Arranging the public defence

The instruction belongs to the following themes

By selecting a degree programme you are able to see the general content as well as the possible degree programme-specific content. You do not have to select a degree programme to see the Open University's instructions.

Once you have been granted permission for a public defence , it is time to set the date and begin the arrangements for the public examination. The selected public examination method affects the process of setting the date and other arrangements.

Public examination methods

As the name suggests, a public examination is always a public event that must be genuinely accessible both to the University community and the surrounding society. Consequently, it is important that when agreeing on the date of the public examination and making arrangements for the event, the University-level rules for organising public examinations presented on this page are always followed.

It is possible to organise a public examination at the University of Helsinki either as a traditional public examination taking place at a dedicated venue or as a remote public examination. The doctoral candidate and custos select the implementation method after having consulted the opponent and faculty representative(s). The selected method has a bearing on how the choice of date and arrangements for the public examination proceed.

1. Traditional public examination venue

In a traditional public examination taking place in University facilities, the doctoral candidate, the opponent, the grading committee in its entirety and the audience are all present on site in a lecture hall.

  • The public examination venue may be any lecture hall at the University with a capacity of no less than 20 people.
  • The public examination may be organised on any weekday or Saturday if an appropriate venue is available.
  • It is not possible to participate in the public examination remotely and it will not be streamed online.

2. Traditional public examination + Unitube

If the doctoral candidate so wishes, the public examination may also be streamed online through the Unitube service.

  • The doctoral candidate, the opponent, the grading committee in its entirety and the audience are all present on site in a lecture hall. The public examination is also streamed online through the Unitube service.
  • A Unitube-equipped lecture hall with a minimum capacity of no less 20 people must be booked for the public examination.
  • The public examination may be organised on any weekday or Saturday if an appropriate venue is available.
  • The Unitube stream is one way, in other words, it will not be possible to participate actively in the event via the internet but only follow the event.
  • The stream is implemented as self-service: the doctoral candidate and the custos launch the stream at the beginning of the event. A registered and valid university printing card is required for launching the stream.
  • Instructions for starting a Unitube service (University of Helsinki Helpdesk). Select “Detailed help” and then “Instructions for using Unitube-compatible lecture recording rooms”.

3. A public examination to be implemented partly or entirely remotely

Remote public examinations are a new form of public examination, where the examination is implemented partly or entirely through a remote connection. It is possible to participate actively online in the public examination from anywhere in the world.

  • The public examination uses a two-way remote connection through which any of the key actors (the doctoral candidate, the opponent, other members of the grading committee, the audience) can participate remotely in the event when needed.
  • Remote public examinations are organised in lecture rooms equipped with video communication equipment. The facility booking service will select a suitable facility based on the doctoral candidate’s wishes.
  • The audience can follow the event both on site and online. If necessary, the remote public examination can be implemented entirely online, in which case none of the key actors are on site at the University and also the audience follows the event exclusively online.
  • The availability of AV support affects the date selection for the public examination: the technical implementation of the examination is always the duty of the University’s AV support in order to ensure that the requirement for the event to be public is met. A representative from AV support is always present throughout the public examination to ensure the functionality of the connections.
  • It is possible to get a recording of the examination for personal use.
  • Self-implemented remote public examinations are strictly prohibited.
  • More information on remote defence and technical details

Date and time of the public examination

The custos is responsible for ensuring that the candidate and the members of the grading committee (opponent, custos and faculty representative(s)) agree on the method and date of the public examination as soon as possible after the permission for a public defence has been granted. All grading committee members must always attend the public examination.

The public examination can be arranged, at the earliest, three weeks from the granting of the permission for a public defence in order to ensure that there is sufficient time for communications about the event. The public examination must be held within 12 months of receiving permission for a public defence. Read more about communications from the instructions on publicising the public examination

Traditional days for public examinations are Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. However, there is nothing to prevent you from arranging a public examination on any other weekday and often facilities and AV support are better available on those days. If you are planning a public examination requiring remote connections, we recommend that you always identify one or two alternative dates for the event. It is also important to start the planning of remote public examinations well in advance, as availability of AV support is limited and the most popular days, Fridays and Saturdays, get booked up quickly.

The recommended start time for weekday public examinations is 13.00, while on Saturdays public examinations most often start at 10.00. Other start times are also possible. However, public examinations on weekdays need to always begin between 9.00 and 17.00, and between 10.00 and 14.00 on Saturdays. Please also note the opening hours of the buildings. If the opponent is abroad, please remember to take into account the possible time difference in the discussions concerning the start time. With regard to remote public examinations, exceptional times must be agreed with the University’s AV support well in advance so that they can be taken into account when planning the work shifts of AV staff.

The start time of a public examination is always indicated on the hour (e.g., 13.00). However, in reality public examinations always start 15 past the hour in order to ensure that any members of the audience arriving at the last minute do not interfere with the opening of the event.

