How did Eng­lish Be­come a World Lan­guage?

The Master’s programme in English Studies helps you develop your expertise in areas that are often separated in other programmes: English language and linguistics, literature in English, and the teaching of English. Upon graduation, you will have an excellent command of the English language. By working in a stimulating environment with accomplished researchers and teachers, you will also develop other skills needed in your future careers, such as skills in presentation, independent and group work, and project management.

Goal of the pro­gramme

The Master’s programme in English Studies helps you develop your expertise in areas that are often separated in other programmes: English language and linguistics, literature in English, and the teaching of English. Upon graduation, you will have an excellent command of the English language. By working in a stimulating environment with accomplished researchers and teachers, you will also develop other skills needed in your future careers, such as skills in presentation, independent and group work, and project management.

An MA in English Studies prepares you for a variety of jobs, and our graduates have been successful in finding employment. If combined with mandatory pedagogical studies, the Master’s degree in English Studies qualifies you to be a language teacher. Alternatively, you can find employment in media or publishing, business, or international organisations where language skills are required. English is used globally as the language of science, culture, business and tourism, and experts in English are required in all of these fields.

In­form­a­tion on the lan­guages of in­struc­tion

For the most part, the language of instruction is English, and the studies are completed in English. Pedagogical studies (teacher training) can be completed in Finnish or English.

Pro­gramme con­tents

Courses in English Studies focus on several topics relating to the English language, literature in English, and teaching English. You can choose to combine courses from one or more lines according to your interests. In Linguistics courses you will focus on the structure and uses of English as well as on language variation and change, sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics. In the Literature courses, you will study several areas of the various literature in English from narrative, cognitive, postcolonial and ecocritical perspectives. Courses in Applied Linguistics are tailored especially for future language teachers.

As a student in English Studies, you will attend lectures but also work in collaboration with other students, partly in digital learning environments. To assess your learning progress, several methods are used, such as examinations, essays and learning diaries. In English Studies, you will also practice your spoken and presentation skills.

During your Master’s studies, you can

  • Progress further in your linguistic or literary studies and choose the courses that interest you most
  • Strengthen your understanding of theory in your chosen field
  • Strengthen your language skills, academic writing skills and presentation skills
  • Participate in research projects
  • Participate in the Master’s thesis seminar, during which you will write your thesis
  • Complete studies abroad as an exchange student (if you have not done so already)
  • Complete practical training, by working as a trainee or a substitute teacher, for instance

Se­lec­tion of the study track

You can choose between two specialisations, Teacher Training and General. For the teacher’s specialisation, pedagogical studies are mandatory, and there is a separate selection process for these studies. If you choose the General specialisation, you can combine English Studies with other studies according to your interests.

Pro­gramme struc­ture

The scope of the Master’s degree is 120 credits (ECTS). The degree contains the following studies:

  • Advanced studies in the discipline (60–120 credits) and
  • If needed, you can take other courses to achieve the minimum credit requirement for the degree (a total of 120 credits).

With full-time studies, you should be able to complete the Master’s degree in two years.

During your Master’s studies, you will focus mainly on your specialization, deepening your knowledge through coursework and writing your Master’s thesis.

Depending on your interests, you can also include elective subjects and other supporting studies.

To help you complete your studies systematically, you will prepare a personal study plan (PSP) at the beginning of your Master’s studies, with support from the programme staff and from the Faculty and University administrators.


The Master’s programme culminates in writing your Master’s thesis, an independent scientific study. The aim of the Master’s thesis is to develop your skills required for conducting research. The most important of these include the ability to seek information independently, analyse and assess existing information critically, and produce and apply information independently. In addition, writing your Master’s thesis develops your project management skills and your mastery of an extensive body of knowledge.

In English Studies, you will write your thesis in English.

The aim of the Master’s thesis is to develop basic skills required for conducting research, including:

  • Defining your chosen research problem in the context of previous research in the field
  • Finding information independently and assessing this information critically
  • Mastering the theories and research methods required in your work
  • Analysing your data
  • Communicating your results in a clear and logical format appropriate to the audience

Given its scope and complexity, the Master’s thesis will help you develop research and project management skills which will be useful in a variety of professions.

