Master's Programme in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Master of Science (2 years)

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Degree level
Master's degree
Start semester
2019 Autumn
Scope of studies and length
120 ECTS credits, 2 years
Language of instruction
English, Finnish, Swedish
Tuition fee per year (only non-EU/EEA citizens)
15000 €
Application period
3.12.2018 - 11.1.2019

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Ecology and evolutionary biology offer a perspective on biology from the level of genes to communities of species.

In the master's degree program, you can become familiar with a wide variety of topics in three areas: ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology. You can choose studies from any of these areas, as well as from other master's degree programmes. The programme is diverse and multidisciplinary: teaching is done with lectures, laboratory and computer training courses, interactive seminars, study tours and field courses. The field courses range from the northern subarctic region to tropical rainforests.

Our wide expertise extends from molecular ecology to population and community biology. The Centres of Excellence of Metapopulation Biology and Biological Interactions are located in our department.

Our programme offers you a wide range of options: evolutionary biology or genetics for those interested in ecological genetics and genomics, as well as the ability to take advantage of the high-quality molecular ecology and systematics laboratory; conservation biology for those interested in regional or global environmental problems; and ecological modelling skills for those interested in computational biology. Our training also offers Behavioural Ecology. 

Ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology are not only fascinating topics for basic research, they also have a key role in addressing global environmental challenges.

Upon graduating from the Master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology programme, you will:

  • Have mastered the main theories and methods in ecology and evolutionary biology and be able to apply them to practical problems
  • Be able to plan and carry out a scientific research project
  • Have read the relevant scientific literature and be able to utilise your expertise in different types of work
  • Be able to work as an expert in your field
  • Be able to to write good scientific English
  • Be able to work in research projects and groups
  • Be able to continue on to doctoral studies

Further information about the studies on the Master's programme website.

Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, who do not have a permanent residence status in the area and pursue their studies in English, are liable to pay tuition fees.You can check from FAQ at the Studyinfo website whether or not you are required to pay tuition fees. Find out more about the Be 1* of the Best Scholarship Programme.

The Master’s Programme in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is a genuinely international programme that brings together students from many countries. The language of instruction for compulsory courses and most optional courses is English. You can write all exams, reports and your Master’s thesis in English. If you are fluent in Finnish or Swedish, you can also use these languages.

The Master's degree program includes studies of ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology. The studies are organised in modules. You can affect the content of the studies by planning your personal curriculum. You can study the following themes:

  • Ecology studies the abundance and distribution of species (animals, plants, microbes) and the interactions among them and with the environment. The perspective ranges from the molecular to the ecosystem level. In ecology, a central question is: Why are some species able to invade new habitats and displace native species? Which species are able to adapt to environmental change or migrate with the changing climate, and which species will become extinct?
  • Evolutionary biology examines the processes which support biodiversity on its various levels (genes – individuals – populations – species – ecosystems). You will learn about the theory of evolution and how to use population genetics and genomics methods in researching evolutionary issues.
  • Conservation Biology studies the depletion of biodiversity, its causes and consequences. You will learn to apply ecological theory to the problems of environmental conservation, to assess the effectiveness of methods of conservation, as well as to resolve the problems relating to conservation e.g. by modelling and computational methods. The training emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary education in the area of conservation.

You undertake modules producing a total of 120 credits (ECTS) according to your personal study plan. The degree consists of:

  • 60 credits of advanced studies, including a research project (Master’s thesis, 30 credits)
  • 60 credits of other studies chosen from the Programme or from other Programmes

Career planning or extracurricular activities can be included in your personal study plan.

If you are studying to qualify as a biology teacher, you will need 60 credits of pedagogical studies in your degree. This applies only to Finnish or Swedish speaking students.

All students undertake a master's thesis, the extent of which is 30 credits. In your thesis, you will demonstrate your mastery of scientific thinking, your familiarity with the scientific background of your thesis and the relevant research methods, and your ability to report the results. Your thesis can be done individually or as a member of a research project in which you have a clear and independent role. You must, however, write your thesis independently.

In general, you will collect the data in the field or in the laboratory, analyse them, evaluate the results critically in the light of the scientific literature, and present your conclusions in writing.

Your Master's thesis can be done in one of the the research groups of the department.

A Master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology gives you the capability to embark on a wide range of careers, such as University teaching and research tasks; expert and administrative tasks at research centres and companies; in the field of public administration (e.g., the United Nations, the European Union, national and provincial administration, cities, municipalities); international and national organisations; and the media. The degree also makes you eligible to continue on to a doctoral education in different areas of biology.

The Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is a popular option for Finnish and Swedish speaking students wanting to qualify as biology teachers.

Master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology gives an access to the capability of University teaching and research tasks, for a wide range of expert and administrative tasks of the various research centres, companies, in the field of public administration (e.g., The UNITED NATIONS, the European Union, the State and the provincial administration, cities, municipalities), international and national organizations and the media. The degree also provides the scientific validity for doctoral education in different areas of biology.

The Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is a well-liked option among students studying towards biology teacher qualification (Finnish and Swedish speaking students).

Upon graduating with a Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, you can qualify to become a teacher in biology. This requires that you have been accepted to the faculty for teacher’s education. You must have taken the following courses during your studies for your Bachelor’s degree: biology and another discipline from the following: geography, chemistry, physics, mathematics or health education. If you want to qualify as a biology teacher in the Master’s degree programme, you must take pedagogical studies as your optional studies (60 credits).

If you are admitted into the programme in 2019, you will not be able to apply for a study right in pedagogical studies during your Master's degree. However, you can apply for a study right after you have completed the Master's degree.

