How to develop sustainable food production?
Would you like to be involved in finding solutions to future challenges of food and energy production, such as climate change, population growth and limited energy resources? Are you interested in animal welfare, clean soil, environmental issues or the newest methods in biological and genetic engineering? Would you like to learn about automation and robotics in agriculture? Join the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences on the Viikki Campus to find solutions for the challenges of today and tomorrow. The University of Helsinki is the only university in Finland to offer academic education in this field.
Goal of the programme
Would you like to be involved in finding solutions to future challenges of food and energy production, such as climate change, population growth and limited energy resources? Are you interested in animal welfare, clean soil, environmental issues or the newest methods in biological and genetic engineering? Would you like to learn about automation and robotics in agriculture?
Join the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences on the Viikki Campus to find solutions for the challenges of today and tomorrow. The University of Helsinki is the only university in Finland to offer academic education in this field.
In the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences, you can pursue studies in plant production sciences, animal science, agrotechnology, or environmental soil science, depending on your interests and previous studies. For further information about the study tracks, see Programme contents.
Upon completing a Master’s degree, you will:
- Be an expert in plant production science, animal science, agrotechnology, or environmental soil science.
- Be able to assess the sustainability and environmental impact of food and energy production.
- Be able to apply biosciences, ecology, chemistry, physics or statistics, depending on your study track, to the future needs of agriculture.
- Have mastered the key issues and future development trends of your field.
- Have mastered state-of-the-art research and analysis methods and techniques.
- Be able to engage in international activities, project work and communication.
- Be able to acquire and interpret scientific research information in your field and present it orally and in writing.
- Have the qualifications to pursue postgraduate studies in a doctoral programme or a career as an expert or entrepreneur.
Information on the languages of instruction
The Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences is multilingual: the language of instruction is primarily English, but you can complete your studies in Finnish, Swedish or English.
The Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences comprises four study tracks:
Plant production sciences – plants as sources of food, feed, energy, beauty and wellbeing
During your studies, you will have the opportunity to apply biology to the breeding, cultivation, protection and production ecology of crop or horticultural plants. Producing sufficient food is one of the great challenges facing humanity. Plant production sciences have an important mission in finding solutions to this challenge. Plants are cultivated not only for food and feed but also for bioenergy, green landscapes and ornamental purposes; plant production sciences seek new, improved solutions for all these purposes.
Animal science – animal health and wellbeing
During your studies, you will become familiar with issues pertaining to the wellbeing, nutrition and breeding of production and hobby animals as well as with the relevant biotechnology. In this study track, you will apply biochemistry, animal physiology, genetics and molecular biology for the benefit of sustainable animal production. The Viikki Research Farm, in urban Helsinki, provides plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning!
Agrotechnology – technology with consideration for the environment
This study track provides you with the opportunity to study technologies that are key to agricultural production and the environment, from the basics to the latest innovations. Advances in technology and automation offer new horizons to fearless inventors interested in developing machinery and engineering for the reorganisation, implementation and adjustment of production in accordance with the needs of plants and animals.
Environmental soil science – dig below the surface
These studies allow you to literally dig beneath the surface. The soil is a central factor for the production of renewable natural resources, the diversity of nature, and the quality of water systems. As an expert in environmental soil science, you will know how the soil serves as a substrate for plants and affects the quality of food, and how it can be improved.
For further information about study contents, visit the programme home page.
Selection of the study track
The Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences comprises four study tracks, allowing you to focus on a specialisation according to your interests and previous studies: plant production sciences (quota of 40 students), animal science (quota of 25 students), agrotechnology (quota of 15 students), and environmental soil science (quota of 5 students).
You can be admitted to the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences either directly from the relevant Bachelor’s programme or through a separate admissions process. A total of 80 students will be admitted through these two admissions channels.
Bachelor’s graduates from the following applicable University of Helsinki Bachelor’s programmes can continue their studies in the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences in accordance with previously determined criteria and principles without having to apply separately: Bachelor’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences, Bachelor’s Programme in Environmental Sciences, Bachelor’s Programme in Molecular Biosciences and Bachelor’s Programme in Biology. If there are more applicants to any of the study tracks than there are student places, admission will be based on previous academic performance and the applicability of the previous degree.
Applications are also accepted from graduates of other University of Helsinki Bachelor’s programmes than those listed above as well as from graduates of other Finnish or international universities. In these cases, admission will be based on your previous academic performance and the applicability of your previous degree.
With a scope of 120 credits (ECTS), the Master’s programme can be completed in two academic years. The degree comprises:
- 90 credits of advanced studies in the selected study track, including your Master’s thesis (30 credits)
- 30 credits of other studies from the curriculum of your own or other degree programmes
The study tracks of the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences collaborate across disciplinary boundaries to construct thematic modules around importance topical issues: the economy, the recycling of nutrients, food systems, and the production and exploitation of genomic information.
You must also complete a personal study plan (PSP). Your studies can also include career orientation and career planning.
Various teaching methods are used in the programme, including lectures, practical exercises, practical laboratory and field courses, practical training, seminars, project work and independent study.
The Master’s degree culminates in a Master’s thesis of approximately 50 pages on a topic related to your study track. Completing the Master’s thesis demonstrates your ability to prepare a written scientific presentation in your native language or English, to use source materials critically, and to present your thesis orally and answer questions about it.
