Stydying at ExpREES

The goal of the Expertise in Russian and Eastern European Studies (ExpREES) is to educate area studies experts with a profound knowledge in Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European studies in addition to that in their own discipline.

Language of teaching: Our curriculum offers courses both in Finnish and in English, each academic year approximately 60-70 courses in total. Please note that the compulsory courses (the ExpREES summer school, the ExpREES thesis seminar, the ExpREES multimodal course) are given in Finnish. We will find other courses given in English to those students whose Finnish for academic purposes is not yet at such a level that they may take courses taught in Finnish.

Structure of ExpREES studies

After acceptance to ExpREES studies you should acquire a minimum of 25 credits of ExpREES courses in order to complete the ExpREES programme. 25 credits consist of compulsory courses and optional courses. In addition to the given 25 credits from ExpREES courses,  you should also write a thesis on a topic related to Russia,  Eurasia or Eastern Europe. You can do ExpREES studies as long as you have a study right for MA-degree at your home university.

Compulsory courses

You should complete a minimum of 25 credits of ExpREES courses in order to complete the ExpREES programme. There are three compulsory courses (15 credits in total):

  •  ExpREES Summer School. Your studies will begin with the summer school (5 cr, study code VIE-501), which will be organized at the Lammi Biological Station 21 - 26 August.
  • ExpREES Multimodal course “Perspectives to Russia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe” (5 cr, study code VIE-502)
  • ExpREES Master's Thesis seminar (5 cr, study code VIE-503) or a 5 credit course from a field of study different from your own major/degree programme (the basic requirements is that this course 1) is in the ExpREES teaching programme, 2) is not in the same discipline as your major, and  3) is not based on self-study only but offers also an opportunity for networking with other ExpREES students)

Please note that the three compulsory courses are mainly given in Finnish, i.e. in order to be able to participate in these courses, you should be able to follow lectures and seminars taught in Finnish as well as to give comments on students' papers written in Finnish and to participate in preparing a student conference presentation given in Finnish. We will find alternative courses given in English for all those student not able to take the compulsory courses listed above.

Optional Courses

In addition to compulsory courses, as an ExpREES student you may freely choose other courses from the ExpREES curriculum according to your own study plan and interests. You should take the minimum of 10 credits of ExpREES optional studies. There is no upper limit.

Curriculum 2023–2024.

Re­gis­tra­tion to Net­work Courses

Please register to courses in advance. The three methods of registration depend on which university organises the course. Please note that regardless of the organising university, all courses must be added to your personal study plan in Sisu of the University of Helsinki (UH). Read Sisu instructions below.

  1. If the REES course is organised by your home university, use your home university’s own system for registration (e.g. Peppi, Sisu).
  2. If the course is organised by the University of Helsinki, register via UH’s Sisu. See more detailed instructions below. Please note that all of the mandatory ExpREES courses are also organised by UH.
  3. If the course is organised by some other university of the ExpREES network, register via online registration form.

Please use the online registration form to register to courses by the deadline. The deadlines for registration for the autumn semester are as follows:

  • 24.8.2023
  • 28.9.2023
  • 9.11.2023

Deadlines for the spring semester are as follows:

  • 19.12.2023
  • 15.2.2024
  • 14.3.2024
  • 18.4.2024

As a rule, you should register by the deadline of the month preceding the month when the course will start, i.e. if the course starts in September you should register by 26 August. In some cases, the  registration is required several weeks before the beginning of the course. Please take this into account when planning your studies and check the required deadlines.

The ExpREES coordinator will forward the registration information submitted via the online registration form to the host university’s contact person or the teachers of the course. After this, the teachers will contact the registered students of other universities. However, there are exceptions to this rule:  sometimes the teachers do not contact the students in advance but they may just start attending the lectures on-site or online after their registration. Some universities may also ask for some additional information to register the students to their own systems. In these cases, the ExpREES coordinator will ask the students to fill in a separate form in addition to the registration.

Please note that if the number of students enrolled to a course is not sufficient, the course might be cancelled. So please remember to register to courses, and to cancel your registration if you are for some reason unable to participate.

