Doctoral education

Doctoral defence and post-doctoral party (School of Electrical Engineering)

Both the public defence and the post-doctoral party are academic events which follow a predetermined protocol. During the public examination of the doctoral thesis, or the defence, the doctoral student defends the results of their doctoral thesis against public criticism and answers questions presented by the opponent, who has been appointed to evaluate the thesis. The course of the public defence is supervised by a custos, who usually is the supervising professor of the doctoral student. The post-doctoral party, or "karonkka" marks the end of the doctoral thesis process and is arranged by the doctoral student to thank the opponent, the custos and others who contributed to the work.

Practical instructions

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.

Also check out:

Public defence announcement and public display of thesis ( of thesis ( (

Doctoral hat floating above a speaker's podium with a microphone

Public defence at Aalto University

Instructions for planning and arranging public defences (for doctoral student and custos)

Doctoral education

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.

Dress code

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).

Post-doctoral party

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.

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