The Master’s thesis contains an experimental section, which can either be an analysis of existing research material or an independent research project completed in a laboratory, greenhouse or experimental field, after which you report the results in a scientific thesis. To support the writing and oral presentation of your thesis, you will be offered academic writing courses each year.
The Master’s thesis is typically completed within research projects of the department or campus, or as an assignment commissioned by a research institute or company in the field. Upon completion of your thesis, these partners could be potential employers.
As a graduate of the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences, you will have the competence to pursue a career or to continue your studies at the doctoral level.
According to the statistics of the Finnish Association of Academic Agronomists, the current employment situation for new graduates is positive. Graduates have found employment in Finland and abroad as experts in the following fields:
- Research and product development (universities, research institutes, companies, industry)
- Administration and expert positions (ministries, supervisory agencies, EU, FAO)
- Business and management (companies)
- Teaching, training and consultation (universities, universities of applied sciences, organisations, development cooperation projects)
- Communication (universities, media, companies, ministries, organisations)
- Entrepreneurship (self-employment)
As a graduate, you can apply for doctoral education in Finland or abroad. A doctoral degree can be completed in four years. With a doctoral degree, you can pursue a career in the academic world or enter the job market. The qualifications required for some positions may be a doctoral rather than a Master’s degree.
The Finnish-language student site (Mitä meistä tulee isona): www.agronomiliitto.fi/opiskelijat/tietoa-opinnoista/
International activities take many forms. You can choose from several options:
- You can go on a student exchange to one of the Faculty’s or University’s partner institutions abroad. Numerous exchange options and programmes are offered both in Europe and farther afield.
- You can complete a traineeship abroad or in Finland in an international research group.
- You can select English-language courses offered at the University of Helsinki (Master’s level studies and instruction are in any case primarily available in English).
- You could serve as a tutor for international students.
- You can become involved in the international activities of subject organisations or the University’s Student Union.
- You can also improve your language skills and cultural knowledge by participating in the language courses of the University of Helsinki Language Centre.
Exchanges and traineeships abroad are popular because they provide you with new perspectives, skills and contacts, which may prove useful in your studies and in your future career or postgraduate education.
Agricultural sciences have a long tradition of hosting international students from many countries. Interacting with these students is a good way to broaden the international dimension of your studies. In addition, student organisations in the discipline organise excursions to destinations outside Finland. The programme uses a number of international textbooks and other teaching materials which provide a connection to the global research community.
The teachers and researchers of the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences engage in active cooperation with companies and organisations in the field. These partners participate in the planning of courses, comment on course contents regarding their topicality and labour market relevance, offer traineeships to students, and commission thesis research from them. They are also potential employers for graduates.
The programme’s teachers and researchers also have good contacts with research institutes outside the University, such as the Natural Resources Institute Finland, the Finnish Food Safety Authority, the Finnish Environment Institute, and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Consequently, you will have good opportunities to find traineeships, summer jobs and thesis commissions outside the Viikki Campus. After you graduate, these partners will be your potential employers.
The Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences cooperates closely with the other Master’s programmes in the Faculty as well as with other faculties on the Viikki Campus. Cooperation in teaching and research crosses faculty boundaries, so you can choose from a wide variety of courses outside your own programme. Examples of courses available on the campus include environmental sciences, molecular biosciences, food sciences and business economics.
University-level teaching is always based on the latest research results. The teaching and research topics of the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences are related to important current themes. As a student of agricultural sciences, you will have the opportunity to seek solutions to these current challenges through actual research projects.
Plant production sciences focuses on the sustainability of agriculture and food systems, adaptation to climate change, the identification of new crop plants, the efficiency of nutrient intake, protein self-sufficiency and new sources of plant protein, defence mechanisms against plant diseases, the environmental impacts of production, the preservation of diversity, and the exploitation of genomic information in plant breeding.
Animal science examines alternative sources of protein, such as microphytes, insects and new plant proteins, as well as the effect of nutrition on the welfare of animals. Research in animal breeding and biotechnology develops measures to make use of automatically collected large bodies of data and genomic information in the selection of animals with the aim of intensifying animal production in a sustainable manner.
Agrotechnology studies the sustainable intensification of production methods, the use of automation, measuring techniques and modelling in production and decision-making, the production and use of renewable energy, as well as the means provided by soil and environmental technology to enhance the recycling of nutrients and manage environmental loading as the climate changes.
Environmental soil science focuses on physical, chemical and microbiological processes in the production of clean food and groundwater as well as other soil ecosystem services, the utilisation of waste and industrial by-products, the management of environmental loading and the remediation of polluted sites. The clean soil is a precondition for vital biota and material cycling in the ecosystem.
After completing a Master’s degree, you can pursue doctoral education in Finland or abroad. A doctoral degree can be completed in four years. With a doctoral degree, you can pursue a career in the academic world or enter the job market. The qualifications required for some positions may be a doctoral rather than a Master’s degree.
Relevant doctoral programmes for students of agricultural sciences at the University of Helsinki include:
- AGFOREE Doctoral Program in Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources
- DPPS Doctoral Program in Plant Sciences
- DENVI Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences
More information about doctoral education at the University of Helsinki.
Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, who do not have a permanent residence status in the area and pursue their studies in English, are liable to pay tuition fees. You can check from FAQ at the Studyinfo website whether or not you are required to pay tuition fees.