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university of tampere: faculty of education: doctoral studies: dissertation:
Faculty of EducationUniversity of TampereFaculty of Education



The public defence provides 

  1. an opportunity to publicly and reliably ensure that the candidate has written the dissertation himself/herself and that the dissertation meets the basic academic criteria for a dissertation. 
  2. the opponent(s), those who are intended to evaluate the dissertation and other persons interested in the matter with the opportunity to thoroughly study the content of the dissertation by listening, stating comments and questions, and engaging in discussion with the author.
  3. an opportunity to make the research public in a way that deviates from the norm and is more visible to the public.


The public defence of a doctoral dissertation generally follows certain traditional customs and formal requirements. These customs and requirements supplement the university’s regulations on degrees and other official regulations concerning the examination of a dissertation. The traditional practices and forms change and evolve over time. The main participants of the event can negotiate on the appropriate application of the customs and formalities to be observed.


The public defence event is public and open to all.


Dress code 

The custos and opponent must adhere to the alternative selected by the candidate. It is customary for the doctoral candidate, custos and opponent to wear a tailcoat and a black waistcoat (or a uniform without any medals). Women wear black formal wear and no hat.   If the custos and opponent have doctoral degrees, they must hold their doctoral caps in their hands upon entering and exiting the lecture hall.


These days, a dark suit is often worn instead of a tailcoat. Alternatively, participants may wear the appropriate gown of the University of Tampere. For more information on wearing and reserving the gown, please contact the Secretary to the Rector.  



The audience must arrive in the designated lecture hall by 12 noon. The seats are filled as follows:

  • professors in the first row

  • the doctoral candidate’s friends and family in the second row

  • invited guests in the third row

  • Other rows are filled in the order of arrival.


Public defence 

  • The doctoral candidate, custos and opponent arrive at 12:15 pm
    (audience stands up)

  • The candidate, custos and opponent(s) take their seats

  • The custos declares the public defence open (audience sits down)


The custos opens the event by stating the following: “As the custos appointed by the Faculty of Education, I declare these defence proceedings to be open.”


The candidate delivers his/her lectio praecursoria standing up. The lectio praecursoria is a non-technical presentation no more than 20 minutes in length, which provides background for the research, presents the key results and links them to broader scientific and social contexts. The presentation begins with the words: “Honourable Custos, Honourable Opponent(s), ladies and gentlemen.”


The candidate may also provide the opponent with a list of misprints. Furthermore, if the candidate so wishes, he/she may – with help from someone sitting in the audience, for example – distribute to the audience the lectio praecursoria, the list of misprints or other materials related to the dissertation.


Once the lectio praecursoria is over, the candidate states the following: “I ask you, Honourable Professor (Doctor, etc.), as the opponent appointed by the Faculty of Education, to present the observations you consider appropriate for this dissertation.”


The opponent stands up and gives a short statement about the dissertation's position and significance in science and other topics of a more general nature.  After this, the opponent and the candidate sit down. If there is more than one opponent, only the first one provides a general statement.


Examination of the dissertation 

At the beginning of the examination proper, the opponent generally focuses on the methodology and general questions, followed by a detailed examination. If there are several opponents, they may agree to take turns and decide on a “division of labour” beforehand. They may also discuss a topic that one of them brings up during the proceedings.


A single opponent may take no more than four hours to examine a dissertation; the proceedings as a whole may not exceed six hours. The public defence can be interrupted for breaks; the custos will provide notification of any possible breaks.


At the end of the examination, the opponent (or one of them, if there are several) presents a closing statement, for which the candidate stands up. If there are several opponents, only one will make a closing statement. After that, the doctoral candidate will thank the opponent(s).


Once the opponents have concluded their examination, topics not touched on previously may be discussed. The candidate turns to the audience and says: “Ladies and gentlemen, I ask those of you who have observations to make on the dissertation presented here to please request the floor from the custos.”


After this opening, the custos leads the discussion for as long as necessary, taking into account the maximum total duration of six hours.


The custos ends the event by stating: “I declare these defence proceedings to be closed.” When the doctoral candidate, custos and opponent(s) prepare to exit the lecture hall, the audience stands up.


Conclusion of the event


  • The opponent(s), custos and doctoral candidate leave the lecture hall

  • The audience exits in the order of the rows of seats, starting from the first row

  • Once everyone has exited the hall, those present prepare to congratulate the candidate

  • Congratulation order: custos, opponent, professors, family and friends, and other audience members


Faculty of Education
Ã…kerlundinkatu 5, FI-33014 University of Tampere, Finland
tel. +358 (0)3 355 111
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Last update: 15.9.2017 11.40 Muokkaa

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+358 3 355 111

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