This post is quite a niche post and only concerns you, if you want to do your Ph.D in the physics department of the KIT, as there are a myriad of unwritten rules. I assume the following now: You wrote your thesis (yay!) but still have to do your oral exam (defense, not yay!)
First of all, review the current Studienplan very carefully: http://www.physik.kit.edu/Studium/Studienplaene/
- 4 months before: If you don’t have one yet, choose a co-supervisor. Note: One of the two has to be a full professor at KIT (the University part).
- Also 4 months before: Plan a date for the defense with your supervisor and co-supervisor. The date has to be on a Friday within a running semester. Ask both, when you need to submit your thesis for review, in case you actually didn’t finish writing yet. And we all know you didn’t.^^
- Exactly 3 months before on a Friday: Be at the dean’s secretary office at about 7:45 am and wait for her to arrive. There are only three appointments per day. I was there at 8:15 am and I got the third appointment. The secretary arrived at 8:10 am.This is the reason, why you need to apply exactly 3 months before. Edit: There has been a small change for the first three and the last two appointments during the semester. For those, all requests will be collected and afterwards appointments will be “assigned”, so you might not get your favorite date. However it’s still safest to register exactly three months before. Thanks to Benny for telling me.
- After you got the appointment immediately request your “Privates Führungszeugnis” at the city hall (Bürgerbüro) you are registered in, also if you are a foreigner (It takes about 2 weeks to arrive). In case you live in Karlsruhe, make an appointment over here: http://www.karlsruhe.de/b4/buergerdienste/oa/bbmitte.de
- Immediately after, but at least 6 weeks before: Submit a written request to defend your thesis at the Studienbüro http://www.kit.edu/studieren/12703.php This should include:
the request itself (a letter to the Dean, which says: I want to do my defense on the XX.XX.XX in the physics department),
the written declaration that you didn’t receive any help or tools, which you didn’t disclose. I uploaded my LibreOffice template for the latter here: http://www.timo-strunk.de/files/public/fruehere_promotion.odt,
your CV and
a copy of your last Diploma.
They take about two weeks to process this request and send it to the secretary in the physics department. She wants to have it at least two weeks before. Therefore 6 weeks is a good buffer.
- Print your thesis at least 7 times (one for you, one for each member of the commitee) and submit the one for the dean at the dean’s secretary office.
- Now would also be a good time to prepare your talk. You have exactly 20 minutes. Staying in time is very important here. Edit: You can nowadays choose between a PPT and a poster presentation. Do the PPT. As to the talk: No details, just concepts. A derivation of some equation is welcome on the blackboard, if it’s short.
- If you didn’t by now: Start studying! Consider especially topics, which are very far from your own subject. Also join the weekly colloquium as often as possible. The exam in Karlsruhe is very wide topic-wise. There are some folders describing previous exams. Study them. Some referees ask always the same, many don’t, but at least you will get an idea about how they ask, which is unlike the Diploma exams.
- Two weeks before you will receive a letter at home and work, if you work at the KIT, which discloses your final referees.
- Study their expertise and try to find overlap between your and their research. Make appointments with them to give them your thesis. They usually give you the opportunity to present your work very briefly. The first thing they look at mostly is your own publications (last page of the thesis); afterwards they ask what you did and go through your thesis like a magazine to find something they can relate to. If you present something they can relate to, they will ask questions to this if you are lucky. Some Professors also want you to prepare a specific topic or paper. This, however, didn’t happen to me.
- The secretary will schedule a final shake-hands with the dean before the exam. They will show you the room with the other two candidates for the day. You don’t have to prepare anything.
- Relax! Because if you don’t, you will inevitably fail miserably! Now sleep! Just kidding: Nobody failed the exam yet. It is grade relevant, however as I was told only for about one grade step (going down from the proposed grade, not going up). So Good Luck.
I get that these are mostly details I write about here. However they are details, which are passed from generation to generation all the time and sometimes fragments get missing. I for example didn’t know I had to send the request to do the exam through the Studienbüro. Thankfully I was still in time.