How did we get here from the big bang?
In the Master’s Programme in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences at the University of Helsinki, you will focus on gaining an extensive understanding of these phenomena. In the programme, you will gain expertise in basic research and acquire proficiency in the use of mathematical methods, IT tools, experimental equipment, as well as strong problem-solving and logical deduction skills. These will qualify you for a wide range of positions both in the academic career and in the private sector.
Goal of the programme
What are the laws of nature governing the universe from elementary particles to the formation and evolution of the solar system, stars, and galaxies? In the Master’s Programme in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences, you will focus on gaining a quantitative understanding of these phenomena.
With the expertise in basic research that you will gain in the programme, you can pursue a career in research. You will also acquire proficiency in the use of mathematical methods, IT tools and/or experimental equipment, as well as strong problem-solving and logical deduction skills. These will qualify you for a wide range of positions in the private sector.
After completing the programme, you will:
- Have wide-ranging knowledge of particle physics and/or astrophysical phenomena.
- Have good analytical, deductive and computational skills.
- Be able to apply theoretical, computational and/or experimental methods to the analysis and understanding of various phenomena.
- Be able to generalize your knowledge of particle physics and astrophysical phenomena as well as identify their interconnections.
- Be able to formulate hypotheses and test them based your knowledge.
The teaching in particle physics and astrophysical sciences is largely based on the basic research. Basic research conducted at the University of Helsinki has received top ratings in international university rankings. The in-depth learning offered by international research groups will form a solid foundation for your lifelong learning.
Information on the languages of instruction
The Master’s programme is multilingual. The primary language of instruction is English. You can also complete courses and your thesis in Finnish or Swedish unless the nature of the teaching requires otherwise. In this programme, you will be part of an international student and research community.
The understanding of the microscopic structure of matter, astronomical phenomena and the dynamics of the universe is at the forefront of basic research today. The advancement of such research in the future will require increasingly sophisticated theoretical, computational and experimental methods.
The study track in elementary particle physics and cosmology focuses on experimental or theoretical particle physics or cosmology. The theories that form our current understanding of these issues must be continuously re-evaluated in the light of new experimental results. In addition to analytical computation skills, this requires thorough mastery of numerical analysis methods. In experimental particle physics, the main challenges pertain to the management and processing of the continuously increasing amount of data.
The study track in astrophysical sciences focuses on observational or theoretical astronomy or space physics. Our understanding of space, ranging from near-Earth space all the way to structure of the universe, is being continuously redefined because of improved experimental equipment located both in space and on the Earth’s surface. Several probes are also carrying out direct measurements of planets, moons and interplanetary plasma in our solar system. Another key discipline is theoretical astrophysics which, with the help of increasingly efficient supercomputers, enables us to create in-depth models of various phenomena in the universe in general and the field of space physics in particular. Finally, plasma physics is an important tool in both space physics and astronomy research.
Selection of the study track
The Master’s programme includes two study tracks:
- Particle physics and cosmology
- Astrophysical sciences
Courses in the programme have been compiled into modules. Both study tracks contain a mandatory core module that includes a research seminar. The study tracks are divided into specialisations that focus on astronomy, space physics, particle physics or cosmology. Courses typically include lectures, exercises, group work and research literature and end in examinations and/or final assignments. In addition, some studies can be completed as book examinations.
The scope of the Master’s programme is 120 credits (ECTS), which can be completed in two years. The degree consists of
- 90 credits of Master’s studies, including a Master’s thesis (30 credits)
- 30 credits of other studies from the Master’s programme or other degree programmes
In addition, your studies include a personal study plan as well as career orientation and planning. You might also take part in a traineeship, elective studies offered by the Master’s Programme in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences, or studies offered by other degree programmes.
The Master’s degree programme culminates in a Master’s thesis, which demonstrates your familiarity with scientific thought as well as your command of the necessary research methods, knowledge of your thesis topic and ability to communicate scientifically in writing in accordance with the practices of the scientific community. The scope of the Master’s thesis is 30 credits.
