Instructions for third-cycle (postgraduate) research education at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry

These instructions shall enter into force on 1 August 2015

 

Guidelines for postgraduate studies at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry (pdf will be updated in August).

1. Objectives of third-cycle research education

Pursuant to section 21 of Government Decree No 1039/2013 on University Degrees, the objective of postgraduate research education is for the student to

1) Become well-versed in his or her own field of research and its social significance

2) Gain the knowledge and skills needed to apply scientific research methods independently and critically and to produce new scientific knowledge within his or her field of research

3) Become conversant with the development, basic problems and research methods of his or her field

4) Gain such knowledge of the general theory of science and of other disciplines relating to his or her field of research so as to enable him or her to follow developments in them

5) Acquire sufficient communication and language skills as well as other knowledge and skills necessary to work in wide-ranging and demanding expert and development positions and to engage in international cooperation.

The recommended duration of doctoral studies is four years of full-time study.

2. Eligibility for third-cycle research education

Eligibility for studies leading to a postgraduate research degree is defined in section 37 of the Universities Act (558/2009). A requirement for admission to postgraduate education is that the Faculty deems the applicant’s previous degree or education to provide him or her with the qualifications necessary to pursue the postgraduate education offered by the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.  Eligible applicants for studies leading to a third-cycle research degree must have completed

a) An applicable second-cycle university degree

b) An applicable second-cycle degree from a university of applied sciences, or

c) Applicable education at an institute abroad providing eligibility for equivalent higher education in the country in question.

In addition, admission to pursue doctoral education requires eligible applicants to have demonstrated at least a good level of academic performance in the major subject of their second-cycle degree and the related Master’s thesis.


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3. Applying for third-cycle research education

The core of a third-cycle (postgraduate) degree programme consists of the student’s own research work, conducted under the supervision of an experienced researcher. A prospective doctoral candidate should first contact researchers or research groups conducting research which he or she finds interesting. The topic of the research work ultimately determines the faculty and major subject to which the prospective student should apply for the right to complete a degree.

Applicants to the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry can apply to pursue a third-cycle degree in any of the major subjects specified in section 3 of the Faculty’s standing orders. If the major subject comprises several options approved by the Faculty Council, eligibility for third-cycle studies in a major subject can be specified for a particular option. The applicant must apply for the right to pursue a doctoral degree, which also includes the right to complete a Licentiate degree. The same application is also used to apply for a suitable doctoral programme. The third-cycle degrees offered by the Faculty are the Licentiate and doctoral degrees (Licentiate of Science in Agriculture and Forestry, Licentiate of Food Sciences, Doctor of Science in Agriculture and Forestry, Doctor of Food Sciences and Doctor of Philosophy). When approving an application for third-cycle studies, the Faculty will decide on the basis of the applicant’s previous studies and the topic of the planned doctoral dissertation or Licentiate thesis to which degree the applicant’s studies will lead.

The applicant must prepare a personal study plan that contains a research and study plan, arrangements for supervision and the follow-up group as well as principles for cooperation (supervision agreement). The applicant must select the doctoral programme after discussing the matter with his or her supervisor(s) or the professor in charge of the major subject. Applicants must lay out the plan so that they will be able to complete their doctoral degree and the related studies (60 cr) within the target duration of four years of full-time study. For further information about the Faculty’s degree requirements and about studies approved for a postgraduate study plan, please see section 5.

1. Research plan
The research plan (max. three pages) should be written in English and indicate the title/topic of the study, the background, significance and objectives of the research, the, methods and material to be used, any research permits, as well as a tentative timetable and funding plan.

2. Study plan
The study plan must present the postgraduate studies (60 credits, including general studies and field-specific studies) which the student has completed, will complete or will substitute. The scope of the study plan should not be excessive. The plan should contain as much detailed information as possible on the courses the student plans to complete: course name, code, level, credits, time and place of completion.   If studies have been completed outside the University of Helsinki, their content must be described briefly so that their suitability for a third-cycle degree in the major subject can be assessed. The plan must also be accompanied by a certificate of studies completed elsewhere. Completion of a course requires that the student pass an examination, write a report, complete a written assignment or produce some other form of written documentation; mere class attendance is insufficient. For further information about the Faculty’s degree requirements and about studies approved for a postgraduate study plan, please see section 5.