You will have the opportunity to study at foreign universities and research institutions within the framework of an international student exchange. You can also gain valuable experience by working as a tutor of international students or participating in the international activities of the Student Union or other student organisations. 

The teachers and researchers in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology are internationally known and respected. Their research groups host numerous international researchers as visitors and workers. They also employ many foreign graduate students, which creates an international atmosphere in the programme.

The researchers and teachers carry out diverse collaboration with the Helsinki University Museum of natural history (LUOMUS), the Institute of Biotechnology, various Finnish universities, Metsähallitus (Forestry Administration), Natural Resource Institute Finland (LUKE), as well as the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). These agencies, as well as our own research groups, employ a significant number of students.

Part of the research and instruction takes place at the University of Helsinki’s research stations in Tvärminne, Lammi and Kilpisjärvi, located on the southern coast, in central Finland, and in Lapland, respectively.

The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology has a number of internationally renowned research groups in the following areas:

  • Metapopulation research
  • Population ecology
  • Conservation biology
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Ecological genetics and genomics

You can see more information at the Master's programme website.

As a graduate of the Master's degree programme, you can apply for a doctoral programme at the University of Helsinki or other top international universities. Further studies include 40 credits of coursework and a dissertation. 

The vast majority of graduating students in ecology and evolutionary biology take part in the doctoral programme LUOVA (Doctoral Program in Wildlife Biology Research).

Other doctoral programmes at the University of Helsinki include:

For more on the doctoral programmes at the University of Helsinki, see:

How to apply
Below you’ll find a link to the entry requirements for this programme. The application period to our international programmes is in December every year.

Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

The Faculty provides expert training in the biological and environmental sciences, giving you a competitive edge in the labour market. As an expert in the biological and environmental sciences, you can find work in many areas, such as health care, medicine, the sustainable use of natural resources, the resolution of environmental problems, food production, and many fields of industry.  

The Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences plays a key role in the research and teaching conducted on the Viikki Campus. The Faculty and its associated units constitute Finland’s largest centre of research and teaching in the biological and environmental sciences. The Faculty’s strengths include high-quality research as well as a wide range of research and teaching. 

The Faculty consists of two departments:

  • Department of Biosciences (Viikki Campus)
  • Department of Environmental Sciences (Viikki Campus and Lahti University Campus)  

The Faculty also operates three biological field stations:

  • Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in the northwestern region of Finnish Lapland
  • Lammi Biological Station in the Kanta-Häme region in central Finland
  • Tvärminne Zoological Station in Hanko in southern Finland by the Baltic Sea


The Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences provides the bulk of its teaching in the modern research and teaching facilities of the Viikki Campus. Degree education in the environmental sector is also provided on the Lahti University Campus. Instruction is in Finnish, Swedish, and English.  

The Faculty employs a wide range of learning methods, including lectures and small group work, as well as laboratory and field courses. The majority of field courses take place at the Faculty’s field stations in Lammi, Kilpisjärvi and Tvärminne. Your work in many major subjects here can also include study and research trips abroad. You will have the opportunity to take part in a traineeship and in practical training in a research group in Finland or abroad. For the experimental section of your Master’s thesis, you will be able to collect data and conduct experiments in the laboratory or in the field, in the research environment of your choice. The Faculty’s research groups also include a large number of international researchers. The atmosphere is international; communication is in English.  

Your education here combines lectures and web-based teaching. Lectures and other study materials are available on virtual learning platforms. We have developed a separate online learning environment for species identification of organisms and various habitats.  

A campus library is located in Viikki in conjunction with a public library. The institutes of higher education operating on the Lahti University Campus have also established a joint scientific library.

Helsingin yliopiston tutkinto-opiskelijana sinulla on mahdollisuus lähteä opiskelijavaihtoon tai harjoitteluun ulkomaille. Helsingin yliopistolla on yli 500 vaihtokohdetta ympäri maailman. Jakso ulkomailla antaa

  • kansainvälisen lisän tutkintoosi, ja saat kansainvälistä osaamista omalta alaltasi. Hyvin suunniteltu opiskelijavaihto tuo osaamiseesi monipuolisuutta ja ainutlaatuisuutta!
  • Saat uudenlaisen näkökulman maailmaan, opit myös itsestäsi ja kielitaitosi vahvistuu.
  • Tutustut kohdemaan kulttuuriin uudella tavalla, tapaat uusia ihmisiä ja saat erinomaisen mahdollisuuden verkostoitua alallasi kansainvälisesti.

Tutustu ulkomailla opiskeluun, Helsingin yliopiston vaihtokohteisiin sekä vaihtokokemuksiin.

At the University of Helsinki we provide an accessible learning environment for all students.

If you have a disability, an illness or a learning disability, and might need some special arrangements to be able to complete your studies, please contact the faculty at the beginning of your studies or when the need arises.

You will usually agree upon the practical arrangements with your professor before the course or seminar begins. If needed, you can also consult the Head of Academic Affairs at the faculty.

Special arrangements for your studies, such as individual support for learning, might include extra time to complete assignments and exams, teaching materials given in advance or in electronic form, accessibility to classrooms and alternative ways to complete assignments and coursework.

If you would like more information about special arrangements, please contact the Student Services in the City Centre at

University students have access to various services and benefits; among them housing, meals, health care, wellbeing as well as sports. On the New Student web pages, you find information on necessary insurances, permits, and fees. The University of Helsinki Student union (HYY) members may use a great variety of services and participate in various events and activities. Not to mention discounts available for students e.g. on travelling, cultural events, and several stores. Sub-organizations of HYY also organize a wide variety of social events. More information is available at Instructions for students.