Info for candidates and supervisors

The ILS student council serves as a platform between PhD students and the doctoral program. The aim is to help you with any issues regarding student welfare, teaching or life as a PhD student in general by collecting feedback, providing information and keeping you up to date with upcoming events. The student council organizes the annual ILS PhD Symposium.

Guidelines for Thesis Committee meeting and progress report in ILS
updated 16.11.2016 & 13.7.2018

Each ILS doctoral candidate must have a thesis committee. The purpose of the Thesis Committee is to improve the quality of research and research training. The committee members act as mentors to the doctoral candidate throughout the project, and both guide and support the doctoral candidate in research and studies, in selecting the right courses, in career planning and in many kinds of emerging situations where support and direction is needed. All interactions within the Thesis Committee are to be considered confidential. Membership in the thesis committee is a position of trust, aiming to guide the doctoral candidate throughout his/her PhD studies.

The first meeting must be arranged within four months (first semester) after being accepted to ILS after which the subsequent meetings must take place annually. Reports of the meetings must be submitted in a timely manner.

Submitting the annual thesis committee report is compulsory to all ILS students. Failure to submit the thesis committee meeting report will detach the student for one year from any ILS benefits such as the possibility to apply for a travel grant.

The thesis advisory committee’s tasks are to:

  • ensure that the project is scientifically valid and suitable for a PhD project
  • discuss the candidate’s research plan with him or her to ensure the plan is clear, feasible and relevant,
  • give the candidate constructive feedback on the progress of his or her postgraduate studies and research,
  • issue recommendations on studies supporting the candidate’s research work,
  • evaluate the progress and future plans of the PhD project including overseeing the timely graduation of the student
  • take up problems and/or issues that need to be addressed and notify the programme coordinator of them, and
  • give the candidate constructive feedback on the progress of his or her postgraduate studies and research,
  • help the candidate plan his or her post-dissertation career.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers

University of Helsinki instructions on thesis committee members.
See also ILS checklist.

Thesis advisory committee meetings

  1. The first thesis committee meeting should be completed within 3-4 months (first semester) after beginning doctoral studies. The purpose of the first meeting is that the doctoral candidate introduces him/herself and the research plan to the committee.
  2. Subsequent meetings with the thesis advisory committee must take place annually, although on mutual agreement they may take place more often than once a year.
  3. The candidate is responsible for arranging the meeting and he/she should start scheduling it well in advance due to the hectic schedules of researchers. It is also good to book a room for the meeting early on.
  4. Prior to the meeting the student prepares and sends the progress report to the Thesis Committee members.
    1. “Old” students who have not registered to Thessa yet: instructions.  (Even though certain points in the instructions do not apply to a candidate that has only recently started his/her doctoral studies, the report should follow the listed points as closely as possible.)
    2. Students starting in Autumn 2018 or later: Thesis committee reporting should be made in Thessa ( See more about Thessa here.
  5. Thesis Committee members are expected to familiarize themselves with the report in advance.
  6. The Student, the Supervisor(s), and the Thesis Committee members must all participate in the TC Meeting. Participation can be organized e.g. over skype to reduce travelling.
  7. After or during the meeting, a second form is filled and returned.
    1. “Old” students: instructions.
    2. Students starting in Autumn 2018 or later: reporting of the meeting is made in Thessa.

Dur­ing the meeting

  1. The student presents the current status and future plans of the PhD project.
  2. Thesis Committee members evaluate the project and make suggestions for the project.
  3. The student and the participants of the Thesis Committee Meeting check the acquired skills and courses taken by the student and plan the studies to guarantee adequate knowledge of and expertise in the field.
  4. Part of the meeting has to be held in the absence of the supervisor to allow for possible confidential matters to be discussed between the TC members and the student.

Thessa ( ) is a new online tool for planning and follow-up of PhD studies, and it will become mandatory for new doctoral candidates, their supervisors and thesis committees starting from Autumn 2018.

There are three main parts in Thessa: Supervision agreements (mandatory for all doctoral candidates from August 2020 onwards), personal study plans and progress reports. Progress report can be used for annual reporting and be sent to thesis committee for thesis committee meetings.

Also “old” students are welcome to join Thessa right away! Please note that in order for you to start using THESSA, your supervisor will first need to log in to the system. After your account has been activated, you can invite the thesis committee members to join. Please see ThessaHELP document for detailed instructions. You can also forward it to your supervisor(s) & TC members.

More info:
Thessa helpdesk:

Lists for doc­toral can­did­ates

All ILS doctoral candidates should join the ils-predocs(at) mailing list, which is used to advertise ILS's activities as well as to distribute information relevant to PhD candidates. Another relevant mailing list is the DSHealth doctoral school list (all ils-predocs list members automatically receive the DSHealth mails as well). Also, consult your supervisor for other relevant mailing lists to join.

To subscribe, send an e-mail to majordomo(at) Leave the subject-line empty and in the message field write subscribe ils-predocs. Please note that you must use your email address or other official address (,, ect.) to join the list.

To unsubscribe the list send an e-mail to majordomo(at) and write in the message field unsubscribe ils-predocs and nothing else. Please note that you should send the email from the same address that you joined the list with.

All group leaders who act as supervisors of doctoral candidates can be found from the University of Helsinki research database here.