3. Supervision and follow-up group
Once a suitable research topic and supervisor have been found, the applicant should agree on supervision with the primary dissertation supervisor. The supervisory relationship should be specified in a written supervision agreement.  Both the supervisor and the doctoral candidate have rights and obligations in the supervisory relationship, which must be discussed at the outset (see below). Doctoral candidates must receive regular supervision for both research work and postgraduate studies from at least one supervisor. The primary supervisor must be a professor, a docent or a scholar with equivalent academic qualifications. The other supervisors must hold at least a doctoral degree. At the application stage, each doctoral candidate will be assigned a follow-up group consisting of at least two experts with a doctoral degree who are familiar with the research field. The members of the follow-up group should not work in the same research group as the doctoral candidate and should be impartial in other respects also. When appointing the follow-up group, it should be noted that while one of the preliminary examiners can serve as a group member in the absence of other grounds for disqualification, the other preliminary examiner must come from outside the group. The follow-up group is not responsible for dissertation supervision. Instead, the group offers constructive, critical feedback on the progress of the doctoral candidate’s studies and research work as well as the supervision he or she receives, and identifies problematic situations (see the section on problem resolution). The follow-up group must meet the doctoral candidate and the supervisors at least once a year to assess the candidate’s progress. When agreeing to serve in the follow-up group, the expert members commit to attending these meetings. One of the supervisors or members of the follow-up group must come from the doctoral candidate’s major subject department.

The rights and obligations of the doctoral candidate are as follows:

  • Commits to independent, critical and long-term work
  • Is entitled to be assigned a supervisor who supports his or her independent work
  • Is entitled to receive supervision and assistance from the professor in charge of the major subject and from the supervisors in study- and research-related matters
  • Is entitled to receive support from the follow-up group for his or her dissertation work
  • Is responsible for the progress of his or her studies and dissertation work, for keeping the supervisors up-to-date on his or her research and for updating his or her study and research plan annually
  • Convenes the follow-up group and reports to it on the progress of his or her studies and dissertation work
  • Must register as an attending or non-attending student at the University for each academic year

The rights and obligations of the supervisor are as follows:

  • Commits to long-term, regular supervision and to supporting the doctoral candidate’s research work
  • Agrees on the distribution of duties with any other supervisors 
  • Ensures that the research plan takes into account the requirement that doctoral candidates complete their doctoral degree and the related studies within the target duration of four years of full-time study
  • Must provide sufficient and equitable time to supervise all the doctoral candidates assigned to him or her
  • Meets with the doctoral candidates regularly and treats them equitably
  • Guides the doctoral candidates in practices related to research work (research ethics, the writing of a research plan, scholarly meetings, publishing, etc.)
  • Supports the doctoral candidates’ integration into the scholarly community
  • Discusses research funding and funding opportunities with the doctoral candidates
  • Ensures the continuity of supervision for his or her doctoral candidates in changing circumstances and, if necessary, proposes the appointment of another supervisor
  • Verifies the quality of the dissertation manuscript to ensure that it is ready for preliminary examination  

4. Supervision agreement
The applicant and the primary dissertation supervisor must complete a supervision agreement and enclose it with the application.

5. Doctoral programme
Applicants must discuss the choice of doctoral programme primarily with their supervisor and/or the professor in charge of the major subject and must select one University of Helsinki doctoral programme in which the Faculty is involved.

 

Submission of the application to the Faculty

Applicants must submit their application together with the required enclosures for assessment according to the instructions and timetable of the Faculty. The application must include a supporting statement from the professor in charge of the major subject (see the section on processing applications in the Faculty). The Faculty will verify that the application documents meet the formal requirements and that the applicant is eligible to apply. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Further details about the dates for processing applications will be provided on the Faculty website.

If the applicant completed his or her second-cycle (Master’s) degree (or equivalent) at a university other than the University of Helsinki, the application must also include officially certified copies of the diploma and transcript as well as, if necessary, a certificate of proficiency in Finnish, Swedish or English. Applicants must demonstrate their proficiency in Finnish, Swedish or English according to the general guidelines for student admissions at the University of Helsinki. The required skills level in English, as demonstrated through a language test, is the academic level.

 

Processing of applications by the major subject and doctoral programme

1. The assessment of applications by the major subject (or specialist option) in the Faculty depends on the applicant’s previous degree and where it was completed. The professor in charge of the major subject must assess the applicant’s previous degree, the suitability of the planned studies and the research topic for the major subject (or specialist option) and the arrangements for supervision and the follow-up group, and must consider the sufficiency of teaching and supervision resources in the major subject and/or department. The professor may issue a statement either supporting or rejecting the application, of which the latter must be justified in writing.

