I recently formed part of the committee for a PhD defense in Colombia. Here are some of my observations regarding the format of the defense in Colombia (Universidad del Valle):
- The defense takes place after the first draft of the thesis is approved by the committee, and before finalizing the thesis.
- The defense itself consists of a presentation by the candidate of about 45 minutes, followed by questions from the committee. The committee questions start with the external members, followed by the internal members and direct supervisors.
- Each member of the committee asks questions for maximum 10-15 minutes; the total time of the defense is about 2 hours including time for deliberation and then passing on the good news to the candidate.
- The committee is generally involved with the research throughout the doctoral years (as in the USA).
- The defense itself is rather formal in terms of dress code and way of addressing the committee members. No caps and gowns are used.
- The format of the defense is hybrid, with the candidate and part of the committee at the university and other committee members joining remotely through video conference.
- The thesis and defense are not graded, but it is possible to give the candidate a certain level of distinction with the doctorate, provided that certain conditions are met (in terms of time elapsed for the PhD, and quality of the research, thesis and defense).
What is the defense like at your university?