Doctoral defence and post-doctoral party (School of Electrical Engineering)
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.
Check list for the doctoral student:
- Agree with custos how the travelling arrangements of the opponent are handled. The secretarial services of the department handle all the bookings and offer their assistance.
- Send your final thesis to the opponent. The Doctoral Programme does not send the thesis to the opponent. You should not be in contact with the opponent regarding your thesis in any other way before the defence.
Protocol 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 audience enters the room and takes their seats before the proceedings begin. The audience stands up to greet the doctoral candidate, the Custos and the opponent(s) when they enter the room. The order of entering is the following: first the candidate, second the Custos and last the opponent(s).
The Custos and opponent(s) hold their doctoral hats in their hands as they enter and exit the hall. For the duration of the event, they place the doctoral hats on the table in front of them, the lyre emblem facing the audience.
Opening of the examination
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 public examination for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology. The official opponent is Professor N.N. from the University of x. As the Custos appointed by the Doctoral Programme Committee of the Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering, I hereby declare the public examination open".
Standing, the doctoral candidate gives his/her lectio praecursoria, lasting no more than 20 minutes. The opening phrase is ”Honoured Custos, honoured opponents, ladies and gentlemen".
The candidate gives his/her lectio praecursoria usually in English but it can also be given in Finnish or Swedish. (If in Finnish or Swedish, it is recommended that a translation of the lectio praecursoria is provided for opponent or the opponent is otherwise informed of its contents.) After the lectio praecursoria, the proceedings continue in the language agreed for the public examination.
The candidate may give the opponent(s) a list of errors s/he has noted in the manuscript and distribute copies of them also to the audience.
After the lectio praecursoria, the candidate still standing, recites, in the language agreed for the public examination: “I call upon you, distinguished professors(s)/Doctor(s), as the opponent(s) appointed by Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering, to present comments on my thesis as you deem appropriate."
Opponent's opening statement
The opponent (or one of the opponents) stands while making a brief statement touching the position of the subject of the thesis within the academic field, its significance for science and other issues of a general nature.
After this statement, the opponent and the doctoral candidate sit down.
At the beginning of the examination proper, the opponent first focuses attention on methods and general issues, and then undertakes a detailed examination.
The public examination of a doctoral thesis shall not take more than 4 hours.
Closing statement and a word of thanks
At the end of the examination, the opponent(s) present his/her closing statement. Both the candidate and the opponent(s) stand during the closing statement.
The candidate remains standing to thank, his/her opponent(s), after which the opponent(s) is/are seated.
The candidate turns to the audience and says: “Ladies and gentlemen, I now ask those of you who have observations to make on my thesis presented here to kindly ask the Custos for the floor."
The Custos shall reside over the discussion by giving the floor when requested and ensuring that the candidate has a chance to reply to each comment immediately and that the discussion remains relevant.
The Custos should make clear in the public examination that others than the opponent(s) must make known in the public examination, if they intend to issue an official written comment on the thesis or they will lose their right to do so. (Any comments made on the thesis or its defence shall be submitted to the school within two weeks for the public examination.) This should however be done in a manner that does not discourage open discussion.
Conclusion of the examination
The custos extends his/her gratitude to the opponent(s) on behalf of the school. The Custos closes the public examination with the words "I declare this public examination closed". The doctoral candidate, the Custos and the opponent(s) leave the auditorium in the same order and manner as they came in.
Congratulations take place outside the auditorium. In remote defenses the Custos can open for online congratulations, after the official part is over.
The candidate may offer coffee and cake at the end of the event at their own expense.
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).
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.
|White tie, Evening dress
|Tenue de soirée
|Cape de docteur
Source: Marja Sadeniemi / University of Helsinki, Communications
The post-doctoral party, karonkka, is an academic tradition. It takes place in the evening of the public examination. The karonkka party is held in honour of the opponent. The doctoral candidate acts as the host or hostess. Even though many traditions are involved in a karonkka party, the doctoral candidate may follow his/her taste and preferences in the arrangements. The post-doctoral party marks the end of the thesis process and is arranged by the doctoral candidate to thank the Opponent, the Custos and others who contributed to the work. Nowadays, doctoral candidates may also invite friends and family along with other members of the academic community to this party.
In the following, some traditions related to the post-doctoral celebration are explained.
Invitations to the post-doctoral party are sent in advance. It is polite for the candidate to contact the opponent before the public examination and ask whether s/he can start the party arrangements.
An invitation is sent to the opponent and the custos, supervisor and thesis advisors, pre-examiners and co-authors, as well as to anyone else who has contributed to the thesis. The candidate's companion, parents and close friends are usually included in the guest list. However, the karonkka is not a family party.
It is also customary to invite the persons from the audience who asked questions or made comments at the public examination to the post-doctoral party but, according to an unwritten rule, they are not to accept the invitation.
The doctoral candidate may formulate the wording of the invitation. It should indicate the dress code, especially if the doctoral candidate prefers the guests not to wear tailcoats and evening dresses, or wishes to suggest alternative styles of dress.
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.
As for dress code, men traditionally wear a tailcoat and women wear an evening dress. Men should also wear a white waistcoat. Female candidates, as well as female guests arriving with a partner in tailcoat, should wear a long evening dress, either black or some dark colour. In the invitation, this dress code is expressed as 'dress suit'.
Instead of a tailcoat, men may wear a dark suit. In this case the female partner should wear a knee-length formal dress. In the invitation, this dress code is expressed as 'dark suit'.
The post-doctoral party in general is a festive occasion and everyone should dress accordingly, not too casually.
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.
The speeches of thanks given by the candidate should be rather short and given without paper.
The opponent will immediately reply to the candidate's speech. The opponent's response is usually light and informal, not too solemn or serious. Should the custos like to say a few words, he or she can do so after the opponent has finished. After this the guests may say a few words in the order they were mentioned in the candidate's speech.
After the speeches, the party takes a more informal turn and the guests can enjoy the music or other programme and each others' company.