The Final Year

As shown in the timeline above, in the last year of your PhD track there are a lot of administrative (and practical) matters you need to deal with in order to be able to defend your thesis and graduate. All of these procedures are required by the University of Amsterdam and have strict deadlines. You can click on each of the steps on the timeline for more information or just scroll down. Each deadline is clearly stated beneath each header.

Log in to your personal timeline and tracking page to see a personalised to-do list.

Please also have a look at:

If you have questions or are in doubt about any of these procedures or their deadlines, please do not hesitate to contact Tanja Kassenaar.

Preparing your dissertation

(during the fourth year, deadline: 14 weeks before graduation)

  • Dissertation Style:

    When you start writing your dissertation, you should download the ILLC Dissertation Style, and either use it to format your own dissertation in Latex, or consult it to learn the preferred format for ILLC dissertations. This will allow you to publish your dissertation in the ILLC Dissertation Series (which carries a financial compensation). Furthermore, the Dissertation Style package contains a template for your dissertation formatted according to the requirements of the Doctorate Regulations (a formal title page, a Dutch summary, etc.).

  • Preparing title page:

    The ILLC dissertation style also includes an up-to-date format for the title page of your manuscript (front and reverse side) in accordance with the Doctorate Regulations 2014 (Appendix B, page 53 and 54).

    Before you finalize it, please have it checked by the ILLC Office (Tanja Kassenaar). She will verify that it is correct and satisfies all formal regulations, and advise you of any errors (in capitalization, spelling, English/Dutch etc.).

    Some common errors to avoid on your title page:

    • the page should contain your full and complete name as spelled in your passport or on your ID card;
    • the month and day of your graduation should not be capitalized:
    • you should include your birth country if and only if you were not born in the Netherlands;
    • the initials of promotors, copromotors and Overige leden are the first letters of all given names of that person, but do not include the first letter of the surname.
  • Propositions:

    There is a tradition in the Netherlands to include a set of propositions with your dissertation. This is a set of statements, some of which may have to do with the subject of your doctorate research, some of which may be about other subjects, and some of which may even be non-academic observations about life in general.

    At some universities, this set of propositions is obligatory. At the University of Amsterdam, it is optional, and is in fact rarely done with PhD graduations in the exact sciences.

    If you want to include a set of propositions with your dissertation, the propositions need to be approved by your promotor. You can include them as part of your dissertation, or on a separate sheet.

    At least 6 of the propositions need to relate to the academic field of your faculty. You can include any number of other propositions, but bear in mind that you may have to defend them during the graduation ceremony, as they are considered to be part of your dissertation.

  • Changes to the manuscript after the approval by the committee:

    While you are working on your dissertation, please realize that you are only allowed to make very few changes after your supervisors approved it and send it to the doctoral committee and the dean of your faculty.
    Which changes are allowed can be found in the document From manuscript to doctoral thesis, which can be found on this page.
    It is advised to take a good look at this while finishing up your manuscript.

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Proposal doctorate committee

(at the latest, six months before planned graduation date)

In the first half of your fourth year, but no later than 6 months before your planned graduation date, your promotor should set up your doctorate committee. The requirements regarding the composition of this committee can be found in the Doctorate Regulations 2014.

The proposal for composition of the Doctorate Committee that should be used can be found here. You must submit the fully filled in form to Tanja Kassenaar. She will make sure the director of the ILLC and the Dean of your faculty sign the form, as required.

For every member (including your (co)promotors) you should fill in the full titles and initials of all given names (not the full given name).

The decision regarding approval of the composition of your doctorate committee will take between 4 to 6 weeks. If you feel, however, it is taking too long, please contact the contact person for the Doctorate Board at your faculty.

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Planning your defense date

(at the latest, six months before planned graduation date)

As soon as you receive approval of the composition of your doctorate committee you can reserve a provisional date for your graduation ceremony with the Office of the Beadle, for which the contact information can be found here. You should check that all members of your committee are available on the date that you select.

You should make a reservation at least 6 months in advance, or 9 months in advance if you want a popular month (such as June or December) or timeslot (such as Friday afternoon), and even earlier if you want both.

