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Online thesis defence ceremonies at the University of Amsterdam

Due to measures related to the coronavirus, PhD defence ceremonies are taking place online (using Zoom) rather than on location in the Aula or the Agnietenkapel. This allows PhD candidates to complete what they’ve been working towards in recent years and move on with their careers.

From home, on their computer, PhD candidates are defending their thesis before their doctoral committee. PhD defence ceremonies always follow a fixed protocol. This protocol is being maintained during online PhD defences as well. The chair of the doctoral committee is directing the ceremony as usual. Besides the members of the doctoral committee, the Beadle is als present online to pronounce ‘hora est’ at the appointed time for ending the defence. A ‘Zoom host’, an employee responsible for audio/video, is providing technical support.

Are you a PhD candidate or otherwise involved in a doctorate? If you have any questions, you might be able to find an answer to these in the frequently asked questions below. Do also feel free to get in touch with the Office of the Beadle by emailing or with the secretariat of the Doctorate Board by emailing

Frequently asked questions – PhD candidates

  • Until when will PhD theses be defended online?

    All defences at the UvA up to and including the last defence of this academic year, on Friday, 3 July, will take place online.

    The Office of the Rector has assessed what would be needed to realise defences on location The conclusion is that the period up to the summer does not lend itself to defences on location, taking into account the regulations that currently apply.

    In the period from the beginning of June to 3 July, a large number of defences are planned, often with one directly following another and also overlapping at times (in Aula and Agnietenkapel). It has not been possible in the time available to arrange for the additional locations, technicians and beadles that would have been necessary to carry out the defences on location in such a way that the conditions of RIVM and GGD were met. There is also still a lot of uncertainty about whether some of those involved would be able to be physically present.

    We realise that this is not the message that PhD students had hoped to hear, but unfortunately there is no other option under the current circumstances. The Rector's Office is meanwhile continuing to carefully explore the possibilities for defences in the new academic year, taking into account all the preconditions and risks of on-site ceremonies. Information on this is expected to become available before the summer recess.

  • In what circumstances can a defence ceremony be postponed?
    • If you have a long-term and/or serious illness or other, unique personal circumstances.
    • If the situation surrounding the coronavirus has caused a delay in terms of finalising your PhD.
    • If it will not be possible for you to proceed with the defence ceremony in the short term because you have to be available for a challenging, corona-related duty in the medical arena.

    In all cases, postponement is to be agreed in consultation between the Office of the Beadle, the PhD candidate and the supervisors.

  • And what will happen to the printed copies that have already been submitted to the Office of the Beadle?

    In due course the Office of the Beadle will make amendments to the location and/or date & time specified in your thesis by means of a sticker. You will need to ensure you amend the location and/or date & time specified in the electronic version of your thesis yourself. Two copies of each PhD thesis sent to the Office of the Beadle will be retained, with any other copies being returned to the relevant PhD candidates.

  • Can my family, friends and colleagues attend the defence ceremony.

    From Friday, 15 May, UvA PhD defences will be livestreamed on the university’s YouTube channel. This means that friends, family and colleagues of the PhD candidates, as well as other interested parties, can attend the ceremonies, which are currently taking place online via Zoom.

    The livestreams are ‘unlisted’ on the UvA YouTube channel; that is, you need a direct link to follow a livestream. Doctoral candidates will receive the link from the Office of the Beadle and can then share it with friends, family and colleagues. In addition, the links are added to the defence ceremony announcements (in Dutch) on the UvA’s website, so that other interested parties can also take note.

    The link to a livestream will only be added in the web announcement if the doctoral candidate has agreed to this (the Office of the Beadle will ask each doctoral candidate for explicit permission in advance). Immediately after the ceremony ends, the link will be deactivated and the stream will be removed. Of course, the consultations of the defence committee will - as always – be held in private and therefore not visible in the livestreams.

  • How will I get my PhD certificate?

    A PhD statement will be emailed to you the day after you successfully defend your thesis. This statement will serve as evidence that you have been awarded your PhD. The Office of the Beadle will send the extracts in English and Dutch from the doctoral register to your home address from 6 April onwards. This constitutes an official document, with the same force as the PhD certificate. The extracts will be backdated accordingly.

Keen to find out how the first online defence ceremony went? Then read the news item.