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Aalto ARTS Dissertation Instructions (pdf)

Types of dissertation

 Monograph

An approved doctoral dissertation may be a single study (a monograph) that has not been appeared in a published form in full before. The monograph shall form a coherent entity and be the result of the researcher’s independent work. It may contain references to other publications produced by the author dealing with the same problems.

 Article dissertation

Alternatively, the dissertation may be an article-based doctoral dissertation, which consists of a set of publications on a related set of problems, and a summary of the findings. The summary shall describe the research problem and research goals and methods, and present a summary of the key findings. The summary shall assess the significance of the study for the discipline. The summary shall contain a list of the publications included in the thesis and describe the independent contribution of the candidate in each publication separately.

The article dissertation must include at least 3 full-length articles (e.g. JUFO 1–3). These articles must have been approved for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, in a similarly peer-reviewed conference publication, or as a chapter in a peer-reviewed book. In addition to the three articles, the dissertation may include other publications, shorter articles or artistic compoments. For one of these the publication process may still be ongoing. For well-grounded reasons the Doctoral Programme Committee may also approve other kinds of compilations of publications as a dissertation.

The articles may also include co-authored publications if the candidate's independent contribution to them can be demonstrated. If the contribution is not demonstrated in the publication, an account of the contribution of the candidate and of the other authors must be given  in the summary. The candidate must ask and receive the approval of the other authors for the account given. The candidate must be the first author of at least one of the articles.

 Dissertation including artistic components

In the field of art and design, a dissertation may also include an art production, a series of art productions meaningfully connected to each other, or a product development project. As a rule the artistic components to be included in the dissertation must have been created during the validity of the study right.

The written component of the dissertation (thesis) has to be in a dialogic and analytic relation to the art productions or product development project, and the candidate has to present in the thesis the targets, methods and findings of the production, series of productions or product development project. Such a dissertation can include artistic components, which can be joint productions or projects, provided that the independent contribution of the candidate is clearly indicated. The independent contribution of the candidate and that of the other authors must be explained in the written component. The doctoral candidate must ask and receive approval from the other authors in order to include this account.

 The language of the dissertation

The dissertation may be published in Finnish, Swedish or English, or with the permission of the Doctoral Programme Committee, in some other language. The language of the manuscript submitted for pre-examination must be the same as the language of the published dissertation. The Doctoral Programme Committee may ask for a separate statement on the quality of the language used in the manuscript and demand proofreading.

Supervision of Dissertation

All doctoral candidates have a supervising professor, who is appointed in the admission decision. Supervising professor can take care of thesis guidance, or on the proposal of the Department, the Doctoral Programme Committee can appoint one or two thesis advisors for the doctoral candidate. Advisors can be appointed at any phase of the studies and for a justified reason they can also be changed.

Advisor(s) can be external. At least one of the advisors must have a doctor’s degree. In case the dissertation includes artistic productions or product development projects, at least one of the thesis advisors must have adequate artistic qualifications and superior knowledge of the field in question. The thesis advisor may not serve as a pre-examiner or opponent of the same dissertation.

Each doctoral candidate agrees with the supervising professor and the advisor(s) about the respective responsibilities and frequency of reporting in a Supervision plan. Before signing the plan, all parties should discuss their expectations and the terms of the supervision and guidance (frequency of meetings, submission of written work etc.)


Supervision plan template (docx)


The doctoral candidate submits the confirmed plan by email to doctoral-arts@aalto.fi. 



 Duties of the supervising professor
  • going through the personal study plan of the doctoral candidate, and following up on the progress of the studies and that of the research work on a regular basis
  • ensuring that the doctoral candidate is aware of the requirements for a doctoral dissertation and of the stages included in the preliminary examination and the public examination of the dissertation
  • making sure that the doctoral candidate makes the necessary corrections proposed to the doctoral dissertation manuscript by the pre-examiner

The supervisor and the advisor(s) shall give a written statement to the Doctoral Programme Committee confirming that the dissertation is ready to be submitted for pre-examination.



 Duties of the thesis advisor
  • tutoring the doctoral candidate in making, following and, if needed, revising the study plan and the research proposal
  • instructing the doctoral candidate in writing the thesis and planning and working out the research and the artistic work or design practice.
  • guiding the doctoral candidate in independent learning and refering the student to other researchers in the same field or to those interested in applying the research results.
  • encouraging the doctoral candidate to actively publish in the publication forums of the field

Unless otherwise decided, the advisor's role continues until pre-examination, at which stage the advisor gives a written statement confirming that the dissertation is ready to be submitted for pre-examination.



 Duties of the doctoral candidate
  • preparing, in collaboration with the supervising professor, a personal study plan for doctoral studies at the start of the doctoral studies and updating it as necessary;
  • carrying out research independently and in a self-directed manner in accordance with the research proposal; providing teaching related to the research field and communicating the results of his/her research to others;
  • reporting on the progress of the research to the supervising professor on a regular basis;
  • annually enrolling at the university. The student must be enrolled as an attending student both for the semester during which the dissertation is to be examined and for the semester during which the decision on the degree is to be published



 Thesis advisor's fee
  • The thesis advisor's fee is based on the Aalto University’s fee regulations, if the work is not done under the annualized hours contract (usually fees are only paid to external advisors).
  • The supervising professor of the doctoral candidate decides the numbers the advising hours after discussing with the thesis advisor and the doctoral candidate. Usually it is 10h/year. A maximum total for the whole of studies is 50h/per doctoral candidate.
  • Doctoral candidates should keep a tab of meetings and other activities of the advisor & send it the supervising professor at the end of the year.
  • The fee for the advisor is paid annually, at the end of the year, after a confirmation of hours from the supervising professor.
  • The fee is paid by the doctoral candidate’s department. The department will handle all the practicalities related to the payment of the fee.