Applying for the title of docent

Applying for the title of docent at the Faculty of Social Sciences

The holders of the title of docent have comprehensive knowledge of their field, good teaching skills and a capacity for independent research work. The Faculty of Social Sciences accepts applications for the title of docent twice a year: from 1 to 31 March and from 1 to 30 September. Applications must be addressed to the Faculty of Social Sciences and sent to valt-dosentit@helsinki.fi.

Title of docent at the Faculty of Social Sciences

The University of Helsinki may award the title of docent to a person who has comprehensive knowledge of his or her own field, a capacity for independent research work demonstrated through publications or some other manner, and good teaching skills.<0}

The chancellor grants the title of docent upon the proposal of the faculty council. The faculty council may consider proposing the title of docent if it deems that granting the title to the applicant is in the interest of the faculty, department or discipline.

A general requirement for the title of docent is that applicants have enough scholarly publications in addition to the doctoral dissertation that the publications in the field of the docentship equal a second dissertation evaluated with the grade good in terms of scientific significance and scope.

Statements on the applicant’s academic qualifications must be acquired from two assessors, unless, for special reasons, the statements are considered unnecessary. The final decision regarding the sufficiency of the applicant’s academic qualifications is made by the Faculty Council with the help of assessor statements.

The Faculty requires that in assessing the competence of an applicant for the title of docent, sufficient attention is 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 (e.g., funding obtained for research);
  • The applicant’s participation in the supervision of theses, dissertations and/or scientific research; and
  • The applicant’s active participation in scholarly conferences and other international activities of his or her field.

Teaching skills

A docent must have good teaching skills. When assessing an applicant’s teaching skills, attention will be paid to pedagogical training, previous experience in teaching, the ability to develop teaching materials, any other teaching merits, and teaching skills as demonstrated in a lecture. As a rule, the applicant must hold a demonstration of teaching skills that is open to the public, unless there are special reasons to consider this unnecessary.

Language skills

A docent must have the same language skills as those required for the University’s teaching and research positions, i.e., they must be proficient in the language in which they provide instruction and must have at least satisfactory spoken and written skills in Finnish and Swedish.

A foreign citizen or a non-native Finnish citizen may be granted the title of docent even if his or her skills in Finnish and Swedish have not been demonstrated.

The title of docent indicates that the title holder has been deemed by the University of Helsinki to have a certain level of academic qualifications in the field as well as the capacity for independent research work.  University staff planning an academic career typically apply for the title of docent at the second (end of the postdoctoral stage) or third level of the four-level hierarchy of teaching and research positions. The title of docent is one of the factors considered when determining the employee’s position in the University’s salary system.

Being granted the title of docent does not constitute employment with the University, and the title alone does not entitle its holder to teach at the University or receive staff benefits. The expertise of active docents willing to collaborate with the University can best be utilised by having the unit (department) conclude a separate contract with the docent, specifying the terms and conditions for the collaboration. The conclusion of such a contract always requires the consent of both parties. The contract must be approved and signed by the head of department, who considers whether the contract serves the department’s needs and interests.

The title of docent is permanent, and it need not be relinquished, as was formerly the case, when the holder reaches the maximum pensionable age. The title is also retained by persons who are appointed to a professorship after receiving the title of docent. However, it is not expedient for a professor to apply for the title of docent at his or her own university. Departments may conclude contracts with retired professors similarly to those concluded with docents.

Applicants must negotiate with the a professor in the discipline about meeting the requirements for the title of docent (e.g., the sufficiency of publications) and specifying the field of the docentship. If the field of the docentship is new (the Faculty has no previous docents in the field), the application must be accompanied by the discipline’s statement on the field and the justification for it. The head of discipline must support the application if the field is new. The scope of the titles of docents must not be too limited, and the field should not be specified using phrases such as “with a special focus on”. In most cases, the titles are based on the names of disciplines.

The faculty council may consider proposing the title of docent if it deems that granting the title to the applicant is in the interest of the faculty or discipline.

Written applications (no form available) should be addressed to the Faculty of Social Sciences and sent to valt-dosentit@helsinki.fi by the closing date. Only electronic applications are accepted. Application documents must be clearly named (e.g., lastname_firstname_cv.pdf).

