Examination of a doctoral dissertation


According to the Administrative Procedure Act (434/2003, 27 §) an official shall not participate in the consideration of a matter or be present during such consideration, if he/she is disqualified. This means that none of the persons involved in the examination and assessment of doctoral dissertation (preliminary examiner, opponent, Faculty Council member or the person making the draft of the Faculty Council’s decision or the member of the assessment board) should be incompetent due to the likelihood of bias.

Department: proposal for the preliminary examiners of a doctoral dissertation

  • before the preliminary examination, the doctoral student submits the dissertation manuscript to the plagiarism detector (Urkund) by sending it as an email attachment to the address provided by his or her supervisor-in-charge
  • the supervisor-in-charge is responsible for processing the (Urkund) report
  • the supervisor-in-charge sends the (Urkund) report and a short statement concerning the responsible conduct of research to the Faculty (to coordinator Heli Niskanen) for archiving. The faculty is responsible for providing the report for the preliminary examiners in case they want to use it in assessing the manuscript. Information and instructions on Urkund can be found here.
  • the doctoral student will then send the study to the Coordinator Heli Niskanen at the Faculty Office as a PDF-file

Department: before making the proposal for the preliminary examiners of a doctoral dissertation

  • once the supervisor-in-charge has ensured that the dissertation manuscript is eligible for preliminary examination and has ensured that the manuscript meets all dissertation requirements, the main representative of the subject will make a proposal for the appointment of preliminary examiners. The proposal is submitted to the Coordinator Heli Niskanen.
    • Before the proposal, it must be verified from the student register that the doctoral student is registered as a student of the subject in question and enrolled for attendance as a postgraduate student
    • The proposal is made using a form provided by the Faculty
    • The proposal must contain the contact details of the preliminary examiners
    • The proposal must mention the name of the supervisors. Supervisors of the dissertation cannot act as preliminary examiners.

Faculty Council: nomination of the preliminary examiners

  • Faculty Council nominates the preliminary examiners. The dates of meetings and the submission deadlines can be found in the Faculty Council meeting schedule.
  • Faculty (person in charge: Coordinator Heli Niskanen) informs the doctoral student, the preliminary examiners and the supervisor-in-charge of the decision
  • the preliminary examiners are sent the manuscript and the decision together with
    • instructions on the examination of a dissertation and
    • payment detail form.
  • Faculty (person in charge: Coordinator Heli Niskanen) checks the situation of the doctoral student’s postgraduate studies from the student register and submits a report to the doctoral student and his or her supervisor-in-charge.
  • the doctoral candidate and the preliminary examiners may not communicate directly with each other. The Faculty oversees the communication between the candidate/supervisor(s) and the preliminary examiners. The doctoral student must tell his/her supervisors if he/she has communicated directly with preliminary examiner(s) during the process.

Faculty Council: granting the permission to defend a doctoral dissertation and the decision on the public examination of a doctoral dissertation

  • when the written statements of the preliminary examiners have arrived at the Faculty, the Faculty Council decides on the permission to defend the doctoral dissertation. The permission to defend the dissertation is granted, the public examination of the dissertation is set, and the opponent and the custos are nominated at the same Faculty Council meeting.
  • the main representative of the subject makes a proposal on the public examination to the Faculty Council. The proposal must include
    • the name of the doctoral student and the dissertation;
    • the date, time, and location of the public examination;
    • the opponent(s) (with contact details, unless they were also the preliminary examiners) and the custos;
    • members of the assessment board.
  • Faculty (person in charge: Coordinator Heli Niskanen) informs the doctoral student and the supervisor-in-charge about the decision on the permission to defend a doctoral dissertation. The doctoral student, the opponent, the assessment board and the main representative of the subject are informed about the decision on the public examination of a doctoral dissertation.
  • Faculty covers the expert fees of the preliminary examination
  • the decision is sent to the opponent with
    • information on the examination of a dissertation;
    • guidelines for evaluating postgraduate theses and dissertations;
    • information on the public examination;
    • payment detail form and travel expense report.


  • the candidate is responsible for the printing and the necessary distribution of the dissertation

Public examination

  • department, together with the candidate, takes care of the practical matters related to the public examination and the travel arrangements of the opponent
  • the doctoral student is not allowed to communicate directly with the opponent. The communication between the doctoral student and the opponent must go via the Custos. The doctoral student must tell his/her supervisors if he/she has communicated directly with the opponent during the process.
  • Faculty covers the opponent’s fee and travel expenses including travel fees, daily allowance, and two nights in a hotel. The department or the opponent him/herself covers the expenses for more than two nights in a hotel. Department may also enquire from the Faculty (the Dean) if the Faculty would cover the expenses for three nights in a hotel. This should be done in a good time before the public examination. If needed, travel secretary of the department assists with travel arrangements. His/her contact information can be found on the website of the Service Center.
  • The doctoral candidate contacts the secretary of his/her department and asks him/her to organise the service and to ensure that a space is reserved for the coffee service (for example, Semma-cafeterias).
  • the assessment board presents the Faculty Council with a proposal for a grade for the dissertation. The opponent(s) must give, either jointly or separately, a substantiated written statement of evaluation on the dissertation to the Faculty Council with a proposal for a grade within two weeks of the public examination. Also the Custos gives also his/her written statement.

Faculty Council: approval of a doctoral dissertation

  • after the public examination, the candidate applies for a degree from the Faculty
    • unless the candidate already has a licentiate degree, the studies required by the postgraduate teaching plan must be completed and entered to the student register
  • Faculty Council approves the dissertation. The decision requires
    • a statement signed by the opponent;
    • a proposal by the assessment board for a grade for the dissertation;
    • a statement by the custos.

Faculty: conferring a doctoral degree

  • the dean confers the doctoral degree. The decision requires an application from the candidate.
  • Faculty (person in charge: Coordinator Salla Kujala) sends a diploma and information on the decision to the candidate and informs the supervisor-in-chief and the main representative of the subject of the approval.
  • A faculty or an independent institute offering doctoral education that has not granted the student the right to pursue postgraduate studies but has provided the doctoral student with supervision and wants compensation for the contribution should contact the faculty awarding the degree at the time of the application for the degree, using a form found on this website (in Finnish).