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Programme

Sustaining a growing population on our dynamic planet requires deep understanding of geological and geophysical processes within the Earth, and of how they interact with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biota. The Master's Programme in Geology and Geophysics trains you to address pressing questions concerning our home planet's evolution, its role as the source of raw materials needed by modern civilisation, and environmental issues. Key questions include:

How can we decode Earth’s rock record to reveal the evolution of Earth’s crust and mantle over billions of years?

How do we make natural resource exploration and extraction more sustainable and environmentally friendly?

What can the Earth’s history tell us to help us forecast the impacts of climate change?

Where can we safely construct power plants or store nuclear waste?

The programme includes four specialist options: Petrology and Economic Geology; Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology; Palaeontology and Global Change; and Solid Earth Geophysics.

Upon completion of the programme, you will have gained expertise in a number of scientific and professional skills, including, depending on your specialist option:

  • Assessment of geological materials (minerals, rock types, bedrock, groundwater)
  • Understanding the genesis and sustainable use of mineral commodities
  • Sustainable use of the environment from the Earth Science perspective
  • Palaeontology and modelling global change using the geological record
  • The physical evolution of the Earth (plate tectonics, interplay of the mantle and crust)
  • Independent and team-driven project research
  • High-level scientific writing (M.Sc. thesis and related work)
  • Presentation of scientific results to scientists, students, and the general public

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.

Most of the teaching is given in English, the Hydrogeology and Environmental geology specialist option includes some courses in Finnish only. You can also take exams in Finnish or Swedish, and you can write your Master’s thesis in Finnish or Swedish.

At the beginning of the advanced studies, you will familiarise yourself with the central research methods in the field. The studies consist of intensive learning in small groups on practical work courses, guided laboratory work on specialised courses, and tailored short-term courses led by international and Finnish experts. In addition, you will be able to take part are a variety of field courses and excursions (in Finland and beyond) to familiarise yourself with research topics in their natural surroundings.

As a student in the Master’s Programme in Geology and Geophysics, you are free to choose among the four study tracks offered, assuming that you have suitable BSc studies:

  • In Petrology and Economic Geology you will study solid rock, mineral material and associated fluid systems, with targets ranging from the microscopic (and submicroscopic) scale to continents. The focus is on study of magmatic systems (volcanic and plutonic); the composition, lithology and structure of bedrock; evolution of continental crust and mantle; and the origin and assessment of economically important commodities in rock systems.
  • Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology combines understanding of earth surface systems such as 3D sedimentary environments, groundwater and low temperature geochemistry.  The specialist option is based on practical training using top-notch analytical facilities and survey methods in cooperation with industry and authorities. In addition to basic research, the line aims to build your expertise for future careers. 
  • Palaeontology and Global Change deals with the changing conditions and evolution of life on Earth. Research topics include fossil mammals and their environments during the last 25 million years, the environmental and evolutionary context of early humans in Africa, and the history of climate change and ecosystems during the last 100,000 years. The effect of humankind on the biosphere is a multidisciplinary topic. For this study track you need to have at lest 25 cp of previous studies in biology.
  • Solid Earth Geophysics combines geology with geophysics to study the structure of the Earth’s interior and the physical processes related to its evolution. These ideas are not only crucial for understanding phenomena such as earthquake and volcanic activity related to Plate Tectonics, but also important for exploration of natural resources, environmental studies and engineering, for example. For this study track you need to have at least 25 cp of previous studies in physics.

A Master’s degree in Geology and Geophysics requires 120 credits (ECTS) and is designed to be completed in two years of full-time study. The study requirements are:

  • Advanced studies in your specialist option (60-70 credits)
  • Joint studies in topics related to your specialist option (25-30 credits)

Master’s thesis (30 credits)

As a student in the Master’s programme you will be expected to write a thesis. The goal of the Master’s thesis is to enable you to study an area of interest to you within your specialist option, and to help you develop research skills such as scientific writing, literature review, and advanced knowledge in your area of study. The thesis typically includes a review of current literature and experiments or analysis of geological or geophysical data. You will write your thesis independently, under the supervision of one or more faculty members in your specialist option.

