The Master’s Programme in Intercultural Encounters (ICE) offers insights into multidisciplinary approaches to intercultural issues, drawing from perspectives offered by Communication, Indigenous Studies, the Study of Religions, Theology, and Area and Cultural Studies.
Why Intercultural Encounters?

Intercultural encounters remain in the news year after year. There is an ongoing need for multidisciplinary approaches for understanding.

The Master's Programme in Intercultural Encounters (ICE) provides:

  • multifaceted understanding of intercultural encounters
  • training in intercultural competence
  • the ability to apply scholarly knowledge and conduct scientific research
  • the eligibility for postgraduate research

Upon completing the ICE programme, you will be able to act and grow in multidisciplinary and multicultural groups. In addition, you will be prepared to navigate issues of intercultural interaction, diversity, internationalisation, media and power.

Language of instruction

The language of the programme is English. However, you can complete up to 25% (30 credits) of the studies in another language.

Structure and content

The ICE programme provides students with regional, cultural, historical and socio-political knowledge grounded in the latest academic research.

Issues examined include, e.g., intercultural communication and training, diversity, globalisation, decolonisation, media, as well as constructions and negotiations of value systems and power.

The ICE programme is 120 credits (ECTS ) in scope. The degree is completed in two academic years.

At the beginning of your studies, you will be assisted by your supervisor to draw a personal study plan and design your own individual degree. 

Depending on your choice of study track, the ICE programme will lead to a Master of Arts (Humanities) degree or a Master of Theology degree. You choose your target degree when applying to the programme.

“You get to take courses from different disciplines and perspectives. It gives you a wide panorama of knowledge.”
Structure of studies

Joint Studies are compulsory for all ICE students. Courses in Joint Studies are:

  • Introductory course: Key concepts and themes in intercultural encounters & interdisciplinarity (5 ECTS credits)

  • Intercultural communication: Analysis of cultural and intercultural communication & intercultural competence (5 ECTS credits)

  • Two courses in research methodology: 5 + 5 ECTS credits)

  • Thesis seminar (5 ECTS credits)

  • Master's thesis (30 ECTS credits)

You will get tools and contacts for worklife in our studies too. Becoming a professional in Intercultural Encounters is our main goal in Professional Contexts (10 ECTS credits). You have the option to complete practical projects, career-related courses or to do an internship. 

You choose your target degree when you apply to the programme and depending on your choice, the ICE programme leads to a Master of Arts (Humanities) degree or a Master of Theology degree. Depending on your target degree, you will specialise in one or two thematic modules.

The theology students will specialize in the thematic module Religion and Diversity (30 ECTS credits).

The humanities students will choose two thematic modules of 15 ECTS from the following: 

  • Religion and Diversity;
  • Knowledge, Decolonisation, and Change;
  • Communication and Media;
  • Global Transfers.

For your optional studies, you can choose other relevant studies to support your degree in Intercultural Encounters. Optional Studies may include an additional thematic module offered by the ICE programme. Other alternatives are, for example, language studies, studies abroad, or individual courses in other degree programmes at the University of Helsinki.

For course selection at the University of Helsinki visit the courses page.

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

Content descriptions of thematic modules

If you choose to complete the Master of Arts degree, you will specialise in two thematic modules. If you choose to complete the Master of Theology degree, you will specialise in the thematic module Religion and Diversity. The thematic modules are:

The thematic module of Communication and Media focuses on practical intercultural communication situations and processes, as well as on cultural beliefs and values present and produced in communication and social relationships.

You will also learn to analyse relationships between culture, media and power, both in traditional mass media and present-day social media.

The topics covered in this theme's courses include:

  • Media Culture
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Language Ideology
  • Cultural and Interpersonal Communication

The thematic module of Global Transfers explores global transfers, applying interdisciplinary perspectives and focusing on social, political and cultural encounters. Major characteristics of complex global transfers include their multidirectional nature, their ability to affect change through encounter, and their complex relation to global cohesion and conflict.

The module will enable students to develop an understanding of the entanglement of local, national, regional, transnational and global dimensions and global flows at large.

Courses within this theme cover topics such as: 

  • Social Encounters
  • Political Encounters
  • Cultural Encounters

The thematic module Religion and Diversity prepares students to carry out critical analyses of the role of religion in local, national, international and/or global contexts.

The topics inside the module(s) analyzes the role of religions in identity formation and social and cultural processes. Historical, ethical, and political perspectives are covered. Comparative approaches and different methods are applied such as:

  • Historical Roots of Religious Diversity  
  • Dynamics of Religion, Media and Technology 
  • Religious Identities and Traditions  
  • Religion and Politics 
  • Religion, Ethics and Dialogue 
  • Comparative Encounters in Religions 


Depending on your target degree, you will specialise in one or two thematic modules.

The theology students will specialize in the thematic module Religion and Diversity (30 ECTS credits).

The thematic module of Knowledge, Decolonisation and Change focuses on global epistemological diversity and offers new skills for more inclusive knowledge-production. You will gain new insights into local and place-based knowledge, human-environment interactions, and ethical research.

Within a decolonising perspective, this thematic module also offers novel methodological tools for participatory and more transformative research. Your expertise will extend, for example, to Indigenous societies’ philosophies, concepts, and power relations in a global perspective.

Courses within this theme cover topics such as: 

  • Knowledge diversity, Education, and New Dialogues
  • Cultural Understandings of the Environment and Solving Environmental Conflicts
  • Transformative and Collaborative Research Methods

Our courses are grounded in the latest academic research, and enable you to apply the theoretical grasp to multicultural and internationally-oriented working life.

During the first year, you will study foundational theoretical and methodological courses and begin your thematic specialisations.

In the second year, you will continue taking courses, but the focus will be on writing your Master’s thesis.

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

The ICE programme had a variety of attractive courses.
Master's thesis

The Master's thesis is the culmination of your studies. 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.

Writing your Master’s thesis develops the skills for conducting research. The process will enhance your ability to seek information independently, analyse and assess existing information critically, and produce and apply information. Typically students collect and analyze empirical data. In addition, writing your Master’s thesis develops project management skills and displays your mastery of an extensive range of knowledge in your field of study.

You will write your thesis in English.

Alumni and student testimonials

The best way to know more about the ICE programme is through our students and alumni!

In the testimonials, they share their insights about the university, studies and student life in Helsinki as well as career plans and paths, and how they have applied the skills and knowledge acquired during their studies in their working life.

"I have learned a lot, but most of all, I have been inspired to keep learning."
Student life

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

More than 250 student organisations operate within the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY). They range from faculty and subject to political and societal organisations, and from choirs and orchestras to sports and game clubs. Activities include anniversary celebrations, academic dinner parties and excursions.


A relevant organisation for ICE students is Orbis, the organisation of international and internationally-minded students in the Faculties of Arts and Theology.

Orbis arranges various events such as social gatherings and panel discussions and co-operates with the ICE programme, potential employers and other student organisations.

My favourite memories come with some sort of interaction with the Student Union.
More about the programme