Studying

The Master’s Programme in Neuroscience at the University of Helsinki is an interdisciplinary programme with two complementary study tracks: Cell and Systems Physiology and Neuroscience.

In the Cell and Systems Physiology study track, you learn to understand the complexity of life from molecules to functional organisms. You are provided with a holistic view of the integrated mechanisms that govern the functions of organisms, from cells to functional systems.

In the Neuroscience study track, you learn to understand the diverse functions of the brain and the nervous system provides. You get an understanding of both fundamental and ​cutting-edge neuroscience, studying the brain and the entire nervous system at different levels of organization, from genes and molecules to nerve cells and networks; and beyond.

The Master’s Programme in Neuroscience provides you with the opportunity to gain multidisciplinary knowledge and skills in a scientifically vibrant international environment. You will be taught by scientists who will provide you with a wide spectrum of opportunities for practical training and for becoming integrated into the stimulating neuroscience and cell and systems physiology community.

When you graduate, you will have mastered the essentials of neuroscience and physiology, complementing each other, and have gained deeper knowledge and skills in the subfields of your choice. The Programme prepares you for PhD studies and a research career, or for a career in the private or public sector.

In the Master's Programme in Neuroscience, the students undertake modules to the value of 120 credits (cr; ECTS) according to their personal study plan. The Master’s Degree consists of:

  • 60-65 cr of advanced studies, including a research project (Master’s Thesis, 30 cr)
  • 55-60 cr of other studies chosen from the Programme (courses from both topical study tracks are available) or from other Programmes (e.g. Genetics and Molecular Biosciences, Translational Medicine, or Psychology)

The curriculum of the programme enables you to complete 90 credits in 12 months of full-time studying and utilising study opportunities during the summer months, but not including your Master’s thesis research project. However, we recommend that you complete the programme in two years as this will give you more flexibility for your optional studies. You can include career planning or extracurricular activities in your personal study plan.

You choose from two study tracks when applying. However, your selection is not binding.

  • Cell and Systems Physiology track provides you with a holistic view of the integrated mechanisms that govern the functions of organisms, from cells to functional systems. In addition to addressing the complexity of the metabolic design of organisms, one special focus is on understanding the processes of cell development, regeneration and aging, the key determinants between life and death. Training in modern omics techniques, included in the studies, helps in finding novel research questions. 
  • Neuroscience study track provides you with an understanding of both fundamental and ​cutting-edge neuroscience, studying the brain and the entire nervous system at different levels of organization, from genes and molecules to nerve cells and networks; and beyond. The focus of interest in a neuroscientist’s research may lie in understanding the neurobiological bases of behaviour, analysing the functional roles of a single molecule, or in developing novel treatments to neurological disorders or sensory deficits.

Students studying for qualification as biology teachers can specialise in either Neuroscience or Cell and Systems Physiology. They have 60 cr of pedagogical studies in their degree. Please note that this applies only to Finnish or Swedish speaking students who have been accepted to the biology teacher study track during their bachelor studies.

Find out more about the study tracks.

You can find the degree structure of the Master's Programme in Neuroscience on the Instructions for students website. To view the different structures of Neuroscience or Cell and Systems Physiology study tracks, please select the relevant track from the dropdown menu.

Degree structure for the Master's Programme in Neuroscience with two study tracks.

In both of the study tracks in the Master's Programme in Neuroscience, training is arranged in modules and consists of lecture courses, hands-on laboratory courses, seminars and book exams. Group work, reports and presentations help you to develop creative and critical thinking and communication skills that are essential for a successful career within Academia and in jobs in the public and private sectors.

Compulsory studies provide you with a broad general knowledge of the field, whereas optional studies will offer you the freedom to focus on topics of interest to you. You can choose lecture or laboratory courses for example in molecular and cellular neuroscience, developmental neurobiology, electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, brain disorders, sensory biology, regeneration and ageing biology, systems neuroscience or systems physiology, regulatory networks of metabolism, omics techniques etc. 

In addition to Cell and Systems Physiology and Neuroscience, you can expand your knowledge by taking courses from other related Master's programmes, such as Genetics and Molecular Biosciences, Translational Medicine or Psychology.

English is the language of instruction and of study materials for compulsory courses and most optional courses. You can write all the exams, reports and your Master’s thesis in English. If you are fluent in Finnish or Swedish, you can also use these languages.

See preliminary curriculum for the academic year 2020-2021.

Check out courses in the online course catalogue for students at the University of Helsinki.

