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The dissertation defense is the final exam of the Ph.D. degree. It involves a public presentation of the results of the dissertation research followed by a question and answer session. The dissertation and defense committee consists of four members of which at least three must be KAUST faculty members. The committee chair plus one other member must be an affiliated faculty member. The committee must also include one external examiner who must write a report on the dissertation and attend the defense. Qualified visiting professors may be involved as on-campus committee members.
It is the responsibility of the student to inform the dissertation committee of his/her progress and meet deadlines for submitting a defense date and graduation forms. It is expected that students will submit their dissertations to their committee six weeks prior to the defense date in order to receive feedback from the committee members in a timely manner. However, the academic advisor may approve exceptions to this expected timeline. The dissertation format requirements are described in the KAUST Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines. The result of the defense will be made based on the recommendation of the committee. There are four possible results: (1) Pass: the student passes the exam and the dissertation is accepted as submitted; (2) Pass with revisions: the student passes the exam and the student is advised of the revisions that must be made to the text of the dissertation; (3) Failure with retake: normally this means the student must do more research to complete the dissertation. The student must revise the dissertation and give another oral examination within six months from the date of the first defense; and (4) Failure: the student does not pass the exam, the dissertation is not accepted, the degree is not awarded, and the student is dismissed from the University.