Grading committee

Select degree programme

Search for degree programme

Bachelor's Programmes

Master's and Licentiate's Programmes

Doctoral Programmes

Reset

Usually, the grading committee is appointed in the same Faculty Council meeting where permission for a public defence is granted. When necessary, the appointment can be deferred to a subsequent meeting. After the preliminary examiners’ statements have been submitted, the Faculty Council’s presenting official requests from the supervisor and responsible teacher a proposal on the composition of the grading committee.

Members of the grading committee include the opponent, the custos and one or two faculty representatives. The doctoral candidate will be notified of the composition of the grading committee before the Faculty Council meeting, and he or she has the right to submit an objection to the composition of the grading committee. Members of the grading committee will receive the preliminary examiners’ statements for their information.

Opponent

The opponent must be a professor, docent or a scholar with equivalent academic qualifications. The opponent is always appointed from outside the doctoral candidate’s home faculty and, as a rule, also from outside the University of Helsinki. The dissertation supervisor may never serve as the opponent. The opponent will submit to the faculty a reasoned written statement on the scientific value of the doctoral dissertation no later than two weeks after the public examination.

When proposing the appointment of the opponent, the principles of disqualification concerning opponents must be observed. The opponent cannot have a relationship with the doctoral candidate, the doctoral dissertation or another relevant party that may challenge his or her impartiality. Therefore, for example, the following people are disqualified from serving as an opponent:

  • Individuals who have co-authored one of the articles included in the dissertation
  • Individuals who are or have been during the dissertation project in research collaboration with the doctoral candidate
  • Individuals who have conducted close research collaboration with the dissertation supervisor within three years prior to the examination of the dissertation
  • Close relatives of the doctoral candidate
  • Immediate supervisors and subordinates of the doctoral candidate and the supervisor
  • Members of the thesis committee, if any

In exceptional cases, two opponents can be appointed. The appointment of two opponents may be possible when the topic of the dissertation is cross-disciplinary, and a single suitable individual with sufficient expertise for assessing the entire dissertation is not available. Proposals on appointing a second opponent must always be well grounded.

For well-grounded reasons, an individual who has served as a preliminary examiner of the dissertation may also be appointed as an opponent. Such a reason may be the difficulty of finding an entirely new candidate for the opponent due to the language or topic of the dissertation, or due to disqualification.

Custos

A professor or associate professor (2nd stage of the tenure track) from the doctoral candidate’s home faculty will be appointed custos. Often, the dissertation supervisor serves as the custos, but another faculty professor may also be appointed. If the custos has not acted as a supervisor, he or she can also be appointed to the task of faculty representative. If the custos has served as the supervisor, he or she cannot participate in the grading of the doctoral dissertation.

The custos serves as the chair of the public examination and completes other duties as provided by the University.

Faculty representative

In addition to the opponent and custos, the faculty will, at its discretion, appoint one or two faculty representatives to the grading committee. Faculty representatives must be professors or docents of the University of Helsinki or members of the university's teaching and research staff with the academic qualifications of a docent. The faculty representative(s) must be well acquainted with the grading criteria and regulations related to the examination of doctoral theses in use at the University of Helsinki.

It is the duty of the faculty representative(s) to supervise that the grading of the dissertation is based on the faculty’s grading criteria and the general criteria of the University of Helsinki concerning doctoral dissertations. Additionally, they must inform the opponent of the practices of the University of Helsinki.

Faculty-specific additional guidelines

Certain faculties have guidelines on the appointment of the grading committee that further specify the general provisions set by the University. Below you will find any further provisions by your faculty, as well as a link to your faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee. In connection with the guidelines, you will also find further information on the assessment criteria for doctoral dissertations at your faculty.

Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry

The Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry has no specific provisions on the appointment of the grading committee. The Faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee are available on the Faculty website.

Faculty of Arts

At the Faculty of Arts, the first faculty representative is appointed after the decision is made to launch the preliminary examination process. The first faculty representative is always appointed from outside the discipline of the doctoral candidate. At the Faculty of Arts, the custos is never appointed as a faculty representative. If the custos has acted as a supervisor to the thesis, two faculty representatives are appointed to assure that there are always three members in the grading committee with a right to vote on the grade. The Faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee are available on the Faculty website.

Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

The Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences has no specific provisions on the appointment of the grading committee. The Faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee are available on the Faculty website.

Faculty of Educational Sciences

The Faculty of Educational Sciences has no specific provisions on the appointment of the grading committee. The Faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee are available on the Faculty website.

Faculty of Law

The Faculty of Law has no specific provisions on the appointment of the grading committee. The Faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee are available on the Faculty website.

Faculty of Medicine

Usually, the grading committee is appointed in the same Faculty Council meeting where permission for a public defense is granted. When necessary, the appointment can be deferred to a subsequent meeting. After the preliminary examiners’ statements have been submitted, the Faculty Council’s presenting official requests from the supervisor and responsible teacher a proposal on the composition of the grading committee.

Members of the grading committee include the opponent, the custos and one or two faculty representatives. The doctoral candidate will be notified of the composition of the grading committee before the Faculty Council meeting, and he or she has the right to submit an objection to the composition of the grading committee. Members of the grading committee will receive the preliminary examiners’ statements for their information. The Faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee are available on the Faculty website.

Faculty of Pharmacy

The Faculty of Pharmacy has no specific provisions on the appointment of the grading committee. The Faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee are available on the Faculty website.

Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science has no specific provisions on the appointment of the grading committee. The Faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee are available on the Faculty website.

Faculty of Social Sciences

The members of the grading committee are nominated by the Faculty Council in conjunction with granting permission for the public defence. Until further notice, the committee must include at least three members entitled to vote. The Faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee are available on the Faculty website.

Faculty of Theology

At the Faculty of Theology, proposals on faculty representatives are made by the vice-dean in charge of research at the Faculty. The first faculty representative is always appointed from outside the discipline of the doctoral candidate. At the Faculty of Theology, the custos is never appointed as a faculty representative. If the custos has acted as a supervisor to the thesis, two faculty representatives are appointed to assure that there are always three members in the grading committee with a right to vote on the grade. The Faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee are available on the Faculty website.

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has no specific provisions on the appointment of the grading committee. The Faculty’s guidelines for members of the grading committee are available on the Faculty website.

Further information

Interpreting regulations and, for example, settling questions of disqualification can sometimes be a bit tricky. If you, your supervisors or the responsible teacher have queries related to the appointment of the grading committee, you can always contact the doctoral student services of your home faculty.

The rector of the University of Helsinki has decided on the composition of grading committees in Rector’s Decision 134/2019.