We talked with two former students and one teacher about their experience of studying and teaching in the programme. Lilia Orozco from Mexico graduated from the Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology study track in 2019 and is now pursuing her PhD in the Doctoral Programme in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences at the University of Helsinki. Pelayo Barrón from Spain graduated from the programme in 2020 and is currently working in the mining sector in Finland. David Whipp is Professor of Geodynamic Modelling and the director of the Master’s programme in Geology and Geophysics.
Who is the Master’s programme in Geology and Geophysics for?
David Whipp: “Our degree programme is for students with an interest in gaining a deeper understanding of how the earth works, what it can tell us about past and future climate change, and how we can manage the earth’s natural resources sustainably. Naturally, the main target audience for our Master’s programme is students with a BSc degree in Geoscience, but we also welcome students with BSc degrees in related scientific fields as long as they have sufficient background in Geoscience.”
Lilia Orozco: “I chose the University of Helsinki for its commitment to solving environmental and sustainability issues and its scientific backbone. After my Bachelor’s in geophysical engineering, I knew that I wanted to do research focusing on the environment. Thanks to the programme in Geology and Geophysics, I got to do exactly that.”
Pelayo Barrón: “I wanted to start my career in the mining industry, so I looked for a country with a flourishing mining sector – and that was when I found Finland. My goal was to study a suitable degree to specialise in the sector and get to know the Finnish mining industry and its people. Before joining the programme, I did a Bachelor’s in Geology and a Master’s in Engineering Geology and Mineral Resources.”
What is it like to study Geology and Geophysics in practice?
Pelayo Barrón: “For me, the programme and its structure were quite unique, as we got the chance to personalise our degree with credits from other courses, even some from outside of the degree. One of the best things about the programme is also the sense of community among the students and the corresponding student association, as it is very supportive, inclusive and active in regularly organising different events.”
Lilia Orozco: “To me, the most inspiring part of the programme is its people. We were a very tight-knit community of students and professors that guaranteed support whenever needed. The staff is really dedicated to both education and science, and they really give their 100% to the students and the programme. The programme also counts on great resources for the courses, such as computers for students, microscopes at everyone’s disposal, and laboratories for advanced courses.”
David Whipp: “We are a relatively small degree programme, which means that our students are able to regularly engage and discuss with our teachers. The programme offers a comprehensive selection of courses in Geology and Geophysics, so students can specialise in topics from Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology to Solid Earth Geophysics, but they also have the freedom to customise their studies to fit their individual interests. And, of course, we offer field teaching where students can gain hands-on experience with making geoscientific measurements and collecting field data from various sites in northern Europe.”
Lilia Orozco: “From the beginning, I wanted to do a Master’s and pursue a career in science. After graduating from the programme, I continued with a PhD in the Doctoral Programme in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences at the University of Helsinki. I am currently investigating lake ecosystems and how they have responded to the climate during the past 10,000 years – a topic that I already focused on in my Master’s thesis!”
Pelayo Barrón: “There is a fairly good connection of the university with the private industry, which increases the chances of summer job opportunities and employment after graduation. This also allows students to gain a better perspective of how their knowledge is applied outside of the academic side, which I found very valuable.”
David Whipp: “Our programme has had great success in the employment of our recent graduates, with more than 95% being employed after graduation. We aim to empower students with an education and experience that allows them to continue to further studies in academia, pursue a career in private industry (with a mining company, for example), become a researcher at a geological survey, or work in other careers such as consulting. As part of the studies, internships also offer students direct career experience that provides them with the opportunity to learn about what working in a given career would look like in practice and a way to make connections in various industries.”
What is it like to study and live in Helsinki?
Lilia Orozco: “Students in Finland have many benefits. I really liked UniSport, where I would go for group exercise classes and enjoy sauna afterwards. There are plenty of activities organised by students; it’s not hard to make friends or find a new hobby. I also took part in Finnish language courses, which enabled me to also meet people from other programmes.”