In some cases, the faculties might ask the students to register via JOO-agreements. However, this is not necessary because ExpREES students’ right to take courses listed in the ExpREES Study Guide is based on bilateral agreements between the Aleksanteri Institute and REES network universities. Other students’ ability to take part in ExpREES courses is dictated by the terms of their own study programs and possibly JOO-studies.

To complete the ExpREES programme you will need at least 25 credits of ExpREES studies, of which 15 credits are comprised of mandatory courses. In addition to the mandatory courses, you may  choose as many optional courses from the ExpREES curriculum as you wish. Please remember also that in order to receive the ExpREES certificate, you should write your Master's thesis on a topic somehow related with Russia, Eurasia or Eastern Europe.

Sisu Instructions for ExpREES students

All ExpREEs students have the right to pursue non-degree studies in the University of Helsinki. ExpREES courses need to be included under the ExpREES study module in your personal Sisu study plan.

First, all ExpREES students have to create their own study plan and include in it the ExpREES study module. Read more detailed instructions on creating a new study plan here.

  1. Open Sisu and go to the Structure of studies tab.
  2. Choose New study plan.
  3. Add to your study plan the study module Expertise in Russian and Eastern European Studies (ExpREES), which has the study code VIE-500.

From now on, include all of your ExpREES courses under the ExpREEs study module. If you complete a course that is not present in UH’s Sisu, add an Optional ExpREES study unit instead, one for each completed course.

You can register to UH’s courses only after including the course to your Sisu study plan. Read more detailed instructions on course registration here.

ExpREES Summer School

ExpREES Summer School (5 cr) (course code VIE-501)

The ExpREES Summer School will be organized at the Lammi Biological Station 21-26 August 2023. For the summer school students will write an idea paper (DL tbc) or a research plan for their Masters' thesis. The purpose of the idea paper is to help you to get started with writing  your Master’s thesis. It serves as a great opportunity to get feedback on your ideas from other students as well as experts in the field. In addition to the paper, you will conduct an interview of an expert in the field (DL tbc) , and familiarize yourself with the required pre-readings for the lectures (DL tbc). N.B. The language of the teaching is Finnish.

Registration for the Summer School will be opened in late May- early June.

ExpREES Multimodal course

ExpREES Multimodal course: Perspectives on Russia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe (5 cr) (course code VIE-502) 

Perspectives on Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe is a multidisciplinary, partly phenomenon-based, Master's level introductory course in which various issues, themes and related problems as well as models for their explanation and understanding are presented. The course introduces the diversity of area studies and different approaches in area studies. The course consists of three face-to-face teaching days and seven distance learning modules in Moodle. Each module consists of different ways of teaching and reading to be offered regarding Russia, other countries/regions in the former territory of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Several teachers and experts are taking part in the course. The course is meant for students of ExpREES and ECEBB. The language of the course is Finnish.

After completing the course, the student understands the diversity of phenomena and approaches (theoretical and methodological models) in area studies, especially in Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European studies. The student can apply some of these models to her/his own areas of interest in the context of Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe. The student will practice both independent and group work skills and develop critical thinking as well as analytical and argumentation skills. The student will be able to search for relevant research and other information related to the area as well as to complete oral and written presentations.

The face-to-face teaching days of the course will be held as intensive lecture days in Helsinki 3 November 2023, 19 January 2024 and 1 March 2024. In addition, the student will independently produce an intermediate assignment. Also, each distance learning module consists of a small-scale assignment that must be completed in order to advance on the course.

ExpREES Thesis Seminar and Other Thesis Supervision

ExpREES Master's Thesis Seminar (5 cr) (course code VIE-503)

The ExpREES thesis seminar is recommended for all ExpREES students. It provides an opportunity to engage with peers in multi/interdisciplinary discussions about one’s research topic. In addition to providing a venue for student-led discussion, the seminar also offers you supervision by experts on Russia, other parts of Eurasia, and Eastern Europe. The ExpREES thesis seminar does not replace the thesis seminars offered by the home university in your field of study.

