Chapter IV. Submission and defence of Doctoral Theses

Academic Regulations for Doctoral Studies

Article 13. Submission of Doctoral Theses

Once PhD students have produced and completed their Doctoral Theses, they can submit them to the UPV/EHU  Doctoral Subcommittee for approval. To do this, they must have the authorisation of their supervisor, tutor and the Academic Committee for the Doctoral Programme, as well as the Department in which the PhD student is enroled.

Theses can be drafted in the common language used for scientific communications in the relevant field of knowledge. Whenever a thesis is not drafted or defended in one of the two official languages of the Basque Country, a summary of at least 5 pages must be submitted in one of these official languages.

To obtain certification stating that the thesis was submitted in a specific language, a significant portion of it (at least 45%) must have been written in that language (this does not include the bibliography).

Two bound copies of the thesis must be submitted, along with another copy in digital format. The document of activities must be submitted separately.

The cover page must include the following:

  1. The UPV/EHU logo
  2. Doctoral Thesis title
  3. Author's name
  4. Year

The logo of the Master's and Doctoral School can be incorporated next to the UPV/EHU logo on the cover page, together with the name(s) of the thesis supervisor(s) and, in the case of co-supervised theses, the symbols of both Universities. Logos for any organisations, companies or institutions that are external to the UPV/EHU may be incorporated on the back or inside the thesis, but not on the cover page. Failure to comply with this requirement will delay the start of the deposit period.

The following documentation must be bound:

  1. Submission authorisation granted by the Thesis supervisor(s), which must include original signature(s).
  2. Authorisation from the coordinator of the Academic Committee for the Doctoral Programme, which must include the original signature.
  3. Authorisation of the Department in which the PhD student is enroled.
  4. Graduation Certificate.

PhD students must submit the aforementioned documentation to the Doctoral Subcommittee via the UPV/EHU General Registry.

Article 14. Doctoral Thesis Examination Panel Proposal

The Doctoral Thesis examination panel shall be made up of five full members and three substitutes, or alternatively of three full members and three substitutes. It is the responsibility of the Doctoral Programme's Academic Committee to decide which of these two options to use in each case. Ten doctors must be proposed for five-member panels, and eight doctors must be proposed for three-member panels. All proposed doctors must have accredited research experience in the subject matter of the Doctoral Thesis, or another related area.

The Secretary of the Department in which the PhD student is enrolled must send the documents pertaining to the proposed members (eight or ten, as appropriate) of the Doctoral Thesis examination panel to the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee, through the General Register of the UPV/EHU, within in a maximum period of 30 calendar days from the approval of the proposal, along with documents mentioned in the previous article. This proposal must be approved by the Department in which the PhD student is enrolled, after consulting with the Thesis Supervisor(s) and the Doctoral Programme's Academic Committee. In the case of Doctoral Programmes governed by RD 185/1985 and RD 778/1998, no report by the Doctoral Programme's Academic Committee is required.

Doctors on sick leave cannot be proposed as Panel members. In the event that any of the doctors proposed as Panel members goes on sick leave after their proposal has been submitted, the Head of the Department in the which the PhD student in enrolled must notify this fact to the Unit of Postgraduate Studies, and submit a proposal for a new Panel member.

Whenever possible, the proposal should bear the principles of gender equality in mind.

