Master's Programme in Plant 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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Life on Earth depends on solar energy captured by plants - they are the base of most food webs and underpin the functioning of all major ecosystemsPlants release the oxygen we breath. They convert solar energy into chemical energy, providing us with food, fibres, renewable energy sources, and raw materials for many industries. Plants do not carry out these processes in isolation. They interact with other organisms and the physical and chemical environment, communicate and actively adjust to their circumstances. How do they do these things and how can we profit from understanding them? When you have graduated from the Master’s Program in Plant Biology you will have the answers to these big questions, and more, such as:

  • How one plant cell develops into a complicated organism and how plant cells, tissues and organs communicate with each other
  • How plants avoid, tolerate or defend themselves from external stress factors such as diseases, drought and excessive solar radiation
  • How plants sense their environment and communicate with each other and with other organisms
  • How plants, interacting with microbes, fungi and animals, maintain ecosystems and thus life
  • How the genotypic, functional and morphological differences between plants allow them to thrive in vastly different habitats

You will also be able to:

  • Understand how research in plant biology and biotechnology can contribute to plant breeding and production
  • Plan, coordinate and execute high-quality basic and applied scientific research
  • Have a good command of the scientific method and critically evaluate research across scientific disciplines
  • Use the basic skills needed to expand your knowledge into other related fields and communicate with experts in those fields
  • Act in working life as an expert and innovator in your field, supported by your language, communication and other transferable skills
  • Be eligible for scientific post-graduate (doctoral) studies

After earning your degree, you can continue towards a PhD or move directly into a career. If you have a Bachelor’s degree in a field of biology from another Finnish university or from a foreign university anywhere in the world, you are welcome to apply for the Master’s programme in Plant Biology.

Further information about studies on the Master's Programme's 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.

English is the main teaching language. Because the programme is multilingual, you can take your examinations, write your thesis and fulfil other programme requirements in English, Finnish or Swedish.

The Master’s Programme in Plant Biology is a joint programme of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences and the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, which ensures an exceptionally comprehensive curriculum. You will be able to study the diversity of wild and cultivated plants from the Arctic to the Tropics, as well as plant functions from the molecular to the ecosystem level.

The teaching is diverse, consisting of modern laboratory and computer courses, field courses, seminars and excursions. The curriculum is intertwined with research. You will be introduced to the research groups from the beginning of your studies, so you will become familiar with research methods as your studies progress. Much of the study material is in various learning platforms (such as Moodle), which allow distance learning. You will have a personal tutor who will help you tailor an individual study plan according to your requirements.

Within the programme you can choose among several optional study modules and focus on, for example:

  • Plant biotechnology and breeding
  • Molecular biology and genetics
  • Regulation of growth, reproduction and differentiation of tissues
  • Biological basis of crop yield
  • Plant ecology and evolutionary biology
  • Evolutionary history and systematics of plants and fungi
  • Species identification

All modules are worth at least 15 credits. They are interlinked to ensure a coherent and balanced degree that allows you to obtain a broad perspective. Alternatively, you can focus on your primary research interest while acquiring the skills needed to follow your career goals on completion of your degree.

A translational perspective is emphasised in courses in which it is relevant. That will allow you to apply the acquired basic knowledge in problem-based research, bridging the gap between basic and applied research.

Further information about content.

In Advanced studies you can choose two modules to deepen your expertise in those areas of plant biology you find most interesting. Elective studies may contain modules or individual courses from the curriculum of your own or other degree programmes. Your degree can thus be tailored depending on your aspirations, whether you want to be a university researcher, entrepreneur, or environmental/agricultural consultant.

Further information about choosing study modules.

The extent of the programme is 120 credits (ECTS), to be completed in two years of full-time studies. The degree consists of

  • 80 credits of advanced studies (in plant biology), including Master’s thesis (30 credits)
  • 40 credits of other studies from this programme or other programmes

The curriculum contains a personal study plan and it can contain career planning or transferable skill studies.

Further information about structure.

By completing your Master’s thesis (30 credits) you will show that

  • You are capable of scientific thinking
  • You are able to design and carry out experiments under supervision
  • You are profoundly familiar with the topic of your thesis
  • You are capable of effective written scientific communication

A Master’s thesis project usually consists of four distinct phases

  • Design and planning of the study
  • Gathering the data (field work and/or laboratory work and/or mathematical modelling)
  • Analysing the data (validation/quality control, statistical analysis, plotting)
  • Interpreting and discussing the results in the light of existing literature on the topic

Typically, the work is carried out in a research project in which you have a clearly defined and independent role. You must write the thesis yourself. Your work will be supervised by a person, such as a professor or lecturer, who has a PhD in the same field of research and who knows the topic and the relevant courses well. Upon completing your Master’s project, you will understand how a research project proceeds, from planning the work to carrying it out and reporting the results.

Further information about MSc thesis.

With a Master’s degree in Plant Biology, you will have many potential career opportunities in working life or in doctoral studies. You can work especially

  • As a doctoral student, researcher and/or part-time teacher at universities or other institutions of higher education
  • As a researcher in national and international institutions in the public and private sectors
  • As an expert, civil servant, authority or PR officer in public administration
  • In various positions in international organisations or enterprises engaged in bioeconomy 
  • As an entrepreneur in the biological or environmental sectors of business

Further information about career opportunities.

In addition to the job prospects listed above, you will be eligible for doctoral studies in relevant doctoral programmes in Finland, Europe or anywhere in the world. For doctoral programmes at the University of Helsinki, please see item 12 below.

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.

