At the public examination

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The public examination is an academic tradition that has been formed over hundreds of years. On this page, you will find information on the proceedings and the protocol of the event.

It's up to you and your custos to decide how specifically you want to adhere to the detail of the traditions. On one hand, following the protocol very strictly can feel quite formal – but on the other hand, sticking to the set protocol can free your mind to concentrate on the contents of the event, rather than the form.

Time and place of the event

After being granted permission to defend your doctoral dissertation in a public examination, it is time to start to arrange the event. For instructions on how to arrange the event and what things need to be taken into account in the preparations, please see the article Arranging the public examination.

Language of the public examination

The custos determines the language to be used at the public examination after consulting both the doctoral candidate and the opponent(s), as well as the faculty representative(s). The language of the public examination should be Finnish, Swedish or the language in which the doctoral dissertation has been written. The examination may also be conducted in another language if the doctoral candidate agrees to this. The doctoral candidate and the opponent may also use different languages at the public examination if they so agree.

Please note that the language of the public examination also affects the language of the degree diploma. In addition to a Finnish- or Swedish-language diploma, doctoral candidates who have written their dissertation in a foreign language are entitled to an English-language diploma only if the public examination was also held in English.

Dress code and protocol

Setting the dress code in good time before the event with the members of your grading committee is important, so that no one has to wonder what to wear for the occasion.

It's also a good idea to discuss the proceedings of the event in advance, so that at the actual event, all of you can focus on the content rather than the form.

The entire proceedings of the public examination, as well as instructions related e.g. to the dress code and forms of address are presented in detail on the University's Welcome to the Public Examination -website. The website is available in three languages and intended for the use of both doctoral candidates and the opponents, as well as the other members of the grading committee.

Procedures and duration of the examination

The public examination begins with an introductory lecture (lectio praecursoria) by the doctoral candidate, followed by the opponent’s comments on the dissertation. The opponent is required to present in the public examination all the critique he or she wishes to express on the dissertation. In the written statement provided by the opponent after the public examination, he or she cannot add critique which you were not provided an opportunity to respond to during the public examination.

The opponent’s examination may last four hours at most, after which members of the audience may make comments. At the end of the public examination, the custos can give the floor to additional opponents (members of the public who wish to comment) at his or her own discretion. The overall duration of the public examination may not exceed six hours, but this event is typically considerably shorter.

Post-doctoral party

The post-doctoral party (in Finnish: karonkka) is also an old academic tradition. The post-doctoral party is traditionally held on the evening of the public examination, as a thank you to the opponent, custos and other people, who have influenced your dissertation project. The opponent is the guest of honor of the party.

A traditional protocol exists for the post-doctoral party, but every doctoral candidate can arrange a party that best suits their liking. It's also quite ok to not hold a party at all – or, instead of a large-scale party, for example take the opponent and custos to dinner after the event.

The practices and traditions related to the post-doctoral party are described in more detail on the University's Welcome to the Public Examination -website. You can also ask for tips from other recent doctors, your supervisors and other members of the academic community.

Covering the costs of a post-doctoral party is your responsibility. For this reason as well, it's entirely up to you to decide whether if you want to hold a party and, if so, what kind.