  1. The following people may be proposed as panel members:
    • a) Lecturers and researchers who have at least one period of research (six years) recognised by the Spanish National Research Evaluation Committee (CNEAI in its Spanish acronym), or an equivalent period of research recognised by the relevant Evaluation and Accreditation Agency for non-tenured staff.
    • b) National and foreign lecturers and researchers who can provide proof of five relevant contributions recognised by the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee, in accordance with the criteria established by the CNEAI in each knowledge area.
    • c) Researchers from all kinds of public or private organisations, centres, institutions and entities who can provide proof of 5 significant contributions recognised by the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee, in accordance with the criteria established by the CNEAI in each knowledge area.
    • d) Teaching staff from University Faculties or Researchers currently on leave or who have retired may be proposed providing they comply with criteria a, b or c.
    • e) Research staff from Mixed Institutes with Universities contracted by these Mixed Institutes will be considered as belonging to the University faculty. Furthermore, all Ramón y Cajal and Ikerbasque etc. researchers attached to the UPV/EHU, as well as retired lecturers from that University will also be considered as belonging to the University faculty.
  2. The following may not be proposed as panel members:
    • a) The Supervisor of the Doctoral Thesis or the Tutor, with the exception of those cases in which the Doctoral Thesis submitted is part of a bilateral or co-tutelage agreement with foreign Universities that allows them to be proposed, providing the Thesis Viva is held at the other University.
    • b) In accordance with Chapter III of Act 30/1992 of 26 November, on the Legal Framework for Public Administrations and Common Administrative Procedures, any doctors who are related by consanguinity within the fourth degree or affinity within the second, or have a close friendship with or open hostility towards the Thesis Supervisor(s), Tutor or PhD student must refrain from intervening in the Panel.
  3. For five-member panels, the proposal of ten possible Doctors should fulfil the following requisites:
    • a) At least three of the proposed candidates must meet the requirements to be appointed chairman/woman of the Thesis Examination Panel. This means they must have at least two periods of research recognised by the competent body. In the case of candidates unable to access the research period assessments, said doctors may be appointed chairman/woman of the Thesis Examination Panel even if they do not fully meet the above requirement, provided that they can demonstrate significant merits recognised by the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee (10 relevant contributions, taking into the account the criteria established by the competent body within each knowledge area).
    • b) A maximum of three staff members can be proposed from the same national or foreign University or Research Centre: Higher Council for Scientific Research and its Associated Centres and foreign Research Centres of similar characteristics.
    • c) The proposal must include at least three members of the UPV/EHU, of which at least one must meet the requirements for being appointed chairman/woman.
    • d) The proposal may not contain more than three Doctors belonging to the doctorate programme in which the PhD student is enrolled.
    • e) The proposal may not contain more than two candidates from bodies other than those outlined in section 3b).
  4. For three-member panels, the proposal of eight possible Doctors must fulfil the following requirements:
    • a) At least three of the proposed candidates must meet the requirements to be appointed chairman/woman of the Thesis Examination Panel. This means they must have at least two periods of research recognised by the competent body. In the case of candidates unable to access the research period assessments, said doctors may be appointed chairman/woman of the Thesis Examination Panel even if they do not fully meet the above requirement, provided that they can demonstrate significant merits recognised by the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee (10 relevant contributions, taking into the account the criteria established by the competent body within each knowledge area).
    • b) A maximum of two staff members can be proposed from the same national or foreign University or Research Centre: Higher Council for Scientific Research and its Associated Centres and foreign Research Centres of similar characteristics.
    • c) The proposal must include at least two members of the UPV/EHU, of which at least one must meet the requirements for being appointed chairman/woman.
    • d)The proposal may not contain more than two Doctors belonging to the doctorate programme in which the PhD student is enrolled
    • e) The proposal may not contain more than one candidate from bodies other than those outlined in section 4b).

Article 15. Appointing the Doctoral Thesis Examination Panel

Panels made up of 5 full members and 3 substitutes.

The UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee shall appoint the Examination Panel from the 10-member proposal submitted, which shall consist of 8 members (five full and three substitutes), in accordance with the following criteria:

Of the eight members:

  1. At least two members of the Panel must belong to the UPV/EHU; at least one from among the five full members and another from among the substitutes, who will replace any member of the UPV/EHU who may fall ill.
  2. With the exception of the members of the UPV/EHU, no more than two members can be appointed from the same University or Research Centre (national or foreign).
  3. Two members may belong to organisations other than official state or foreign Research Centres, such as the Advanced Board for Scientific Research and its associate centres or foreign centres of similar characteristics, but only one of them may be a full member.
  4. Two members must meet the requirements to be appointed chairman/woman of the Examination Panel.
  5. No more than two members may belong to the Doctorate Programme on which the PhD student is enrolled, except when all three members of the programme proposed by the Department belong to the UPV/EHU, in which case, these three Doctors may form part of the Panel proposal.

Of the five full members of the Panel:

  1. At least one of the full members of the Panel must belong to the UPV/EHU, and will preferentially act as Panel chairman/woman or secretary.
  2. In the case of International Doctoral Theses, only two members from foreign institutions may be included among the full panel members. In the case of national Doctoral Theses, only one member of a foreign institution may be included among the full panel members.
    Nevertheless, in the case of national Doctoral Theses, the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee may authorise the participation of two members of foreign institutions providing objective reasons exist owing to the singularity of the area of knowledge and scientific development. This in no way interferes with the economic limits established in Article 22 of these Regulations.
  3. Of the five full members, at least two must be University Lecturers.
  4. Whenever a full member must be replaced by a substitute, the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee must be notified so that it can appoint the corresponding substitute.

Panels made up of 3 full members and 3 substitutes.