1) Applicants who have completed a second-cycle degree at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry

A student with a second-cycle degree from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry of the University of Helsinki may be granted the right to pursue studies leading to a doctorate in agriculture and forestry or food sciences, provided the applicant has demonstrated at least a good level of academic performance in the major subject and the related Master’s thesis. If the student is applying for the right to pursue postgraduate studies in a different major subject from the one in which he or she completed his or her second-cycle degree, the professor in charge of the postgraduate major subject must provide a well-grounded statement on the applicant’s eligibility for studies in that subject. The professor’s statement should be enclosed with the application. To be eligible for postgraduate studies, the student must have completed a minimum of 100 credits in the major subject of the postgraduate degree programme or in other equivalent studies. The credits can be from basic, intermediate or advanced-level studies or other studies relevant to the major subject. If necessary, the student must complete supplementary studies in the postgraduate major subject in a manner agreed on with the professor in charge. The procedure above can also be applied within the major subject if the student wishes to change options. Studies in the major subject may be included in the Licentiate and doctoral degree.

2) Applicants who have completed a second-cycle degree in another faculty of the University of Helsinki or in another Finnish institute of higher education

A student with a second-cycle degree from another faculty at the University of Helsinki or from another Finnish institute of higher education may be granted the right to complete a doctorate in agriculture and forestry or food sciences or the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, provided the applicant has demonstrated at least a good level of academic performance in the major subject and the related Master’s thesis. The professor in charge of the postgraduate major subject should provide a well-grounded statement on the applicant’s eligibility for studies in that subject. The professor’s statement should be enclosed with the application. To be eligible for postgraduate studies, the student must have completed a minimum of 100 credits in the major subject of the postgraduate degree programme or in other equivalent studies. If the student wishes to complete the degree of Licentiate or Doctor of Science in Agriculture and Forestry or Licentiate or Doctor of Food Sciences, the 100 completed credits must be in the major subject of the postgraduate degree. In other cases, the student shall complete the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The credits can be from basic-, intermediate- or advanced-level studies or other studies relevant to the major subject. If necessary, the student must complete supplementary studies in the postgraduate major subject in a manner agreed on with the professor in charge. Studies in the major subject may be included in the Licentiate and doctoral degree.

3) Applicants who have obtained eligibility for third-cycle studies abroad
As in item 2 above. The professor in charge of the postgraduate major subject must provide a well-grounded statement on the applicant’s eligibility for studies in that subject and must comment on the prospective degree. If necessary, the applicant must complete supplementary studies in the postgraduate major subject in a manner agreed on with the professor in charge. Studies in the major subject may be included in the Licentiate and doctoral degree.

 

2. Doctoral programmes must process applications from prospective doctoral candidates and submit a justified admissions proposal to the Faculty. Doctoral programmes must assess the applicants’ suitability for the programme and for the position of doctoral candidate from the perspective of their previous academic performance relevant to the doctoral education, the research plan and learning. The programmes must also consider the availability of resources necessary for supervision and follow-up group arrangements and for the implementation of the research plan. The doctoral programme may issue a statement either supporting or rejecting the application, the latter of which must be justified in writing.

If the doctoral programme finds the applicant’s research topic unsuitable for the field of the programme, it must promptly return the application to the Faculty Office, which shall forward it to a doctoral programme better suited to the research topic.

 

Admissions decisions and appeals

The Faculty prepares proposals for admissions decisions. The Faculty dean must decide whether to grant the applicant the right to complete a degree based on the statements of both the professor in charge of the relevant major subject (or specialist option) and the doctoral programme.

To achieve the objectives of doctoral education, the Faculty’s Committee for Research and Postgraduate Education will monitor the consistency of the assessment processes for applications and compliance with the assessment criteria in doctoral programmes, and will submit proposals for developing the system to the Faculty and doctoral schools. In special cases, the Committee may take an application into consideration if, for example, the statements of the doctoral programme and the professor in charge of the major subject conflict or if the doctoral programme selected by the applicant considers the field of the dissertation unsuitable for the doctoral programme.

Once the dean has accepted an application for third-cycle research education, the applicant will receive this information together with the necessary instructions for enrolment. The applicant must return the enrolment documents to the study affairs services in the Faculty Office, which will send the documents to the Student Register for entry into the Oodi system. The Student Register will inform the applicant of his or her registration and student number.

Students whose applications for postgraduate research education are rejected will receive written justifications for the decision. Applicants dissatisfied with an admissions decision may submit a written appeal to the dean within 14 days, and, in the next stage, to the administrative court within 30 days of the date the decision was sent. The appeal must be submitted in writing and indicate in detail the decision appealed against as well as the grounds for the appeal. The appeal may not result in the admissions decision being changed to the detriment of the appellant or the admitted students.


