• ecology
  • evolutionary biology
  • conservation
  • management of natural populations and communities
  • taxonomy and systematics
  • computational biology

A doctoral degree in LUOVA comprises a doctoral thesis and 40 credits of doctoral studies. The studies are divided into scientific content and transferable skills studies.

Part of the studies can be completed flexibly by presenting your research at scientific conferences, teaching, supervising/mentoring others, writing popular articles and attending relevant seminars.
Visit our study planning instructions for current doctoral students on the University's Instructions for Students pages.

The programme organises methodological courses, courses in communication skills and career planning, as well as the annul Spring Symposium where you can present your research to your peers. You can also complete doctoral-level courses from other Finnish Universities, as well as from international Universities and research institutes.

Courses in research ethics and transferable skills are offered throughout the academic year by the Doctoral School in Environmental, Food and Biological Sciences (YEB).

In addition to the doctoral thesis, 30 credits of scientific content studies and 10 credits of general competence studies must be completed.

The annual LUOVA Spring Symposium brings together students active in research fields related to ecology, evolution, systematics and nature conservation.

Progress of each doctoral candidate in LUOVA is monitored with the help of annual thesis committee meetings and the use of the digital platform tool THESSA.

Committee members act as mentors to doctoral candidates, guiding and providing advice throughout the whole doctoral degree and education. Membership in a thesis committee is a position of trust, and all interactions between the doctoral candidate and the thesis committee are considered confidential.

The tasks of the thesis committee are to:

  • ensure that the doctoral candidate's coursework supports the thesis project and provides the expected skills
  • ensure that the doctoral work is scientifically valid and suitable for a thesis project
  • evaluate the progress and future plans of the thesis project including overseeing the timely graduation of the doctoral candidate
  • support the doctoral candidate in both scientific and other issues, and address any potential problems, bringing these to the attention of the doctoral programme if necessary
  • support the doctoral candidate in career planning

At least two external expert members in addition to the doctoral candidate and supervisor(s) make up the thesis committee. It is good to have these members already selected at the beginning or very early stages of your doctoral studies.

The external members must hold the necessary qualifications to assess the progress of the dissertation and research work and who are impartial in relation to the supervisor(s) and the doctoral candidate at the committee's appointment stage.

Although you and your supervisor are free to choose the external members, please bear in mind that at least one expert must hold the qualification of a docent (or equivalent) and all members must be impartial in relation you and your supervisor(s). Conflicts of interest are:

  • close personal ties (family members, other relatives)
  • joint research projects
  • same research group
  • joint funding
  • joint publications in the last three years
  • collaborators

External committee members may come from the University of Helsinki, but may also come from other universities or research institutes in Finland or abroad. It should be noted that neither LUOVA nor faculties can offer financial support for their travel expenses. It is also advisable that at least one of the group members is familiar with the requirements for a PhD degree at the University of Helsinki.

Thesis committee meetings should be held at least once a year until thesis defence, but may be organised more frequently if this is seen to be beneficial. Organising the meeting is the responsibility of the doctoral candidate. Remember to leave enough time to plan the date and time of the meeting as committee members are usually very busy and not able to reschedule their work at short notice.

Each meeting will vary in it's nature according to the progress and stage of the doctoral candidate. Each meeting should also allow time for the doctoral candidate to speak freely to the thesis committee members while his/her supervisor(s) is/are not present.

The THESSA digital platform tool sends annual automatic reminders to doctoral candidates and their supervisors regarding reporting. Annual reports are generated in THESSA and supervisors and thesis committee members read and comment on these in the annual meetings. Final conclusions are written after the meeting and the annual report is closed.

The first thesis committee meeting and report should be held and submitted within the first few months
of starting doctoral studies.

The information provided in the report is important for the the doctoral candidate, his or her supervisor(s) and the doctoral programme, where it is used in various administrative tasks and reports.

More information can be obtained from the doctoral programme office and THESSA.

NOTE: Doctoral candidates who received their post-graduate study rights before 1.1.2019 AND/OR are not registered in THESSA should contact the doctoral programme office to discuss annual meeting reporting options.