and defend his or her research work before the members of the examination committee, including any preparatory work carried out, the content of his or her research and the conclusions reached, with particular mention of all original contributions.

The viva voce examination may be held at any time of year, with the exception of the month of August.

The viva voce examination shall be held on UPV/EHU premises, except in the case of cotutelle PhD theses or PhD theses carried out in collaboration with other universities within the framework of Inter-University doctoral programmes, when so established in the corresponding agreement. The UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission may, if reasonable grounds are given, authorise a member of the examination committee to take part by videoconference. In such cases the viva voce examination must be adapted to comply with any procedure established by the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission.

In no case may the examination committee act with less than either five or three designated members, depending on the type of committee.

At the viva voce examination, the examination committee shall be provided with the copies of the PhD thesis sent by the Postgraduate Studies Service to the department to which the student is attached, containing the PhD Degree Certificate, as well as an unbound PhD Degree Certificate. On completion of the viva voce examination, both certificates shall be signed by all members of the examination committee and by the student.

The members of the examination committee must state their opinion of the PhD thesis presented and may ask any questions and raise any objections they deem fit, to which the doctoral student must reply. Likewise, any PhD attending the public event may ask questions and raise objections to which the doctoral student must reply, at the moment and in the form established by the chair of the examination committee.

On conclusion of the defence and discussion, each member of the examination committee shall make a written assessment of the thesis and the examination committee shall decide what grade to award to it, as per the following scale: fail, pass, merit, distinction

The examination committee may propose that the PhD thesis be awarded a ‘Cum Laude’ distinction if the thesis is awarded a ‘distinction’ grade and the members of the examination committee unanimously agree to do so in a secret vote. For this purpose, the secretary of the examination committee shall provide each member of the committee with a ballot sheet previously signed by him/her (in the document provided for this purpose) and an envelope. Each member of the examination committee shall issue his or her secret vote on the ballot sheet and submit it in a sealed envelope to the secretary of the examination committee, who shall sign each envelope and send it to the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission for subsequent scrutiny.

Likewise, the examination committee may give its authorisation for the student to submit the thesis for the Extraordinary Doctoral Awards, if it has been awarded a ‘Cum Laude’ distinction and the committee unanimously agrees to do so in a secret vote. For this purpose, the secretary of the examination committee shall provide each member of the committee with a ballot sheet previously signed by him/her (in the document provided for this purpose) and an envelope. Each member of the examination committee shall issue his or her secret vote on the ballot sheet and submit it in a sealed envelope to the secretary of the examination committee, who shall sign each envelope and send it to the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission for subsequent scrutiny. If all members of the committee vote in favour, the new doctor may submit the thesis for the Extraordinary Doctoral Award at the corresponding call for submissions.

For a certificate to be awarded stating that the thesis has been defended in a given language, at least 50% of the defence must have been carried out in that language. This circumstance must be recorded in the corresponding graduation certificate.

Article 22. Filing the PhD thesis.

On completion of the viva voce examination, the secretary of the examination committee shall send the following documentation to the Postgraduate Studies Service via any of the offices of the UPV/EHU’s General Register:

  1. PhD Degree Certificate, unbound.
  2. The reports of the members of the examination committee issued following the viva voce examination.
  3. The envelopes containing the committee members’ votes on the ‘Cum Laude’ distinction and Extraordinary Award, sealed and signed by the secretary of the examination committee.
  4. Authorisation, where applicable, for free access to the thesis via the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport’s website and the University of the Basque Country’s Repository.

The referral slip must also be included, to be sent to the Postgraduate Studies Service. All signatures appended to all of the above documents must be originals.

The bound hard copy of the thesis containing the original documentation shall be filed in the department.

Upon receiving the complete documentation from the viva voce examination, the Postgraduate Studies Service shall open the envelopes and notify the doctoral student whether or not he/she has obtained a Cum Laude distinction, and whether or not he/she is eligible to submit the thesis for an Extraordinary Award.

Article 23. Payment of allowances.

Upon receiving authorisation for defence of the thesis, the department to which the student is attached must begin all necessary travelling procedures for the members of the examination committee.

Members of the examination committee who have to travel from their habitual place of residence shall be paid travel, living and attendance expenses by the administration of the centre to which the thesis supervisor (or tutor) is attached, within the limits established by the UPV/EHU.

Members from the UPV/EHU shall be paid only travel expenses from the centres to which they are attached.

In no case shall expenses incurred by persons not sitting on the examination committee examining a doctoral thesis be covered.

The amount to be paid for any travel expenses incurred shall be as listed in the corresponding appendix.

In the event that the actual expense is greater, the difference must be met by the department and/or research group.