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4. General instructions for doctoral candidates

Updating a personal study plan  

Doctoral candidates must prepare a personal study plan that includes a research and study plan, arrangements for supervision and the follow-up group as well as principles for cooperation (supervision agreement). Doctoral candidates must save their plan and provide copies of it to their supervisor and the professor in charge of the major subject. Doctoral candidates must update their personal study plan regularly, at least once a year, throughout their doctoral education based on comments from their supervisors and follow-up group. Doctoral candidates, together with their supervisors, convene the follow-up group and report to it on the progress of their studies and dissertation work. As doctoral candidates may belong to a programme with its own instructions for arranging and reporting on meetings of the follow-up group, they must follow both these instructions and the Faculty instructions.

 

Monitoring the progress of doctoral candidates

The Faculty complies with Rector’s Decision No 6/2011 on the monitoring of the progress of doctoral candidates. Information in the Oodi system is vetted six years after doctoral candidates embark on their studies, and students who have not yet completed their doctorate are screened. A study plan approved by the professor in charge of the major subject is a prerequisite for registering as an attending student the following autumn. According to the general criteria for approving a study plan (Faculty Council decision of 14 February 2008), the plan must aim for the completion of the degree and must cover the entire degree. A personal study plan must also lay out a timetable for the completion of the degree and must include a report on completed postgraduate studies as well as a plan and timetable for the completion of the remaining studies. The research plan should also include a report on the progress of the research so far as well as  a plan and timetable for the completion of the research.
An approved study plan is valid for up to three years at a time.

If the professor in charge of the major subject does not support the doctoral candidate’s personal study plan, the Committee for Research and Postgraduate Education will consider it together with the professor’s statement and will propose that the plan be approved or rejected. The dean decides on the matter, and the doctoral candidate is notified of the outcome in writing. Doctoral candidates dissatisfied with the dean’s decision may appeal to the administrative court.

 

Problem resolution

If the doctoral candidate, the supervisor or a member of the follow-up group identifies a problem, he or she (or they) must contact the coordinator of the doctoral programme and, if necessary, the Faculty Office and the professor in charge of the doctoral candidate’s major subject. These persons shall be responsible for resolving the situation.

A supervisory relationship can be terminated in writing on the initiative of either the doctoral candidate or the supervisor. If a doctoral candidate has been assigned several supervisors, any supervisory changes can be agreed upon within the existing arrangements or by appointing a new supervisor in accordance with Faculty procedures.

 


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5. Degree requirements

A student admitted to pursue third-cycle research education must complete the following:
1) At least 60 credits of postgraduate research studies according to the study plan

2) A Licentiate thesis and/or doctoral dissertation which demonstrates an independent and critical approach to the research area and is approved by the Faculty after a public examination.

Third-cycle (postgraduate) studies
The purpose of postgraduate studies is to form the necessary knowledge base for the completion of the Licentiate thesis and doctoral dissertation. The studies are planned with a view to the doctoral candidate’s previous education and the objectives for postgraduate research education. For this reason, the doctoral candidate should integrate his or her studies and research work in such a way that when the thesis or dissertation is submitted for examination, the studies will have been completed.  
The doctoral candidate may not incorporate into his or her third-cycle degree previously completed studies that have already been included in a second-cycle degree.  
If the student continues to study the same major subject after completing a Licentiate degree, there is no need to draw up a new postgraduate study plan. If a student with a Licentiate degree in Agriculture and Forestry or Food Sciences wishes to change the major subject of his or her doctoral education, or the Faculty has admitted a holder of a Licentiate degree in Philosophy to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy degree, the professor in charge of the relevant major subject will be requested to submit a written statement on the relevance of a dissertation in that major subject and on the student’s qualifications for studies in the new major subject.  If the student has completed a Licentiate degree in another major subject, the studies included in a doctoral degree may be considered completed (credit transfer) provided that the content of the studies corresponds to that of equivalent studies in the major subject of the new postgraduate degree and that the studies meet the objectives for postgraduate degrees under the Government Decree on University Degrees. Previously completed studies cannot substitute for a Licentiate thesis or doctoral dissertation as specified in the degree requirements.
The professor in charge of the major subject must approve the applicant’s tentative study plan as well as the completed studies. If the plan for the studies included in the postgraduate degree changes considerably during the dissertation process, the student must request that the professor in charge of the major subject review and approve the studies as quickly as possible before the appointment of preliminary examiners for the dissertation.
Postgraduate studies must include courses or other work approvable as general postgraduate studies, the field-specific major subject, the minor subject and methodology studies as well as integrated studies.