International scope is a key benefit of the Plant Biology programme. You will be encouraged and helped to seek exchange possibilities in international student exchange programmes with cooperating universities. In this way you will get new ideas, perspectives and personal contacts that may prove useful later in your working life or doctoral studies.

All of our research groups include numerous members from Europe and farther afield. Thus you will be doing research in an international community and will be able to improve your skills in foreign languages, especially English, which is of primary importance in working life today.

You can also tutor international students or act in the student’s subject association or Student’s Union and get valuable experience of international and multicultural communities.

Further information about student exchange:

Such a multifaceted programme is only possible through the joint efforts of various parties. Therefore the teaching and research is carried out in cooperation with the Institute of Biotechnology (HiLIFE unit), Botany Unit of the Finnish Museum of Natural History, Natural Resources Institute in Finland, Plant Biotechnology Unit of the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Finnish Food Safety Authority EVIRA, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, and  Boreal Plant Breeding Ltd. company. This ensures that you will have good prospects for jobs or apprenticeships. The experimental greenhouses and outdoor fields on the Viikki campus are also used for teaching purposes. The five field stations in Finland owned by the University of Helsinki are a valuable asset and the venues for numerous field courses. Of the stations, Tvärminne Zoological Station is located on the southern coast, Lammi Biological Station and Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station in the southern inland, and Värriö Subarctic Research Station and Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in Lapland, in the north of Finland. At the Taita Hills Research Station in Kenya, East Africa, you can have a completely different, once-in-a-lifetime learning experience.

All teaching is based on the latest scientific knowledge. Research in Plant Biology is advancing on many fronts. It operates from the molecular and cellular levels to the ecosystem level, and covers both wild and cultivated plants. The main focus areas are regulation of plant development and differentiation of tissues and organs; crop yield and breeding of cultivated plants; stress responses; population ecology of fungal plant diseases; and evolution, ecology, genetics, genomics and biotechnology of plants and fungi. Studying Plant Biology will involve you in fascinating research projects looking for solutions to many current problems.

Viikki Plant Science Centre (ViPS) is a virtual, internationally recognised community of researchers based on the Viikki campus. It includes plant researchers working in different units and faculties within the campus. Its purpose is to advance and expedite cooperation in high-standard teaching and research. As a student you will be part of the ViPS community through the courses, seminars, apprenticeships and degree work offered by the Master’s Programme in Plant Biology.

Further information about research.

After graduating from the Master’s Programme you can apply for doctoral programmes in Finland or elsewhere. In Finland the requirements for a doctoral degree are 40 credits plus a doctoral dissertation. Cooperation with Finnish and international institutions ensures excellent prospects for your successful doctoral studies. The primary doctoral programmes at the University of Helsinki in this area of research are

  • DPPS, Doctoral Program in Plant Sciences;
  • LUOVA, Doctoral Program in Wildlife Biology Research;
  • AGFOREE, Doctoral Program in Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources;           

Also relevant are

  • DENVI, Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences;
  • ILS, Integrative Life Science Doctoral Program;<s

Further information about doctoral education at the University of Helsinki.

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.

Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry

Become an expert in the responsible use of renewable natural resources!

Safe and sufficient food, the environment, climate change, and the diversity and sustainable use of forests, are global challenges of great concern to all of us. Finding solutions to these issues requires a multidisciplinary approach. By studying at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry you can acquire skills so that you can help to solve these important issues concerning the future of life on earth.

The Faculty offers studies in the fields of food and environmental sciences, agricultural sciences, forest sciences and applied economics. Your studies will enable you to apply chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics to solve practical problems. You will also acquire the skill to reconcile divergent economic and environmental viewpoints.

At the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, you will do more than just sit in the library and lecture rooms. Your studies at the Faculty are based on the most recent research. You will have access to many learning methods and learning environments, such as forests, fields, laboratories and web-based platforms.

Management or expert work in Finland or abroad

As a graduate of the Faculty you will have gained diverse expertise in the biosciences and economics, providing you with capabilities required by companies as well as by society at large. The multidisciplinary approach, the international scope of your education, and the close contacts you will gain with employers, will open doors for you in rewarding professions both in Finland and internationally. You will find more information on employment opportunities as well as personal career stories on the Faculty Website.

A multidisciplinary faculty

The Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, the fourth largest faculty at the University of Helsinki, comprises four departments:

  • The Department of Food and Environmental Sciences
  • The Department of Agricultural Sciences
  • The Department of Forest Sciences
  • The Department of Economics and Management

The Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry is located on the Viikki Campus, also known as the “green campus”. This is one of the most important concentrations of bio‑industry in Europe. In addition to the four faculties, the campus is home to bio‑industry research institutes, agencies and enterprises. Located just nine kilometres from the Helsinki city centre, Viikki brings the scents and sounds of the countryside into the city. The area offers you essential student services, including housing and student restaurants, UniSport services, a science library, and others.

Teaching at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry supports you on your path to becoming an expert in your field. Online studies and in-person teaching complement each other and provide you with diverse learning opportunities. Our study methods challenge you to develop your personal competence, cooperation skills and resources for generating and applying information and knowledge. Student feedback is used to support learning and to develop our teaching methods.

The Faculty provides real-life learning environments. The Viikki Campus includes the Faculty greenhouses, and the Viikki Research Farm is complete with fields and cowsheds. The Campus also houses numerous laboratories (such as the sensory analysis laboratory, chemistry and microbiology laboratories, and technology laboratories), a meat technology pilot plant, a pilot bakery, and a small‑scale dairy pilot plant. The Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station supports studies in forest sciences.

Our tutors, together with the teacher supervisors, support you in the early stages of your studies. The Faculty’s active student organisations provide you with a lively and influential network.

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:

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

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 Instructions for students.