Degree level
Master's degree
Start semester
2018 Autumn
Scope of studies and length
120 ECTS credits, 2 years
Language of instruction
English, Finnish, Swedish
Tuition fee per year (non-EU/EEA students)
15000 €

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Programme

Life Sciences is one of the strategic research fields at the University of Helsinki. The multidisciplinary Master’s Programme in Life Science Informatics (LSI) integrates research excellence and research infrastructures in the Helsinki Institute of Life Sciences (HiLIFE).

The Master's Programme is offered by the Faculty of Science. Teaching is offered in co-operation with the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences. As a student, you will gain access to active research communities on three campuses: Kumpula, Viikki, and Meilahti. The unique combination of study opportunities tailored from the offering of the three campuses provides an attractive educational profile. The LSI programme is designed for students with a background in mathematics, computer science and statistics, as well as for students with these disciplines as a minor in their bachelor’s degree, with their major being, for example, ecology, evolutionary biology or genetics. As a graduate of the LSI programme you will:

  • Have first class knowledge and capabilities for a career in life science research and in expert duties in the public and private sectors
  • Competence to work as a member of a group of experts
  • Have understanding of the regulatory and ethical aspects of scientific research
  • Have excellent communication and interpersonal skills for employment in an international and interdisciplinary professional setting
  • Understand the general principles of mathematical modelling, computational, probabilistic and statistical analysis of biological data, and be an expert in one specific specialisation area of the LSI programme
  • Understand the logical reasoning behind experimental sciences and be able to critically assess research-based information
  • Have mastered scientific research, making systematic use of investigation or experimentation to discover new knowledge
  • Have the ability to report results in a clear and understandable manner for different target groups
  • Have good opportunities to continue your studies for a doctoral degree

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.

All teaching is in English.

The Life Science Informatics Master’s Programme has six specialisation areas, each anchored in its own research group or groups.

Algorithmic bioinformatics with the Genome-scale algorithmics, Combinatorial Pattern Matching, and Practical Algorithms and Data Structures on Strings research groups. This specialisation area educates you to be an algorithm expert who can turn biological questions into appropriate challenges for computational data analysis. In addition to the tailored algorithm studies for analysing molecular biology measurement data, the curriculum includes general algorithm and machine learning studies offered by the Master's Programmes in Computer Science and Data Science.

Applied bioinformaticsjointly with The Institute of Biotechnology and genetics.Bioinformatics has become an integral part of biological research, where innovative computational approaches are often required to achieve high-impact findings in an increasingly data-dense environment. Studies in applied bioinformatics prepare you for a post as a bioinformatics expert in a genomics research lab, working with processing, analysing and interpreting Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) data, and working with integrated analysis of genomic and other biological data, and population genetics.

Biomathematics with the Biomathematics research group, focusing  on mathematical modelling and analysis of biological phenomena and processes. The research covers a wide spectrum of topics ranging from problems at the molecular level to the structure of populations. To tackle these problems, the research group uses a variety of modelling approaches, most importantly ordinary and partial differential equations, integral equations and stochastic processes. A successful analysis of the models requires the study of pure research in, for instance, the theory of infinite dimensional dynamical systems; such research is also carried out by the group. 

Biostatistics and bioinformatics is offered jointly by the statistics curriculum, the Master´s Programme in Mathematics and Statistics and the research groups Statistical and Translational Genetics, Computational Genomics and Computational Systems Medicine in FIMM. Topics and themes include statistical, especially Bayesian methodologies for the life sciences, with research focusing on modelling and analysis of biological phenomena and processes. The research covers a wide spectrum of collaborative topics in various biomedical disciplines. In particular, research and teaching address questions of population genetics, phylogenetic inference, genome-wide association studies and epidemiology of complex diseases.  

Eco-evolutionary Informatics with ecology and evolutionary biology, in which several researchers and teachers have a background in mathematics, statistics and computer science. Ecology studies the distribution and abundance of species, and their interactions with other species and the environment. Evolutionary biology studies processes supporting biodiversity on different levels from genes to populations and ecosystems. These sciences have a key role in responding to global environmental challenges. Mathematical and statistical modelling, computer science and bioinformatics have an important role in research and teaching.

Systems biology and medicine with the Genome-scale Biology Research Program in Biomedicum. The focus is to understand and find effective means to overcome drug resistance in cancers. The approach is to use systems biology, i.e., integration of large and complex molecular and clinical data (big data) from cancer patients with computational methods and wet lab experiments, to identify efficient patient-specific therapeutic targets. Particular interest is focused on developing and applying machine learning based methods that enable integration of various types of molecular data (DNA, RNA, proteomics, etc.) to clinical information.

