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Completing An Undergraduate Dissertation: How To Prepare For The Defense

The most stressful part of completing your undergraduate thesis is its oral defense. However, not all colleges require it. If it happens so that this kind of presentation is obligatory, please don’t panic. Here is a short guide that will help you with preparing for the defense.

  1. Determine the expectations.
  2. At the time you are working on your thesis, ask your lecturer in detail about what might await you at the forthcoming defense. It is also important to understand the panel of professors’ expectations. Ask the lecturer to coach you on the defense process because it can vary from college to college. Find time for attending several defenses to see everything with your own eyes. Pay attention to the student’s strategies and the way their argument is set up. How is the background of the topic presented? Remember that bad defenses can teach you even more than good ones.

  3. Thoroughly prepare your presentation.
  4. You can’t control the questions, but the presentation is in your hands. Make it clear and logically structured. Provide a well-grounded argument. Clearly formulate your research questions and sum up the conclusions. Avoid overly general statements. Make a detailed plan of the speech. Write down a few sentences per each point. Work out the plan at home, watching the time as you are speaking. If you intend to show slides during the presentation, practice using them in advance. Find out who is included in the committee; your mentor could possibly be the one of the members. Information about the audience can help you decide how to frame your particular findings.  

  5. Be ready for the questions.
  6. Since you get information about the committee members, you can guess what sort of questions might be asked. Find out their research interests and try to understand how those can be related to your undergraduate thesis topic. Think about all obvious questions that might arise at the defense. How can you defend a questionable point of view? Write down the questions you assume might emerge, think about the answers, and take notes.

  7. Try to relax.
  8. The closer the thesis defense date is, the more stressed you feel. This is absolutely normal, but fear won’t do you good. Switch your attention to the aim of your defense. The main task of the committee is to understand how good you are in this scientific field. The second one is to evaluate your critical thinking. Nevertheless, there is no need to be perfect in both regards. Try to achieve as much relaxation as possible the day before the defense.

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