Five Major Rules For A Successful Master's Thesis Defense

5 Rules for a Master’s Thesis Defense

When you’re writing your thesis and need to do a thesis defense, it can be very scary to prepare for. You have no idea if your examiners will approve, or if they’ll ask something that you don’t know how to answer. A thesis is a big project and it takes a lot of your life to complete it. Because of this, the work put into it should be work that you enjoy doing. If you aren’t really happy with the thesis that you’re going to write, then it’s going to be so much harder to keep at it and to finish your work. At a thesis defense, you need to convince the examiners that you know what you’re talking about, and they’ll be able to tell if you’re truly passionate for that topic or not, so make sure that you are.

Despite this being an oral exam in some ways, the thesis defense differs because usually the student, or candidate (you) knows more about the subject of the thesis than the examiners do. There will be a lot of sincere questions that are easy for you to answer because they simply don’t know. Students expect very attacking or difficult questions, but that’s not ordinarily the case.

Here are five tips to surviving your thesis defense:

  • Take your time. Using a few seconds of silence between answering a question is a reasonable thing to the panel you’re presenting to. Even though it may seem like minutes of silent failure, make sure you do it.
  • Don’t bluff your way out of a question. Some simple questions really just require a simple answer. Don’t try using jargon or referring to some complicated equation, and instead just tell it like it is.
  • Phrases to use when you need to stall. If you ever find yourself speechless, say “That’s a good question.” and take some time to think about it. It will flatter the examiner and gets them on your side. You can also use “That answer isn’t very straightforward or obvious” to the same effect.
  • Don’t worry about keeping calm. The panel will expect you to be nervous and/or over excited. Taking your time isn’t the same as being calm. In fact, the adrenaline from nervousness will probably help your case.
  • What to expect. Usually the panel has read your thesis twice already, and they focus on the good parts. They aren’t out to fail you, in fact there’s far more paperwork to fail you then to pass you./li>