You hand in your thesis and breathe a sigh of relief. Then you realize that it is not over yet. The next and final step of the Master’s program is to present your work in front of the class, the course leaders and the examiners. Here I will demystify the process so that you won’t (hopefully) be as daunted as I was.
The three days of thesis defense are mandatory and all students are required to attend. I would be lying if I said that it was a relaxing three days! However, it was very educational to hear about the different projects and humbling to witness how far we have all come since the beginning of the course.
Each student has 10 minutes to present their work. Those 10 minutes are extremely short! My advice is to practice beforehand because when your time is up, it really is up! A student opponent/ discussant then has 10 minutes to ask questions and make comments. This is followed by 15 minutes allocated to the examiner/s, after which the class has 5 minutes to ask their questions.
Following the defense, the student meets with the course leaders and examiners for an individual assessment. Last year, grades were also given at this time. The system has now changed and all students were given feedback on how their work could be improved. Some issues were necessary to rectify in order to achieve a passing grade, whilst others were suggestions about how to improve the overall work.
We now have one week to make changes and resubmit the final version of the thesis, which will be graded by the same examiners. This means that we graduated without being sure as to whether we passed our thesis. However, as explained by the course leaders, this is a useful exercise that reflects real life. When articles are submitted for publication, it is common that they are not accepted initially. Instead, suggestions are made for improvement. The thesis defense is therefore seen as an integral part of the learning process.
This is my last blog post about the academic side of the Global Health course, but I will continue to write during the summer about the new phase in my life, namely looking for a job.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions at email@example.com