Master of Science in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering - Sustainable Metals Processing


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Sustainable Metals Processing at Aalto University is the only major specialisation field in Finland focusing on sustainable production and recycling of metals and minerals – the main pillars of modern society and economy. For example, no modern cities, energy, transportation or smartphones would not exist without them.

Study objectives

Without metals, there would not be modern cities, energy, transportation, smartphones and many other products that are today considered the standard for quality living. Metals have been, are, and will be one of the main pillars of modern society and economy. Sustainable Metals Processing at Aalto University is the only major specialisation field in Finland focusing on sustainable production and recycling of metals and minerals. Students develop a deep scientific understanding in these fields and are set for a career where they can truly make a much-needed difference in the world.

Upon graduating from the Sustainable Metals Processing major in the Master’s Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering, graduates will have:

  • Extensive knowledge of raw materials, metals production, and their effects on the environment, economy and society. Graduates possess deep scientific and engineering knowledge of many types of primary and secondary raw materials, their suitability for processing and their societal, economic and environmental impacts.
  • Systems thinking approach to process design. Graduates are able to apply systems engineering principles to process design and use the best practices to develop processes and products with quantified sustainability in terms of high materials efficiency, low energy use and low environmental impact.
  • The ability to conduct scientific research. Graduates are skilled to conduct experimental studies on metals extraction reactors and unit processes at low and high temperatures, gather data and evaluate process performance.
  • Expertise to act as a metallurgical engineering expert. Graduates have the ability to apply engineering skills in the industry to, for example, develop feasible metals extraction processes, methods to produce clean water and renewable energy or products that enable a high quality of living. 

Language of instruction

In all majors in the Master’s Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering the language of instruction is English. It is also possible to complete some courses in Finnish or Swedish.

Tuition fees

The tuition fee is €15 000 for non-EU/EEA students per academic year. More information on Scholarships and Tuition Fees page (

Content of the studies

Students in the Sustainable Metals Processing major are part of a larger student community in the Master’s Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering. All students take common compulsory courses totalling to 45 ECTS. The core courses introduce students to the atom-level basics of chemical phenomena, metal and minerals engineering and recycling, pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy as well as process modelling. In addition, the Academic Learning Community course (3-5 ECTS) helps students set their personal goals for effective learning, collaborate in a multicultural and multidisciplinary learning environment and become familiar with laboratory work. The core courses are intended to be taken mainly in the first year of the programme. 

Additionally, students choose a total of 20 ECTS from a wide range of specialisation courses that are divided into the following subareas:

  • Thermodynamics of Materials
  • Sustainability of Metals
  • Ore Dressing and Recycling
  • Pyrometallurgy
  • Hydrometallurgy
  • Chemical Engineering

The study field includes diverse multidisciplinary areas spanning from theoretical metallurgy, experimental studies and process engineering to knowledge-intensive design and optimisation of processes, equipment, plant operations and product applications. Circular economy principles are thoroughly integrated into the studies – students will gain an in-built sustainability approach to their profession.

To give a concrete example of some of the topics covered, below is a list of some courses from the programme’s extensive curriculum which students can choose:

  • Circular Economy for Materials Processing (5 ECTS) 
  • Unit Operations in Mineral Processing and Recycling (5 ECTS)
  • Applied Electrochemistry and Corrosion (5 ECTS)
  • Reaction Engineering (5 ECTS) 
  • Fundamentals of Chemical Thermodynamics (5 ECTS)

The Sustainable Metals Processing major embraces experimental learning. Besides gaining a deep understanding of scientific principles, it is essential that students learn to apply them in a practical context. A concrete example of active peer learning and applying theory to create an actual service or product is the Technical Innovation Project course. In the course, students develop their entrepreneurial mindset and address real research or design-related question. 

Aalto University’s Master's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering with Sustainable Metals Processing as a major has excellent links to industry and students gain an international network of peers and company representatives. Most of the Master’s theses are carried out as industrial projects for companies. 

Personal Study Plan (PSP)

The Personal Study Plan (PSP) is a practical tool to define a student’s own study path, compiling an optimal selection of courses that are aligned with the student's interests and the programme requirements. The PSP is also a useful tool for students to keep track of their studies. At best, it shows where students are with their studies and sets concrete milestones for them to follow.

Structure of studies

Overall, the Master’s Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering – Sustainable Metals Processing comprises a total of 120 ECTS credits. The two-year programme consists of:

  • Major dependent studies (63-65 ECTS)
  • Elective studies (25-27 ECTS)
  • Master’s thesis (30 ECTS)

Final project

Students are required to complete a Master's thesis, which is a research assignment with a workload corresponding to 30 ECTS credits. Master's theses are typically performed in cooperation with the industry or in the research project(s) of the department(s).


The study environment in the programme is strongly international and studies are conducted in multicultural groups. The international atmosphere can be seen in everyday life at the School of Chemical Engineering, where approximately 35 per cent of academic personnel and 20 per cent of master’s students are from abroad. Our teaching methods support networking with people from diverse backgrounds.

Aalto University offers many possibilities for students to develop their global competencies. Students can, for example:

  • complete part of the degree, e.g. a minor, abroad in one of the international partner universities as an exchange student
  • choose courses with an intercultural approach, learn foreign languages and/or become a student tutor for international students
  • conduct practical training or Master’s thesis outside Finland
  • take summer courses abroad
  • benefit from several funding options available for internationalisation

Aalto University is international by nature, welcoming thousands of degree and exchange students from abroad every year. These students join the diverse Aalto community not only through their studies but also through multiple free time events, celebrations and extracurricular activities around the campus. Active tutoring programs and support services work hard to help international students integrate to the Nordic culture and feel at home in Finland.

