Doctoral defence and post-doctoral party (School of Arts, Design and Architecture)
For information on the practical arrangements and IT support, date, place and language of the defence, please see the common instructions for public defence at Aalto University.
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Arrangements related to opponent
When the opponent has been appointed and date of the defence confirmed, the Doctoral Programme will send an official invitation to the opponent. The Doctoral Programme also sends guidelines for the opponent regarding the examination of the thesis. The opponent is requested to submit their statement by email within two weeks from the public defence either to the custos or directly to the Doctoral Programme.
The custos is responsible for instructing the opponent on practicalities of the defence.
- Agree with custos how the travelling arrangements of the opponent are handled. Travel services handle all the bookings and offer their assistance.
- Send the final PDF version of your doctoral thesis to the opponent as soons as it is ready. You should not be in conctact with the opponent regarding your thesis in any other way before the defence.
Defence proceedings explains what happens during the defence in practice and the formal lines for the respondent, opponent and custos. The proceedings are followed also during a remote/hybrid defence, but they can be modified (e.g. the parties can be seated during the whole remote defence).
Audience etiquette may be distributed to the audience of the defence. It explains to the audience e.g. when they should stand up, when it is time for questions and that they should not applaud during the defence.
Customarily the defence begins at 12 noon sharp and takes approximately 2 hours, but it can take up to 4 hours. The audience must enter the hall by 12 noon, but the repondent, opponent and custos enter at 12:15 sharp.
- The main participants enter the auditorium at 12:15 in the following order: the respondent, the Custos (presiding official) and the opponent(s). The audience has to be in the auditorium before 12:00. The audience rises, when the main participants enter.
- The doctoral candidate, the Custos and the opponent(s) wear a dark suit, a tailcoat with a black waistcoat or a formal black dress or suit without hat. The respondent can also wear the distinctive colour of her/his department for example on a scarf or a tie. A foreign opponent may wear the gown of her/his own university. The Custos and the opponent(s) carry their doctor’s hat when entering and leaving the auditorium.
- When everyone is seated, the Custos opens the examination by saying: "As the Custos appointed by the Doctoral Programme Committee of the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, I declare this public examination open."
- The candidate stands up to deliver her/his introductory lecture (lectio praecursoria) which should not exceed 20 minutes. The lectio starts with the words: “Honoured Custos, honoured opponent(s), ladies and gentlemen”. During the lectio the audience may not leave or enter the auditorium.
- No oral reference is made to the correction of misprints. But the respondent may give the opponent(s) a list of misprints which will then be attached to the written statement which the opponent submits to the Doctoral Programme Committee.
- After the lectio praecursoria the candidate addresses the opponent(s) with the words: “I ask You, honoured opponent(s) appointed by the Doctoral Programme Committee of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, to present the critical comments on the dissertation You find well-founded".
- The opponent then stands up and presents a brief statement in which she/he discusses the status and importance of the topic and other similar issues of a general nature. After this talk, both the opponent and the candidate seat themselves.
- Usually, the opponent first deals with methodological and general questions, and a more detailed examination follows. The opponent(s) may spend at most four hours on the examination, but two hours is customary. If the examination is likely to take a long time, the Custos may interrupt it by announcing a break.
- When the examination of the dissertation is completed the candidate and the opponent(s) rise and the opponent makes her/his final appraisal. Finally he/she will (usually) announce that he/she will propose to the Doctoral Programme Committee that the dissertation be accepted or not accepted.
The respondent remains standing to thank the opponent.
- The respondent thanks the opponent and turns to the audience and says: "If anyone present wishes to make any comments concerning my dissertation, please ask the Custos for the floor."
- The Custos sees to it that the candidate can respond immediately to each comment and that the speakers keep to the point.
- The Custos rises and closes the proceedings by saying: “The dissertation proceedings are closed”. The proceedings may not exceed six hours, two hours is customary.
In the introductory lecture the respondent should explain to the audience what new or interesting the dissertation has to offer and how it is connected to the field of study and to the society in general. The lectio might, for example, present the research area and the research work, explain the research questions and the method used and the results. You may also mention the most important theoretical sources of your work and how you position yourself in your research field. You may describe the background of the dissertation, but you are not expected to give a resumé of each chapter.
Remember that the audience usually has not been able to read the dissertation, and the lectio praecursoria may be the only part of the public examination that is understandable to all the participants of the occasion. You might bring up such general questions as: What conclusions or recommendations can be made on the basis of the research and its results? How does it contribute to our worldview?
You should not thank anyone in your lecture, please explain this to your family members and friends who may not know the academic tradition and might expect it.
