Guidelines for holding digital public defences at the USN

Arkivfoto - stabel med bøker: Tine Poppe
Arkivfoto: Tine Poppe

Below are guidelines for holding digital public defences.

These apply for the duration of the restrictions on physical attendance on campus due to the corona virus outbreak. The guidelines allow compliance with the regulations on the public defence of theses (section 4-15, 1st paragraph of the Regulations concerning the philosophiae doctor (PhD) at USN).

The faculty, represented by its Dean, shall decide whether the public defence can be held digitally or has to be postponed, after a comprehensive assessment of the situation and according to the requirements in these guidelines.

There is no requirement for the trial lecture to be open to the public, but this can be facilitated. The doctoral candidate, the leader of the public defence and the members of the assessment committee must as a minimum take part in the trial lecture.

Holding a public defence

  • The entire public defence may be held via digital media without physical attendance on campus if the corona pandemic situation implies that attendance is not possible. Or
  • The public defence may be held digitally with limited attendance in the public defence room on campus. If this option is chosen, the only persons permitted to be present are the following: main supervisor, inhouse member of the assessment committee, leader of the public defence and the doctoral candidate.
  • In addition to the participants mentioned above, only technical or administrative personnel required to hold the public defence will be permitted access to the premises.
  • The opponents/external members of the assessment committee and the audience take part via a web conferencing tool.
  • The choice of room for the public defence must be made based on the necessary size to allow compliance with all requirements for control of communicable diseases introduced due to the pandemic.
  • The technical equipment must be inspected in plenty of time before the public defence.
  • Equipment is required to allow sharing of presentations with all participants.

Available digital web conferencing tools

  • Zoom is recommended as the web conferencing tool for digital public defences.
    This allows invitations to be sent to participants outside the USN, by sending them a link to the conference. Participants can join via various platforms.
    Read more about Zoom here:
    For participants outside of Norway, it is important to check in advance whether there are any restrictions on the use of this tool in other countries.
  • Alternatives to Zoom:
    Skype and Teams may also be used. Both these platforms allow invitations to be sent to external participants.
    Read more about Teams here:
    Read more about Skype here: under the heading “Skype”
    Check any restrictions in other countries for Teams and Skype.

Audience/public defence

  • As the prevailing situation has resulted in restrictions on attending public defences, the audience shall be allowed to attend public defences via web conferencing tools.
  • The public defence shall be organised so that ex-auditorio questions can be asked by email in the event that two-way communication is not possible. The questions will then be read by the person leading the public defence.

Notification duty

The persons responsible for the public defence are obliged to notify the following departments in plenty of time before a public defence is held:

  • The IT Department shall be notified so that all necessary technical assistance can be provided:
  • The Department of Infrastructure shall be notified of the premises to be used, so that these can be made ready:


Digital announcements of public defences must include the information normally provided, in addition to the following information:

  • That it is only possible to attend the public defence digitally due to the restrictions introduced as a result of the ongoing corona pandemic.
  • How to gain access to attendance of the public defence and, if applicable, the trial lecture.
  • How to act as opponent ex-auditorio (email address or other).
  • Link to the thesis.
  • Contact information for questions about the public defence.


  • If it is not possible to fulfil all above-mentioned requirements for digital execution, the public defence shall be postponed.
  • If the candidate does not wish to hold a digital public defence, it can be postponed.

For any questions regarding digital public defences, please contact Vice-Rector of the Department of Research and Internationalisation, Jarle T. Bjerkholt (

Also read: Information to all doctoral research fellows associated with the USN