UST Arki Thesis Defense: Tips and Expectations

Beato Angelico

This time next week, I would have sat through three days of my first ever experience as a Thesis Juror. It is both an honor and a horror for myself but one thing’s for sure: you’ll remember this for the rest of your life. I remember my own thesis deliberations as a fifth year candidate for graduation; So I thought about coming up with a list of things you need to know/ understand and expect. A little tidbit of information: Up to this day, I have memorized what they’ve said and how I should’ve answered that day.

I’m not sure if this applies to every other architecture school but in UST-Arki, this is how to make it through the week. Provided you’ve been endorsed (the second time) and you’ve done the work your thesis adviser requested, you should do the following things:
Prepare your mind, body, soul and your work!
  • Let’s not forget there’s a time and place for everything. This is the best time for you to get yourself together and look presentable.
  • Make sure you have everything before you start your presentation.
    • Print out your A3 copies first as a draft and CHECK if it’s legible. After making sure that everything is in order, print it out EARLIER than you need it. A day before, everything should be set.
    • If your boards are the sole mode of presentation, make sure everything’s spot on. Have it printed out in a smaller scale, correct it and then have it set printed on to the desired paper/board size.
  • Condition your mind and focus. You need to get through this!
  • Be prepared for the worst.
  • Have your presentation backups in three different places or bring your own equipment.
  • Have backup slides in case your jurors would need a little more information on your appendixes, blow up plans, materials, etc.
  • Practice your spiel and make a script weeks before your presentation. Own it!

Know your data
I always tell my students that a Thesis Defense is a test of ownership. Know your data and make sure you’ve done your research.

  • Answer questions clearly as it is referenced (from credible sources) and studied. It is expected that you know your book and where you got your data. Never say the following:
    1. I got the information from another prof/ person
    2. I got my data from the Internet (really?)
    3. I got my standards from a brochure
  • You don’t want your jurors to get to the point where they have to open your book for the answers they are looking for.
  • Speak your mind.. politely.
    1. This has a lot to do with being prepared as well. If it gets to a point where there’s this heated argument, know when to say “Point taken, Ma’am/ Sir.”

Present your data in a nice and logical order.
Tell a story if you have to. State the background/ intro briefly. The meat of your presentation should be your design solution. The concept, objectives and how it all ties with your thesis should be evident.

  1. Start with the background of your Thesis. Why did you want to solve this problem architecturally? After this, introduce your work. Just make sure that at the end of your presentation, everything essential was discussed. It doesn’t matter if you start with your perspectives or architectural bay section.
  2. Do try and explain your plans logically. Use legends and key plans. Orient it to your site.
  3. Watch your tone and volume. You don’t want to come off as arrogant. Even the way you stand can communicate the wrong body language.

Surround yourself with people you trust and return the favor

  1. What are friends for, right? If you have a little issue with speaking in front of a crowd, try and have them seated at three different spots where you can find them. Try and focus on your friends when you’re doing your presentation.
  2. Let them know your schedule and what you need. Ask them nicely!
Good luck to the Fifth Years scheduled for their Thesis Deliberations next week! You’ve had more than enough time to come up with a formidable solution to a grounded problem. We’re all looking forward to seeing intelligent solutions on display. All the hard work shall pay off as long as you deliver your ideas clearly, effectively and with grace.
I don’t think I’m prepared to be a Thesis Adviser just yet. Let me get through next school year with my baby thesis of my own before I get into this entirely different business of guiding students through the last stretch before graduation.

5 thoughts on “UST Arki Thesis Defense: Tips and Expectations

  1. Hi Ms. Andrea,

    This is a very helpful article for all architecture students who are currently doing their thesis. Well written and very informative. I should have stumbled on it before my brother’s thesis so at least he’s been guided. Will it be too much to ask about failing the thesis defense? I mean, my brother failed on it and he told us that he cannot march anymore. What will happen to those who failed their thesis defense? I hope you can also write about “tips on overcoming a failed defense”.

    I’m looking forward to hearing your suggestions Ms. Andrea.
    At the very least, I want to help my brother cope up with this very unfortunate/sad situation he’s in now. He can’t eat nor go out of his room.


    1. Hi Joanna.
      Thank you for taking the time to read through it. I’m sorry to hear about your brother but failures are also a part of learning. I’ll try and come up with an article about it after the Thesis Defense for all the Fifth years are done.

      As of now, maybe after three days or a week (give him time), the best thing to do is be there for him. This is just a hump on the road. If he really wants to pass the course, after some time, he should get up and start again 🙂 Being an architect is hard and life outside school would be exponentially harder. We want to prepare him for that.
      There are different reasons why he could have failed. After every defense, there’s a piece of paper the Chair would give. He couldn’t have just failed out of the whim of the panel. There, a list of comments are found. It should also state if he’s advised to re-take the summer or repeat the entire process starting from the book itself. He can ask his adviser what to do next.

      Hang on! The life of the architect is filled with revisions. His is a challenge no one else can do for him but himself. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the immediate reply Ms. Andrea 🙂 Please continue to write such helpful and inspiring articles. We’re trying to be there for him even on Skype only since we’re in the other part of the world.. thank you so much for your kind/encouraging words. That’s exactly what I told him, being an architect is filled with revisions, his thesis defense is his first trial of getting approved by “clients” (school panel). He’s advised to re-take the summer.

    BTW, I personally admire your blog main photo, hope I can make my own version of that pose too! :p

    Thanks again, Godbless you Ms. 🙂

  3. Ms, Andrea
    First I would like to say that I’m currently studying in UST Architecture as a 3rd year student. I found your blog very interesting. I like the post about the Filipino’s not having their own style of Architecture and how it is vernacular.

    I think it was fated to see your site while I’m on my third year and now trying to start my thesis. I think this gave me an excitement to start my thesis early on especially the defense part.
    In my opinion I don’t think people should be frightened on this deliberation if they are perfectly ready. Well, what I do know about is the stress of being in front of everyone especially your friends and strangers in the room. Confidence and readiness is the key to march on from this heart pounding obstacle.

    Thank you for posting this article as it really inspired me.

    1. It’s very humbling to give something back to the development of Filipino design and of course, the people directly involved in the production of culture: YOU! It’s good to start early because you have all of these subjects coming in to help you get a more focused idea on how to do it. USE THE UST LIBRARY! It’s the best.

      Glad you’ve stumbled upon my little secret blog and actually got something out of it. Hope to see you in school!

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