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Dissertation Defense

The purpose of this page is to provide students with guidance to defend the dissertation.

A student is considered to be ready for the dissertation defense if, the advisor considers the student work to be ready for submission and has given written and signed consent, the dissertation proved to be the students' authentic work, the study plan is completed and the treasury situation is settled.

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Study Plan Completion

  • Number of ECTS (total, major, specialization, etc.)
  • 4 LERNE sessions
  • Career Accelerator Lab
  • Research Methodologies Workshop
  • Third Language Requirement (if applicable)
  • Outgoing Platform (submit courses with the correct description)
  • Internship Requirement or International Requirement (if applicable – more information here). Please be aware that it must be submitted for validation approximately one month in advance.

Click here to access the Master's programs study plans.

You can schedule a meeting with Master Affairs here to ensure that your study plan is complete. 

Treasury Situation

Please be aware that your treasury situation needs to be settled within the established deadlines.

a) If the number of ECTS you took at CATÓLICA-LISBON exceeds the established limit, there will be additional costs.

Courses for which you have enrolled several times or that you stopped attending without a formal cancelation reviewed and processed by the Master Student Affairs may not appear in the student platform e-SCA but will be counted for ECTS payment.

Extra costs need to be settled prior to your dissertation defense and will be determined according to the following formula:

Extra cost = (number of ECTS in excess) x (Fee per ECTS*)

Example: If a student uses 69 ECTS in course work at CATÓLICA-LISBON until the dissertation defense (considering passed and failed courses), the student will have a final tuition settlement of 2 ECTS x 105€ (value AY 2021/2022) = 210€

* fee per ECTS is indicated in the Tuition Fees List, available online.

b) There is a late penalty of €175 (AY 2021/2022) for every deadline that is exceeded until a maximum of 4 deadlines.

c) Every time you enter a new academic year you are required to pay the annual enrolment fee.


Dissertations that are considered critical and will be rejected, exceed the Overall similarity index by 35% and/or the similarity index in relation to the primary source by 5%. Further information can be found HERE.

Advisor Signed Consent

Advisors must approve the student's Dissertation delivery/submission, for that effect, students must use the provided template, correctly filled in and signed by the advisor. The advisor's signature must be in accordance with the legal or hand-signed professor's signature, and NOT a regular adobe or other program default signature.

You will defend your dissertation in CATÓLICA-LISBON, in front of a jury, who will award a final grade of 0 to 20.

In accordance with Portuguese law, the jury will normally have three (but may have up to five) members, and will usually include your dissertation advisor.

Dissertation defenses are public, as required by Portuguese law.

The Roles of the Jury Members

Discussant – Of the three jury members, the discussant will most actively prepare and present questions and suggestions regarding the content, methodology, and findings of the dissertation.

President – The primary role of the President is to manage the proceedings, but they may also have some comments and questions.

Advisor – The advisor will have guided you through the dissertation development, and therefore it is expected that they will have fewer comments and questions. Nonetheless, they may contribute one or two questions, and/or comments.

The Structure of the Defense

Each defense session usually takes 40 minutes to 45 minutes, and students are required to be physically present at CATÓLICA-LISBON. The defense periods for the Academic Year are on our website, so please plan accordingly.

During the candidate's presentation, lasting 15 to 20 minutes (maximum), the student overviews the key points of the dissertation, briefly introducing the research question(s) and literature, and outlining the methodology, analysis, findings, and conclusions.

The Jury members will pose questions to the students, adding comments. Starting at length with the discussant, followed by the jury president, and the advisor. It is up to the president and jury members whether the questions are read at once, written down, and responded to, or if the student has the chance to respond to each question.

There are no rules regarding whether the student sits or stands, but the latter is more common unless the student is writing down questions.

The jury will ask you, as well as any guests, to temporarily leave the room so that they can deliberate and agree on a grade.

The jury may tell you the grade immediately after your defense, or they might ask you to wait until the other defenses from the same morning/afternoon have ended before communicating the grades to all of the candidates.

Dissertation Defence scheduling is a long process and we will send you information about your defense as soon as possible, and at least one week before the defense period starts. 

You will receive this confirmation by email, and it will include the following information:

  • Date and time
  • Location
  • Composition of the jury

Dissertation defenses are scheduled according to the availability of jury members and, as a result, we are unable to negotiate dates with students.

You may find information about the upcoming defense periods on the page Dissertation Dates and Deadlines.

The dissertation will be evaluated on several criteria:

  • Quality of literature review and appropriate references (e.g., including academic and current ones)
  • Quality of methods and analysis
  • Novelty and appropriateness of research question
  • Discussion, including an overview, of the limitations and possible future research
  • Quality of the document in terms of organization, clear writing, and correct English

Regarding case studies, there is less emphasis on the methods and data collection, and more on the quality of the pedagogical case that is developed in terms of relevance, usability, and interesting insights. In case of study dissertations, a literature review is also generally required, as well as a clear research question(s) that is addressed.

The dissertation will be weighted with the curricular portion of your program.


A student that has completed 56 ECTS in courses, with a weighted average of 16.5, and defended a dissertation which was awarded a 17.

The calculation is as follows:

NOTE: For this example, we have considered a Master's Program with 90 ECTS where the dissertation is worth 30 ECTS, and the students take 4 ECTS in Career Accelerator Lab.