Career opportunities

A shift towards sustainable materials and manufacturing processes is occurring in all business and industrial contexts and thus there is a great need for metallurgical processing experts. Graduates are set for an exciting career – having meaningful work by solving problems of significant impact, accelerating the development of new clean technologies and getting a first-hand view of early prototypes years before they are launched to the market. Using their expertise, graduates are capable of carrying out evaluation equipment and process designs as well as developing feasible and sustainable metals extraction processes with the help of numeric simulation tools. 

Typical career paths can be divided into three main categories:

  • Working in the public sector in a managerial, planning, or research-related function
  • Working in the private sector in leadership, strategic, or research-related function
  • Following an academic path and becoming a researcher in the field 

Aalto University has well-established career services to support students’ employment in Finland and abroad. Thanks to the flexible curriculum, many Aalto students work already during their studies and guarantee themselves entry positions before graduation. There is also a very active entrepreneurship community at Aalto, working as a springboard for founding a company.

Co-operation with other parties

Students having Sustainable Metals Processing as their major are also part of the larger student community in the Master’s Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering. The programme has academic co-operation with other programmes at Aalto, such as the Master’s Programmes in Advanced Energy Solutions, Geoengineering and Water and Environmental Engineering, where students can enrol in specific courses and topics. There is also a co-operation with high-quality international universities and organisations and students benefit from this vast network of industry and academia peers throughout their studies and onwards. 

Students can include multidisciplinary studies to their degree by choosing courses from the fields of arts and business within Aalto University. They can also take courses from other Finnish universities via The Flexible Study Right Agreement (JOO). 

Aalto University is well-known for bridging the disciplines of business, arts, technology and science. The lively campus and freedom of choosing elective courses across the University bring students from different fields together. This spontaneous multidisciplinary environment sparks new ideas gathers enthusiasts around them and gives birth to friendships, networks, and every so often, startups.

Postgraduate study opportunities

The Master’s programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering – Sustainable Metals Processing at Aalto is considered a great foundation for doctoral studies and post-doc positions.

Programme-specific Admission Requirements and Evaluation Criteria

Applicants are first evaluated based on Aalto’s general eligibility requirements (found on Applicants meeting the general eligibility criteria for master's studies are then evaluated according to the evaluation criteria below. 

Applications are first evaluated based on the following (critical) criteria. 

  • Academic performance 
  • Relevance of previous studies 

Only the applications who fulfil the requirements for these criteria will be evaluated against the full set of evaluation criteria. After the evaluation of the remaining criteria below, the best applicants will be selected based on the joint evaluation of all criteria.

  • Recognition and quality of an institution
  • Suitability
  • Other areas of competence

The programme does not have a minimum quota to be filled, and not all eligible applicants will necessarily be admitted.

Academic performance
Assessed area GPA of the bachelor’s degree
Admission requirements

The applicant's success in his/her previous studies (those that give a basis for applying to the programme) will be evaluated based on the grade point average (GPA). Applicants are required to have a GPA equivalent to a minimum of 3.0 (on a scale 1.0 - 5.0, 1.0 being the minimum passing grade).

Method of demonstrating competence Transcript of records, degree certificate
Relevance of previous studies
Assessed area Content and quantity of previous studies in relation to the applied study option-specific requirements
Admission requirements

BSc or equivalent degree in a relevant field in the natural sciences or engineering. 

Relevant degrees (fields): Engineering, for example, process and chemical engineering, minerals engineering, metallurgy, materials science, or chemistry.

Examples of key subjects: Materials science, materials engineering, metallurgy, metals recycling, the chemistry of materials.

Knowledge and skills: Preference is given to candidates with a strong background in sciences in combination with the above.

In addition to the studies giving basis to apply to the programme, other possible studies are also evaluated. However, the study option should provide genuinely new knowledge and enhance the career prospects of the applicant. Thus, applicants who already have a master’s degree in a closely related field will only be admitted with well-justified reasons which should be explained in the motivation letter.

Method of demonstrating competence

Transcript(s) of records, degree certificate(s)

Recognition and quality of the institution
Assessed area Recognition and quality of the applicant's previous institution
Admission requirements The applicant's previous institution (where the degree giving basis to apply was completed) will be evaluated based on the recognition and quality of the institution.
Method of demonstrating competence International and national rankings of higher education institutions
Assessed area Applicant’s further applicability to the study option, motivation and commitment for the studies
Admission requirements The applicant must clearly demonstrate genuine motivation to study the chosen field. The applicant must also explain how his/her previous studies support studying in the chosen study option and why he/she would be a good candidate for the study option. Please see further instructions for the motivation letter below.
Method of demonstrating competence Motivation Letter
Other areas of competence
Assessed area Work experience and other acquired knowledge/achievements e.g. publications
Admission requirements

The applicant's other relevant achievements or experiences are evaluated if documented in the application:

  • work experience in a field related to the study option
  • participation in scientific research related to the field of the study option which has led to publications or posters
  • recommendations stating the applicant’s academic competence and suitability in the field of the study option
Method of demonstrating competence Curriculum vitae, recommendation letters, proof of employment, publications

Complementary studies

Students admitted to the Master's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering may be required to take complementary studies, maximum 20 credits. Complementary studies may not be included in the degree of Master of Science (Tech).

The content and number of the complementary courses depend on your previous studies. The complementary studies will be set latest in September.

Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

At Aalto University, we believe in curiosity and we encourage our students to explore the unknown and do things in a totally new way. We offer the highest level of education in business, art and desig ... Read More

At Aalto University, we believe in curiosity and we encourage our students to explore the unknown and do things in a totally new way. We offer the highest level of education in business, art and design, architecture, and technology in Finland. Read less
Espoo , Helsinki , Pori , Mikkeli + 3 More Less