Public defence at Aalto University
Instructions for the practical arrangements of the doctoral defences at Aalto University
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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Public defence announcement and public display of thesis (aalto.fi)Distribution of thesis (aalto.fi)Graduation (aalto.fi)
Instructions for the practical arrangements of the doctoral defences at Aalto University
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 supervising that the public examination follows the guidelines of Aalto University. The Doctoral Programme is responsible for instructing the opponent on practicalities of the defence.
Here you can find detailed information on the course of events in the public defence. Protocol follows the usual instructions also in public defences organized remotely.
Forms of address
At the public examination, the form of direct address is "Mr / Madam Opponent".
The doctoral candidate and the Custos may discuss in advance the examination's degree of formality. The participants do not have to resort to pre-formulated modes of expression. Some of the expressions traditionally used at public examinations are, however, mentioned below.
The protagonists at the defence shall arrive in the following order: first the doctoral candidate, then the Custos, and last the opponent(s). The audience shall rise to acknowledge their arrival.
The Custos and the opponent(s), if they have doctors' degrees, shall carry their doctoral hats as they enter and leave the lecture hall. During the defence, their hats stand on the table in front of them, with the lyre emblem towards the audience.
Opening of the examination
When everyone has taken his or her place, the Custos shall welcome everyone, introduce the doctoral candidate and the opponent(s) and declare the proceedings open: ”At this defence, the doctoral thesis of NN, Master of Science in Technology, will be presented for examination for the degree of Doctor of Science.
Professor NN of the university of X will act as the official opponent. As the official Custos appointed by the Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering, I declare this defence open”. The audience will then take their seats.
The doctoral candidate shall stand to deliver the Lectio Praecursoria, which shall last a maximum of twenty minutes. The opening phrase is ”Honoured Custos, honoured opponents, esteemed audience.”
The doctoral candidate generally gives the Lectio Praecursoria in the language of the public defence. If the doctoral candidate wishes, Lectio Praecursoria can be given in Finnish or in Swedish. In this case, it is courteous to inform the opponent, who does not speak Finnish or Swedish, of its contents.
The candidate may give the opponent(s) a list of mistakes noticed in the manuscript and may also distribute copies to the audience.
After the Lectio Praecursoria the candidate, still standing, shall say in the language of the defence: ”I ask you, honoured professor(s)/doctor(s) NN (and NN) appointed as opponent(s) by Doctoral programme committee of Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering to present the observations that you consider appropriate for this doctoral thesis”.
Opponent's opening statement
The opponent (or one of the opponents) stands and makes a short opening statement in which he or she deals with the position and significance in science of the subject of the doctoral thesis and other questions of a general nature. After this statement, the opponent and the candidate sit down.
At the beginning of the examination proper, the opponent(s) generally focus(es) on the methodology and general questions, after which follows a detailed examination. The whole defence shall not exceed four hours.
Closing statement and a word of thanks
At the end of the examination, the opponent(s) present(s) a closing statement. The candidate and the opponent(s) stand for the closing statement.
The doctoral candidate will remain standing to thank the Opponent.
The candidate, remaining standing, thanks the opponent(s) and then the opponent(s) sit(s) down. The candidate turns to the audience and says: ”Esteemed audience, I ask those of you who have observations to make on the doctoral thesis here presented to kindly request the floor from the Custos.”
The Custos shall preside over the discussion by giving the floor and ensuring that the candidate has the opportunity to answer each point in turn and that the discussion remains relevant.
It is advisable that the Custos makes clear at the defence that anyone besides the opponent(s) who intend(s) to make an official observation about the doctoral thesis shall give notice of this intention at the defence, otherwise that person loses the right to make such an observation. (Any observations about the defence shall be made to the department within two weeks of the defence.)
Conclusion of the examination
The Custos shall present the thanks of the Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering to the opponent(s).
The Custos shall close the defence by standing and saying, ”I declare this public examination closed”.
The protagonists leave the hall in the same order as they entered, first the candidate, then the Custos and finally the opponent(s).
Doctoral candidates are sometimes given flowers and gifts after the public examination. The candidate should make advance arrangements for their transportation or should agree with the guests that flowers and gifts, if any, will be delivered directly to the candidate's home.
These instructions apply to the doctoral student, the opponents and the custos. Dress code follows the usual instructions also in public defences organized remotely.
There are no guidelines for the audience's dress code at the public examination. As the examination is public, it is open to everyone. It is thus perfectly acceptable to attend the examination in everyday clothing. However, guests invited by the doctoral student usually wear a dark suit or other more formal clothing.
The doctoral student, custos and opponent should all wear similar type of suit. Men should wear either a tailcoat with a black waistcoat or a dark suit; women should wear a black, long-sleeved dress. The opponent can also wear the ceremonial gown of his/her home university (not Finnish).
Doctoral student has not acquired the permission to use the doctoral hat before s/he participates the Ceremonial Conferment of Doctoral Degrees after the graduation.
A black tailcoat, trousers with a satin stripe down the outside seam. The coat is not buttoned up. Black waistcoat, white dress shirt, with starched front and collar. White tie, no pocket handkerchief during the day. Black socks, thin-soled shoes (not patent leather during the day). No wrist watch. Outdoor clothes: black overcoat or cape, white scarf and white gloves
Men, dark suit
Single- or double-breasted, black suit (giving the impression of being dark). The material may have a discreet stripe. If a waistcoat is worn, it should be of the same material as the suit or toning with it. White shirt, the tie or bow tie should be subdued and tone with the suit (not white), dark socks and thin-soled shoes.
Black suit or high-necked dress (giving the impression of being dark). No hat, gloves or obvious jewelry.
If the opponent wears an academic gown, the doctoral candidate and the Custos shall agree whether to wear a tailcoat or dark suit.
|Frakki, juhlapuku||White tie, Evening dress||Frack, Festdräkt||Tenue de soirée||Frack|
|Tohtorinviitta||Doctor's gown||Doktorskappa||Cape de docteur||Kappe/Cape|
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.