Goal of the pro­gramme

Is your goal to understand the complex issues associated with contemporary societies? As societies become increasingly diverse, change rapidly, and are confronted with inequalities, there is a growing need for professionals trained in the analysis of these dynamics. To become an expert in the analysis of contemporary societies – choose COS!

The multidisciplinary, research-based Master’s Programme in Contemporary Societies (COS) focuses on the key themes in the dynamics of contemporary societies, both in a European and a global context. Depending on your study track, one or several of the following pathways are available to you: Ethnic Relations and Migration, Mind and Society, Socio-Cultural Shifts, and Sources of Inequalities.


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.

Find out more about the Be 1* of the Best Scholarship Programme.

In­form­a­tion on the lan­guages of in­struc­tion

The entire course programme is taught in English.

Pro­gramme con­tents

COS is a two-year programme. The programme includes studies in your study track (Sociology; Social and Public Policy; Social Psychology; Social and Cultural Anthropology; Development Studies) and thematic studies. The compulsory studies in a thematic pathway are specific to different study tracks as follows:

  • Ethnic Relations and Migration: Sociology and Social Psychology
  • Mind and Society: Sociology and Social Psychology
  • Socio-Cultural Shifts: Social and Cultural Anthropology; Development Studies
  • Sources of Inequalities: Social and Public Policy, Sociology and Development Studies

The thematic pathways highlight the strengths of research at the University of Helsinki and its methodological expertise. As a student here you can include courses from all pathways in your optional studies. The teaching in the COS programme is organized so that you can acquire expertise and skills relevant to working life as well as qualifications for doctoral studies. The unique context offered by the COS programme helps you to develop versatile expertise. The programme design allows you to build your individual portfolio according to your interests and career plans.

During your first year in the programme, you will study in your study track and take COS thematic and research skills courses. You will also begin your work towards your Master’s thesis. The second year consists of further thematic studies, attending thesis seminars and writing your thesis.

The home of the COS programme is the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki, in the heart of Helsinki and the City Centre Campus. The city campus, with 21,000 students, is situated near many potential workplaces: ministries, important public institutions, NGO headquarters and the Faculties of Education, Law, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Theology.

Finland in general and the University of Helsinki, in particular, offer an exceptionally rich setting for interdisciplinary studies focusing on contemporary societies. The international teaching staff are research leaders in their fields and have longstanding experience of teaching multicultural student groups. All of the participating disciplines are ranked among the best 100 subjects in the QS World University Ranking by Subject. Moreover, the COS programme invests in building an alumni network and gives you support for both international mobility and work experience.

Se­lec­tion of the study track

COS offers five study tracks (disciplines): Sociology, Social and Public Policy, Social Psychology, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Development Studies.

To apply you must have a Bachelor’s degree including studies in one of these disciplines. You should apply for the study track that is closest to your previous studies.

Pro­gramme struc­ture

The scope of the Master´s programme is 120 credits (ECTS), to be completed in two academic years. The programme comprises COS thematic studies, research skills courses, studies in a study track including a thesis seminar and a Master's thesis. In addition, it is possible for you to complete some studies of your own choice.



You will start working on your Master's thesis on a topic that relates to your study track and the relevant thematic pathway during your first year of studies, although you will write your thesis mainly during the second year. You practice thesis writing in thesis seminars, where teachers and fellow students provide feedback on your work. You will also be assigned a thesis supervisor, who will mentor you and provide feedback as you write your thesis.

Completing the thesis requires the ability to formulate research questions, write scientific text and employ research methods. It teaches you to acquire and produce information as well as to conduct independent research. It may even inspire you to choose a research career as either a doctoral candidate or a researcher outside academia.

Ca­reer pro­spects

As a graduate of COS with a Master’s in Social Science (MSocSc), you will have built your portfolio with courses that provide solid expertise in your field of study and reflect your personal interests and career goals. You will be qualified to work in both the public and private sectors, in governmental administration or in various types of organizations. Making use of the unusually broad range of courses available, you will also have acquired excellent qualifications to continue with an academic career and PhD studies.


COS will provide you with a diverse study environment with a truly international teaching staff. The COS programme is one of over 30 International Master’s Degree programmes offered by the University of Helsinki. Students come from all over the world.


The COS programme collaborates with the Finnish and Swedish language Master’s programmes at the Faculty of Social Sciences. Through these programmes, you will have access to a vibrant, multidisciplinary study milieu. Collaboration with research groups at the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism at the Swedish School of Social Science ensures that the teaching in COS is based on the leading research in the field.

Re­search fo­cus

  • Ethnic Relations and Diversity;
  • Mind and Society;
  • Socio-Cultural Shifts;
  • Sources of Inequalities

Post­gradu­ate stud­ies

An important aim of the COS programme is to provide you with a solid foundation from which you can continue towards a doctoral degree. The University of Helsinki offers several relevant doctoral programmes, such as the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change and the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences.

Program taught in:
  • English
University of Helsinki

See 27 more programs offered by University of Helsinki »

This course is Campus based
Start Date
2 years
13,000 EUR
Tuition fee per year (non-EU/EEA students)
Request Info
The next application period for the Master's Programmes opens on December 3rd, 2018, and ends on January 11th, 2019
By locations
By date
Start Date
End Date
Application deadline
Request Info
The next application period for the Master's Programmes opens on December 3rd, 2018, and ends on January 11th, 2019
Application deadline
Request Info
The next application period for the Master's Programmes opens on December 3rd, 2018, and ends on January 11th, 2019
End Date