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Hora Est


It’s time! This is the beadle’s formula to announce to PhD students that the defense of their thesis has come to an end. Even if they are still wrapped up in answering a difficult question, they may stop speaking at once. The defense of a thesis takes 45 minutes exactly. As the PhD committee’s questions pertain to thesis content and research design, they are generally beyond the lay person’s comprehension. In the 15 minutes preceding their defense, therefore, PhD students now give a brief lecture for non-experts, in which he or she (the number of female PhD students being on the rise) explains what their thesis is all about in lay terms.



Is the beadle ever late rather than on the stroke of the hour? Certainly, though this has never happened to the current Tilburg beadle. What has happened to him, however, was that he once ran into the PhD committee before he had been able to announce his Hora est. It turned out that the Rector, who chaired the committee, had ended the ceremony prematurely when the committee had run out of questions. Has anyone ever failed to make the grade? No, each and every PhD candidate in Tilburg has been granted their PhD certificate after their defense. Admission to the public defense ceremony is only granted to those whose thesis has already been approved by the PhD committee. So after that, it’s all plain sailing, really. The defense does play a role in the sense that it is considered a public test of academic competence. Up to the moment when the beadle calls his Hora est.