Compulsory enrolment

You will only be admitted to a public defence of your thesis if you are formally registered as a PhD student. As of September 2009, all junior researchers working on a PhD will have to enroll from the moment they start their research.

Look here for the admission requirements and the enrolment procedure.


Submitting your doctoral thesis

While preparing for the public defence procedure you are advised to study the Central PhD Regulations, particularly articles 27-30, as well as the supplementary faculty regulations with regard to PhD thesis defence.

When you have finished your research and you have finished writing your doctoral thesis it is time for the defence. When you wish to take the doctoral examination you need to send the Dean a written request co-signed by the supervisor(s). This request shall state your surname and given names, your place and date of birth, your domicile, as well as the title of the doctoral thesis.

You need to enclose your thesis in the required number of printed copies: the number of jury members + one or several copies for the library (see faculty regulations). You also need to enclose an electronic version of your thesis. One copy shall remain at the faculty secretariat for the academic staff. Following the public defence and provided the candidate has received the degree of doctor, one copy shall be put on file in the University library and a further copy in the unit where the research project was conducted. In the opposite case all copies shall be filed in the faculty archives.

You are requested to provide your faculty secretariat with an abstract of your thesis, which will be published on the university's central website along with the announcement of your oral defence. For details, see Central Regulations, art. 35.

The doctoral thesis can be written in Dutch or in English. Deviations might be allowed.

Most public PhD defences on Campus Etterbeek take place in the "Promotiezaal", room D.2.01 in building D.


Procedure of the defense

While preparing for the public defence procedure you are advised to study the Central PhD Regulations, particularly articles 31-37, as well as the supplementary faculty regulations with regard to PhD thesis defence.

After receiving your request, the Faculty Council shall set up an examination board consisting of a minimum of three professors (“ZAP”) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and a minimum of two external members. In principle, the composition of the panel must include at least 1 person of the opposite sex. Any departures from this must be justified. In principle, all members will hold a PhD. Any departures from this must be justified. The PhD jury must consist of no more than eight voting members. The Advisory Committee may not constitute the majority of the voting members in the PhD jury. The supervisor(s) form(s) part of the jury, and in the case there is more than one supervisor the supervisors as a whole shall have a single vote. The votes of VUB members must always account for the majority of the votes cast. The chair of the examination jury appointed by the Faculty Council will under no circumstances be supervisor or co-supervisor of the PhD candidate.

For more detailed information concerning the PhD defence or other related regulations, we advise you to check the PhD regulations approved by the Academic Council on 5 October 2015.

The examination board has two full months at its disposal in which to examine the doctoral thesis submitted and to reach a conclusion.

Then, first the private defence takes place. The examination board decides whether or not you are allowed to move on to the public defence, with or without changes. The public defence follow maximum 1 month after the private defence.

The defence will take place in Dutch or in English.

In principle the defence takes place on the campus of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and lasts minimum 1 and maximum 2 hours. You will need to give a presentation to the jury and the lay audience about your research, after which the jury and the audience have the right to question you.

After the discussion the examination board will immediately deliberate and publically announce their decision.


Publishing your doctoral thesis

There are no central rules for the format or lay-out of a PhD thesis. But faculties or even research groups might have their own rules or customs. Needless to say that the thesis should clearly state that it is a doctoral thesis of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Publishing your thesis is not mandatory.

As an academic publishing company, VUBPRESS offers PhD students the possibility to publish their doctoral thesis in a professional way, at competitive prices, with an extensive and flexible service going far beyond a mere ‘printing’ assignment.

  • They provide a customised cover. This can be either a straightforward ‘standard’ cover, or an original graphic design.
  • They assign an ISBN and legal deposit and provide for a colophon page, making sure the doctoral thesis is registered and protected by copyright.
  • They have the required knowhow to correct and modify the ‘printer ready’ manuscript, and proactively provide advice on layout, page settings and structure.
  • VUBPRESS includes the doctoral thesis in its catalogue and publishes it on its website, if the copyright allows for selling the doctoral thesis. The book will also be listed on Google Book Search and ‘Boekenbank’. Doctoral theses in English can be distributed through our US distributor IPG as well as through Amazon, thus providing for the largest possible visibility and availability for the published work.
  • Copyright is settled in agreement with the PhD student and the university, meticulously respecting (previous) arrangements and demands with respect to possible embargos.
  • VUBPRESS can provide an electronic version (pdf) to the PhD student and to the university.
  • The entire production process will encompass maximum 14 days – from the first contact with the PhD student. VUBPRESS is at ease with the tight timing of PhD students, and will therefore provide an extremely short delivery time.

Besides the essential technical, graphic and administrative support, our editing experience can provide added value by making the doctoral thesis a more appealing and professional publication. After all, we check manuscripts for errors and imperfections on a daily basis and often notice that they still contain some imperfections.

VUBPRESS guarantees competitive prices for the service offered. As prices depend on variables such as the number of copies, the number of pages, the number of colour pages and the cover design, we provide each PhD student a precise offer free of engagement.

For more information, contact the VUBPRESS editing desk directly.

  • Lene Hardy – tel. 02 289 26 52
  • Line Tuymans – tel. 02 289 26 56

Click here to read the leaflet.



Click here for a schematic overview.



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