General postgraduate studies include studies independent of the major subject, such as theories of science, language studies and academic writing, as well as studies that support the research work, including applied ethics, scientific publishing, the popularisation of science, research policy and management, research funding and planning as well as university pedagogy. Students cannot complete all postgraduate studies by taking general postgraduate studies.

Field-specific studies include courses in the major and minor subjects as well as field-specific methodology courses. As a rule, the studies should be intermediate or advanced courses, and the subject matter should contribute to the student’s thesis or dissertation work. Some basic-level courses may also be included in the postgraduate study plan, provided they contribute to the writing of the dissertation.
Major and minor subject studies refer to studies agreed on with the professor in charge and may include field-specific postgraduate courses, a literature examination in the major subject and active participation in postgraduate seminars.  The scope of the literature examination and the reading list are agreed on with the professor in charge. Both faculty departments and doctoral schools coordinated by the Faculty offer postgraduate courses.

Field-specific methodology studies comprise studies in scientific research methods relevant to the student’s research field and topic, including statistics, data processing, chemical analysis, econometrics, etc.

The studies included in the postgraduate degree can either be organised as independent courses or be integrated with the writing of the thesis or dissertation. Studies integrated into the doctoral degree may include scientific publications not included in the dissertation, the popularisation of research knowledge in the form of popularised articles submitted to specialised journals, teaching, project work not related to the dissertation, the presentation of papers and posters at international conferences as well as international expert assignments. The inclusion of integrated studies in the study plan requires careful planning and a detailed description of the work completed. In addition, the student, together with the professor in charge of the major subject, must assess the workload of the integrated studies and determine the credits to be earned. Students cannot complete all postgraduate studies by completing integrated studies.

The student may include studies completed in other faculties and institutes of higher education in general studies and field-specific studies (credit transfer) upon presenting a certificate of their completion. The Faculty recommends that students spend at least three months pursuing third-cycle studies at a university or research institute abroad.
The third-cycle studies referred to in item 1 of the degree requirements must be completed before the appointment of the examiners of the Licentiate thesis or the preliminary examiners of the doctoral dissertation.  The completed studies must appear on the transcript of studies and, if possible, be registered as a postgraduate study module. If some of the studies remain incomplete, a report on them and their estimated timetable of completion must be enclosed with the proposal for the examiners or preliminary examiners.


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The Doctoral degree

Doctor of Science in Agriculture and Forestry and Doctor of Food Sciences
Students admitted to pursue postgraduate research education must complete postgraduate studies according to their study plan approved by the Faculty and a doctoral dissertation which demonstrates an independent and critical approach to the research area and is approved by the Faculty after a public examination (Standing Orders for degrees at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Section 26).

Doctor of Philosophy
The Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry may admit a person who has completed a second-cycle degree at a Finnish university or a corresponding degree at a university abroad to pursue the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.  Students admitted to pursue the degree of Doctor of Philosophy must complete a minimum of 60 credits of postgraduate studies according to their study plan and a doctoral dissertation which demonstrates an independent and critical approach to the research area and is approved by the Faculty after a public examination. Students who have graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry with a Master’s degree in either Food Sciences or Agriculture and Forestry may not complete the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Faculty.

Changing the major subject after completing a Licentiate degree
If a student with a Licentiate degree in Agriculture and Forestry or Food Sciences wishes to change his or her major subject for doctoral education, or the Faculty has admitted a person with a Licentiate degree in Philosophy to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy degree, the professor in charge of the relevant major subject will be requested to submit a written statement as to the relevance of a dissertation in that major subject and on the student’s qualifications for studies in the new major subject.  If necessary, the student must complete supplementary studies in the major subject of the doctoral degree.

The format of the dissertation
The doctoral dissertation may be an article-based dissertation (i.e., a collection of several separate scientific publications or manuscripts that have been accepted for publication and that all focus on the same topic, as well as a summarising report), a monograph or, in the field of economics, an essay-based dissertation. The summarising report of an article-based or essay-based dissertation should present extensively enough the theoretical background of the research, its objectives, methods, results, analysis and conclusions.

As a rule, article-based dissertations at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry consist of 3-5 separate publications. These publications should mainly have appeared in refereed scientific journals. At least two of the articles should have been previously published or accepted for publication, and the doctoral candidate must be the first author in one of the articles before preliminary examiners can be appointed for the dissertation. The other publications in an article-based dissertation must be manuscripts submitted for publication. If an article included in a dissertation has not yet been accepted for publication, the preliminary examiners should pay particular attention to the quality of this article in their assessment.

