Procedure and Dress Code in Dissertation Defence

​Dress Code

These guidelines are for the Doctoral Candidate, Opponent and Custos, who follow the rules of a dignified dress code that is appropriate for the event. The guidelines are traditional and do not have to be followed to the letter.

There is no special dress code for the audience.

Black tie

Men can wear a black, dark grey, or dark blue suit with a single or double-breasted jacket. The material can have faint stripes and the suit can include a waistcoat of the same fabric or in similar colours. A white shirt and a restrained colour tie or bow tie that matches the suit (but not white), dark socks and dress shoes.

Women can wear an elegant black or dark dress, a light jacket suit or a trouser suit, light court shoes (pumps) and, for example, stockings that match the shoes.

White tie

Men should wear a black tailcoat, a black waistcoat, a white shirt with a stiff front and collar. The trousers should have satin strips on the side seams.  A white bow tie is always worn with a tailcoat. Dress shoes and black socks are always worn with a black waistcoat, no pocket square or wristwatch. At dinner and in the evening, wear a white waistcoat and patent-leather shoes. With a white waistcoat, you can use a pocket square, unless unless you have decorations. At a so-called gentlemen’s dinner, a black waistcoat is used also in the evening. Outer garments consist of a black coat or cloak and a white scarf and white gloves.

Women can wear a black full-length dress with long sleeves or a jacket or trouser suit and elegant festive shoes. The neckline of the dress should not be open. At dinner and outside, you can also wear black gloves.

Doctoral Gown

If one of the aforementioned attendants wears a doctoral gown, the rest will decide amongst themselves whether black or white tie is a suitable dress code.


Beginning of the Public Defence of a Doctoral Dissertation

The first one to enter the hall is the doctoral candidate, the second the Custos and the last the opponent.

If the Custos and the opponent have a doctoral degree from a Finnish university, they hold their doctoral hat in their hands when entering the hall.

When everyone is in place, the Custos opens the proceedings with the words: “As the Custos appointed by the Faculty of …, I declare the beginning of this public defence of a doctoral dissertation.”

The doctoral candidate, standing, delivers their lectio praecursoria (mainly in Finnish, doctoral candidates who do not know Finnish can give their lectio praecursoria in English) and it may not exceed 20 minutes. If needed, the opponent will be supplied with a translation of the lectio praecursoria.

The doctoral candidate begins with the greetings: “Learned Custos, my esteemed opponent, Ladies and Gentlemen…”

After the lectio praecursoria, the doctoral candidate states: “I respectfully ask you, esteemed Professor (Doctor etc.) … as the Opponent appointed by the Faculty of … for the public defence of my doctoral dissertation, to present your criticisms of my doctoral dissertation.”

The opponent, stands up and delivers a short statement concerning the scientific status and significance of the topic and other general questions. After this statement, both the doctoral candidate and the opponent resume their seats.

Examination of the Dissertation

The opponent should begin the examination of the dissertation by handling methodological and general questions and then proceed to a detailed scrutiny of the text.

The opponent may not spend more than four hours on the examination of the dissertation, so that enough time remains for other speakers to present questions or criticisms. If the examination takes a long time, the Custos may announce a break. The total duration of the public defence may not exceed six hours.

The correction of misprints is not part of the proceedings at the public defence. The doctoral candidate may submit to the opponent a written list of errors which they have found, and this list may be appended to the opponent's statement submitted to the Faculty.

Conclusion of the Public Defence

When the opponent has concluded the examination of the dissertation, the opponent and the doctoral candidate stand, and the opponent delivers a final statement.

The doctoral candidate , still standing, then thanks the opponent.

Next, the doctoral candidate turns to the audience and invites their contributions as follows:
"I now respectfully invite any members of the honoured audience who wish to offer criticisms of my dissertation to request the Custos for a permission to speak."

The Custos may then grant permission for members of the audience to speak and is responsible for ensuring that the doctoral candidate is able to reply immediately to the offered criticism and that the discussion does not stray from the matter at hand.

Finally, the Custos stands up and terminates the proceedings as follows:
"This public defence of the doctoral dissertation is now concluded."

Afterwards, there is usually a coffee service in the front of the lecture hall.



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