Note: formally, you can already reserve a date as soon as the Doctorate Board has received the proposal for the composition of your committee. In practice, neither you nor the Office of the Beadle hear anything until the Doctorate Board has approved the proposal. However, if time is of the essence, you can ask your contact person for the Doctorate Board at your faculty to keep a close eye on the progress of your proposal.

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Manuscript to Doctorate Committee

(and to the dean of the Faculty)

(at the latest, 14 weeks before planned graduation date)

If you graduate at the Faculty of Science your main promotor is allowed to request for a one-time plagiarism pre-scan before giving his/her approval. If s/he uses this opportunity, s/he should discuss the outcome with you and if necessary with the ILLC director and/or the dean of this faculty.

When your (co)promotors approve your manuscript, your main UvA promotor sends copies of the manuscript to the members of your doctorate committee and to the dean of your faculty, attaching Appendix A from the Doctorate Regulation 2014.

As the dean will have this version of the manuscript checked for fraude and plagiarism, this must be the final version and according to the Doctorate Regulations 2014 it is not allowed to make a single change to this version after this moment. This version is exactly the version that you will bring to the printer.

However, as said here above, there are a few exceptions, for example typo's, the ISBN number, the acknowledgements. To be sure about the changes that are allowed, please check the Procedure 'From manuscript to doctoral thesis' on the website of the UvA. This can be a helpful document anyway, but in respect to changes to your manuscript you should check the green squares on the right-hand side.

In any case, it is always wise to have the formal title page (including the reverse side with the names of your (co)promotors and committee members) checked by Tanja Kassenaar before your promotor hands in your manuscript to your committee.

To keep your schedule, handing in your manuscript to committee and dean should happen at least 14 weeks before your planned graduation date.

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Contacting your printer

(between the submission to the committee and its approval)

Now your manuscript is with the committee and you're awaiting their approval, you have the time to start looking for a printer.

The ILLC has an agreement with Ipskamp Drukkers, granting ILLC members a 10% discount on the cost of printing their dissertation. You may have to explicitly remind them of this. Please be aware that in spite of this discount, other printers might still be cheaper.

With the printer of your choice you can start discussing options for paper and cover, set dates, and apply for the ISBN number. You can even already sign a contract with them. This is especially recommended during holiday periods.

  • ISBN number: The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique[numeric commercial book identifier.
    Your printer can provide you with such a number. The ISBN is one of the few things that can be added to your manuscript after the approval of your manuscript by your committee.
  • Cover: The ILLC Dissertation style provides a very basic cover, but if you want anything more complex you have to make your own arrangements.
  • Bookmarker slips: Copies of dissertations usually contain bookmarker slips with an invitation to the PhD defense. These bookmarkers are printed simultaneously with the dissertation. A typical bookmarker/invitation would be in the same style as your cover, mention your name and the title of your thesis, and contain an invitation text with date, time and location.
  • Number of copies: How many copies you need depends mostly on how many copies you wish to send to researchers in your field, to family, friends and other interested people. Regardless of the number you need yourself, you need at least 12 copies for the Office of the Beadle, one copy for each member of your doctorate committee, one copy for the Dean of the Faculty of Science (only if you graduate in this Faculty) and 15 copies for the ILLC.
  • ILLC dissertation series number: At this time, you should also send the dissertation to Marco Vervoort for inclusion in the ILLC online archives.
    Please include the ISBN number of your dissertation and the planned defense date, as well as both a Dutch and an English abstract of your dissertation (both in plain text), and (not obligatory but much appreciated) a PDF file of your dissertation.
    Marco will provide you with a ILLC dissertation series number. This number is one of the few things that can be added after the approval of your manuscript by your committee

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Approval by the Committee

(at the latest, 8 weeks before planned graduation date)

The Doctorate Committee is allowed six weeks to evaluate your thesis. Their approval must be sent, using Appendix A from the Doctorate Regulations 2014, to both the dean of your faculty and your promotor at least 8 weeks before the planned graduation date.
Your promotor is responsible that this is done in a timely fashion.

