Final Year Kit – 2020/2021

The presentation of a PhD thesis and its discussion are the final steps in the career of all PhD candidates. The PhD thesis is expected to present original research contributions developed during the PhD studies of the candidate.

The thesis may include previously published work by the candidate, provided that the previously published material is cited appropriately in the thesis and the contribution of the author is clarified.

Politecnico di Milano doesn’t require a specific format; formats different to A4 or A5 will be allowed.

According to the law, all PhD theses are deposited at the National libraries of Rome and Florence, where they can be consulted locally.

The candidates admitted to the final exam must deposit their thesis online before the final exam; when depositing the thesis, they may decide whether to give public or limited access to the thesis in the Politesi repository of Politecnico di Milano, where all thesis are recorded and listed after the defense.

See also:

PhD candidates with a 3-year doctoral path can have an extension.

Based on the general advancement of the research, the candidate, together with his/her Supervisor, could ask to have additional time to finish the PhD path.

The candidate could ask to enrol for the 4th year in order to have 6 to 12 additional months to get to the final exam.

This request must be discussed prior to the final assessment with the PhD Board:

  • it is suggested that the candidate should ask for this possibility by the 3rd year Mid-term review (May 2021);
  • during the Final Assessment (September 2021), the Board will confirm it or not, according to the progress of the thesis.

Candidates who would like to ask for a “European Doctorate” must read the “Regolamento del Dottorato di Ricerca del Politecnico di Milano” (art.11,10) and inform the PhD Secretary Office prior to the Final Assessment.

National and University regulations are available here.

The steps

1. Indication of 2 External Examiners

The PhD candidate, together with his/her Supervisor, is required to indicate two External Examiners.

The Examiner has to be a highly qualified professor, also belonging to foreign institutions, and external to the Politecnico di Milano. Their role is to provide an in-depth evaluation of the thesis.

2. Mid-term review

The PhD candidate has to demonstrate that he/she has substantially concluded the research process and that all the data necessary for the writing of the thesis have been collected.

The PhD candidate is required to prepare and submit two documents:

  1. Annotated table of contents (“indice ragionato”) of the thesis in which the titles of the chapters are illustrated through short abstracts of the contents and the related bibliography
  2. Text describing the main results of the research work – including the ethical and social implications of the research, if any.

The documents are delivered prior to the review to a dedicated commission composed by 3/4 professors as much as possible related to the topic presented, included the candidate’s supervisor.

3. Plagiarism check of the thesis

Before the delivery of the final thesis, the PhD candidate, together with his/her Supervisor, is required to submit the thesis to a plagiarism check service provided by the PhD School.

To optimize the process, the candidate should present a document without the bibliography.

The plagiarism check by the system could be avoided if the work:

  • is restricted by confidentiality agreements
  • is produced as part of projects that are funded by public or private entities that have restrictions on divulging or using their results
  • includes elements of innovation making it impossible or inappropriate to initiate protection procedures
  • is subject to patent registration.

In all these situations, the supervisor should report the case to the PhD Board.

The candidate or the supervisor is not asked to send any plagiarism check report to the Board or the PhD Secretary Office.

The PhD candidates who asked to be enrolled in the 4th year would submit their thesis into a plagiarism check even at a later time (see schemas below).

4. Final Assessment

The Final Assessment of the PhD thesis is structured as a presentation to a commission composed by 4 professors or researchers. Supervisors are invited to join the assessment. It assesses the admission to the final exam.

All the PhD candidates are called upon to give a final presentation and participate in the final assessment, including those who requested to be enrolled in the 4th year.

In particular:

  • PhD candidates submitting the thesis during their third year are required to send a version of the thesis that is as close as possible to the final one to the Committee. The presentation should be intended as the general rehearsal of the thesis defence.
  • PhD candidates who asked to submit the thesis in their fourth year are required to give a presentation about the state of the art of their research, explaining the request of an additional year to complete their thesis.
    In this specific case, the deadlines of the final thesis submission and plagiarism check will be discussed within the PhD Board and confirmed by email by the PhD Secretary Office.
    The request to have additional time has to be approved or otherwise by the Final Assessment. For the deadlines of this case, refer to the schema of the PhD path with extension below.

5. Evaluation by external Examiners

If the Final Assessment is positive, the thesis and a PhD Annual Review listing the candidate’s activities, qualifications and his/her scientific publications, are submitted by the PhD candidate to the two External Examiners selected.
The PhD Secretary Office will send an email with further instructions before the delivery deadline.

The Examiners will provide their evaluation through a form, indicating:

  • general and detailed comments
  • scientific soundness and significance
  • quality of the written document (quality of the abstract and of the supported discussion and conclusions, thesis structure, adequacy of the references, clarity).

The Examiners will also suggest, among the following choices, an overall assessment to the supervisor and to the candidate:

  • minor revisions / major revisions / substantial revisions
  • PhD awardable
  • PhD awardable cum laude

6. Delivery of final thesis and final exam

The candidate is required to  deposit the thesis online one month before the final exam (the deadline will be communicated by e-mail) – see the section “Publication of the thesis” above.

The presentation lasts 30 minutes + 15/30 minutes of Q&A session.