All students undertake a Master’s thesis (30 credits). You will learn how a research project proceeds, from planning the work and choosing appropriate methods to perform the experiments and analysing the results. The Master’s thesis is typically based on an experimental research project carried out in one of the University’s research groups under the supervision of an experienced researcher. Your thesis may also consist of a theoretical literature study. You will write your Thesis as if it were a scientific publication, critically describing, contemplating and discussing your results in the light of previous scientific literature on the topic. In your written thesis you will be expected to demonstrate that you are capable of scientific thinking, that you have mastered the relevant research methods and that you are profoundly familiar with your research topic. Completing your Master’s thesis demonstrates that you have acquired the relevant skills in project management and written scientific communication.

During the Master's Seminar in Neuroscience or alternatively in Cell and Systems Physiology, you will get support for all stages of the thesis process and beyond, including data acquisition, communication skills, peer interaction and support, networking and career opportunities.

If you are studying for Biology teacher qualification, your Master’s thesis can deal with pedagogical or didactic issues in biology teaching. This applies only to Finnish or Swedish speaking students.

After completing a Master’s degree in Neuroscience, following any of its study tracks, you can apply for a Doctoral Programme at the University of Helsinki or any other relevant PhD programme within or outside Europe.

At the University of Helsinki, doctoral studies consist of a 40 credit study module and a doctoral dissertation. Doctoral candidates often do their dissertation work in the same research group in which they completed their Master’s thesis. Courses suitable for postgraduate students are organised by Doctoral Programmes, such as:

More information about doctoral education at the University of Helsinki.

Neuroscience and Cell and Systems Physiology research at the University of Helsinki is conducted at the highest international level. The research groups participate in international collaborative networks, which is also reflected in teaching and research training. A large number of international exchange students and degree students pursue their studies in our Master´s programme, and many international scholars participate in teaching. HiLIFE – Helsinki Institute of Life Science has located staff and analytical service laboratories on the Viikki and Meilahti campuses, offering resources for research and education.

As a student, you are also encouraged to seek exchange or postgraduate positions in international partner universities and companies.

Tutoring brings together students from many countries and cultural backgrounds. You can also participate in the many activities of the students’ association.

The Master’s Programme in Neuroscience is part of the Network of European Schools in Neuroscience, NENS, which provides further opportunities for exchange programmes and networking within European universities. You will have unique opportunities to participate in courses and symposia organised by other European Neuroscience Programmes.

Neuroscience and Cell and Systems Physiology are highly multidisciplinary fields of study, and the Master’s Programme in Neuroscience,covering these complementary fields, links teachers and researchers especially within the biosciences and biomedicine.  Our courses are organised and thesis projects conducted mainly on two campuses of the University of Helsinki: Viikki and Meilahti. More information about the research units.

In addition to Neuroscience and Cell and Systems Physiology, you will be able to select courses from related programmes, such as Genetics and Molecular Biosciences, Translational Medicine, or Psychology.

As we also collaborate with the Aalto University Life Science Technologies - Human Neuroscience and –technology, you will be able to include their relevant courses in your degree. Many courses and training events organised by the Doctoral Programmes in the field are also open to Master’s students.

Student life and especially the student organisation culture is exceptionally rich and diverse in Finland. Also at the University of Helsinki, the student community is very active.

More than 250 student organisations operate within the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY), ranging from faculty and subject organisations to political and societal organisations, and from choirs and orchestras to sports and game clubs. Their activities include anniversary celebrations, academic dinner parties, cultural events, get-togethers and excursions.

As a student and member of the Student Union (HYY), you are entitled to many benefits and services. For example, affordable student housing, basic healthcare services, sports facilities and student-priced meals. You also get numerous discounts, for example on public transport fees across the country.  

Read more about the life and benefits as a student at the University of Helsinki.

Do you have questions about studies or student life? You can get answers to your questions by chatting directly with the students of University of Helsinki. Chat with our students!

Rakhi graduated in 2019

Rakhi Srinivasan did what many might find impossible - completing what should be a two year International Master's Programme in Neuroscience in only one year! Her strong will and determination is also evident in her hopes. She dreams that soon she will be able to solve some of the mysteries surrounding ill-mental health and contribute to a better world for all. Recently, Rakhi transferred from her International Master's to a PhD position at the University of Helsinki. 

Mikaela Laine

Internationally recognised research, the quality of education and freedom of choice brought Mikaela Laine back to Helsinki. Read more about Mikaela's study path from BSc in Psychology (Cardiff) to MSc in Neuroscience and to PhD studies in the Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind (University of Helsinki).