The essays of an essay-based dissertation must be published or publishable independent entities, ready for submission to a refereed publication. An essay-based dissertation may also contain co-authored essays. The doctoral candidate must be the first author of at least three of the essays.

Co-authored publications or essays may thus be included if the author’s independent contribution to them can be verified. In the case of dissertation manuscripts containing co-authored publications, the doctoral candidate must, when submitting the dissertation to the Faculty’s research and postgraduate studies officer, always provide a report of his or her own contribution to the co-authored publications. The candidate, the supervisor(s) and the other co-authors of the joint publication must verify the report by their signatures.  Several candidates may include the same co-authored publication in their dissertations on the basis of a report on the division of labour.  If necessary, the professor in charge may confirm the report on the division of labour, should a co-author not respond to the doctoral candidate’s requests for verification.

The name(s) and unit(s) (or equivalent information) of the supervisor(s), preliminary examiners and opponent of the dissertation must be indicated on the page following the title page of the completed dissertation. If the candidate so wishes, he or she may include a freely formulated presentation (CV) of him- or herself in the dissertation.

Preliminary examination and permission for the public defence
The Faculty Council grants the permission to defend a doctoral dissertation in a public examination.  For this purpose, the Faculty Council requests assessments of the dissertation manuscript from at least two experts (preliminary examiners), who have the qualifications of a docent or equivalent academic qualifications.  When choosing the preliminary examiners, particular attention should be paid not only to their expertise but also to their impartiality regarding the dissertation in question.  The examiners should be chosen from outside the department and primarily from outside the Faculty.  A person who has acted as a supervisor of the dissertation or has co-authored any of the articles included in it may not be appointed as a preliminary examiner.  It is recommended that one of the preliminary examiners be from Finland. The appointment proposal is made by the professor in charge and must include a written statement by the doctoral candidate confirming that he or she does not object to the appointment of the nominated examiners.  The proposal form is available on the Faculty website.  Before the preliminary examiners are appointed, the dissertation manuscript should be submitted to the Faculty’s research and postgraduate studies officer.  If the dissertation is made up of separate articles and a summarising report, the summarising report and the articles should be submitted as the dissertation manuscript; if any one of the articles is co-authored, a report on the division of labour should be included.  If the doctoral candidate has not previously completed a Licentiate degree, he or she must also provide the research and postgraduate studies officer with an account of what postgraduate studies he or she has completed (see Degree requirements above).

After the preliminary examiners have been appointed, the professor in charge will ensure that they are supplied with all the necessary documents for issuing their statement: the dissertation manuscript or the summarising report and related separate articles, and, in the case of co-authoring, the report on the candidate’s contribution to the co-authored articles. The professor must also supply the examiners with instructions on how to examine the dissertation and with an extract of the minutes of the Faculty Council meeting at which they were appointed.  The preliminary examiners must, within three months of accepting the assignment, submit a written statement, either jointly or separately, explicitly recommending that the doctoral candidate be granted or denied permission to defend the dissertation in a public examination.  The Faculty has issued separate instructions for the preliminary examination of dissertations (Examination and grading of doctoral and Licentiate theses, available on the Faculty web site).

If the preliminary examiner recommends that permission for the public defence be denied, the doctoral candidate shall be provided with the opportunity to object to the examiner’s statement before the Faculty Council decides whether or not permission is to be granted.

Before a dissertation can be approved it must be printed, and the doctoral candidate must defend it in a public examination arranged by the Faculty.

Preparing for the public examination
Upon granting the doctoral candidate permission to defend the dissertation, the Faculty Council appoints a dissertation grading committee for the public examination.  The committee comprises the opponent (in special cases, two opponents), the preliminary examiners and the custos (chair) of the public examination.  One of the permanent or fixed-term professors, usually the professor in the field of the dissertation, is appointed custos.  When selecting the opponent, particular attention should be paid not only to his or her expertise but also to impartiality in relation to the dissertation in question. The opponent must have the qualifications of at least a docent or equivalent academic qualifications. The opponent should be chosen from outside the department and primarily from outside the Faculty.  A preliminary examiner of the dissertation may not act as the opponent.  A person who has acted as a supervisor of the dissertation or has co-authored any of the articles included in it may not serve as a member of the dissertation grading committee.  If the supervisor or co-author of an article is also the professor in charge, he or she may serve as custos, but may not participate in proposing a grade for the dissertation.  The professor in charge makes a proposal for the composition of the dissertation grading committee. The proposal must include a written statement by the doctoral candidate confirming that he or she does not object to the appointment of the opponent. The proposal form is available on the Faculty website.  The doctoral candidate’s department is responsible for communicating with the dissertation grading committee.

