The major steps leading to your defense are the same for everybody, as stated in the "arrêté". Details may vary depending on which University you are enrolled to.

Legal rules come from the 25th of May, 2016 arrêté, Section 17. All specific rules must comply.

Typically, you need to follow this back-scheduling (adapt it to your specific case).

  • If your PhD started on the 1st of October of the year N, and you have a 36 monthes funding, then the defense must be before September the 30th of the year N+3.
  • Final reports are expected 3 weeks before the defense.
  • Reviewers need 3 to 4 weeks to work.
  • Your final manuscript must therefore be ready by the end of July.
  • Writing should start as soon as possible (ideally, from the start: write short notes that can be re-used later). It cannot start later than April.

Defense committee

The defense committee must follow these rules (see also Paris-Saclay web page):

  • From 5 to 8 members.
  • A majority of senior members (French status A).
  • A majority of external members (not part of the ED nor the enrollment University).
  • A "fair share of men and women".
  • At least one member from the University, who may be president of the jury.

Both referrees must have their "HDR" or equivalent. they must not belong to the ED nor to the University of enrollment. They must have an on going scientific collaboration with the PhD students or his/her advisors, and in particular they must not have published a paper with the PhD student or the supervisors since at least 5 years.

Propositions of committee members should be sent to your representatives at least 3 months before the defense. You must not sollicitate the members officially before getting an agreement from the ED.

Role of the supervisor during the defense

The official rule states that: "Le directeur de thèse participe au jury, mais ne prend pas part à la décision." This is far from clear, and subject to various traductions. The ministery has provided an interpretation which is the following (text left in French to be accurate):

"Le directeur de thèse (ou les directeurs de thèse) participe au jury. Il assiste à la discussion et sa participation demeure précieuse pour la bonne compréhension des travaux qu'il a encadrés. Il peut, le cas échéant, éclairer les débats menant à la décision. Il n'a donc pas vocation à mener les débats et, s’il assiste à la délibération, ne prend pas part à la décision finale. Le directeur de thèse est donc pris en compte dans les ratios qui peuvent être considérés au sein du collège doctoral pour les membres internes ou externes à l’établissement de rattachement. Il ne signe pas le procès-verbal de délibération, mais signe le rapport de soutenance. Lorsque le rapport de soutenance fait état de la délibération, il doit figurer que cette décision a été prise par les membres du jury hors directeur(s) de thèse.

Le directeur de thèse figure sur la liste des membres du jury, y compris pour le dépôt légal des thèses."

The most important sentence ther is: He/she does not sign the procès-verbal, but he/she signs the defense report.

Documents and references

Each university has its own rules that you must follow. The relevant documents are found on their web site. Beware some site are not up-to-date. Verify with your representative. The defense jury must always be appoved by the doctoral school before being sent to the University.

Defense by visioconference

If one member of the jury cannot participate in the defense, the president must make sure that the jury is still legal.

Jury members are bound to be present at a defense once they accept to participate. Skype is not possible. In case of dare need, it is possible to organize a visioconverence:

"A titre exceptionnel, et à l'exception de son président, les membres du jury peuvent participer à la soutenance par des moyens de visioconférence ou de communication électronique permettant leur identification et leur participation effective à une délibération collégiale et satisfaisant à des caractéristiques techniques garantissant la transmission continue et simultanée des débats."

A possible technical solution is renavisio.

Some universites require a specific written authorization:

  • PSL (filled from ADUM in the defense section)
  • Paris Diderot: (document to provide before the defence)). Following the defence, the president must add a letter certifying that the visio-conference was hold.
  • Paris-Saclay: (formulaire de demande de participation à titre exceptionnel en visio-conférence).
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