Which species are able to adapt to environmental change?
Ecology and evolutionary biology offer a perspective on biology from the level of genes to communities of species. In the master's degree program, you can become familiar with a wide variety of topics in three areas: ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation biology. The program is diverse and multidisciplinary: teaching is done with lectures, laboratory and computer training courses, interactive seminars, study tours and field courses. The field courses range from the northern subarctic region to tropical rainforests. The Centres of Excellence of Metapopulation Biology and Biological Interactions are located in our department.
Goal of the program
Ecology and evolutionary biology offer a perspective on biology from the level of genes to communities of species.
In the master's degree program, you can become familiar with a wide variety of topics in three areas: ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation biology. You can choose studies from any of these areas, as well as from other master's degree programs. The program is diverse and multidisciplinary: teaching is done with lectures, laboratory and computer training courses, interactive seminars, study tours and field courses. The field courses range from the northern subarctic region to tropical rainforests.
Our wide expertise extends from molecular ecology to population and community biology. The Centres of Excellence of Metapopulation Biology and Biological Interactions are located in our department.
Our program offers you a wide range of options: evolutionary biology or genetics for those interested in ecological genetics and genomics, as well as the ability to take advantage of the high-quality molecular ecology and systematics laboratory; conservation biology for those interested in regional or global environmental problems; and ecological modelling skills for those interested in computational biology. Our training also offers Behavioural Ecology.
Ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation biology are not only fascinating topics for basic research, they also have a key role in addressing global environmental challenges.
Upon graduating from the Master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology program, you will:
- Have mastered the main theories and methods in ecology and evolutionary biology and be able to apply them to practical problems.
- Be able to plan and carry out a scientific research project.
- Have read the relevant scientific literature and be able to utilize your expertise in different types of work.
- Be able to work as an expert in your field.
- Be able to write good scientific English.
- Be able to work on research projects and groups.
- Be able to continue on to doctoral studies.
Information on the languages of instruction
The Master’s Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is a genuinely international program that brings together students from many countries. The language of instruction for compulsory courses and most optional courses is English. You can write all exams, reports and your Master’s thesis in English. If you are fluent in Finnish or Swedish, you can also use these languages.
The Master's degree program includes studies of ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation biology. The studies are organized in modules. You can affect the content of the studies by planning your personal curriculum. You can study the following themes:
- Ecology studies the abundance and distribution of species (animals, plants, microbes) and the interactions among them and with the environment. The perspective ranges from the molecular to the ecosystem level. In ecology, a central question is: Why are some species able to invade new habitats and displace native species? Which species are able to adapt to environmental change or migrate with the changing climate, and which species will become extinct?
- Evolutionary biology examines the processes which support biodiversity at its various levels (genes – individuals – populations – species – ecosystems). You will learn about the theory of evolution and how to use population genetics and genomics methods in researching evolutionary issues.
- Conservation Biology studies the depletion of biodiversity, its causes, and consequences. You will learn to apply ecological theory to the problems of environmental conservation, to assess the effectiveness of methods of conservation, as well as to resolve the problems relating to conservation e.g. by modeling and computational methods. The training emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary education in the area of conservation.
You undertake modules producing a total of 120 credits (ECTS) according to your personal study plan. The degree consists of:
- 60 credits of advanced studies, including a research project (Master’s thesis, 30 credits)
- 60 credits of other studies chosen from the Program or from other Programs
Career planning or extracurricular activities can be included in your personal study plan.
If you are studying to qualify as a biology teacher, you will need 60 credits of pedagogical studies in your degree. This applies only to Finnish or Swedish speaking students.
All students undertake a master's thesis, the extent of which is 30 credits. In your thesis, you will demonstrate your mastery of scientific thinking, your familiarity with the scientific background of your thesis and the relevant research methods, and your ability to report the results. Your thesis can be done individually or as a member of a research project in which you have a clear and independent role. You must, however, write your thesis independently.
In general, you will collect the data in the field or in the laboratory, analyze them, evaluate the results critically in the light of the scientific literature, and present your conclusions in writing.
Your Master's thesis can be done in one of the research groups of the department.
A Master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology gives you the capability to embark on a wide range of careers, such as University teaching and research tasks; expert and administrative tasks at research centres and companies; in the field of public administration (e.g., the United Nations, the European Union, national and provincial administration, cities, municipalities); international and national organisations; and the media. The degree also makes you eligible to continue on to a doctoral education in different areas of biology.
The Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is a popular option for Finnish and Swedish speaking students wanting to qualify as biology teachers.
Master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology gives an access to the capability of University teaching and research tasks, for a wide range of expert and administrative tasks of the various research centres, companies, in the field of public administration (e.g., The UNITED NATIONS, the European Union, the State and the provincial administration, cities, municipalities), international and national organizations and the media. The degree also provides the scientific validity for doctoral education in different areas of biology.
The Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is a well-liked option among students studying towards biology teacher qualification (Finnish and Swedish speaking students).
Upon graduating with a Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, you can qualify to become a teacher in biology. This requires that you have been accepted to the faculty for teacher’s education. You must have taken the following courses during your studies for your Bachelor’s degree: biology and another discipline from the following: geography, chemistry, physics, mathematics or health education. If you want to qualify as a biology teacher in the Master’s degree program, you must take pedagogical studies as your optional studies (60 credits).
Students doing their BA and MA degrees apply for pedagogical studies in the BA stage of their studies. The possibility for students to apply for pedagogical studies in the MA stage of their studies will be decided on during the autumn term, 2017.
You will have the opportunity to study at foreign universities and research institutions within the framework of an international student exchange. You can also gain valuable experience by working as a tutor of international students or participating in the international activities of the Student Union or other student organizations.
The teachers and researchers in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology are internationally known and respected. Their research groups host numerous international researchers as visitors and workers. They also employ many foreign graduate students, which creates an international atmosphere in the program.
The researchers and teachers carry out diverse collaboration with the Helsinki University Museum of natural history (LUOMUS), the Institute of Biotechnology, various Finnish universities, Metsähallitus (Forestry Administration), Natural Resource Institute Finland (LUKE), as well as the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). These agencies, as well as our own research groups, employ a significant number of students.
Part of the research and instruction takes place at the University of Helsinki’s research stations in Tvärminne, Lammi and Kilpisjärvi, located on the southern coast, in central Finland, and in Lapland, respectively.
The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology has a number of internationally renowned research groups in the following areas:
- Metapopulation research
- Population ecology
- Conservation biology
- Evolutionary biology
- Ecological genetics and genomics
As a graduate of the Master's degree program, you can apply for a doctoral program at the University of Helsinki or other top international universities. Further studies include 40 credits of coursework and a dissertation.
The vast majority of graduating students in ecology and evolutionary biology take part in the doctoral program LUOVA (Doctoral Program in Wildlife Biology Research).
Other doctoral programs at the University of Helsinki include:
- DPPS, Doctoral Program in Plant Sciences;
- AGFOREE, Doctoral Program in Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources;
- DENVI, Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences;
- ILS, Integrative Life Science Doctoral Program;
For more on the doctoral programs at the University of Helsinki, see: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/research/doctoral-education
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.