Oral examination

If the review of the dissertation is positive, it is followed by the oral examination in which you must demonstrate that you have in-depth knowledge of your subject and the necessary research ability. The oral examination may take the form of a Disputation, a Rigorosum or a Kolloquium. It is usually a single examination and is carried out by the doctoral committee. For information about the form that the oral examination takes, the admission of listeners and the duration of the examination, please refer to the doctoral regulations.

Form of oral examination

Sometimes you can choose yourself whether the oral examination takes the form of a Disputation, a Kolloquium or a Rigorosum. Some faculties also allow a combination of the different forms. In most cases the Disputation or the Kolloquium is the usual form of examination.

  • Disputation

    Strictly speaking, a Disputation is a scholarly debate with the members of the examination panel in which you respond to criticism of your dissertation offered in the reviews. However, this type of Disputation is not always the norm today. Instead, you will often be expected to deliver a short presentation on your dissertation and then discuss it with the examiners. The discussion may also cover other areas of research, for example those arising from your secondary fields. The Disputation is traditionally open to all members of the university. It is the most common form of oral examination.

  • Kolloquium

    The Kolloquium may be described as a modified form of the Disputation. In this type of examination you will also give a short presentation on your dissertation, which you then discuss with the members of the examination panel. However, this discussion is more of an exchange of thoughts than a debate. The discussion during a Kolloquium is therefore usually described as a "Prüfungsgespräch" (examination discussion) and not a "Streitgespräch" (disputation), during which areas of research other than those covered by your dissertation may also be examined.

  • Rigorosum

    The Rigorosum is a form of oral examination that deals with the content of your dissertation but also extends significantly beyond it. During the Rigorosum, in addition to the areas of research dealt with in your dissertation, your knowledge of the entire field is examined. You will agree on the specific examination topics in advance with the examiners. The Rigorosum is not usually a public examination.

After the oral examination

Immediately after the oral examination, the chairperson of the doctoral panel announces the result of the examination, which also influences the overall mark. If the result of the oral examination is negative, you cannot usually take the examination again.