Of the six members:

  1. Two members of the Panel must belong to the UPV/EHU; one from among the three full members and another among the substitutes, who will replace the full member in question in the event of them falling ill.
  2. Two members must fulfil the requirements to be appointed chairman/woman of the Panel.
  3. No more than two members can be appointed from the same University or Research Centre (national or foreign).
  4. One member may belong to an organisation other than official state or foreign Research Centres, such as the Advanced Board for Scientific Research and its associate centres or foreign research centres of similar characteristics.
  5. No more than one member may belong to the Doctorate Programme on which the PhD student is enrolled, except when both members of the programme proposed by the Department belong to the UPV/EHU, in which case, these two Doctors may form part of the Panel proposal.

Of the three full members of the Panel:

  1. One of the full members must belong to the UPV/EHU and will preferentially act as Panel chairman/woman or secretary.
  2. The full members of the Panel should belong to different institutions.
  3. In the case of both National and International Doctoral Theses, only one member from a foreign institution may be included among the full panel members. Nevertheless, the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee may authorise the participation of two members of foreign institutions providing objective reasons exist owing to the singularity of the area of knowledge and scientific development. This in no way interferes with the economic limits established in Article 22 of these Regulations.
  4. Of the three full members, at least two must be University Lecturers.
  5. Whenever a full member must be replaced by a substitute, the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee must be notified so that it can appoint the corresponding substitute.

Article 16. Depositing Doctoral Theses

  1. Once the documentation stipulated in Articles 13 and 14 has been submitted to the General Registry at the UPV/EHU, and it has been verified that the PhD student meets all requirements, the Thesis will remain in deposit for 15 days, in which time the student can submit statements. The start date for depositing Theses will be published at the General Secretariat and the Master's and Doctoral School.
  2. Doctoral Theses can be examined by any doctor at the General Secretariat, who can submit any statements he/she deems appropriate regarding the content. These statements shall be submitted to the Doctoral Subcommittee via the General Registry, and shall remain confidential. The Doctoral Subcommittee will provide the Thesis supervisor, Academic Committee for the Doctoral Programme and PhD student with a literal transcription of the statements made, in order to allow them to submit any responses they deem appropriate to the Doctoral Subcommittee.

Article 17. Authorisation of Doctoral Thesis Defence

  1. Once the deposit period stipulated in Article 16 expires, and in view of the submissions received and any additional information obtained from specialists, the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee will either decide to authorise the defence of the Thesis, or request its withdrawal within 15 calendar days.
  2. If the defence of the Thesis is authorised, after consulting any specialists deemed appropriate by the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee, the Chairman/woman of the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee shall proceed to appoint the five full members and two substitutes for the Examination Panel within 15 calendar days.
  3. The Departments in which the PhD student is  enroled has ten calendar days from the submission of the letter of appointment to provide the Panel members with the copies of the Theses to be examined, along with the PhD Students' Activity Documents stating the training activities carried out by them. A quantitative score shall not be calculated for these documents; they will be used as a qualitative assessment tool that will complement the evaluation of the Doctoral Theses.
  4. The Unit of Postgraduate Studies shall request the relevant service commissions from the Universities, Research Centres, etc.
  5. PhD students must use this authorisation to register their Thesis defence and pay the applicable fees.

Article 18. Publication of Doctoral Thesis Defence Date

  1. Once the defence authorisations have been granted, the Chairman/woman of the Examination Panel shall consult the Panel members and publish the date, time and place for students to defend their Doctoral Theses with at least 2 days advance notice, which must be notified to the Chairman/woman of the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee by the Secretary of the Panel (Annexe XIV).
  2. 2. This information must also be sent to the Director of the Department in which the PhD student is enrolled, as well as to the administrator of the UPV/EHU Centre where the defence will take place, in order to help him/her carry out the relevant administrative procedures. Said information should also be sent to the Master's and Doctoral School. 

Article 19. Registering for the Defence of Doctoral Theses

Each academic year, the fees for Official University Degrees are established by the Department of Education, Universities and Research of the Basque Government.

Article 20. Defence and Grading of Doctoral Theses

Doctoral Theses will be evaluated during the act of defending the Thesis, which will take place in a public session in which the PhD student presents and defends the research work carried out for his/her Doctoral Thesis before the Examination Panel, including preparatory work, content of the Thesis and conclusions, with special mention of his/her original contributions.

Doctoral Theses can be defended at any time throughout the year, except August.

The defence of Doctoral Theses shall take place at the facilities of the UPV/EHU, with the exception of those theses under co-tutelage or those carried out in collaboration with other Universities within the framework of inter-University doctoral programmes established under relevant agreements. In duly justified situations, the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee may authorise the remote participation (by videoconference) of a member of the Panel, providing the Defence of the Thesis complies with the procedure established by the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee.

