Stydying at ExpREES

The goal of Expertise in Russian and Eastern European Studies (ExpREES) is to educate area studies experts with a profound knowledge in Eastern European, Russian and Eurasian studies in addition to that of 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. These 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 continue ExpREES studies as long as you have a study right for master’s 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 26  -  31 August 2024.
  • 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 also offers 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 students 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 Optional ExpREES Courses

Please register for 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 ExpREES 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 August 2023
  • 28 September 2023
  • 9 October 2023

Deadlines for the spring semester are as follows:

  • 19 December 2023
  • 15 February 2024
  • 14 March 2024
  • 18 April 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 into 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 in a course is not sufficient, the course might be cancelled. So please remember to register for courses, and to cancel your registration if for some reason you are 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 the network universities. Other students’ ability to take part in ExpREES courses is dictated by the terms of their own study programmes 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 compulsory courses. In addition to the compulsory courses, you may choose as many optional courses from the ExpREES curriculum as you wish. Please also remember that in order to receive the ExpREES certificate, you should write your master’s thesis on a topic somehow related to Eastern Europe, Russia or Eurasia.

Sisu Instructions for ExpREES students

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

First, please create your 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 for UH’s courses only after including the course in 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 26-31 August 2024. The summer school students will write an idea paper (DL tbc) or a research plan for their master’s 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 ExpREES 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 (the student conference). During this course, you will work in a group and prepare, first an idea paper, and then a conference presentation. In addition, you will write a reflection paper on this process and research. Each distance learning module also include a small-scale assignment that must be completed in order to pass 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 other ExpREES students in multi/interdisciplinary discussions about your research topic. In addition to providing a venue for discussion among peers, the seminar also offers you supervision by researchers focusing on Russia, other parts of Eurasia, and Eastern Europe. Please note that the ExpREES Thesis Seminar does not replace the thesis seminars offered by your home university in your field of study.

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

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


Additional Thesis Supervision

ExpREES may also provide you with extra support for your master’s thesis. This supervision is additional to the supervision provided at your home university (and in ExpREES thesis seminars). ExpREES supervision plans to support the development of the expertise in area studies required for the master’s thesis.

If you are interested in getting a second supervisor from ExpREES/Aleksanteri Institute, please send us a 200-300 word abstract of your thesis topic. Please let us also know the specific questions/issues for which you would like to have supervision/extra support (e.g. thesis process, theories, methods, data gathering, some specific field of knowledge regarding Russia, other Eurasian or Eastern European countries). Please email the abstract and other information to the ExpREES coordinator (hanna.o.peltonen [at]

Supervision is additional support for your thesis. It is not necessarily counted in the workplan of the supervisor, so the supervisors will provide supervision only within the limits of their own time. In order for the supervision to be successful, you are expected to take an active role, e.g. produce texts for comments.

Your degree programme/first supervisor of your thesis should be aware of any additional supervision that you have from ExpREES/Aleksanteri Institute. Please print out the attached letter and forward it to your thesis supervisor at your home university. Please return it with the supervisor's signature by e-mail to the ExpREES coordinator (hanna.o.peltonen [at]

Visiting Lectures, Lecture Pass and Learning Diary

On the Aleksanteri Institute’s website and through the mailing list you will find information on interesting lectures and seminars connected to Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia and South Caucasus. As an ExpREES student you are welcome to attend these events.

By attending eight lectures and writing a 2200-2400 word (approx. 8-10 page) learning diary you can acquire three credits. A lecture is an event which lasts a minimum of an hour and a half. Please ask the lecturer or event organizer for their signature in your lecture pass; alternatively, enclose a copy of the seminar programme in your learning diary.

In the learning diary you will discuss and analyse what you have learned from the lectures. It is not sufficient to have the notes from the lecture only. Your analysis can be based on the approach that you are familiar with from your previous studies (e.g. one applied in your bachelor's or master's thesis) or on a more general research design typical in your field of studies. If you have work experience relevant from the point of view of the lecture topic, you can also reflect on the lecture in relation to the given experience.

Students may also choose to receive five credits for the learning diary by additionally reading two academic sources per lecture and reflecting on them in the learning diary, and by writing a 3200-4000 word (approx. 12-15 page) learning diary.

Below you can print out the lecture pass. Please send the lecture pass with the required information, and the learning diary to the ExpREES coordinator for approval. Technical instructions for the learning diary: spacing 1,5; font Times New Roman 12; all margins 2,5 cm. Please remember to mark the references (embedded or footnotes) as well as include the list of references.

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 as improve both your presentation skills and teamwork. In addition our alumni take part in our summer school and provide you with more information on the skills required in working life. You will also have an excellent opportunity to create networks with students and teachers/researchers of different fields of study and at 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 of 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.

Moodle's ExpREES page also has a list of different courses and summer schools that take 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 on Eastern Europe, Russia or other parts of Eurasia (e.g. Central Asia).