Understanding Europe today requires much more than understanding the process of European integration. The tensions, challenges and possibilities that are manifesting themselves today have their roots in a longer political, social and cultural history.

In the Master's Programme in European and Nordic Studies (ENS), you are taken back to these roots and gain a profound understanding of Europe in all of its historical, political and cultural diversity. It is also a unique programme in the Nordic countries where you can specialise in Nordic Studies in English.

The units responsible for the programme are rated among the best in Europe and beyond, thus guaranteeing the students high-quality research-based teaching and supervision. As a student in the programme, you also have the freedom to follow your own initiatives and access to a wide range of courses organised throughout the University of Helsinki.

Why European and Nordic Studies?

In the Master's Programme in European and Nordic Studies (ENS), you gain a rich and multidisciplinary understanding of European society, politics and culture today and in history. All along the way, the programme draws from the strengths of Nordic research on Europe with its strong focus on regional cooperation, diversity, identities, institutions, culture and politics of history and memory. You learn to know the Nordic countries through a European perspective and Europe from a Nordic perspective.

Studying the ways in which Europeans cooperate, how European states and societies are interconnected, and how they are governed, forms an important part of the programme. Besides looking at the processes of integration and the evolution and functioning of the European Union, the programme highlights the significance of regional cooperation in the Nordic context, the EU’s relations with its neighbours and its place in the global system.

This is a unique programme in the Nordic countries where you can specialise in Nordic Studies in English.

At the end of your studies you have:

  • a broad understanding of European issues and in-depth proficiency in your chosen thematic specialization;
  • gained advanced research and critical analysis skills as well as skills to do independent and creative projects
  • earned a Master of Arts degree (M.A.) or a Master of Social Sciences degree (M. Soc. Sc.) depending on your chosen study track
  • received high-quality research training enabling you to pursue a career in academic research
  • the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue a career in higher education, local and national administrations, the media, the European Union, Nordic regional and international institutions, non-governmental organisations, and the business sector.
Structure and content

The scope of the Master's Programme in European and Nordic Studies (ENS) is 120 credits (ECTS) to be completed in two academic years. The programme consists of joint courses and specialisation studies that introduce you to various aspects of Europe, the Nordic countries and the Baltic Sea Region.

One of the available options is to specialise in Nordic Studies. ENS is a unique Nordic Studies programme taught in English in the Nordic countries.

The programme has two study tracks:

  • Humanities track emphases regional and cultural studies, and history. Thematic modules specific to this track include: Nordic Studies; European Legal History and Traditions; and East Central European, Southeast European and Baltic Studies (ESEB).
  • Social Sciences track is oriented towards political history, politics, civil society and public life. Thematic modules specific to this track include: EU Studies; History and Memory in Europe; Politics and Communication; and Migration and Minorities.

Upon completion of the programme, you will receive either the Master of Arts degree or Master of Social Sciences degree depending on your study track.

More information about the structure, content and study tracks of the programme.

Language of instruction

The language of instruction is English. At least 75% of the degree must be completed fully in English (including seminars, seminar papers and similar written work, exams and the Master’s thesis). However, you can also study in other languages. You can include, for example, a semester abroad or courses taught in Finnish or Swedish.

Courses and teaching

The ENS programme involves substantial interaction between you and your teachers. You will complete several writing assignments and research papers along the way, culminating in a Master’s thesis in your second year. Some courses use active learning or flipped classroom pedagogy.

The multidisciplinary selection of courses introduces you to various aspects of Europe, the Nordic countries, and the Baltic Sea Region. The topics include, for example:

  • Contemporary European politics
  • Nordic societies and cultures
  • Institutions, ideologies and identities in Europe
  • Nations and nationalism
  • Populism
  • Human rights and civil society activism
  • Migration and minorities
  • (Nordic) welfare models
  • European Union and Nordic cooperation
  • European legal traditions
  • Politics of memory

Check out courses in the Studies service.

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

Preliminary syllabus for the academic year can be found on the Instructions for students website. Make sure to select the correct programme in the drop-down menu.

Master's thesis

The Master's thesis is an integral part of your degree. During the thesis project, you are expected to:

  • demonstrate that you can formulate relevant and interesting research questions
  • create a coherent research design
  • analyse and produce data
  • write a scientific research report

Although the project is extensive independent research work, you will have a supervisor acting as your advisor. You will also regularly present the progress of your project in a joint seminar with your fellow students.

After completing your thesis, you have gained a broad understanding of European issues and in-depth proficiency on your more specific thesis topic as well as acquired advanced research skills. You have also learned how to conduct a large independent research project and how to report your research results.

Doctoral education

The Master’s degree provides general eligibility for postgraduate studies and a solid foundation for doctoral studies. If you are interested in pursuing a career in academic research, the programme provides you with high-quality research training i.e. an excellent basis for postgraduate studies. At the University of Helsinki, you can base yourself in the Centre for Nordic Studies or Centre for European Studies and continue your studies, for example, under the aegis of our:

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, the student community is very active.

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 societal affairs, excursions, cultural events, get-togethers, anniversary celebrations, and academic dinner parties.

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.  

Find out what ENS students and alumni would like to share with you about their studies and life in Helsinki, their career paths or plans, insights into the programme, studying in Helsinki, tips for your application process and much more.

Get to know ENS students and alumni and find out more about their insights into the programme, studies and life in Helsinki and career plans or paths.

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!

Get to know the Student Associations of our Programme

The student community of the ENS programme includes both Finnish students and international students from all over the world. The University of Helsinki and the Faculty of Social Sciences have an active student community, involving a variety of student organisations and activities.

Kannunvalajat is the student organisation for all students in the Faculty of Social Sciences. CISSI, the Organisation of International Social Scientists, is focused specifically on the needs of international students. There are also subject organisations in the study tracks of our masters programme.