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Sibelius Academy Guide for Doctoral Studies in Music: V Instructions for the pre-examiner of the thesis: Arts study/Composition



In the Arts Study Programme, a composer's demonstration of proficiency contains one Composition Concert, and, depending on the style and compositional technique of the Candidate, one or two other artistic entities of approximately the same size as the Composition Concert, as well as a Thesis. The scope of the Thesis should be equal to approximately one sixth of the demonstration of proficiency (i.e. at least ca. 25-30 ECTS credits).

The Thesis must be meaningfully connected to the educational, artistic and scholarly objectives of the doctoral project; from the point of view of its contents, structure and language, the Thesis must constitute an organic whole. The subject of the Thesis may be closely connected to the Artistic Demonstration (either to all compositions or to a selection of them), in which case the connection must be clearly stated and described. If the Thesis does not discuss the compositions included in the Artistic Demonstration, the Candidate must include in the Thesis a short description of the Artistic Demonstration, together with the concert programs and dates.

The Thesis does not have to adhere to the conventions of a traditional scholarly publication if it takes a form that better serves the objectives of the project and the objectives of doctoral-level artistic education. A Thesis that constitutes a part of a Demonstration of Proficiency cannot be realized, however, without a sufficient amount of text describing the theme and objectives of the project, the target audience being the community of artists and scholars. A typical amount of text could be somewhere between 40-100 pages, or 25,000 ± 9,000 words (excluding appendices, figures, multimedia components, etc.)



The purpose of the Pre-examination is to establish whether the manuscript submitted as the Thesis fulfils the formal requirements. In his/her statement, the Pre-examiner should pay attention to at least the following aspects:

The theme and objectives of the manuscript

  • the connections between the manuscript and the objectives of the entire doctoral project
  • the originality, clarity and position of the topic in the field of art and research.

The context

  • the Candidate's competence in the field of the topic; his/her ability to discuss subject matter in a pertinent manner
  • in case the Candidate uses self-reflection as a means to examine his/her own artistic work or profile as an artist, the ability to project aspects of that self- reflection into larger and more general contexts (i.e. merely describing and reporting one's inner feelings is not sufficient as such).

Selection, justification and use of the chosen methods and approaches

  • concerning the appropriateness of the main elements of the manuscript, such as selection of research materials and methods, how clearly does the Candidate:
    • describe the choice of research materials and corresponding (philosophical) framework
    • describe the different stages of the analysis
    • analyse how he/she came to the main conclusions from his/her research
    • describe the collection and use of his/her research materials in the project.


The manuscript as a whole in terms of:

  • consistency of reasoning; coherence of structure
  • maturity demonstrated in arguing and discussing
  • competence in using language
  • competence in using research literature and references

If there is more than one Pre-examiner, each of them can write a statement of his/her own; or, the Pre-examiners can prepare a common statement that all of them approve.

The Pre-examination Statement should clearly state whether permission to publish the manuscript as a part of the Demonstration of Proficiency should be granted or not; the statement cannot be conditional. If the Pre-examiner approves the manuscript, he/she may include suggestions for corrections or additions in his/her statement; the shortcomings, however, if left uncorrected, must not be serious enough to warrant non-approval of the Thesis. The Pre-examiner may suggest only improvements that can be easily incorporated into the manuscript. The Pre- examination Statement must be delivered within two months of receiving the manuscript. The summer holiday month of July is not counted in the two-month period. The statement is addressed to the Sibelius-Academy Academy Board and delivered to the presenting official in the office of the doctoral school.

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