Writing theses

In order to write a thesis, the programme’s Academic Committee will assign or approve the choice of supervisor prior to doctoral students submitting their thesis proposal. The definitive allocation of supervisors is subject to the signing of an agreement between them and the doctoral students they have been assigned.

Preliminary assessment of theses

The programme’s Academic Committee draws up an annual assessment report on the progress and the quality of theses and it writes an incremental progress report (for each year) that shows the progress and performance of students.

The programme’s Academic Committee must issue an assessment of the quality of theses based on internationally recognised quality scales. If the Committee believes that these scales are not reflected in a thesis or if it deems fit for any other reason, it can also base this assessment on a report written by two experts in the field of research dealt with by the thesis who do not teach on the programme or work at the UPC in any other capacity. These experts will be asked to write a report on the suitability of any theses they are asked to review within one month from the time they are submitted.

Registration of theses

Once the doctoral students have been given authorisation to do so, they may go through the process of registering their theses. As a general rule, a prerequisite to the registration of theses is that the authors must have paid the thesis registration fee, in addition to any other outstanding amounts due, which may include the payment of the enrolment fees for tutorials for the current academic year, regardless of the time at which the thesis is registered.

To register a thesis, the following documentation must be submitted:

  1. The registration application form;
  2. Two copies of the thesis;
  3. One copy of the thesis in electronic format (PDF) ;
  4. A summary of the thesis in English and one in Spanish or Catalan, both maximum 4,000 characters, including codes UNESCO.
  5. An authorisation to defend the thesis from the supervisor and the tutor, if applicable;
  6. Quality report and approval of the academic committee for the submission of the thesis, which must be attached, if applicable, a copy of the reports issued by external experts and two experts in place or the report signs of quality doctoral committee that guarantees the quality of the thesis so that it can defend.
  7. The application form for the award of a International Doctorate if this option has been taken, together with all other required documentation
  8. The proposed examination board;
  9. Brief CV (maximum 200 words) of all proposed members from outside the UPC.


Theses may be written and defended in Catalan, Spanish and English. However, the UPC’s Doctoral Studies Committee may authorise the use of other languages at the request of the doctoral student concerned, who must have given justified grounds for doing so.

Submission of theses

Doctoral theses must be submitted within 10 working days as of the time registration fees are paid. The period between 1 and 31 August, as well as all of the public holidays on the working calendar that are approved annually by the UPC’s governing bodies, shall not count in the calculation of this 10-day submission period.

Once the term for submission has elapsed without any objections having been raised, or once any objections raised have been resolved, the UPC’s Doctoral Studies Committee must decide whether or not it will authorise the defence of a thesis, or whether authorisation is subject to changes being made to it. The doctoral student, the thesis supervisor and the programme’s Academic Committee must be notified of the decision taken. If authorisation is denied, the grounds, basis and reasons for the decision must be specified.

Appointment of the examination board

The examination board appointed must have five regular members and two alternate members, who must be PhD holders of any nationality and with accredited research credentials in the field of specialisation of the doctoral thesis. No more than two members of the examination board may belong to the UPC community. If the supervisor is from outside the University, there must be at least one member of the UPC community on the examination board. Neither the supervisor nor the tutor may form part of the examination board.

Thesis defence

Once the examination board has been appointed, the chairperson will set a date for the thesis defence, and the secretary will notify the UPC’s Doctoral Studies Committee, the doctoral student and the doctoral programme’s Academic Committee of such at least 10 calendar days before it is to take place.

Award of International Doctorate

Students may request the award of an International Doctorate. This information will appear on the back of their degree certificates, providing the following conditions have been fulfilled:

  1. The doctoral student has spent at least three months in a higher education institution or research centre in a state other than Spain to take courses or conduct research over the training period necessary to obtain the doctorate. The stay must have been promoted or recognised by a basic unit responsible for the doctoral programme, and it must be accredited by means of a certificate issued by the person responsible for the research group of the organisation or organisations in which the stay took place.
  2. One part of the thesis and, at the very minimum, the abstract and conclusions must be written and presented in one of the official languages of the EU other than Spain’s official languages.
  3. The thesis must be accompanied by an officially credited preliminary report issued by at least two PhD holders who are experts in the field and who belong to an institution of higher education or research group in a state other than Spain.
  4. At least one expert with a PhD, who belongs to an institution of higher education or research centre in a state other than Spain but who did not issue the preliminary report provided for in the above point or issue the certificate of the recognition of the stay (point a), must have formed part of the thesis examination board.

In order to obtain the International Doctorate, the thesis defence must have taken place on UPC premises.

Submission of the doctoral thesis as a compendium of publications

Doctoral students must submit an application to the Doctoral Studies Committee, together with the following documentation:

  1. Report by the thesis supervisor, approved by the coordinator of the doctoral programme, in which the suitability of the presentation of the thesis as a compendium must be supported.
  2. A list of papers or other publications that make up the compendium of publications.
  3. A copy of the papers or other publications that will make up the doctoral thesis, with details of the impact factor of the journals or media in which they have been published.
  4. The written approval of any co-authors of the publications that the doctoral student submits as part of a thesis.
  5. The waiver of co-authors who are not PhD holders to submit published works as part of another doctoral thesis.


The Doctoral Studies Committee will examine the documentation provided and will decide whether the doctoral thesis can be submitted in this format. In any event, doctoral theses submitted in this format must fulfil the following criteria:

  1. Publications that are submitted as part of a thesis may not be submitted as part of any other doctoral thesis.
  2. Publications must have been written subsequent to starting the doctoral programme.
  3. When applications are submitted to present a thesis in this format, work to be published must have been accepted for publication in journals listed in the Science Citation Index in the field of research concerned and details given of its impact factor.
  4. Besides a copy of published work, theses that are submitted must contain an introduction in which the unique nature of the topic is demonstrated, as well as an abstract, the discussion of results and the final conclusions.

Thesis defence process according to Royal Decree 99/2011