In the ExpREES seminar student will present their research plans, and drafts of thesis chapters (at least three papers in addition to the research plan) while simultaneously providing constructive feedback/peer review on their peers' papers. The seminar requires active participation from all students.

There are two groups: one takes place in the premises of the Aleksanteri Institute, another one in Zoom,  approximately once a month on Thursdays (on-site) and Fridays (online). 


Other Thesis Supervision

ExpREES will try to provide support for students' Master's theses if necessary. This guidance is additional to the guidance provided at the study programme/department and is generally intended to support the development of the expertise in the REE subject area required for the master's thesis.

To find a suitable supervisor for you, please send a 200-300 word abstract of your thesis topic. The abstract should also indicate the type of issues on which you specifically need guidance (e.g. thesis process, theories, methods, knowledge about Russia, other Eurasian or Eastern European countries). The summary can be sent by e-mail to the ExpREES coordinator (hanna.o.peltonen [at]

The guidance is additional support for your work and is not based on the teaching or other work responsibilities of the supervisor, who will provide guidance within the limits of his/her own time. In order for the guidance to be successful, you are expected to take an active role, produce texts for comment and ask the supervisor important questions that are on your mind.

Your department should be aware of any additional guidance you may receive. We therefore ask you to print out the attached letter to the supervisor of your programme/institution or to the supervisor of your programme/institution and return it signed by e-mail to Hanna Peltonen, VIExpert coordinator, hanna.o.peltonen at

Visiting lectures and Lecture Pass

On Aleksanteri Institute’s webpages and through mailing list you will find information on interesting lectures and seminars connected to Russia, Central Asia and Eastern European regions. It is desired that also ExpREES students attend these events.

By attending eight lectures and writing 10 pages long learning diary a student can get 3 cr. Lecture is an event which lasts for at least 1,5 hour. Student needs a signature from lecturer or event organizer to his/her lecture pass or alternatively he/she can enclose seminar’s programme with lecture diary.

In lecture diary a student discusses and analyses issues learned in the lecture. Lecture diary is not only notes from the lecture. Analysis can be based for example on student’s master’s thesis or more generally on a question setting in your field of science. If one has work experience relevantly related to the lecture, one can reflect on the lecture also in relation to it.

Below one can print lecture pass. A student needs to submit filled in lecture pass and lecture diary to the coordinator for approval. Technical instructions for lecture diary: spacing 1,5; font Times New Roman 12; all margins 2,5 cm.

Working life skills

ExpREES provides you with excellent working life skills. In our courses and study trips you will develop your analytical and argumentation skills as well your skills in giving presentations and in team work. In addition our alumni take part in our summer school and provide you with more information on the skills required in the working life. You will also have an excellent opportunity to create networks with students and teachers/researchers of different fields of study and different Finnish universities. 



Other Study Possibilities and Internationalization

Caucasus studies at the Malmö University

"Caucasus Studies includes a range of area courses with a focus on the Caucasus region. All courses are offered exclusively online with instruction in English. There are no mandatory seminars or lectures on campus.” Caucasus studies credits can be transferred to the ExpREES studies.

Caucasus studies I
Includes the following four course modules:

  • Introduction to Caucasus Studies
  • History of the Caucasus
  • A language of the Caucasus
  • Post-Soviet developments in the Caucasus

Caucasus Studies II
Includes the following four course modules:

  • State and nation building in the Caucasus
  • Conflicts and conflict resolution in the Caucasus
  • Peoples and languages in the Caucasus
  • The Caucasus region: causes and consequences of migration

You can find more information here: Caucasus Field and Case Studies


ExpREES students have many possibilities for internationalization, gaining international experience, such as study trips abroad, international summer and autumn schools and student exchange offered by their home universities.

The Moodle page of ExpREES also has a list of different courses and summer schools taking place abroad:

ExpREES encourages students to apply to student exchanges in Eastern Europe/Caucasus/Central Asia through their home universities. Study abroad periods support ExpREES student's expertise in the field. If you want courses taken in your exchange to recognized as part of your ExpREES studies, please contact us before the exchange. The courses to be recognized as part of your ExpREES studies should focus Russia, Eurasia and/or Eastern Europe.