In the event that a full Panel member resigns for justified reasons, or is unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances, the Chairman/woman of the Panel shall replace him/her with one of the substitutes.

The Examination Panel cannot, under any circumstances, proceed with less than five or three members appointed for that purpose (depending on the type of Panel convened).

During the defence session, the Panel shall have the copy of the Thesis submitted to the Department with which the Doctoral Thesis is registered, which includes the Graduation Certificate and an unbound Graduation Certificate. Both certificates must be signed by all Panel members and the PhD student once the Thesis defence has completed.

All Panel members must express their opinions on the Thesis submitted, and can raise any questions and objections that they deem appropriate, which the PhD student must respond to. Any Doctors attending the public session can also raise questions and objections, which the PhD student must respond to, all within the timing and manner established by the Panel Chairman/woman.

Once the defence and discussion of the Thesis has completed, each Panel member must complete a written assessment of the Thesis (Annexe XV).

Once the defence has been completed, the Panel will issue a report and an overall mark for the Doctoral Thesis, in accordance with the following scale: fail, pass, merit and distinction.

The Panel may propose that the Thesis be awarded an "Honours" distinction ("cum laude"), in which case all Panel members must unanimously submit their secret votes. To this end, the Panel Secretary will provide each Panel member with a voting slip previously signed by them (using a pre-established document template) and an envelope. Each Panel member must vote in secret and submit their slip in a sealed envelope to the Panel Secretary, who will sign each envelope and send them to the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee for counting.

If the thesis is awarded an "Honours" distinction, the Panel may also propose it as a candidate for an Extraordinary Doctorate Award, in which case all Panel members must unanimously submit their secret votes. To this end, the Panel Secretary will provide each Panel member with a voting slip previously signed by them (using a pre-established document template) and an envelope. Each Panel member must vote in secret and submit their slip in a sealed envelope to the Panel Secretary, who will sign each envelope and send them to the UPV/EHU Doctoral Subcommittee for counting. If the vote is unanimously positive, the new doctor can request their Extraordinary Doctorate Award during the relevant period, which will be officially announced.

To obtain certification stating that the Thesis was defended in more than one language, a significant part of it must have been written in another language, i.e., at least part of the introduction, results, general discussion and conclusions. This certification will be stated on the relevant Graduation Certificate.

Article 21. Doctoral Thesis Archive

Once the defence of the Doctoral Thesis has concluded, the Secretary of the Panel must submit the following documentation to any of the UPV/EHU General Registry offices (Annexe XVI):

  1. An electronic copy (CD) of the Thesis, an unbound Graduation Certificate, the reports issued by the Panel members following the defence of the Doctoral Thesis, the Electronic Record of the Council of Universities (Teseo DB) (Annexe XVII), and the authorisation for open access to the Doctoral Thesis, where appropriate, via the website of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport and the repository of the UPV/EHU, together with the reference letter for submission to the Unit of Postgraduate Studies. All of this documentation must include original signatures. A summary of the Doctoral Thesis must also be submitted by email to the UPV/EHU Postgraduate Studies Service.
  2. Upon receipt of all documentation required for the defence of the Doctoral Thesis, the Unit of Postgraduate Studies will verify that the Thesis defence was passed in accordance with the provisions of these Regulations, and then notify the General Secretariat of the UPV/EHU and the relevant Doctoral School.
  3. The electronic copy of the Thesis shall be submitted to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport for its records, as well as the General Library in order to be archived in the repository created for this purpose.
  4. All Doctoral Theses deposited in the General Registry will be sent to the relevant Doctoral Schools.

Article 22. Allowances

The Department in which the PhD student is enrolled should commence travel arrangements for the members of the Panel once authorisation for the defence of the Doctoral Thesis has been received.

The Administration of the Centre to which the Supervisor (or in certain cases the Tutor) of the Doctoral Thesis belongs shall cover any travel and attendance expenses and allowances incurred by Panel members travelling from their normal place of residence, always in accordance with the amounts established by the UPV/EHU.

In the case of Panel members from the UPV/EHU, only travel expenses from their corresponding Centres shall be covered.

Under no circumstances shall costs incurred by Panel members that are unrelated to the Doctoral Thesis panel examination be covered.

For five full member panels, the maximum sum that may be paid to cover expenses will be €1,000 in the case of national Doctoral Theses and €1,700 in the case of international ones. For three full member panels, the maximum sums are €900 for national Doctoral Theses and €1,500 for international ones.