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Signed title page to Beadle

(at the latest, 6 weeks before planned graduation date, preferably 8-9 weeks)

As soon as your doctorate committee has approved your manuscript, your promotor signs a copy of your formal title page including his/her name and the date of the approval, both on the front and the reverse side. S/he sends it to the dean of your faculty, who also signs the title page. The dean sends this fully signed page to the Office of the Beadle, signifying the permission of the committee to publish your dissertation and defend it.

To keep your original schedule, this should happen at the very latest 6 weeks but preferably 8-9 weeks before your planned graduation date.

Upon receipt of the fully signed title page the beadle will then confirm your graduation date, and send you a notification to that effect. If, after two weeks, you did not hear anything, you are advised to contact the Beadle's Office at 020 525 2808 to make sure your title page has been received.

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Preparing the digital final version of your thesis

(preferably between 8 to 4 weeks before planned graduation date)

If you do need or want to make some of the allowed changes to your manuscript, like adding the ISBN-number, the ILLC dissertation series number, and the acknoledgements, now is the time. Please make sure to make a complete overview of all the changes you carried out, however small and insignificant. You need this later.

This digital final version serves as the printer's proof, so that the digital version and the printed one are exactly the same.

This digital version must also be submitted with the licence agreement to the UvA Library. For more information about this, please have a look at this website of the UvA Library.

And this digital version is sent to both your supervisors and the dean of your faculty, including the complete overview of all changes carried out.

This last step, sending the digital final version to the dean, has to be finished at least 4 weeks before the date of the ceremony.

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Printing your dissertation

(preferably at least 8 weeks before planned graduation date)

As soon as the beadle has confirmed your graduation date, time and location, you can have your dissertation printed.

Printing your dissertation may take 2 to 5 weeks, depending on the time of year and your choice of printing shop. Since you need to make sure the Office of the Beadle gets your printed copies 4 weeks before your planned graduation date, you need to send your dissertation to the printing shop 6 to 9 weeks before this date, and to start to make arrangements with a printer even before that. As written above (in Contacting your printer) it is preferred that you have already made these arrangements before the approval by the committee.

Note that this timetable assumes there will be no problems, so you might want to allow an extra week, just in case.

Important note: Make sure that you are available during the printing process: somehow, regardless of all your preparations, there are always a host of small problems which require your personal attention. Having someone available with computer expertise and experience with the system you use is also highly recommended, as well as noting down any problems that occur and the solution used to solve them (in case the problem recurs). It is an extremely bad idea to go on holidays during this period: in the worst-case scenario, nobody will look at the proofs, and the first, and maybe only, book you write will appear with your name misspelled on the cover (and yes, this has actually happened).

Note that on older systems, the fonts included in postscript files generated from LaTeX documents can cause problems on high-resolution printers (such as those used by printing shops). To avoid this, take care to have fonts included as scalable (Type-1) fonts instead of bitmapped (Type-3) fonts.

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12 printed copies to Beadle

(at the latest 4 weeks before planned graduation date)

You are required to bring the 12 copies of your dissertation to the Office of the Beadle at the very latest 4 weeks before your graduation date. This means that you must have your dissertation printed by then. If you want to include a set of propositions, you should have the propositions approved by your promotor at this point, and include them with the copies you send to the Office of the Beadle.

In case you graduate at the Faculty of Science, please don't forget to bring one copy to the dean of this faculty. You can bring it to the PhD contact person in Science Park 904.

As written above, at this point also the final digital version of the thesis must be or, preferably, have been sent to your supervisors and the dean of your faculty.

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Preparing for your defense

(the month before your PhD defense)

Announcing your defense

You should send announcements of your dissertation and PhD defense to the ILLC News and the UvA-Agenda. Note that information you send to the UvA-Agenda is also made available to the general press, and is not under embargo (i.e. agencies are not obliged to wait until a specific date before publicizing the information).

Reception and dinner

Although there is no formal obligation, it is tradition to have a reception after your graduation ceremony, which you should arrange for at this point. An average PhD defense will have 40-60 people in attendance, (including the committee members), who will consume 3-4 drinks (mostly non-alcoholic) and 2-4 snacks (mostly savoury). You can have the reception at the Agnietenkapel or Aula of the University itself. Normally they send you an application form for this automatically. This will cost between 250 and 500 euro. You can of course also arrange for a reception elsewhere.