When the Faculty Council has granted permission to defend the dissertation in a public examination, the doctoral candidate must contact the opponent and custos to set a time and place for the examination.  The preliminary examiners are not required to be present at the examination in order to grade the dissertation.  The doctoral candidate and his or her department are responsible for the practical arrangements and dissemination of information concerning the public examination.  The venue of the examination can be booked through the facilities booking service of the Centre for Facilities and Properties.  

The University of Helsinki has its own web site for doctoral candidates, which contains information on the printing and electronic publishing of the dissertation (E-thesis), grants to cover the printing costs, communication about the dissertation and the formalities to be observed at the public examination. The Faculty web site also contains detailed instructions for the distribution of doctoral dissertations. Information on the printing of dissertations can be found on the Unigrafia web site under the heading Dissertations.

The dissertation must be available to the public (on the notice board on the ground floor of the Main Building) for a minimum of ten days preceding the public examination. It is possible to shorten this time to a minimum of five days upon written application to the dean of the faculty (Section 42 of the Regulations on Degrees and the Protection of Students’ Rights at the University of Helsinki).  If the doctoral candidate wishes to shorten the time of public display, he or she must submit a reasoned, freely formulated application to the research and postgraduate studies officer. The doctoral candidate must ensure that the opponent and custos as well as the preliminary examiners receive copies of the dissertation in good time before the public examination.

Approval and grading of the dissertation
The opponent shall be required to submit a reasoned written statement on the dissertation to the faculty council within four weeks of the public examination (Section 44 of the Regulations on Degrees and the Protection of Students’ Rights at the University of Helsinki). If the opponent recommends that the dissertation be rejected, he or she must also present the grounds for this recommendation.  The Faculty has issued separate instructions for the grading of dissertations (Examination and grading of doctoral and Licentiate theses).  In addition, the dissertation grading committee submits a joint statement proposing a grade for the dissertation.  The custos submits his or her own statement concerning the doctoral candidate’s performance during the public examination.  This statement can also form part of the grading committee’s statement.

The Faculty Council makes the decision concerning approval or rejection and the subsequent grade of the dissertation, based on the opponent’s and the grading committee’s statements.  There are three grades: Pass with Distinction, Pass, and Fail.  If the proposed grade is Pass with Distinction, the committee must be unanimous and present compelling grounds for the grade.  Before the grading of the dissertation, the author must be provided with the opportunity to object to the opponent’s statement. Students dissatisfied with the grading of their doctoral dissertation may appeal in writing to the Academic Appeals Board within 14 days of the receipt of the grading decision (Section 64 of the Regulations on Degrees and the Protection of Students’ Rights at the University of Helsinki).
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The Licentiate degree

Licentiate of Science in Agriculture and Forestry and Licentiate of Food Sciences
To complete a Licentiate degree, students admitted to pursue postgraduate research education must complete postgraduate studies according to their study plan approved by the Faculty as well as a Licentiate thesis which demonstrates a good knowledge of the research area and the ability to independently and critically apply the methods of scientific research (Standing Orders for degrees at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Section 27).

The format of the Licentiate thesis
The Licentiate thesis may be a monograph or a collection of several separate scientific publications or manuscripts that have been accepted for publication and that all focus on the same topic, as well as a summarising report. The summarising report should present extensively enough the theoretical background of the research, its objectives, methods, results, analysis and conclusions.

The separate articles should have been published in refereed scientific journals, and previously unpublished manuscripts should have been refereed and accepted for publication.  In an article-based thesis, at least one article should have been previously published or accepted for publication, and the rest should have been submitted for publication.  Article-based theses at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry should contain at least two separate articles.  An article included in a Licentiate thesis can later be included as a separate article in a doctoral dissertation.  Co-authored publications may be included if the author’s independent contribution to them can be verified. In the case of article-based Licentiate theses containing co-authored publications, the postgraduate student must, when submitting the manuscript to the Faculty’s research and postgraduate studies officer, always provide a report of his or her own contribution to the co-authored publications. The author, the supervisor(s) and the other co-authors of the joint publication must verify the report by their signatures.  The author of the Licentiate thesis must also provide the research and postgraduate studies officer with an account of what postgraduate studies he or she has completed (see Degree requirements above).

