The Master's Programme in Eco­logy and Evol­u­tion­ary Bio­logy (EEB) offers a perspective on biology from the level of genes to communities of species. You can become familiar with a wide variety of topics in three areas: ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology. Our wide expertise extends from molecular ecology to population and community biology.
Why Ecology and Evolutionary Biology?

Ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology are not only fascinating topics for basic research, but they also play a key role in addressing global environmental challenges.

Upon graduating from the Master's Programme in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, you can:

  • master the main theories and methods in ecology and evolutionary biology
  • plan and successfully carry out scientific research projects
  • write good scientific English
  • work in research projects and groups
  • apply your skills to solving practical problems
  • learn transferable skills
  • be employed as an expert in the public or private sector, or work in research and teaching in higher education institutions 
  • continue in research training towards PhD with your skills and solid theoretical background
The interdisciplinarity and possibility to choose courses of very different topics allow you to specialise in your preferred field.
What is Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB)?

Get to know the EEB programme structure in a compact form.

This Prezi presentation compiles key information from several websites in a visual format.

Discover more about us with this friendly introduction video. Watch it and join our exciting journey together. Thank you for being a part of it!

Language of instruction

Master’s Programme in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is tri-lingual (Finnish, Swedish, English). All teaching in the programme is given in English, but you can also take exams and complete work, such as your Master's thesis, in Finnish or Swedish. 

Structure and content

The Master's Programme in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is diverse and multidisciplinary including studies of ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology.

You undertake modules producing 120 credits according to your personal study plan. The degree consists of:

  • 90 credits of advanced studies, including a research project (Master’s thesis, 30 credits):
    • Ecology, 5 credits
    • Evolutionary biology, 5 credits
    • Statistical methods in ecology, 5 credits
    • Quantitative Methods in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 5 credits
    • Master’s thesis courses 1 and 2, 5+5 credits
    • Master’s thesis, 30 credits
    • 30 credits of alternative studies chosen from ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation.
  • 30 credits of optional studies. You can choose studies from the Master’s Programme in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology or from other master's programmes, Language center, Biodiversity Education Network or complete them as part of a student exchange abroad.

Career studies and extracurricular activities can be included in your personal study plan.

If you are studying to qualify as a biology teacher, you will complete 60 credits of pedagogical studies and 60 credits of ecology and evolutionary biology in your degree. This applies only to Finnish or Swedish speaking students who have been accepted to pedagogical studies during their Bachelor’s studies.

I took courses from other faculties too. It was an amazing opportunity.
Content and themes

You can affect the content of the studies by planning your personal curriculum. The programme includes studies of ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology. You can choose studies from any of these areas, as well as from other master's degree programmes.

Ecology studies the abundance and distribution of species (animals, plants, microbes) and the interactions among them and with the environment. The perspective ranges from the molecular to the ecosystem level. In ecology, a central question is: Why are some species able to invade new habitats and displace native species? Which species are able to adapt to environmental change or migrate with the changing climate, and which species will become extinct?

Evolutionary biology examines the processes which support biodiversity on its various levels (genes – individuals – populations – species – ecosystems). You will learn about the theory of evolution and how to use population genetics and genomics methods in researching evolutionary issues.

Conservation biology studies the depletion of biodiversity, its causes and consequences. You will learn to apply ecological theory to the problems of environmental conservation, assess the effectiveness of methods of conservation, as well as to resolve the problems relating to conservation e.g. by modelling and computational methods. The training emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary education in the area of conservation.

The expertise in the EEB programme extends from molecular ecology to population and community biology, and a wide range of options is offered for students: evolutionary biology or genetics for those interested in ecological genetics and genomics, as well as the ability to take advantage of the high-quality molecular ecology and systematics laboratory, conservation biology for those interested in regional or global environmental problems; and ecological modelling skills for those interested in computational biology. Our training also offers behavioural ecology.

In the Studies service, you can explore the degree structure, content and learning outcomes from the level of the degree programme to individual courses. 

Courses and teaching

Teaching methods in the Master's Programme in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology include lectures, laboratory and computer training courses, interactive seminars, study tours and field courses.

For example, the first course in the programme (Ecology, 5 credits) includes an excursion to familiarise students with taiga habitats in southern Finland. You also get to know other students during the excursion.

You can check out courses in the online course catalogue for University of Helsinki students. Finnish courses are offered for international students.

I valued the multidisciplinary approach and practical methods.
Master's thesis

All students undertake a master's thesis, the extent of which is 30 credits. In your thesis, you will demonstrate your:

  • mastery of scientific thinking.
  • familiarity with the scientific background of your thesis and the relevant research methods.
  • ability to report the results. 

Your thesis can be done individually or as a member of a research project in which you have a clear and independent role, e.g. in one of the research groups of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences. You must, however, write your thesis independently.

In general, you will collect the data in the field or the laboratory, analyse them, evaluate the results critically in light of the scientific literature, and present your conclusions in writing.

In­ter­na­tional op­por­tun­it­ies

Students in the EEB programme have an opportunity to:

  • study at universities and research institutions outside Finland within the framework of an international student exchange.
  • gain valuable experience by working as a student tutor of international students or by participating in the international activities of the Student Union or other student organisations. 
  • choose to do their master's thesis and internships abroad.

Students are exposed to a lively and engaging international community in the programme, at the Research Programme in Organismal and Evolutionary Biology and the faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences:

  • Teachers and researchers at the faculty are internationally known and respected scientists.
  • Local and international students are encouraged to interact in all courses and common activities. 
  • Research groups host numerous international visitors and researchers. They also employ many PhD students from different parts of the world.
There is a really nice international studying environment.
Student testimonials

The best way to know more about the EEB programme is through our students and graduates!

In the testimonials, they give their insights about the programme, studies and student life in Helsinki as well as share their aspirations and future goals.

Professors and other professionals are always willing to help you all along your studies.
Student life

Student life and especially the student organisation culture is exceptionally rich and diverse in Finland.

At the University of Helsinki, 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.

Students in Finland are also entitled to many benefits and services. For example, affordable student housing, low-cost sports services and student-priced meals. You also get numerous discounts, for example on public transport fees across the country.


Your campus

The Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences is located at Viikki Campus, an international hub of life sciences hosting several faculties, institutes, research projects and network organisations. There's also a veterinary teaching hospital, a research farm, an arboretum, a greenhouse and a research field. 

The faculties of Viikki Campus have several research stations in Finland offering excellent facilities and support for research and teaching. 

More about the programme