Studying and Living in Finland LUT Alumni Experience by Aisulu Harjula

Public Defense of Master’s Thesis

In Finland you don’t need to defend your thesis publicly when graduating Bachelor and Master programmes. Only PhD graduated defend dissertations in front of the committee. There is a maturity test for Bachelor and Master graduates on the topic of written thesis. International double degree programs with Finnish universities may have  a bit different rules.


I have completed the double degree program at LUT and Graduate School of Management in Saint Petersburg. In my group there were both Finnish and Russian students. As for our graduation test, it was a public Master’s thesis defense at GSOM and we had practice sessions to prepare for that in advance. All students graduated our program needed to pass the defense but didn’t need to take a maturity test. LUT professors (students’ supervisors and member of the academic defense committee) and Finnish students organized a one-day trip to Saint Petersburg for the public defense.


With the academic decision committee at GSOM after the defense. The Chairman of the committee is professor Tatyana A. Gavrilova (in the center in front) – the director of this study program .

Finnish students had spent a semester in Saint Petersburg and studied locally at GSOM while we, students from GSOM, went to study to Finland. I got a place at the double degree program after I passed assessment and met all requirements (academic record, especially) but before that I had passed all entrance exams and interviews to GSOM in English.


Our program graduates at GSOM on the day of the public defense: Two Kazakh students (me and the first student from the left), two Russian female students and the Finnish team: two professors – Paavo Ritala (in the center in front), Liisa-Maija Sainio (on the right), and three students. Each of the students are successful after graduation.

The public defense usually takes 15 minutes and is followed by questions from people of scientific board which consists of 10 professors from different fields. It’s very important to speak clear and intrigue the audience because usually they are not interested in listening to your story but they give a final mark. So in order to pass the defense with the best grade you need to perform like at a stage: speak to them, look into their eyes all time during the presentation. Moreover, presentation should be well-structured and slides should contribute to what you say. It’s important to have a strong posture, speak loudly and look friendly.


I have passed a thesis defense also during Bachelor graduation. In Finland it’s possible to get enrolled to a Master’s program and study Master’s courses before finishing Bachelor. Also Bachelor students can write a thesis in pairs and then take a maturity test on the opponent’s part.


I studied in Russia, and there it’s necessary to defend the thesis even for Bachelor students. The process is very strict, and there were about 10 professors in the decision committee. We practiced weeks and weeks for making our presentations clear and deliver research findings to academic people from different fields. I have graduated Bachelor of physics (and my Bachelor’s thesis research was in physics) and Master’s in management. Now I’m waiting to be enrolled to PhD studies in management with a focus on nuclear industries. I’m happy that I have made decisions to study physics, mathematics, management and economics. Now I have all the necessary basis to continue higher education in my chosen field.

About The Author

Researcher at LUT, Master of Economics, LUT & GSOM Saint Petersburg State University. Focus on Strategy, Innovation and Sustainability. Background in natural sciences.

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