In addition, according to the same tradition, you also have a lunch or dinner to which you invite your family and prominent members of your doctorate committee. Arrangements for this and/or any other celebrations are up to you.

Paranimfs

It is also part of the tradition to have two persons, called your 'paranimfs', to accompany and support you during the graduation ceremony. Other than this, the paranimfs have some small formal and informal tasks. It is wise to choose your paranimfs at this point, if you haven't done so before.

Beadle Class

You are strongly recommended to make an appointment with the Office of the Beadle to attend a so-called 'Beadle class' to get instructions for the actual graduation ceremony, such as where to stand and when to use which formal phrase. Let (one of) your paranimfs accompany you, so he or she can help you out at the ceremony when necessary. Please note that English and Dutch classes are held separately. You may also want to attend someone else's defense if you have never done so before.

Preparing for the defense

Of course, during this period you should also prepare for the questions your committee will ask you, in whatever way fits you best. To keep a proper frame of mind, you may want to remember that as far as the content of your dissertation is concerned, you are probably the world's only expert' (quoted without permission from one of UvA's former Beadles).

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Defense

The usual location for the ceremony is the Agnietenkapel. If you expect a large audience it is also possible to book the Aula. This is a general overview of what you can expect during the actual defense and graduation ceremony.

The paranimfs

Besides providing moral and practical support, the formal tasks of your paranimfs are threefold:

  • they are responsible for getting you to the ceremony on time;
  • once the committee is seated, they present copies of your dissertation to the members of the committee who didn't bring their copies (make sure to have extra copies);
  • once the ceremony has ended and you leave the room, they stay behind and make sure everybody knows where to go.

Informally, paranimfs are often in charge of arranging festivities and collecting donations for joint gifts.

Dress code

You should dress for the occasion in a formal yet festive fashion. For men, a dress-suit with tail is traditional, but a smoking is not unusual. Women can wear a suit or a gown, as they wish. At both the Agnietenkapel and the Aula a small room is available for you and your paranimfs to change.

Video and photo's

A stationary video-camera is available on request to make a recording of the defense. You may, of course, make your own arrangements, but note that the photographer or camera-man is not allowed on the podium itself.

Explanatory talk

Starting at the hour, you will have 10-12 minutes before the ceremony in which you can give a short talk for the audience. It is recommended that you avail yourself of this opportunity in order to 'warm up' before the ceremony and get rid of your nerves.

The actual defense

The actual defense starts 15 minutes past the hour, when the Beadle and the members of your committee enter the Agnietenkapel or the Aula. As soon as they are seated, the chair of the committee will give you a sign and you can start the ceremony by pronouncing the first of the two formal phrases. These phrases will be provided at the Agnietenkapel or Aula, but they can also be found in the Doctorate Regulations if you would like to practice beforehand.

Then, for 45 minutes, members of your doctorate committee take turns to ask questions, and you 'defend' your work. Typically you can expect about 5 - 7 questions, two per committee member.

The proper terms of address are: 'hooggeleerde opponent' / 'highly esteemed opponent' for full professors, and 'zeergeleerde opponent' / 'esteemed opponent' for others. In case of doubt, they can be distinguished by their clothing: only full professors are allowed to wear gowns.

At the hour, the Beadle will enter the room again, and pronounce the words 'Hora est'. At this point, you are allowed to finish answering the question. Then, at a signal from the chair of the committee, you pronounce the second formal phrase, and the committee retreats to deliberate.

After approximately 10-15 minutes, the committee returns and confers the doctorate on you. After the formal phrases, your promotor or co-promotor will give a congratulatory speech. You are not supposed to say anything yourself.

The Beadle will bring you to the reception hall, followed by your immediate family, the doctorate committee and then everybody else, in that order.

If your reception is being held in the Agnietenkapel or the Aula, you have the space available for 1 hour. Usually people form a line and come up to congratulate you and your immediate family. If you did not arrange for a reception, you and your retinue should leave the building at once to make room for the next graduation ceremony.

Congratulations! You have your PhD!

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