Yesterday I attended my first (Masters) thesis defence. This was a new experience for me, as there is no such thing as a thesis defence in Australia. The format was 30 minutes of presentation aimed at a general audience followed by 30 minutes of question time.
The presentation was open to public. In yesterday’s case, the presenter’s family (including grandparents!) came, along with pretty much everyone in the group. The question time, on the other hand, was done behind closed doors. There were just the presenter and her two examiners, while the rest of us shuffled to the lounge room. Some of us helped the presenter’s parents to take some food out of their car.
Oh, the food. It was a (bite-sized) feast! There were finger food and some cakes. They really do take their thesis defence seriously in Denmark! Of course, I only have one data point at the moment, so I can’t tell if this is a typical thing or not.
After question time, the presenter (and her examiners) came to the lounge with a look of massive relief on her face. She and her supervisor gave a short speech, and then the merriment began.
I actually found the whole experience to be quite nice. There are some similarities with what we currently have in Australia anyway. In Denmark, you have to hand in your thesis and then prepare your presentation/defence. In Australia, the thesis defence is like your final talk, which you typically give before handing in your thesis. So I guess it’s not all that different.