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 Luna Erica answers these and other questions.

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

The University of Helsinki’s Master’s Programme in English Studies is a degree that teaches you to work with the English language in a variety of ways, depending on your own academic interests, whether that be literary close-reading analysis, linguistic fieldwork, corpus-based approaches, or whatever other niche you find yourself drawn to. Even better, the programme allows you to mix and match these topics into an academic specialization of your own!

What are the best aspects of this programme?

As might be obvious from my previous answer, I love the course topics available at the University of Helsinki. They drew me to the programme in the first place, and I was very happy to find that there were even more topics in the curriculum than what I had found online. In addition, I’m very glad that the programme occasionally presents students with the opportunity to do actual work in their field of study. That can be a traineeship at the faculty, but it can also be full or partial participation in a linguistic or literary research project; including, if you’re lucky, the appearance of your name in an academic publication.

What is your study area in this programme?

My major in the programme was linguistics. I really enjoy working with the English language in all its forms and combining linguistic methods with methods from other fields, but, for my master’s thesis specifically, I chose to research the attitudes present towards Ukraine in the British news in the year following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The thesis allowed me to synthesize corpus methods with a more qualitative appraisal analysis, and, thanks to the seriously valuable help from my thesis supervisor, I managed to hand in a thesis I am very proud of.

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

I started my degree in 2021, meaning that, due to COVID-19, my first semester of courses was mostly online. After that, I had lots of in-person sessions that would usually open with the teacher’s instructions on a certain topic and would then provide space for the students to try using the material in practice, either in groups or individually, depending on the task at hand. I also had some MOOC courses on programming for linguists. These had a similar set-up to the in-person classes but were entirely online, with pre-recorded sessions rather than live lectures.

In addition to my classes on different topics and methods within linguistics (e.g., fieldwork methods; corpus linguistics; language of science), the set-up of the programme also gave me the space to complete a minor in Finnish language for non-native speakers and to attend classes in other fields than linguistics. In my case, I did some courses on literature and programming that I felt would complement my major. This freedom does require students to take some responsibility in their course choices, but you get a programme tailored to your own interests and aspirations in return!

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

As an international student (being from the Netherlands originally) who came to Finland to do this degree, I feel like I am especially addressing other interested international students here in saying that the University of Helsinki’s English Studies programme is a great choice for aspiring master’s students who want to specialize in the English language, even if you’re not exactly sure yet in which direction that would be. Do note that the winters get a little cold here, though. 

As for graduate opportunities, I would say there are plenty! Whether you start working part-time during the degree and ‘build’ a full-time career from there on out, or go on a job hunt right after graduation, there is a lot you can do with an English degree (despite what people tend to say). Communications, copywriting, editing and marketing are some routes to take for the more creative and writing-driven graduates, but there are also jobs in linguistic fieldwork, in the business industry, and in the classroom, both from teaching and analysis angles.

Of course, if you have academic ambitions, you can always apply to do a PhD afterwards! I never used the career services myself but was hired at an ad tech company right after graduation to work as a Dutch and English language linguist in Helsinki. In my job, I help develop an ontology used by a machine to analyze media content for certain concepts and categories within language. I promise you, I had no idea a job like this existed a few months ago, and I’m just as keen as you probably are to find out what other secret linguistic professions are out there.