Applying docentship

According to Section 89 of the Universities Act (558/2009), a university may award the title of docent to a person who has comprehensive knowledge of his or her own field, a capacity for independent research or artistic work demonstrated through publication or some other manner, and good teaching skills.

A docent must possess the language skills required of teaching and research staff at the University of Helsinki. Applicants for the title of docent must display command of the language of instruction (Finnish or Swedish) and satisfactory oral and written skills in Finnish and Swedish. Exemption from the language requirements for docents can be granted without a separate application in the cases specified in Section 32 of the University Regulations.

According to Section 52 of the University Regulations, the Chancellor shall grant the title of docent.

Before deciding on the matter, the Faculty Council will request statements on the applicant's academic qualifications from two assessors, unless, for special reasons, the Council considers the statements unnecessary.

The Faculty Teaching Skills Evaluation Committee will issue a statement on the applicant's teaching skills.

If the Faculty Council finds that the applicant fulfills the requirements for the title of docent, the Council will submit a proposal of appointment to the Chancellor.

The Faculty of Science requires that applicants for a docentship have enough scientific publications in addition to the doctoral dissertation that the publications in the field of the docentship equal another dissertation evaluated with the grade good in terms of scientific significance and scope.

In addition, the Faculty requires that the applicant has proof of having pursued an independent line of research and thus of independence in general.

The Faculty requires that in assessing the competence of an applicant for docentship, sufficient attention be paid to the following:

  • the applicant’s publications in international refereed publication series, 
  • the applicant’s contribution to authorship in his or her most central publications, 
  • whether the applicant has proof of embarking on an independent career as a scholar (for example, funding received for research), 
  • the applicant's participation in the supervision of theses and scientific research, and 
  • the applicant's active participation in the international activities and conferences of his or her field.

The Faculty requires the assessors’ report to indicate explicitly whether these conditions are met and whether the applicant fulfills the requirements for docentship. For this reason, the assessor must analyse the scientific works of the applicants at sufficient length in the statement.

The special status of the docentship will be taken into consideration when assessing the good teaching skills required of a docent. A docent may participate in the teaching of his or her discipline as agreed on a case-by-case basis, but will have no teaching duties.

In compliance with the Chancellor’s instructions, a demonstration of teaching skills is normally required of all applicants for the title of docent. The duration of the lecture will be approximately 25 minutes. The topic of the demonstration should be of interest to students of the field, and should be such that it could be part of the curriculum of the discipline. The applicant may use notes when giving the lecture. When assessing the lecture this table is used in support (attachment, pdf).

Quality categories approved by the Faculty will be used to assess the demonstration, taking into consideration the structuring of the teaching situation and the topic, the presentation of the scientific background of the topic, as well as the applicant’s interaction skills and ability to utilise teaching aids and materials. The demonstration lecture will be graded as follows: poor, satisfactory, good or excellent.

Academics often apply for a docentship at a stage of their career when they have less extensive teaching experience or pedagogical training than for example university lectureship applicants. Consequently, the quality of the teaching demonstration often carries considerable weight in the overall assessment of the applicant’s teaching skills.  

In the assessment of the applicant’s teaching skills, prior teaching experience, pedagogical training, the ability to produce teaching material, additional teaching qualifications, the demonstration lecture and the subsequent discussion with the Committee for the Assessment of Teaching Skills will each be considered separately. Thus the applicant always receives a statement describing both the strengths displayed during the assessment and the areas related to teaching in which he or she has thus far shown fewer merits.

The overall assessment of the teaching skills will summarise whether the applicant meets the docentship criteria (i.e., whether his or her teaching skills are sufficient). When a docent applies for a teaching and research position, his or her teaching skills will be evaluated separately in view of the qualification requirements of the position in question. In this assessment, the applicant’s teaching skills are deemed insufficient for the position of a professor or university lecturer.

From the beginning of academic year 2018-2019, fixed application dates for docents will be implemented at the Faculty of Science. The dates are 30 September, 30 November, 31 January, and 30 April. The dates for sample lectures are 15 November, 15 January, 15 March, and 15 June, or the previous Friday if the date coincides with a weekend. Applications received before the start of the academic year will be processed according to the new schedule.

The Faculty requests that prospective applicants for a docentship first consult with a relevant department head or discipline coordinator before submitting an application. In addition to other issues related to the application of a docentship (the field of the docentship, scientific qualifications), there will also be a preliminary consideration of the applicant’s teaching qualifications at this point.

The department’s position on the field of the docentship will be clarified in the consultations. If the field of the title of docent is new (the Faculty has no docents in the field), the department must provide the Faculty with a statement describing the docentship and its purpose. After the consultation with the applicant, the department can prepare its proposal to the Faculty on the assessors to evaluate the applicant’s qualifications.

The docentship applicant’s scientific qualifications and teaching skills will be assessed simultaneously. This ensures that the Faculty representatives consider the applicant’s qualifications sufficient in all aspects so that the assessment process can begin. 

The application must be submitted to the Faculty of Science by e-mail as a pdf document to the address

The application must be accompanied by a curriculum vitae, a list of publications and other research work according to the classification of the University of Helsinki Reference Database of Publications, as well as a report of the applicant’s teaching qualifications. The Faculty requests that applicants draft an academic portfolio (pdf) incorporating all the above documents to accompany their applications. Applicants are also asked to list the publications listed in Web of Science and mark the publications written after dissertation. Further, they are asked to give their own opinion on which publications they think would form a whole as good as a doctoral thesis.

For the assessment of the applicant’s teaching skills, the applicant must also indicate the topic of his or her demonstration of teaching skills when submitting the application. The language of the teaching demonstration can be Finnish, Swedish or English.

Copies of certificates attesting to the applicant’s skills in the Finnish and Swedish languages must accompany the application. The required language skills are typically incorporated into the applicant’s studies and are indicated in the degree diploma. Official certificates of language proficiency are also considered proof of language skills. If an applicant from outside Finland is not an employee at the University of Helsinki, he or she must also present copies of his/her passport and doctoral diploma, certified by two people.

The applicant may choose to submit publications directly to the assessors appointed by the Faculty Council instead of sending them to the Faculty Office. Publications can normally be submitted to the assessors electronically.

The Dean of the Faculty will confirm the composition of the Committee for the Assessment of Teaching Skills to evaluate the applicant’s teaching skills. The department will organise the teaching demonstrations, which are open to the public and advertise the event sufficiently so that all interested parties may attend. Applications for the title of docent are usually discussed by the Faculty Council in two separate meetings. In the first meeting, the application is brought to the attention of the Council, and assessors are appointed. Assessors are not appointed from the Faculty of Science, but must nevertheless hold an academic title of docent or higher.

After receiving statements from the assessors and the Committee for the Assessment of Teaching Skills, the Faculty Council will decide in the second meeting whether the applicant meets the requirements for the title of docent and whether a proposal of appointment will be made to the Chancellor.