Thesis Defense | a guide to prepare best
Definition: Thesis Defense
A thesis defense is an act of presenting your work to a panel of professors so they can grade your presentation abilities. In retrospect, the argument is essential to ascertain that you understood the topic. You have to hand in your paper first so that the lecturer can grade it before you appear for the defense.
As a university student, you need to hand in a high-quality thesis paper and defend it before a panel of professors. So what is this that takes place during a thesis defense? Read along to find out.
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A scholarly thesis defense is a forum that allows students to present their paper’s contents and defend their thesis topic before a panel of professors. The student is then required to answer all questions asked by the lecturers. At the end, the student is required to leave the room whilst the professors decide whether the thesis is ready to be published, or if it needs corrections.
There is no general length for a thesis defense. The defense of a master’s thesis will take longer than the defense of a bachelor’s thesis. You will need to fit in an introduction, a literature review, your findings and even more into the time frame for your thesis defense, so it’s important that you’re well prepared. All in all, it depends on your paper and your academic field. Usually the thesis defense will last between one and two hours, but it also could be less than one hour.
Oral defense is simply another name for your thesis defense. If you’ve completed your thesis, you are required to defend it in front of a panel of professors. It is designed so that the committee can ensure that the students completely understand their thesis topic. The oral thesis defense is an examination of a completed body of work. Students will be assigned a date to defend their thesis.
After your thesis defense, you will be told to leave the room whilst the panel discusses your results. There are normally 2 outcomes. You may need to make changes to your thesis’ formatting or content. If this is the case, don’t stress! You’re able to try the thesis defense again once you’ve incorporated any required changes. The preferred outcome is that the panel is happy with your thesis and it’s then ready to be signed and published.
The thesis defense is the final step for your academic work. It’s important that you’re prepared and you’ve outlined what you’re going to say in each section of the defense. You need to know your thesis statement better than the back of your hand, otherwise you risk being sidetracked. Just like your thesis itself, your thesis defense has a specific structure. You can read more about this further on in the article. Try and prepare yourself for the potential types of questions that the professors will ask you so that you don’t have to think about your answers on the spot.
Before the Thesis Defense
Before the day of the thesis defense, the qualifying students receive a timetable that shows the chronology of how the day will be. You are required to keep time, or else you will have to wait until the next allocated defense to present your paper. To qualify as a defending student, you have to hand in your paper at least one month before the thesis defense date.
What happens in a Thesis Defense?
Once you get to the hall, you need to introduce yourself and your topic, then present your paper to the lecturers. The professors will allocate you ¾ of the allotted time for the thesis defense. The remaining time is used up in the question and answer forum. Prepare yourself to answer several questions, such as:
- Your plans after completing the research
- The limitations you faced
- Things that you would change if given a chance
- How you chose your target audience
- How you intend to further your study on the subject
- The reasons for choosing your topic
- The most significant deductions you learned from the survey
- Reasons for choosing your research methodology, etc.
In some cases, the board may ask you to summarize your deductions from the study. The questions asked are not standard, which means you have to be thoroughly prepared to answer whatever the panel throws your way during the thesis defense. Other things that take place during the thesis defense include:
- Deliberations – At this point, the board of lecturers will ask you to leave the room as they deliberate on your thesis defense performance. They will then decide whether you move to the next level or you will defend again.
- Verdict – Finally, the team will invite you back in and tell you how you performed in the thesis defense. These panel members may ask you to make a few corrections before you can go ahead and publish your paper. You have to present your corrections to your facilitator, who will then give you the go-ahead to publish.
- Signing – The members will then sign your document to ascertain that you were part of the thesis defense team on the selected date.
How much time does a Thesis Defense take and how many people should be in the room?
During a thesis defense, each student appears before the panel individually. The facilitators will ask you questions concerning your topic to see if you fully grasped the concept. Each thesis defense will vary from the other depending on the technicality of your paper and the kind of degree you are pursuing.
- Undergraduate degree – Your panel may include at least three lecturers from your faculty. Additionally, the defense may last up to one hour.
- Masters degree – You get to interact with four professors at this level, and each student is allotted 1½ hours to present and answer questions.
- Ph.D. degree – Considering that this is the highest education level, five professors avail themselves to vet you. More so, you may have to engage them for two hours.
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What to include?
A thesis defense follows a particular format, which cuts across all types of degrees, which is:
- Introduction – Explain the need for this study
- Literature review – Explain what other scholars have found on the subject
- Research methodology – What research method did you use, and why did you use it?
- Findings and discussions – In your research, what were the key deductions that you came upon?
- Implications, limitations, suggestions, and conclusion – Here, you have to exhaust the setbacks you encountered during the study, the consequences that your target audience will face if they do not follow the deductions, and then finally sum up the discussions.
Tools for Thesis Defense
Considering that a thesis defense may take you at least 45 minutes to present, it is essential to make the presentation lively. So, you can incorporate a slide show and use images to make it less wordy. Bullet points also make the text easier to digest as opposed to a block of text. So, a laptop and a projector will help you ace your presentation.
Thesis Defense Anxiety
Standing before a panel of people waiting to hear how you conducted your research can be intimidating. This is especially so considering that you will be standing before a group of professors, who you believe to be superior to you in regards to the topic knowledge. More so, if you are not familiar with public speaking, it is easy to develop stage fright while defending.
Manage Thesis Defense Anxiety
In case you find yourself fidgeting before you begin presenting, use the following tips to help you get your composure back.
- If you have a problem with eye-balling the lecturers, look at the tips of their foreheads instead.
- Take a few seconds to breathe in and out so you can stabilize your speech if you begin to stammer.
- Go into the room with a positive mind, knowing that you will do your best.
- Most importantly, rehearse your thesis defense severally before the D-day.
Adjusting the format according to your university’s requirements is typically the final step. After several times of proofreading, many become blinkered to their own work and miss formatting mistakes. A preview-function representing the real-life version that can be edited virtually creates a fresh eye for formatting mistakes and helps you to detect them again.
In a Nutshell
So, there you have it. These tips should help you present your thesis defense and ace it. Remember that:
- You should present facts that are in the paper. Do not add any new information
- Make the thesis defense as enjoyable as possible
- Arrive early enough
- Do not exceed your allocated time
- Confidence goes a long way