The length of the lecture shall not extend 20 minutes. Please read aloud your speech a couple of times beforehand, and check the time.
Instructions for Custos
The Doctoral Programme Committee appoints the supervising professor as the custos of the public defence. Some other professor of the School with a doctor's degree in the same research field may also serve as the custos.
- The custos is responsible for guiding the opponent in matters concerning the procedures of the examination of the doctoral thesis and the public defence, see Instructions for opponents (ARTS).
- It is the role of the custos to discuss the grade with the opponent(s) and familiarise them with the grading scale used at the school and the principles of grading to be observed, see Instructions for opponents (ARTS).
- Custos makes sure that the statement of the opponent is made according to the guidelines of the school and is submitted to the Secretary of the Doctoral Programme Committee within 2 weeks from the defense (or preferably at latest 3 days before the next meeting of the Committee).
- Custos must also submit their own report to the Committee. The report must state how the defence proceeded (start and end times, number of persons in the audience).
The dress code for the respondent, opponent and the custos is:
Women: dark dress (black, dark blue or dark grey gown, jacket and skirt or trouser suit), long leaves, no headwear
Men: dark suit (black, dark blue or dark grey suit) or tail coat with black vest.
The respondent may use the identifying color of their department in e.g. scarf, tie or colar. An opponent who has defended their doctoral thesis abroad may use the cape of their university. The opponent and custos wear the doctor's hat according to their background.
Dress code for the public is free, however they should respect the solemnity of the occasion.
While it is an academic tradition, the post-doctoral party (karonkka) is not an official university event but a private event organised by the graduating doctoral student.
The Finnish word for the celebration, karonkka, derives from the diminutive form (koronka) of the Russian word korona, which means ‘crown’. The Finnish term karonkka is thus related to the Russian word koronovanije, signifying ‘coronation’. The post-doctoral party marks the end of the doctoral thesis process and is arranged by the doctoral candidate to thank the Opponent, the Custos and others who contributed to the work. Nowadays, doctoral students may invite friends and family along with members of the academic community to this party.
In the following, some traditions related to the post-doctoral celebration are explained.
As formal decisions on the doctoral thesis are not made until the conclusion of the public examination, invitations to the post-doctoral party were traditionally not sent in advance. In the past, the doctoral candidate contacted the Opponent before the public examination to enquire whether the doctoral candidate could make dinner arrangements, and after obtaining a positive response, the candidate "hinted" at the successful outcome to the guests to be invited. Nowadays, however, doctoral candidates send invitations in advance. Permission to defend the thesis in a public examination, given by the Doctoral Programme Committee, is sufficient indication of the quality of the thesis. The doctoral candidates themselves formulate the wording of their invitations, but it is recommended that the invitations contain information on the dress code, especially if the doctoral candidate prefers the guests not to wear tailcoats and evening dresses, as is the custom, or wishes to suggest alternative styles of dress.
In addition to the Opponent and the Custos, the invitees to the post-doctoral party should include professors working in the field of the thesis and others who have aided in the thesis work. The additional opponents, that is, persons who ask questions or make comments at the public examination, were previously invited to the celebration, but, according to an unwritten rule, they were not to accept the invitation.
The post-doctoral party may be arranged at home, in a restaurant or in the facilities of a student association (osakunta) or one's own department.
Men usually wear a tailcoat and a white waistcoat (a black waistcoat at the public examination), while women wear an evening dress. The doctoral candidate wears a black evening dress. The traditional colour used in academic celebrations is black, but other colours have also become common. Instead of a tailcoat, men may wear dark suits, in which case women wear a short formal dress. Should the doctoral candidate wish the guests to wear some other style of dress, this should be stated in the invitation.
The doctoral candidate is the host or hostess of the party, and the Opponent is the guest of honour, seated immediately to the right of the doctoral candidate. If there are two opponents at the public examination, they will be seated on both sides of the doctoral candidate. The next guest in the seating order is the Custos, seated to the left of or opposite the doctoral candidate. The other guests then follow, usually in the order of their academic achievements.
The doctoral candidate offers food, drinks and possibly other forms of entertainment to the guests invited to the post-doctoral party. The candidate starts by welcoming all those present before dinner is served.
Speeches are made after the meal when coffee has been served. The doctoral candidate thanks the Opponent and others who have aided in the work. The Opponent's answer is usually light-heartedly dignified rather than too solemn or formal. Next, the Custos may address those present. After this, other guests may speak in the order in which they were mentioned in the doctoral candidate's address. If the doctoral candidate wishes to thank his or her family members, this should be done at the conclusion of the candidate's address.