Survey

General
  • id
  • username
  • 2009-06-15
  • Finland
  • Helsinki University
  • Department of General Linguistics
  • Andrew Chesterman
  • Professor of Multilingual Communication
  • Yves Gambier
  • Helsinki University
Structure
  • PhD. Can currently be registered as Translation Studies, or as General Lingustics, or as a language translation degree, depending on student’s main department.
  • Planned aim is 3-4 years full time, but this is seldom realised. Students who do not have scholarships or grants take much longer, and work part-time.
  • Yes, in the sense that several current PhD projects here have two supervisors, from different departments. The official “points” for the degree are then divided between the departments concerned, as agreed.
Admission
  • An MA in a relevant subject, plus a research plan accepted by the Faculty postgraduate committee.
  • Yes if the field is relevant - this is usually construed as linguistics or language studies, in a broad sense.
  • After discussion with a potential supervisor, the student submits a research plan to the Faculty. The relevant Faculty committee then asks the opinion of the prospective supervisor and/or head of department.
  • The quality of the research plan is paramount. But it would be very unusual for a student to be accepted for postgraduate studies if the grade for the MA was below average.
  • There are a number of national grants that can be applied for, but the competition for these is intense. Most students have only short-term financing, or none.
Programme
  • A distinction must be made between those students who have gained three- or four-year grants in the national Langnet graduate school for all aspects of language research, plus those who are given associate status there (which means they have received a grant from another source), and on the other hand those who have no grant or who are outside the Langnet elite. The Langnet programme runs a variety of courses for its own students. (See http://www.joensuu.fi/fld/langnet/english/.) For others, the provision is much less, amounting to weekly seminars and the occasional course. There is no Helsinki University doctoral programme established as such in Translation Studies.
  • The university / faculty offers occasional optional courses on aspects of methodology. Regular research seminars are held at the departmental level, and are highly recommended at least for a minimum period. All PhD candidates must complete a total of 20 credits of background theoretical courses or reading (seminars, philosophy of science, research methodology, conference presentations, other academic activities, Langnet courses, etc). There is great flexibility in how this requirement is actually met in practice. Students must also complete 40 credits in advanced studies of a related subject (such as literary theory, another language, linguistics, history, philosophy, language technology...).
  • Apart from the Langnet system, we run research seminars, and practice and encourage conference presentations, which can sometimes be financed. The national Kätu network for translation research holds a symposium annually, and is an important forum for young scholars, especially those outside Langnet (i.e. the majority).
  • 200-300 pages; no particular language requirements (except that the supervisor must be able to read it...). No time limit for completion (but see below). Grants have time limits.
  • There are a few exchange agreements, not much used. Funding can be available for conferences and short visits, and for attendance at international graduate schools such as CETRA.
Supervision
  • Must have a PhD and have competence in the field. The main supervisor is within the university, attached to a department. If there is a second supervisor, he/she can be from a different department or university, or (presumably) country.
  • Joint supervision is increasingly the norm. Usually two.
  • Much variety. I tend to see active students about once a month during term, but some are less active. I take notes of supervision sessions. We are encouraged by the faculty to make a formal supervision contract, stating rights and duties on both sides. Structuring is loose, and varies with the student’s pace of work (which in turn varies with the availability or not of a grant). Much time goes in writing and supporting grant applications! We do not have any system of regular formal monitoring. But if the student has not finished in seven years, the Faculty requires an explanation and a timetable for completion...
Assessment
  • The work is first examined by two preliminary examiners, who recommend (or not) “permission to print”. This permission is formally granted by the Faculty. These examiners may require or suggest changes or improvements. The permission means that the work can proceed to be officially presented as a PhD thesis. It is then revised as required and “published”, which may nowadays only mean made available in electronic form, or published in a departmental series. The published work is submitted to the official opponent (or two), who may well be one of the preliminary examiners. There is then an official, and formal, public defence of the thesis, lasting 2-3 hours on average, during which the opponent puts questions to the candidate, who has to defend his/her thesis. The thesis is then given a grade on a scale of seven (traditional Latin names). The grade is proposed (usually jointly) by the opponent and the official faculty representative (who is not the chairman of the defence nor the supervisor). The supervisor can speak in this grade discussion, but may not vote. The grade is then formally confirmed by the Faculty (which may debate or change the proposal, or respond to the candidate’s protest).
  • The thesis can consist of articles (usually 4-5, plus a substantial introductory chapter).
Other
  • Lack of a structured doctoral programme for students outside Langnet. Chronic shortage of post-doc positions.
  • See the website of the Helsinki Faculty of Arts > research: http://www.helsinki.fi/hum/english/research/index.htm