During the first  three study periods, each specialization area gives an introductory course and at the beginning of the Spring semester the student is assumed to have decided his/her own study direction.

Studies amount to 120 credits (ECTS), which can be completed in two years according to a personal study plan.

  • 85 credits of advanced studies from the specialisation area, including a Master’s thesis, 30 credits
  • 35 credits of other studies chosen from the programme or from other programmes (e.g. computer science, mathematics and statistics, genetics, ecology and evolutionary biology)

The programme includes a mandatory Master´s thesis, a scientific research project.  The project can be theoretical or practical in nature, including biological or medical data-analysis from an ongoing research project. The resulting thesis is a written work that demonstrates your ability for scientific reasoning and your familiarity with the relevant scientific literature. You will be appointed a supervisor who will hold regular meetings with you to ensure that your thesis work is proceeding smoothly and on schedule. The thesis is worth 30 credits (ECTS), corresponding to full-time studies during one semester. Although the thesis is an independent work, it is often done as part of a research group.

The Master of Life Science Informatics degree provides excellent opportunities to apply and perform postgraduate studies either at the University of Helsinki, at other universities in Finland, or abroad. As a graduate, you might also find employment, for example, in health sector enterprises, such as bioindustry.

The Life Science Informatics MSc is an international programme, with international students and an international research environment. The researchers and professors in the programme are internationally recognized for their research. A significant fraction of the teaching and research staff is international.

As a student you can participate in an international student exchange programme, which offers the possibility to include international experience as part of your degree. Life Science Informatics itself is an international field and graduates can find employment in any country.

In the programme, all courses are given in English. Although the Helsinki region is very international and English is widely spoken, you can also take courses to learn Finnish via the University of Helsinki’s Language Centre’s Finnish courses. The Language Centre also offers an extensive programme of foreign language courses for those interested in learning new languages.

The Life Science Informatics MSc programme collaborates with  HiLIFEInstitute of Biotechnology, FIMM, BiomedicumHIIT, and other Master’s programmes:

  • Data Science
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Computer Science
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Translational Medicine
  • Genetics and Molecular Biosciences

The flexible study rights programme (JOO) allows you to study at other Finnish universities as part of your degree.

The research groups offering the Life Science Informatics MSc programme specialisation areas are included in three Centres of Excellence of the Academy of Finland

The Academy of Finland's Centres of Excellence are the flagships of Finnish research. They are at the cutting edge of science in their fields, carving out new avenues for research, developing creative research environments and training talented new researchers for Finnish research and Finnish business and industry. A CoE is a research and training network that has clearly defined research objectives and is run under a joint management. Funding is provided for a six-year term, which means that a CoE can work toward long-term objectives and even take risks. CoEs are jointly funded by the Academy of Finland, universities, research institutes, the private business sector and many other sources.

After completing the MSc programme in Life Science Informatics, you can apply for doctoral studies in the University of Helsinki, elsewhere in Finland or abroad. The high level of international recognition of the University of Helsinki and the Life Science research groups offers you excellent opportunities for doctoral studies at top universities. The additional education and practical skills gained in doctoral studies are useful not only for an academic research career but also for working in the private sector. At the University of Helsinki, suitable doctoral programmes include:

Qualified students who intend to pursue a research career can apply for the Integrative Life Sciences (ILS) doctoral programme during their second year of Master's studies.

For more information, please see www.helsinki.fi/en/research/doctoral-education

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

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.

The Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences provides you with excellent opportunities for internationalisation during your studies. The easiest option is to participate in a student exchange in another Nordic country, elsewhere in Europe or outside Europe. Exchange programmes usually offer grants and exemptions from tuition fees. Outgoing exchange students are also entitled to student financial aid.
 
Internationalisation may also involve:
• Tutoring international students
• Participating in the Faculty’s English-language teaching, the Language Centre’s language courses or the Helsinki Summer School’s intensive courses and extracurricular activities
• Completing a traineeship abroad
• Getting involved in the international activities of subject organisations or the University’s Student Union
 

All students can participate in a student exchange. Exchange destinations are selected from among universities of the highest standards. Exchange opportunities are currently available in 66 countries in every part of the world. Studies can also include a traineeship completed abroad.

Mobility arrangements help you excel in an increasingly international world:
• You will improve your language skills and ability to interact with people from other cultures.
• You will gain a different perspective on the subject you study.
• You will be able to include studies completed abroad in your degree.
• Studies completed abroad may be key for finding employment after graduation.
 

 

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.

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 the University of Helsinki website http://www.helsinki.fi/newstudents.

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.