You will defend your dissertation in Católica-Lisbon, in front of a jury, who will award a final grade of 0 to 20.
The jury will normally have three (but may have up to five) members, and will usually include your dissertation advisor.
Dissertation defences 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 will also prepare a couple of comments and questions.
Advisor – The advisor will have guided you through your work, and therefore it is expected that they will have fewer comments to make during the defence and fewer questions to ask. Nonetheless, they may contribute one or two questions, and/or comments.
The Structure of the Defence
Each defence session usually takes 40 minutes, and students are required to be physically present at Católica-Lisbon.
During the candidate's presentation, lasting 15 to 20 minutes (maximum), the student overviews the key points of the dissertation, including introducing very briefly the research question and literature, as well as overviewing the methodology, analysis, findings and conclusions.
Following that, there will be questions and comments directed to the student by the jury members. Usually the discussant will do so first and at most length, followed by the jury president, and the advisor. It is up to the president and jury members whether, for example, all the questions are read at once, written down and responded to, or whether 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 defence, or they might ask you to wait until the other defences from the same morning/afternoon have ended before communicating the grades to all of the candidates.