The Master’s Programme in English Studies offers a wide range of courses in English linguistics, literatures in English and the teaching of English.

You can take courses in all three areas or just focus on one of them. During your Master’s studies, you can:

  • Develop your expertise in linguistic or literary studies
  • Strengthen your understanding of theoretical approaches and research methods within English Studies
  • Strengthen your language skills, academic writing skills and presentation skills
  • Participate in research projects
  • Participate in the Master’s thesis seminar, during which you will write your thesis
Why English Studies?

The Master’s Programme in English Studies helps you develop your expertise in areas that are often separated in other programmes:

  • English language and linguistics
  • literature in English and
  • the teaching of English. 

By working in a stimulating environment with accomplished researchers and teachers, you also develop work life skills, such as skills in presentation, independent and group work and project management.  

An MA in English Studies prepares you for a variety of jobs, and our graduates have been successful in finding employment. If combined with mandatory pedagogical studies, the Master’s degree in English Studies qualifies you to be a language teacher. Alternatively, you can find employment in media or publishing, business or international organisations. English is used globally as the language of science, culture, business and tourism, and experts in English are required in all of these fields.

Structure and content

The scope of the Master’s degree is 120 credits (ECTS).  With full-time studies, you will complete the Master’s degree in two years. The degree contains the following studies:

  • Advanced studies in the discipline (75–120 credits)
  • Courses or modules from other programme (0–45 credits)

During your Master’s studies, you focus mainly on your specialisation, deepening your knowledge through coursework and writing your Master’s thesis. Depending on your interests, you can also include elective subjects and other supporting studies.

To help you complete your studies systematically, you prepare a personal study plan (PSP) at the beginning of your Master’s studies, with support from the programme staff and Student services.

You can also complete some of your studies abroad by taking part in a student exchange programme.

Becoming a subject teacher

If you have gained a study right at the University of Helsinki for both a BA and an MA degree, you apply for pedagogical studies during your BA degree. However, the pedagogical studies themselves are carried out during your MA degree.

If you have gained a study right only for an MA degree, you are not eligible to apply for pedagogical studies during your degree. However, you can apply for a free-of-charge non-degree study right for pedagogical studies after completing your MA degree.

Find out more about studying teaching subjects in the Studies service.

Language of instruction

The language of instruction and the language of assignments is English.

Courses and teaching

The Master’s Programme in English Studies offers a wide range of courses in English linguistics, literature in English and the teaching of English. You can take courses in all three areas or just focus on one of them. We offer up to 25 elective courses each academic year, as well as research seminars that support you in writing your Master’s thesis.

You can also combine English studies with modules from other programmes in the Faculty of Arts, for example:

In linguistics courses, you learn about the structure and uses of English, language change, sociolinguistics, discourse studies and corpus linguistics. In literature courses, you study the various literatures in English from narrative, cognitive, postcolonial and ecocritical perspectives. Courses in applied linguistics are tailored especially for future language teachers. 

As a student in English Studies, you attend lectures but also work in collaboration with other students, partly in digital learning environments. To assess your learning progress, a variety of methods are used, including examinations, essays, learning diaries and group projects. In English Studies you will also practice your spoken and presentation skills.

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

The University of Helsinki also offers Finnish courses for international students.

Master’s thesis

The Master’s programme culminates in writing the Master’s thesis, an independent scientific study. The aim of the Master’s thesis is to develop skills required for conducting research. The most important of these are the ability to draw on earlier research, define relevant research problems, and analyse and report independently acquired data.

In English Studies, you write your thesis in English.

The Master’s thesis process develops skills in the following areas:

  • Defining your chosen research problem in the context of previous research in the field
  • Finding information independently and assessing this information critically
  • Mastering the theories and research methods required in your work
  • Analysing data
  • Communicating your results in a clear and logical format appropriate to the audience

Given its scope and complexity, the Master’s thesis will also help you develop research and project management skills which will be useful in a variety of professions.

Below you can read more about some recently completed MA thesis projects:

The Master’s thesis is a good springboard for a career in academia

Studying multilingualism at the University of Helsinki

The Game Is On – a new study on the use of video games in language teaching

Writing an MA thesis is not a lone endeavour

Combining professional interests in a Master’s thesis

Doctoral education

After completing your Master of Arts degree, you can continue with postgraduate studies and apply to complete the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

The Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki is Finland’s leading centre of research in the humanities. The Faculty has a strong research orientation, and its research represents the top level in many fields, both in Europe and globally.

Doctoral programmes at the Faculty of Arts are:

More information about doctoral education at the University of Helsinki.