Expert geoscientists are in demand and employed in a range of fields nationally and internationally. Recent graduates have gone on to pursue:

  • Employment in the mining and mineral resource exploration industry
  • Work as environmental and groundwater scientists in private companies and in the public sector
  • Doctoral studies in geoscience or geophysics both in Finland and abroad
  • Research work on the geology of Finland at the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK)
  • Work as experts in the field of engineering geology and applied mineralogy

About 20% of the professors in the programme are from outside of Finland, and the number of international students and other researchers in the department has been increasing steadily over the past decade.

The Department of Geosciences and Geography collaborates with private, governmental and university researchers in Finland and abroad. Major players include the GTK and SYKE. In addition, the specialist option in Solid Earth Geophysics is organised in collaboration with the Department of Physics at the University of Helsinki.

There are many ongoing interdisciplinary research projects in the Faculty of Science. These projects are conducted in active cooperation with research institutes on the Kumpula Science Campus, as well as with other faculties, universities, and private industry.

The field of Geosciences is broad, and our research focus covers multiple branches of it. Some of the main interests at the moment include environmental topics related to groundwater and contaminated soils, the genesis of plutonic and volcanic igneous rocks, evolutionary palaeontology of mammals based on fossil teeth, and the structure and evolution of the continental crust. We are focusing on scientific research that makes it possible to understand geological processes and the structure of the Earth using our modern and diverse laboratory infrastructure.

After completing a Master of Science degree you will be eligible to apply for postgraduate studies leading to a Doctoral or Licentiate degree in Geology or Geophysics.

How to apply
Below a list of the different ways to apply to this degree programme.
Faculties

Faculty of Science

Teaching and research in the natural sciences in Finland are highly regarded at the international level. The Faculty of Science at the University of Helsinki is centred on the Kumpula Science Campus, which is the biggest and most versatile cluster of scientific competence in the Nordic countries.

The Faculty has five departments:

  • Department of Physics
  • Department of Geosciences and geography
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Department of Computer Science.

Your education in the Faculty of Science is based on basic research by recognised and internationally distinguished scientists. There are many interdisciplinary and international research networks operating on campus. The theoretical and empirical research conducted within them forms a solid foundation for teaching focusing on meeting challenges related to global sustainable development and information technology, for example.

When designing the degree programmes, we have focused on addressing the requirements of working life, research and further education. You can complement your degree by choosing from a vast variety of minor subjects. You can also complete parts of your studies abroad.

In addition to Finnish, the languages of instruction are Swedish and English.

The aim of the Faculty of Science is to provide you with wide-ranging knowledge and skills in different research methods, enabling you to begin a career in many different fields. The Faculty of Science is a multidisciplinary research and learning environment. The modern facilities and high-tech teaching laboratories provide you with a dynamic environment where you can study many fields of natural sciences. The teaching employs the latest technology and principles of the Extreme Apprenticeship method. You will also have the opportunity to take part in field courses and research projects in the University of Helsinki’s research stations around the world.

You will have easy access to course textbooks, databases and scientific publications at the Kumpula Campus Library on campus as well as through the electronic services of the Helsinki University Library.

As a University of Helsinki degree student, you can participate in a student exchange or traineeship outside Finland. The University has approximately 500 high-quality partner universities throughout the world, and each year some 1,000 University students embark on a student exchange or traineeship. A stay abroad gives valuable skills and experiences:

  • You can incorporate an international dimension into your degree and obtain international expertise in your field. A well-planned student exchange provides you with diverse, unique skills!
  • You will gain a new perspective on the world, learn more about yourself and enhance your language proficiency.
  • You will get better acquainted with the culture of the target country, meet new people and be able to establish international networks in your field.

More information about studying abroad: guide.student.helsinki.fi/en/study-abroad

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 specialneeds@helsinki.fi.

As a student at the University of Helsinki, you will have access to a wide range of services and benefits; such as housing, meals, health care, wellbeing and sports. On the New Student web pages, you will find information on necessary insurance, permits, and fees. As a member of the University of Helsinki Student union (HYY) you will have a great variety of services at your disposal and will be able to participate in various events and activities. Discounts are available for students, for example for travelling, cultural events, and several stores. Sub-organisations of HYY also organise a wide variety of social events. You will find more information on the University of Helsinki website http://www.helsinki.fi/newstudents.