The Master's Degree Programme in Ethnic Relations,

Cultural Diversity and Integration (ERI)



The 2016 intake is last one to the ERI Programme. Starting 2017, there will be new MA programmes on offer at the Faculty of Social Sciences and the University of Helsinki!

Ethnic Relations will be offered also in the future, as a specialization line within a new MA in Social Sciences. The application for the new programmes at the University of Helsinki will open in December 2016. Keep checking the webpages for Master's studies for up-to-date information!


ERI is a two-year interdisciplinary research-oriented programme designed to provide social science students with the expertise needed in analysing intergroup phenomena, ethnicity and nationalism, the consequences of migration and the implications of these for social relations and processes.


The aim of ERI

After completing the programme, you have the abilites to:

  • conduct independent research and to develop skills needed for postgraduate studies
  • acquire scholarly knowledge of theoretical approaches, concepts and analytical tools for
    critical analysis in the field of ethnic relations, cultural diversity and integration
  • acquire in-depth  understanding of social science methodology and its application in contemporary issues in the field
  • combine academic thoroughness with a capacity to resolve problems in practice.


Three major subjects

When applying to ERI, you choose between the programme's three disciplines: Sociology, Social Psychology or Social and Cultural Anthropology. You are required to have a Bachelor’s degree in one of these disciplines or a closely related field of study. The major studies in the programme constitute 25-30 ECTS.


In Sociology your focus is on the study of the structure of society and its associated changes. This includes the study of institutions, organisations and societies; their associated social behaviour and networks, as well as the human values, attitudes and manner of expression.

The sociological perspective enables you to question everyday concepts. A fundamental advantage of the sociological perspective is that it has the potential to be critical. The perspective allows you to diverge from everyday ways of thinking and disclose research findings that point to hidden social problems.

Social Psychology

In Social Psychology you are concerned with the systematic study of humans in interaction with their social environment. The discipline seeks to describe, understand and explain human action and relations within a social context.

Typically, the problems that social psychology deals with lie somewhere between the fields of sociology and psychology. The main areas of social psychological theory include the influence of social factors on individual development, the formation and change of attitudes, beliefs and social consciousness, the shaping of personality and identity in society, the regularities of interpersonal face-to-face interaction, small group processes and intergroup relations.

Social and Cultural Anthropology
The basic principles of human existence everywhere include diversity of life and cultural difference. Anthropology is the systematic, comparative study of these differences. The fundamental goal of anthropological research is to examine micro-level social life as well as global-level phenomena from a comparative point of view, thereby continuously expanding the boundaries of the researcher’s previous competence.

The thematic focus - your specialisation field

Although the program aims at offering a general and comprehensive approach to the study of ethnic relations, there are certain themes in which ERI is specialising on. The thematic courses provided by the participating disciplines often deal with topics such as migration, integration, identity, the relationship between minorities and majorites, transnationalism, acculturation and prejudice.

The thematic courses offered in the programme vary slightly between academic years, here you see the courses offered 2015-16. (Right to changes reserved). Two of these are compulsory, the rest are elective courses.

  • Introduction to Migration and Ethnic Relations (compulsory)
  • Minorities and Majorities (compulsory)
  • Borders, Frontiers and the Relocation of Europe
  • Cultures in Contact
  • Current Research in the Filed of Ethnic Relations
  • Managing Ethnic Inter-Action: Between Theory and Practice
  • Multi-Ethnicity, Social Work and the Welfare State
  • Migration and History:global and nordic perspectives
  • Nationalism, theoretical perspectives and current research
  • Sociology of Migration

Read more about the different modes of study

The thesis- the main part of MA studies

The Master´s Thesis is worth 40 ECTS of the advanced MA studies. Writing one´s Master´s Thesis forms a large part of the studies. The writing process is guided and supervised in two seminars; one is held during the first year of studies and the second one is in the final year. During the time in between the student independently gathers data and works on the thesis. The process of thesis writing is by large an independent excercise and requires good organisational skills from the student. The student is of course also assigned a supervisor who will support the writing process.

The topic and the research field of the Master´s Thesis ought to be selected in such a way that
it enables the student to complete the task within a reasonable time and with reasonable
efforts.The normal length of a Master´s Thesis is around 80 pages.

Even though ERI is an interdisciplinary programme, the thesis is written within the frame of one's own discipline. Graduating in a specific disipline will ensure eligibility for studies towards a ph D degree.

An ideal setting for studies and research in the field

Close contact with the Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism

A particular strength of ERI is that it offers students the opportunity to work under the close supervision of leading experts from the Department of Social Research and from the Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism (CEREN).

Developing an international Master's Degree Programme in Ethnic Relations was originally connected to the establishment of a pool professorship in Ethnic Relations within the Swedish School of Social Sciences (Soc&kom), an autonomous unit linked to the Faculty of Social
Sciences. In 2004, Soc&kom was granted this professorship by the Senate of the University of Helsinki. Sirpa Wrede is the acting Professor in Ethnic Relations at CEREN during the academic year 2015-16.

In the heart of City Campus and Helsinki

The home of the ERI programme is in the Swedish School of Social Science in the heart of Helsinki and the City Campus Centre. The campus has 21 000 students and is situated near many of your future potential work places: ministries, important public institutions, NGO headquarters and the faculties in the fields of education, law, social sciences, arts and theology.

The Swedish School of Social Science is an autonomous unit in the University of Helsinki, linked to the Faculty of Social Sciences. The school with its 500 students is one of the centers of Swedish-language higher education in Finland and is known for its welcoming atmosphere and close relationship between staff and students.

An interesting geographic region

Finland offers a particularly rich setting for studying a wide range of ethnic relations, which stretch from the Sámi, the indigenous group in the North, to the Swedish speaking minority and the different immigrant groups concentrated in the Helsinki area. The programme can be considered rather unique in this respect. To this adds the context of the Baltic region, with is a laboratory for assessing the interplay of European integration, nationalism and minority politics, as well as the fact that Finland is both a Nordic welfare state with high
levels of gender equality and a bridge between the East and the West.


Your future degree

Upon successful completion of the programme, you will be awarded a Master of Social Sciences within one of the major subjects (Social Psychology, Sociology, Social and Cultural Anthropology) with the specialisation in ethnic relations, cultural diversity and integration.

The awarded degree is part of the university sector of Finnish higher education and is in accordance with with the Finnish Universities Act (645/1997, 556/2005).

The degree awarded makes the graduate eligible for studies towards a doctoral degree.

After graduation - a specialist in the public or private sector or an academic career

As a graduate of ERI and with a Master of Social Science (M.Soc.Sci) you are qualified to work in both the public as well as the private sector, in governmental administration or in various types of organisations. Today you find ERI graduates working in, for example, the Finnish Ministry of Interior, Council of Canadian Academies, NGO Moniheli in Helsinki, NGO Finnish Somalia Network and Helsinki Deaconess Institute. One of the main goals of ERI is to give its students a solid foundation to continue their academic career towards a doctoral degree.Quite a significant number of the ERI graduates have continued with an academic career and PhD studies. More on this topic >>

Extent and Duration

The Degree is comprised of 120 ECTS which the student can complete in 2 years.

Language of Tuition

The language of ERI is English.

It is possible to complete 25 % (30 ECTS) of the compulsory studies of the programme in another language than English. Thesis seminars and the Master´s Thesis must always be done in English.


Participating units at the University of Helsinki

The Master's Degree Programme in Ethnic Relations, Cultural Diversity and Integration (ERI) is an interdisciplinary MA Programme offered by:
Department of Social Research at the Facutly of Social Sciences
The Swedish School of Social Science,

page updated 4.8.2015