In­ter­na­tional scope and co­oper­a­tion

During your studies, you can engage in international activities in many ways, including an exchange period at another university. If you have not been on an international student exchange during your BA studies, you can do so while studying for your Master’s degree.

During the exchange, you will complete part of your studies at a foreign university. A well-planned and well-timed student exchange offers you the opportunity to make the degree more diverse and enables you to discover new perspectives on your own studies.

You can pursue an exchange visit either through an exchange programme or independently. All exchange programmes include a scholarship or a grant; the amount depends on the programme, the duration of the exchange visit and the target country. If you have arranged an exchange visit independently, you can apply for a travel grant. 

You can also engage in international activities at the University of Helsinki. For instance, you can serve as a peer tutor for exchange students. The Faculty of Arts and the Department of Languages have many teaching and research staff members who have an international background and who thus bring an international perspective to your studies.

Students and student life

Student life and especially the student organisation culture is exceptionally rich and diverse in Finland. Also at the University of Helsinki, more than 250 student organisations operate within the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY). The organisations range 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, low-cost sports services and student-priced meals. You also get numerous discounts, for example on public transport fees across the country. 

Read more about student life, services and benefits when studying 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 University of Helsinki students. Chat with our students!

Student story

Isabel Ibarra chose the Master's Programme in English Studies because of its versatility. It makes it possible for her to develop as a teacher by broadening her understanding of the many varieties of English language and culture. It also helps that the educational system in Finland is regarded as one of the best in the world.

In the future, she wants to work as a subject teacher and advocate for inclusivity with regard to different varieties of English: "Language is powerful and constantly evolving. It is essential that educators keep up with the changes.”

Read the article: “I want to raise aware­ness about the power of language through teach­ing”.

Stu­dent testimonial

What is it like to study English language and culture? What kind of courses are there and what are the employment possibilities? Our student Elena Kolla answers these and other questions.

What is the Master’s programme in English studies about?

For me, the English studies programme is first of all about English as a language and the knowledge we have about it. Nowadays this is especially important, as English has become so widespread and it is a lingua franca in many international and multilingual communities. When everything is developing so rapidly, it is quite hard to follow. Paraphrasing Lewis Carroll, you need to run fast just to keep up with this rapid language development, and that is what I believe the programme is helping me to accomplish, as studying here at the University of Helsinki I become a better professional in my field every day. 

Also, it is about the community, the likeminded people who surround you and who are just as interested in English and its role in the world as you are.

What are the best aspects of this programme?

The best aspect, I believe, is access to knowledge, information and all the resources of the department and the University such as lectures, group projects, and seminars that are parts of the programme. The library is especially wonderful as it allows me to read recent scientific publications to deepen my knowledge, to keep myself updated on the developments in my field of study. And of course, getting a Master’s degree from a reputable European University is a huge boost for my career. These are the benefits of studying at the department, but I also value the ability to meet new people: teachers, local students, and other international students. It is great for a person who didn’t know anyone in Finland before arriving in Helsinki.

What is your study area in this programme?

I am doing my research and writing my Master's thesis in sociolinguistics. I study opinion articles, which are sometimes called 'op-ed' articles in the news media, in particular in the US news media. I'm trying to find out how the authors formulate their opinions in these articles and if the social categories they belong to influence these opinions.

What kind of courses do you have? (Also what kind of classes and teaching methods do you have?)

I have done a number of different courses during my studies now that I’m quite close to graduation. Some of them were literature courses in lecture format, followed by a paper or an examination. Some of them involved interactive lectures where we, students, had brief discussions. On some occasions, we were expected to meet outside of the classroom to do some group work, discuss the material to present it later in class. As a summary, I've had different courses in different formats, but all were very interesting and informative.

Why should someone apply for this programme and what kind of employment opportunities do graduates have?

As I already mentioned, the Master’s degree in English Studies from the University of Helsinki is a very reputable degree and signifies high quality. Thanks to the importance of the English language around the world the alumni from this programme have many different career opportunities. Moreover, the department provides career orientation courses to help students decide which career paths they would want to take. With this degree, for example, you can become a teacher of English, provided that you have completed pedagogical studies. It is also possible to become an expert in English language, literature, and the culture of English-speaking countries. There is also a line to become an English language interpreter or translator, and a possibility to become a PhD student and subsequently a researcher.

I am going to apply for the English language teacher's programme and hopefully become a teacher of English as a foreign language. I am grateful to the university and the department for giving me this opportunity.

I am happy that I was accepted into this programme. Studying isn’t easy but I’ve had a great and very productive time here. I've also met new friends and I have new career opportunities, all thanks to the Master’s Programme in English Studies.