How to avoid microbial spoilage of food?
All life on earth is based on microbes. Microbial processes run global nutrient cycles. Present microbiological knowledge is applied in medicine, in the industry and in food production. With techniques based on microbiology and microbial biotechnology, we may even apply methods to save the environment. If you want to know more about microbes and the biotechnological applications and learn what research techniques are used to study viruses, bacteria and other microbes, the Master's Programme of Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology are for you.
Goal of the programme
Why are microbes the most important group of organisms on our planet? How is knowledge of microbiology applied in medicine and industry, or in food production? What research techniques are used to study viruses, bacteria and other microbes? These are important questions, and you can find answers to these and many others in the study of Microbiology and microbial biotechnology.
Upon completing your degree, you will:
- Understand the global significance of microbes as remodelers and processors of life and the environment
- Understand the potential for the use of microbes in the development of new applications, such as foodstuffs, drugs, and industrial processes
- Understand the molecular mechanisms that underpin microbial function
- Be able to evaluate the effects of changes in the environment on microbial communities and thus on the function of the biosphere
- Be able to estimate the risks of microbes, and assess the use of microbes in a variety of environments and situations
- Be able to evaluate ethical questions and the prerequisites of commercialisation related to the use of microbes and biotechnology
- You will understand the most important functional mechanisms of the major groups of microbes
- Be aware of the most important pathogens and virulence mechanisms
- Have mastered the most important microbiological and biotechnological research methods, and become proficient in the interpretation and evaluation of research results
- Be able to develop and evaluate new microbiological and biotechnological applications
- Have the capability to plan and lead activities that involve microbiology and biotechnology, and will be able to propose appropriate actions in various situations
- Know how to search for, produce and critically evaluate scientifically relevant information
- Have developed the capacity for disseminating relevant information about your topic to various target groups in an appropriate manner within an international environment.
Information on the languages of instruction
The language of instruction is mainly English. You can write exams and your thesis in Finnish, Swedish or English.
The key contents of the study programme in Microbiology and microbial biotechnology are:
- Research methods in microbiology, biotechnology and bioinformatics
- Application of microbiological knowledge
- Solving microbiological problems
- Critical, research-based scientific thinking
- Planning, implementation and reporting of microbiological and biotechnological research
- Functional principles of microbial cells and communities
- Development from research to product
- Leadership, entrepreneurship and patenting
- Other studies, through which you can adapt the degree towards your own interests
- Discovery of novel findings in the field of biology.
Selection of the study track
Students graduating from the University of Helsinki bachelor’s programmes in Molecular Biosciences, Food Sciences, Environmental Sciences or Biology can enter the master’s program in Microbiology and microbial biotechnology. Although each of the bachelor’s programmes provides a different base of knowledge, they all provide a sufficient preparation for the master’s programme in Microbiology and microbial biotechnology. Selection of students, if necessary, will be carried out according to study performance.
If you have obtained a bachelor’s degree at another university or a suitable polytechnic degree at a university of applied sciences, you can apply to enter the master’s programme via a separate application process. When you apply for the programme under these conditions, you will be evaluated on the basis of your previously completed studies, language skills and motivation.
You can modify the master’s degree programme for your own interests with elective subjects.
There is an intensive interaction between teachers and students in the master’s programme in Microbiology and microbial biotechnology. A variety of learning methods are used in the courses, including:
- Laboratory work, seminars, lectures
- Oral presentations
- Written reports (individual, paired, group)
- Independent reading
- Work practice, instruction in research groups, project courses
- Oral group exams, written exams, home essays.
At least half of the study credits (60 of 120 credits) will be from courses in Microbiology and microbial biotechnology. By selecting elective and other study opportunities, you will be able to shape the study programme towards many subject areas, such as the environment, food, viruses, fungi, health and microbial diseases, or microbial biotechnology.
Your Master’s thesis accounts for 30 credits. The thesis is generally based on an experimental research project, which you can perform under the supervision of an experienced researcher. During the thesis process, you train yourself in scientific thinking, identifying problems, constructing hypotheses, collecting material, working in the laboratory, analysing results and presenting the results logically, as well as putting your results into the context of current scientific views. You will write your thesis in the format of a scientific publication in which you critically discuss your results from the perspective of the relevant scientific field.
As a master of science graduating from the master’s programme in Microbiology and microbial biotechnology you will be well prepared to (a) continue your studies toward a doctoral degree, (b) specialise as a hospital microbiologist, or (c) proceed directly to a career in working life. Statistically, the situation for microbiologists proceeding to employment has been very favourable. As a microbiology graduate, you can work in the following sectors:
- Research and development (universities, research institutes, companies)
- Surveillance/monitoring in healthcare, food and environment (food industry, drug and diagnostics industry, regulatory authority)
- Administration, professional roles and consultancy (companies, ministries, supervision offices, EU)
- Business and management (companies, ministries, supervisory offices, EU)
- Teaching and education (universities, universities of applied sciences, vocational schools, high schools, comprehensive schools, organisations).
As a microbiology student, you will have good opportunities to participate in international student exchanges. You can complete some parts of the degree at universities abroad. In addition, there are many international students and researchers on the Viikki campus, bringing a global multicultural atmosphere to your everyday life.
The Viikki bioscience campus offers many opportunities to enrich your studies. The teaching and research cover all areas of microbiology, from the molecular level to environmental ecology and global processes. You can also widen and deepen your knowledge at the University of Helsinki in many other subjects, for example in bioinformatics, chemistry, law, and economics.
The master’s programme in Microbiology and microbial biotechnology operates in close collaboration with research institutes and industry: you can apply for an opportunity to perform the laboratory work included in your studies or undertake research for your thesis at another institution. The student organisations Helix, Symbioosi and Lipidi—as well as the Mikrobiologikilta society for students and graduate microbiologists—organise many activities, including excursions, seminars, and meetings.
The multidisciplinary research in microbiology and biotechnology taking place within the Viikki campus is recognised both nationally and internationally. For more information regarding research in microbiological sciences and biotechnology at Viikki, please see the following:
- Bacterial virulence mechanisms and interaction in the host organism
- Food production chains
- Food quality and healthy nutrition
- Macromolecular structure and assembly
- Microbial ecology and evolution
- Microbes in polluted environments and peatland ecosystems
- Molecular Virology
- Plant viruses
- Utilization of microbial resources
- Vital soil and clean environment
As a graduate of the Master’s degree programme, you will be able to proceed to scientific postgraduate studies (i.e. doctoral degrees) in several fields of the biosciences. In addition to the disciplines of microbiological sciences and biotechnology, you could undertake a postgraduate degree in related sciences such as biomedicine and forest science.
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.