While the official responsibility for agreeing on the examination date lies with the custos, it is recommended that you also take active part in it – when you have been granted permission for a public defence, contact the custos to initiate the discussion about dates.

Booking the public examination venue and AV support

When the public examination date has been set, it is your duty to see to the arrangements. Always follow the instructions related to your chosen implementation method. For now, all public examination venue bookings for University facilities are handled through faculties’ doctoral student services. A venue can be booked only after permission for a public defence has been granted.

You can submit wishes related to the facility in conjunction with the venue booking. First, acquaint yourself with suitable facilities on the Shared teaching facilities of the University of Helsinki website. As a rule, the public examination must be organised in the facilities of the University of Helsinki. The technical support of doctoral candidates of the Faculty of Medicine defending their thesis in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) facilities will be handled by HUS’s own AV support and the technical systems used may differ from those used in other public examinations at the University.

Traditional public examination /+ Unitube

  • Once the public examination date has been agreed and you have been granted permission for a public defence, contact the doctoral student services of your home faculty to confirm the date and time.
  • Once the doctoral student services have confirmed the suitability of the public examination date, you will receive a form to fill in regarding the venue booking.
  • Based on the information you provide on the form, the facility booking service of the University will book a suitable facility for you and send a booking confirmation to you and the custos.
  • When you have received the booking confirmation and the thesis has been sent to be printed, you can complete the doctoral thesis form used for communicating about the thesis, through which information about your thesis will be captured, for example, for the University’s event calendar.
  • If the public examination can be followed on Unitube, please remember to include the link to the venue’s Unitube stream on the form. The link to your venue's stream can be found on the Shared teaching facilities of the University of Helsinki, together with other information about the venue.

A public examination to be implemented partly or entirely remotely

  • Once the public examination date has been agreed, contact the doctoral student services of your home faculty to confirm the date and time. Please also indicate any possible alternative dates.
  • Doctoral student services will ensure that AV support for the examination is available on the planned day.
  • Once the doctoral student services have confirmed the suitability of the public examination date, you will receive a form to fill in regarding the venue booking (complete the form even if the public examination can only be followed online and mention in the field for additional information that no venue is required).
  • Based on the information you provide on the form, the facility booking service of the University will book a suitable facility for you, send a booking confirmation to you and the custos, and provide information about the technical implementation of the remote public examination as well as the necessary links.
  • When you have received the booking confirmation and the thesis has been sent to be printed, you can complete the doctoral thesis form used for communicating about the thesis, through which information about your thesis will be captured, for example, for the University’s event calendar.
  • Remember to include the public examination audience link you received from the facility booking service on the thesis information form. This is particularly important if your public examination is only available to the audience online. If the audience link to an exclusively online public examination is not available in the event calendar well in advance, the examination cannot be considered to have been public. In this case, it is possible that the public examination may have to be reorganised.
  • If the opponent or some other member of the grading committee participates in the event remotely, you and the custos must provide them with the panellist link and the detailed instructions you received from the facility booking service.
  • Always use the remote public examination links you received from the facility booking service – it is strictly prohibited to use your own alternative links.

Facility booking staff always make the public examination booking so that it starts approximately one hour before the public examination. This means that the venue is at your disposal for getting ready before the event begins. In remote public examinations, the AV support will also be at the venue approximately one hour before the public examination to test the connections.

The booking costs will be covered by your home faculty. The costs will be directly charged to the faculty after you have made the booking. Please note that the public examination venue must never be booked, for example, through the Optime Portal even if you are employed by the University.

Opponent's travel arrangements

The travel and accommodation arrangements of opponents vary slightly according to faculty:

Faculty of Medicine

Travel and accommodation for opponents can be booked from the faculty secretary at grp-ltdk-sihteerit@helsinki.fi. The faculty will reimburse reasonable travel and accommodation costs.

Other faculties

Faculties will reimburse reasonable travel and accommodation costs. As a rule, doctoral candidates do not have to participate in the travel arrangements of opponents. The faculty’s doctoral student services or the custos will instruct the opponent on what to do.

Post-defence refreshments and water

After the public examination, it is customary to offer post-defence refreshments but this is in no way mandatory. Typically, the refreshments include coffee and tea as well as post-defence cake or pastries from Unicafe. If you wish arrange post-defence refreshments for your public examination, you can order the refreshments from the Unicafe of the building in which the examination will take place or, if the building does not have its own restaurant, the closest Unicafe.

When ordering refreshments, give Unicafe an estimate of the number of participants and an indicative estimate of the end time of the public examination (Unicafe is, of course, aware that the exact end time of public examinations is difficult to estimate). The order form and contact information for Unicafe restaurants is available on the Unicafe website.

NB! When making the refreshments order, also remember to order water and glasses for you, the custos and the opponent. Ask Unicafe staff to deliver these to the venue before the event.

Please note that the University will not cover the costs of post-defence refreshments and you will have to pay for the possible service yourself.