Applications must indicate the field of the docentship (title) and the applicant’s address and other contact details (home address, email, phone, personal identity code) as well as grounds for the application (why the applicant is requesting the specific title of docent at the University of Helsinki). In addition, applications must include information on the supervisors of the applicant’s doctoral dissertation because they cannot serve as assessors. If an applicant has questions about the title of docent, he or she should contact a professor in the discipline.

Applications must be accompanied by the following documents:

  • An English-language CV
  • A report on teaching qualifications (NB! Instructions)
  • An English-language list of publications based on the classification used in the University of Helsinki’s TUHAT database (NB! Instructions) and in which the publications sent for assessment are separately marked
  • Certificates of language skills (unless the language requirements have been completed for a degree at the University of Helsinki)
  • In the case of non-Finnish applicants, a copy of the title page of their passport
  • In the case of applicants who did not complete their doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki, a copy of their degree diploma (completion date, field)

If requested, applicants must provide proof of all the qualifications cited in their CV.

In addition, applications must be accompanied by the publications which the assessors are to consider in assessing the applicant’s academic qualifications for the title of docent. Applications may be accompanied by up to 10 publications. The files must be clearly named and numbered (e.g., lastname_firstname_publication1.pdf). Applicants who have a username for the data network of the University of Helsinki or another university in the HAKA network can send large files by compressing them into a single folder (.zip) and using Funet FileSender. If the applicant has no such username, he or she can contact valt-dosentit@helsinki.fi to receive an invitation through which the files can be sent.

The Faculty’s docentship committee is chaired by the vice-dean for research, and the committee members are two professors, three members of other teaching and research staff who hold the title of docent, and a lecturer in university pedagogy. The committee’s duties include the following:

  • Inspecting applications for the title of docent (sufficiency of publications, field of the docentship, teaching skills, need demonstrated by the department’s supporting statement) and proposals for assessors before the proceedings at the Faculty Council
  • Serving as the teaching skills committee and providing a statement on the teaching skills of applicants for the title of docent
  • Preparing matters related to the qualification requirements for docentships for the Faculty Council
  • Developing the institution of docentship and promoting the integration of the title holders into the Faculty
  • Other duties assigned by the dean

The docentship committee discusses applications for the title of docent as well as the head of discipline’s proposal on assessors before the relevant proceedings at the Faculty Council. Applications for the title of docent are considered by the Faculty Council only if they are supported by the docentship committee. The applications are usually discussed by the Faculty Council at two separate meetings. In the first meeting, the relevant application is recorded, and assessors are appointed to provide a statement on the applicant’s academic qualifications. The supervisor of the applicant’s doctoral dissertation cannot serve as an assessor, and at least one of the assessors must be from outside the applicant’s department. The assessors must issue their statements within two months. If the statements recommend granting the title, the applicant’s teaching skills will be assessed.

In the second meeting, the Faculty Council will decide whether the applicant has the academic qualifications and teaching and language skills required of a docent, and whether to propose to the chancellor that the applicant be granted the title of docent.

The chancellor decides whether to grant the title of docent.

Assessment of teaching skills

The teaching skills of applicants for the title of docent are assessed by a Faculty's teaching skills committee. Such assessments must be based on the Faculty’s general instructions for teaching skills committees.

See the Faculty’s general instructions for the assessment of teaching skills.

Applicants may demonstrate their teaching skills by holding a lecture on a topic of their choice. The time allotted for the lecture is 20 minutes.

Applicants for the title of docent can give one lecture to demonstrate their teaching skills. If an applicant’s teaching skills are found insufficient for the title of docent, a new application process cannot be initiated before he or she submits a report on how he or she has developed his or her teaching skills since the previous demonstration.

After the demonstration of teaching skills, the Faculty Council again discusses the application if the applicant has been found to have the teaching skills required of a docent. The Faculty Council will decide whether the applicant has the academic qualifications and teaching and language skills required of a docent, and whether to propose to the chancellor that the applicant be granted the title of docent.

The Faculty Council will propose to the chancellor that the applicant be granted the title of docent if it has found that the applicant meets the requirements for the title.

The chancellor decides whether to grant the title of docent.

A docent shall be entitled to participate in the teaching of his or her discipline, the supervision of students, and the examination of dissertations and theses, as well as in other University activities as agreed on a case-by-case basis.