How can plants help us cope with global challenges?
Life on Earth depends on solar energy captured by plants - they are the base of most food webs and underpin the functioning of all major ecosystems. Plants release the oxygen we breath. They convert solar energy into chemical energy, providing us with food, fibres, renewable energy sources, and raw materials for many industries. Plants do not carry out these processes in isolation. They interact with other organisms and the physical and chemical environment, communicate and actively adjust to their circumstances. How do they do these things at molecular, physiological and functional levels and how can we profit from understanding that?
When you have graduated from the Master’s Programme in Integrative Plant Sciences you will have the current answers, based on cutting-edge research by our scientists, to these big questions, and more.
The Master’s Programme in Integrative Plant Sciences is a joint programme of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences and the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, which ensures an exceptionally comprehensive curriculum. You will be able to study the diversity of wild and cultivated plants from the Arctic to the Tropics, as well as plant functions from the molecular level, such as ontogeny and regulation of growth and differentiation, to the ecosystem level.
Why In­teg­rat­ive Plant Sciences?
When you have graduated from the Master’s Programme in Integrative Plant Sciences you will have the current answers, based on cutting-edge research by our scientists, to these big questions, and more, such as:
How one plant cell develops into a complicated organism and how plant cells, tissues and organs communicate with each other and regulate each others’ growth at molecular and physiological levels
How plants avoid, tolerate or defend themselves from external stress factors such as diseases, drought and excessive solar radiation, and adapt to their environment
How plants sense their environment and communicate with each other and with other organisms
How plants, interacting with microbes, fungi and animals, maintain ecosystems and thus life
How the genotypic, functional and morphological differences among plants allow them to thrive in vastly different habitats
You will also be able to:
Understand how research in plant sciences and biotechnology can contribute to plant breeding and production
Plan, coordinate and execute high-quality basic and applied scientific research
Have a good command of the scientific method and critically evaluate research across scientific disciplines
Master the top notch lab techniques in molecular and physiological plant sciences
Use the basic skills needed to expand your knowledge into other related fields and communicate professionally with experts in those fields
Act in working life as an expert and innovator in your field, supported by your language, communication, lab skills and other transferable skills
Be eligible for scientific post-graduate (doctoral) studies
Struc­ture and con­tent
The extent of the Master’s Programme in Integrative Plant Sciences is 120 credits (ECTS), to be completed in two years of full-time studies. The degree consists of:
80 credits of advanced studies (in integrative plant sciences), including joint courses (20 credits), alternative study modules (30 credits) and the Master's thesis (30 credits)
40 credits of other studies from this programme or other programmes
The curriculum contains a personal study plan and it can contain career planning, transferable skill studies, exchange studies at another university, or an internship or apprenticeship period.
You study the diversity of wild and cultivated plants from the Arctic to the Tropics, as well as plant functions from the molecular level, such as ontogeny and regulation of growth and differentiation, to the ecosystem level. The topics include:
Plant biotechnology and breeding
Molecular biology and genetics
Regulation of growth, reproduction and differentiation of tissues
Biological basis of crop yield and wood formation
Plant ecology and evolutionary biology
Diversity and systematics of plants and fungi
A personal tutor will help you tailor an individual study plan according to your spirations and requirements.
Courses and teach­ing
The teaching is diverse, consisting of lectures, modern laboratory and computer courses, field courses, seminars and excursions. The curriculum is closely intertwined with research. You will be introduced to the research groups from the beginning of your studies, so you will swiftly become familiar with research methods as your studies progress. Much of the study material is in various digital learning platforms (such as Moodle), which allow distance learning.
Your advanced studies include joint courses and alternative study modules. With the choice of courses, you can deepen your expertise in particular areas of integrative plant sciences and tailor your degree towards your aspirations. A personal tutor will help you to tailor an individual study plan according to your interests and requirements.
English is the main teaching language. Because the programme is multilingual, you can take your examinations, write your thesis and fulfil other programme requirements in English, Finnish or Swedish.
By completing your Master’s thesis (30 credits), you will show that you are:
capable of scientific thinking
able to design and carry out experiments under supervision
profoundly familiar with the topic of your thesis
capable of effective written scientific communication
A Master’s thesis project usually consists of four distinct phases:
Design and planning of the study
Gathering the data (fieldwork and/or laboratory work and/or mathematical modelling)
Analysing the data (validation/quality control, statistical analysis, plotting)
Interpreting and discussing the results in the light of existing literature on the topic
Typically, the work is carried out in a research project in which you have a clearly defined and independent role. You must write the thesis yourself. Your work will be supervised by a person, such as a professor or a lecturer, who has a PhD in the same field of research and who knows the topic and the relevant courses well. Upon completing your Master’s project, you will understand how a research project proceeds, from planning the work to carrying it out and reporting the results.
Cooperation with other parties
A multifaceted programme is only possible through the joint efforts of various parties. Therefore the teaching and research is carried out in cooperation with:
Institute of Biotechnology (HiLIFE unit)
Botany Unit of the Finnish Museum of Natural History
Natural Resources Institute in Finland
Plant Biotechnology Unit of the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Finnish Food Authority
Finnish Environment Institute SYKE
Boreal Plant Breeding Ltd. company
This ensures that you will have good prospects for jobs or apprenticeships.
The experimental greenhouses and outdoor fields on the Viikki campus are also used for teaching purposes. The five field stations in Finland owned by the University of Helsinki are a valuable asset and the venues for various field courses. Of the stations, Tvärminne Zoological Station is located on the southern coast, Lammi Biological Station and Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station in the southern Finland, and Värriö Subarctic Research Station and Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in Lapland, in the north of Finland. At the Taita Hills Research Station in Kenya, East Africa, you can have a completely different, once-in-a-lifetime learning experience.
Stu­dents and stu­dent life
Student life and especially the student organisation culture is exceptionally rich and diverse in Finland. Also at the University of Helsinki, the student community is very active. More than 250 student organisations operate within the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY), ranging from faculty and subject organisations to political and societal organisations, and from choirs and orchestras to sports and game clubs. Their activities include anniversary celebrations, academic dinner parties, cultural events, get-togethers and excursions.
As a student and member of the Student Union (HYY), you are entitled to many benefits and services. For example, affordable student housing, basic healthcare services, sports facilities and student-priced meals. You also get numerous discounts, for example on public transport fees across the country.
With a Master’s degree in Integrative Plant Sciences, you have many potential career opportunities. You can move directly into working life as an expert and innovator in your field, supported by your language, communication, lab and other transferable skills, or continue with postgraduate (doctoral) studies.