In your thesis, you will define and formulate relevant scientific questions, place the research problem in the appropriate context by reviewing the relevant research literature, and answer the research questions using theoretical, numerical, observational and/or experimental methods. You can also complete your thesis as part of a larger research project, provided that your independent input can be clearly verified and assessed. However, you must complete the written component of your thesis independently.
Your thesis project will be supervised by your appointed supervisor, who will meet with you regularly to ensure that your work is progressing on schedule. The target duration of the Master’s thesis project is one term. Many students complete their theses as part of a research group, which enables you to participate in top-level research during your Master’s studies.
A Master’s degree in elementary particle physics or astrophysical sciences provides you with excellent qualifications for postgraduate education in research or for a career in diverse positions both in Finland and abroad. As a Master’s graduate, you could begin a career in research and development in industry as well as in universities and other research institutes that enable you to conduct independent research on a topic that interests you.
Potential employers and career opportunities include
- Research institutes in Finland and abroad (basic scientific research)
- Universities and universities of applied sciences (teaching)
- Industry, particularly high technology companies (applied research and development, managerial duties)
- Software production, e.g., the game sector
- Diverse planning and consulting positions
Master’s graduates from equivalent study tracks under the previous degree system have embarked on careers in
- Research and teaching positions in Finnish universities and research institutes
- Research and teaching positions abroad, for example at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), ESA (the European Space Agency), ESO (the European Southern Observatory), and NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
- Administrative positions, for example at the Academy of Finland or the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes)
- The business sector
The strong theoretical and analytical skills you will acquire in the programme are in great demand in fields such as:
- Data analysis (industry, media companies, game companies, financing)
- Industrial research, development and consulting (at, e.g., Nokia, Ericsson, Apple, Sanoma, Spinverse, Supercell, Nielsen, Valo Research and Trading, Planmeca, Reaktor, Comptel, and Goldman Sachs)
The Master of Science degree qualifies you for demanding expert positions and postgraduate education in Finnish and international doctoral programmes.
Our multilingual Master’s programme is highly international. The Department hosts a large number of international students and staff members. In addition, the University of Helsinki and the Faculty of Science provide many opportunities for international engagement:
- Student exchange at one of the destinations available through the Faculty or the University
- International traineeships
- English-language teaching offered by the Faculty
- Master’s thesis project as a member of one of the international research groups operating under the programme
- Cooperation with international students enrolled in the programme
- International duties in subject-specific student organisations or the Student Union of the University of Helsinki
- Language courses organised by the Language Centre of the University of Helsinki
The Faculty of Science is a top research institute in its fields among European universities. Its partners include many leading international research institutes, such as the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
As a student at the Faculty of Science, you will have the opportunity to complete a research traineeship period at, for example, CERN in Geneva. By completing a traineeship at one of the internationally active research groups on campus you will be able to acquaint yourself and network with the international scientific community during your Master’s studies. The international student exchange programmes available at the University provide numerous opportunities to complete part of your degree at a university abroad.
As a student in the Master’s programme, you can complete elective studies in disciplines offered by the Faculty of Science or other faculties at the University of Helsinki. If necessary, you can also complete studies at other Finnish universities under the Flexible Study Right Agreement (JOO), which makes it easy for you to study for your degree based on your personal interests and career goals. Some of the courses included in the Master’s Programme in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences, for example, are provided in cooperation with the University of Turku.
In addition, many students of the Faculty participate in hands-on research in a research project in their field during their studies. You can also write your Master’s thesis in collaboration with companies or research organisations; this is a popular and valuable way to enhance your career skills. The Master’s programme cooperates closely with the Helsinki Institute of Physics (HIP), the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI).
The Master’s programme has a strong research focus, demonstrated by the fact that a significant number of our graduates continue on to postgraduate studies. Researchers on the Kumpula Campus conduct top-level research in many fields connected to the programme, such as theoretical and experimental particle physics, cosmology, space physics, and astronomy. The research is carried out in close cooperation with the Helsinki Institute of Physics (HIP), the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI).
After completing a Master’s degree, you can apply for doctoral training at the University of Helsinki or other top international universities. The most relevant doctoral programme offered at the University of Helsinki is the Doctoral Programme in Particle Physics and Universe Sciences (PAPU).
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.
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Last updated August 2, 2018