Several postgraduate students may include the same co-authored publication in their theses or dissertations on the basis of a report on the division of labour.  

The name(s) and unit(s) (or equivalent information) of the supervisor(s) and examiners of the thesis must be indicated on the page following the title page of the completed Licentiate thesis.

Examination of the Licentiate thesis
The Faculty Council appoints as examiners the professor in charge (in case this professor is unable to act as examiner, another Faculty professor is appointed instead), and a minimum of two other examiners who must at least hold a doctorate.  A person who has acted as a supervisor of the thesis or has co-authored any of the articles included in it may not be appointed as an examiner.  The professor in charge makes a proposal for the appointment of examiners.  The proposal form is available on the Faculty website.  Before the examiners are appointed, the Licentiate thesis manuscript should be submitted to the research and postgraduate studies officer.  If the thesis is made up of separate articles and a summarising report, the summarising report and the articles should be submitted (if any one of the articles is co-authored, a report on the division of labour should be included).  

After the examiners have been appointed, the professor in charge ensures that they are supplied with a bound copy of the thesis. If the thesis is made up of separate articles, the summarising report and the articles will be submitted to the examiners (if any one of the articles is co-authored, a report on the division of labour will also be included).  The professor must also supply the examiners with instructions on how to examine the thesis and with an extract of the minutes of the Faculty Council meeting at which they were appointed.  The postgraduate student’s department is responsible for communicating with the examiners.

Approval and grading of the Licentiate thesis
Before the Licentiate thesis can be approved and graded, the student must present his or her research at a Licentiate seminar, during which the examiners and other interested parties will present their commentaries.  After this, the examiners will write their statement.

The examiners of a Licentiate thesis shall be given a time limit of two months of the date of accepting the assignment to submit, either jointly or separately, a written reasoned statement on the thesis. The statement must recommend that the thesis be either approved or rejected, and the subsequent grade. The Faculty has issued separate instructions for the examination and grading of Licentiate theses (Examination and grading of doctoral and Licentiate theses).  

The Faculty Council decides whether to approve or reject as well as the grade of the thesis on the basis of the examiners’ statement.   

There are three grades: Pass with Distinction, Pass, and Fail.  Before the grading of the thesis, the author must be provided with the opportunity to object to the examiners’ statements. Students dissatisfied with the grading of their Licentiate theses may appeal in writing to the Academic Appeals Board within 14 days of the receipt of the grading decision (Section 64 of the Regulations on Degrees and the Protection of Students’ Rights at the University of Helsinki).

The processing of Licentiate theses and doctoral dissertations by the Faculty Council
The Faculty Council appoints examiners for Licentiate theses and preliminary examiners for doctoral dissertations, grants permission to defend dissertations in a public examination and grades Licentiate theses and doctoral dissertations. Licentiate theses are discussed at two separate Faculty Council meetings and doctoral dissertations at three meetings.  In order to have his or her thesis or dissertation taken up for discussion at a Faculty Council meeting, the student must hold the right to pursue postgraduate studies at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and he or she must be registered as attending in the Student Register. The Faculty Council convenes once a month with the exception of the summer months.  The meeting dates and deadlines for submitting material for the agenda can be found on the Faculty web site at http://www.helsinki.fi/af-faculty/administration/faculty_council.html.
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The Licentiate or Doctoral diploma

In order to be awarded the degree of Licentiate or Doctor, the student must be registered as attending in the Student Register and he or she must hold the right to pursue postgraduate studies at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. After the Licentiate thesis or doctoral dissertation has been approved and graded, the Faculty will award a postgraduate degree diploma. The student does not automatically receive this diploma; it will be issued upon a written application to the administrative services in the Faculty Office.

The student can apply for the diploma when
• he or she has completed all the required postgraduate studies in accordance with his or her study plan (checked and confirmed by the signature of the professor in charge);
• all the completed credits to be included in the degree can be found in the Student Register and the relevant department has organised them into a module (postgraduate studies in the major subject); and
• the Faculty Council has approved and graded the Licentiate thesis or doctoral dissertation.

The administrative services of the Faculty Office (Viikki Infocentre, 3rd floor, Viikinkaari 11) is responsible for issuing diplomas. The student should fill in an application form to receive the diploma. This form will be mailed to the student upon the approval of his or her thesis or dissertation, and can also be printed from the Faculty website. The form also contains detailed information on graduation.

Entry into force

These instructions shall enter into force on 1 August 2015.
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(updated 26.6.2015)