Doctoral Dinner

It is optional for the doctoral candidate to organise a dinner or social gathering following the completion of their public defence. It is up to you to decide what form the event takes: it can be anything from a big black tie dinner to a cold buffet following the defence, or indeed there need be no doctoral dinner at all.

The most common form is a dinner where guests dress up, to which the chair of the defence, assessment committee and supervisor(s), as well as the Head of Department, are invited. The doctoral candidate may also invite their family and friends. Although the dinner is official, the later components of it may take on a less official tone.

The doctoral candidate is responsible for paying for the event, and some of those expenses may be tax deductible.

If you do not wish to organise a formal doctoral dinner, you should notify your PhD administrator so that the chair of the defence, the committee and your supervisor(s) are aware of this.


Any speeches given normally occur in the following order: the doctoral candidate, the chair of the defence or their representative, the third member of the assessment committee and the supervisor(s). Furthermore, it is traditionally the case that the doctoral candidate gives a speech in which they thank the university, the committee, their department, family, etc.

Seating Plan

You are free to seat your guests as you wish. However, the doctoral candidate and his/her companion, the committee members, supervisors, chair of defence and Head of Department should be given prominent positions at the table.

Working Capital

Working capital refers to funds that are to be used to carry out a project. They may not be used for a doctoral dinner. These funds are normally used to cover the costs of conferences, equipment, books, etc. The extent of the working capital will depend on your employer and funding source. If you are employed outside of USN, access to working capital must be described in the doctoral degree contract.

If you are connected to an overarching project, you must ordinarily go through the project manager in order to access funds, but some PhD candidates may access funds independently. Nevertheless, working capital must be used in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations relating the use of public funds. Unused working capital will accrue to the institution (USN).

Working capital for USN-employed doctoral research fellows and other doctoral candidates in the higher education sector are classified as public funds. This means that anything procured using such funds does not become the personal property of the doctoral candidate. This particularly applies to major acquisitions. You can clarify details relating to the use of working capital with your project manager or department. Contact your department if you are unsure of anything relating to your working capital.

USN has framework agreements in place that must be used. It is therefore important that you use these for all purchasing and follow the guidelines for employee travel when booking travel.