In the Master's Programme in Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology, you get an understanding of the global significance of microbes as processors of life and the environment. You gain the potential and the tools for the development of new innovations in food or drug industry or in other biotechnological applications.

You learn about microbes and the biotechnological applications as well as what research techniques are used to study viruses, bacteria and other microbes. Your studies include topics like the application of microbiological knowledge, biotechnology and bioinformatics, functional principles of microbial cells and communities, research methods in microbiology and solving microbiological problems. You can modify the master’s degree programme for your own interests with elective subjects.

Why Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology?

Upon completing your degree, you will:

  • Understand the global significance of microbes as remodelers and processors of life and the environment
  • Understand the most important functions and molecular mechanisms of the major groups of microbes
  • Understand the potential use of microbes in biotechnological applications, such as foodstuffs, drugs, and industrial processes
  • Be able to evaluate the effects of changes in the environment on microbial communities and thus on the function of the biosphere
  • Be able to assess the use of microbes in a variety of environments and situations
  • Be able to evaluate ethical questions and the prerequisites of commercialisation related to the use of microbes and biotechnology
  • Be aware of the most important pathogens and their virulence mechanisms
  • Master the most important microbiological and biotechnological research methods, and be proficient in the interpretation and evaluation of research results
  • Have the capability to plan and lead activities  in microbiology and biotechnology
  • Be able to disseminate relevant information about your topic in an international environment

As a graduate, you will be well prepared to continue further with postgraduate studies or proceed directly into working life. You can work in sectors like research and development, Surveillance/monitoring in healthcare, food and environment, administration and consultancy, business and management or teaching and education. Statistically, the situation for microbiologists proceeding to employment has been very favourable.

Structure and content

The scope of the Master's Programme in Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology is 120 credits (ECTS), to be completed in two academic years.

At least half of the study credits (60 of 120 credits) will be courses in microbiology and microbial biotechnology. By selecting elective and other study opportunities, you will be able to shape the study programme based on your interest towards many subject areas, such as the environment, food, viruses, fungi, health and microbial diseases, microbial biotechnology or microbial bioinformatics.

The key contents of the studies in microbiology and microbial biotechnology are:

  • Research methods in microbiology, biotechnology and bioinformatics
  • Application of microbiological knowledge
  • Solving microbiological problems
  • Critical, research-based scientific thinking
  • Planning, implementation and reporting of microbiological and biotechnological research
  • Functional principles of microbial cells and communities
  • Development from research to product
  • Leadership, entrepreneurship and patenting
  • Other studies, through which you can adapt the degree towards your own interests
  • Discovery of novel findings in the field of biology

There are good opportunities to participate in international student exchanges and some parts of the degree can be completed at universities abroad.

You can find the detailed structure of the programme in the Instructions for students. Make sure that the correct degree programme is selected on the drop-down menu.

Language of instruction

The language of instruction is mainly English. You can write exams and your thesis in Finnish, Swedish or English.

Courses and teaching

There is intensive interaction between teachers and students in the Master’s Programme in Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology. A variety of learning methods are used in the courses, including:

  • Laboratory work, seminars, lectures
  • Oral presentations
  • Written reports (individual, paired, group)
  • Independent reading
  • Work practice, instruction in research groups, project courses
  • Oral group exams, written exams, home essays

The language of instruction is mainly English. You can write exams and your thesis in Finnish, Swedish or English.

Check out courses in the University of Helsinki online course catalogue in the Studies Service. Note that some of the courses are arranged only every other year.

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

Master's thesis

The Master’s thesis is an integral part of your degree and accounts for 30 credits. The thesis is generally based on an experimental research project, which you can perform under the supervision of an experienced researcher.

During the thesis process, you train yourself in scientific thinking, identifying problems, constructing hypotheses, collecting material, working in the laboratory, analysing results and presenting the results logically, as well as putting your results into the context of current scientific views. You will write your thesis in the format of a scientific publication in which you critically discuss your results from the perspective of the relevant scientific field.

Doctoral education

As a graduate of the Master’s degree programme, you will be able to proceed to scientific postgraduate studies (i.e. doctoral degrees) in several fields of the biosciences. In addition to the disciplines of microbiological sciences and biotechnology, you could undertake a postgraduate degree in related sciences such as biomedicine and forest science.

Information about doctoral education at the University of Helsinki.

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), ranging 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!