Ca­reer pro­spects

English Studies prepares you for several careers in business and culture, as well as in public administration and education:

  • With careful selection of supporting studies, you can find employment in government, the media, libraries and other cultural institutions, national and international organisations, or tourism.
  • If you complete pedagogical studies for subject teachers, you will be qualified to teach English at comprehensive and upper secondary schools as well as in adult education.
  • After successfully completing your Master’s degree, you can also apply to continue your studies as a postgraduate student and later build a career as a university researcher or teacher.

The University of Helsinki has the most comprehensive selection of disciplines in Finland, making it easier for you to plan your specialization and supporting studies to benefit your future career.

Career-related stories by English graduates can be found at (in Finnish).


Combined with mandatory pedagogical studies, a Master’s degree in English Studies gives you the qualifications required to become a language teacher.

In order to qualify as an English teacher in Finland, you must complete:

  • BA studies in English (60 credits)
  • MA studies in English (60 credits)
  • studies in another discipline taught in schools, such as another language (60 credits, not mandatory but recommended)
  • pedagogical 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.)

Please note that in order to be accepted in the teacher training programme at the University of Helsinki, you must have completed 60 credits of English studies prior to beginning the English studies MA programme.


During your studies, you can engage in international activities in many ways at foreign universities and in Finland. If you have not been on an international student exchange during your BA studies, you can do so while studying for your Master’s degree.

During the exchange, you will complete part of your studies at a foreign university. A well-planned and well-timed student exchange offers you the opportunity to make the degree more diverse and enables you to discover new perspectives on your own studies.

You can pursue an exchange visit either through an exchange programme or independently. All exchange programmes include a scholarship or a grant; the amount depends on the programme, the duration of the exchange visit and the target country. If you have arranged an exchange visit independently, you can apply for a travel grant.

You can also engage in international activities at the University of Helsinki. For instance, you can serve as a peer tutor for exchange students. The Faculty of Arts and the discipline of English philology have many teaching and research staff members who have an international background and who thus bring an international perspective to your studies.


The English Studies programme collaborates with several other Master’s programmes, for instance, the MA programmes in Languages, Literary Studies and Finnish. During your studies, you can benefit from the expertise of teachers and collaborate with students in other MA programmes.

Re­search fo­cus

The discipline of English philology is home to several research projects of various sizes in linguistics and literature, in which you can participate as part of your studies. A good way to become familiar with research is to write your Master’s thesis on one of the topics of a research project.

Internationally, the discipline of English philology at Helsinki University is known for the study of the history, variation and change of the English language. Helsinki researchers are particularly well known for the digital text collections (corpora) they have compiled for research purposes. You can learn more about the research topics on the website of the VARIENG research unit.

Other topics being studied by linguists here include English as a global language and lingua franca, academic discourse and academic writing, and digital or computer-mediated discourse. The methods through which these are studied are drawn from pragmatics, sociolinguistics and discourse analysis, among others.

Literary studies in the discipline are also active – the staff members study all kinds of literature in English from the 1500s to the present. Key subjects include Anglo-American fiction, postcolonial and Native American literature, Renaissance drama and poetry, science fiction and fantasy. Primary material features novels, short stories, poems and plays, and the methods employed include narratological, postcolonial and cognitive approaches.

Post­gradu­ate stud­ies

After completing your Master of Arts degree, you can apply to complete the postgraduate Doctor of Philosophy degree. You will usually apply for this in the same discipline in which you received your Master’s degree.

The University of Helsinki Faculty of Arts is Finland’s leading centre of research in the humanities. The Faculty has a strong research orientation, and its research represents the top level in many fields, both in Europe and globally.

After completing the Master of Arts degree, you can, under certain conditions, apply to complete supplementary studies and later, to complete non-degree studies. As a rule, you complete supplementary studies and non-degree studies in elective studies that you began during your previous studies or in completely new subjects.

Tuition fees

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.

Program taught in:
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Last updated August 2, 2018
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Aug 2019
2 years
- Tuition fee per year (non-EU/EEA students) 13000 €
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Master’s programme in English Studies