What is ENS all about

Understanding today’s Europe requires much more than understanding the European integration process. Tensions, challenges and possibilities that are manifesting themselves in this moment are strongly grounded in the politics, societies and cultures of the continent and its historical roots.

See below what the programme can offer for you.

The programme provides you with a rich and multidisciplinary understanding of European society, politics and culture today and in history. All along the way, it draws from the strengths of Nordic research on Europe with its strong focus on regional cooperation, diversity, identities, institutions, culture and politics of history and memory. You will learn to know the Nordic countries through a European perspective and Europe from a Nordic perspective.

Studying the ways in which Europeans cooperate and how its states and societies are connected to each other and how they are governed, forms and important part of the programme. Besides looking at the processes of integration and the evolution and the functioning of the European Union, the programme highlights the significance of regional cooperation in the Nordic context, EU’s relations with its neighbors and its place in the global system.

At the end of your studies you
- have broad understanding of European issues and in-depth proficiency in your chosen specialization;
- have gained advanced research and critical analysis skills;
- have an ability to identify job market opportunities utilizing your academic training and think strategically about your career options.

The ENS programme consists of a multidisciplinary selection of courses that introduce you to various aspects of Europe, the Nordic countries, and the Baltic Sea Region. The extent of the Master´s programme is 120 ECTS credits to be completed in two academic years. The studies are divided into following parts:

  • Joint courses (core courses common to all students in the programme, 25 cr)
  • Track-specific studies (core courses that are separate for the humanities and social sciences tracks, 20 cr)
  • Specialisation studies (15 cr) and optional studies (10 cr)
  • Method course (5 cr)
  • Career course for all ENS students (5 cr)
  • Master’s thesis  (30 cr) and supporting seminars (10 cr)

Structure of programme:


The joint courses provide you a solid base and broad understanding of European and Nordic studies. The topics that are addressed include for example contemporary European politics, cooperation and conflict in European and Nordic history, Nordic societies and cultures, and ideologies and identities in Europe.

Joint Studies module include following topics:
- Introduction to European and Nordic Studies
- Ideas, ideologies and identities in Europe
- Contemporary politics in Europe
- Cooperation and conflict in European and Nordic history
- Nordic Societies and culture

See what courses are offered in the degree structure in Weboodi.

The programme involves substantial interaction between you and your teachers. You will complete several writing assignments and research papers along the way, culminating in a Master’s thesis in your second year. Some courses use active learning or flipped classroom pedagogy.

The content of your studies also depends on your own choices. In addition to core courses that provide you with a deep multidisciplinary understanding of Europe, the degree includes specialization and optional studies of your own choosing.

The Specialization Studies module (15 cr) has a large number of courses available to you. It offers you a change to further deepen and broaden your professional expertise and establish a thematic, regional or methodological concentration. You can choose these courses yourself from the large selection of ENS specialization courses or from courses offered by other programmes at the University of Helsinki. A full list of specialization courses available will be confirmed for each academic year. The ENS programme participates in international teaching networks and summer and winter schools that may also be included in this module.

For students with a special interest in Nordic countries, there is a possibility for a concentration on Nordic Studies in the specialization studies. The Centre for Nordic Studies (CENS) will provide a customized syllabus.

As part of your ENS studies, you will select a methods course that will support you with your research project and dissertation writing. The aim is to you to develop advanced skills of analysis and how to conduct research in humanities or in the social sciences, depending on your study track. You will be able to choose your course from a list of methods courses provided by ENS and other graduate programs at the University of Helsinki. The list of courses will be confirmed for each academic year.

Career Courses are organized in cooperation with UH Career Services. The Working Life Project course module includes lectures and seminars related to career planning and job hunting including self-assessment assignments, learning diaries, group work and visits to potential employers. After having completed this module you have improved your career planning and job seeking skills, you know how to identify different aspects of self-assessment, recognize your competence areas and skills, and know how to document them.

In addition to courses in the ENS structure, you can choose additional optional studies freely from courses available in the University of Helsinki. These may be language courses, studies in other disciplines and programme, or you can include an internship in your optional studies.

You also have plenty of other options. The University of Helsinki is a large research university. As an ENS student you will have access to a rich variety of specialised courses in many faculties and schools. Check the section on research to see what we are particularly good at in Helsinki.

The programme has two tracks i.e. Humanities track and Social Sciences track (to be chosen when you apply to the programme):

  • Humanities track offers you a change to deepen or broaden you professional expertise on area and cultural studies, and history and related themes. European issues are looked at from many different point of views. A course on the welfare state is included in both tracks. This module includes 20 credits of compulsory courses on the following topics:
    - Imagining Europe: mental maps and imagology
    - Europe and the wider world
    - Welfare state
    - European legal traditions and cultures

    Upon completion of the programme, you will receive the Master of Arts degree (M.A.).

  • Social Sciences track offers you a chance to deepen or broaden you professional expertise in political science, political history and welfare state studies. European issues are looked at from many different point of views. A course on the welfare state is included in both tracks. This module includes 20 credits of compulsory courses on the following topics:
    - Politics and democracy in Europe
    - Populism as European and global phenomenon
    - Welfare state
    - Politics of history

    At the end of the programme, you have earned the Master of Social Sciences degree (M. Soc. Sc.).

European and Nordic Studies master´s programme is the only programme taught in English in the Nordic countries where you can specialize in Nordic Studies.


During the thesis project you are expected to demonstrate that you can formulate relevant and interesting research questions, create a coherent research design, analyse and produce data, and write a scientific research report. Although the thesis project is extensive independent research work, you will have a supervisor acting as your advisor, and you will also regularly present the progress of your project in a joint seminar with your fellow students.

After completing the thesis you have gained broad understanding of European issues and in-depth proficiency on your more specific thesis topic as well as acquired advanced research skills. You have also learned how to conduct a large independent research project and how to report your research results.

Please see examples of some of the thesis topics.

The language of instruction is English. At least 75% of the degree must be completed fully in English (including seminars, seminar papers and similar written work, exams and the Master’s thesis). However, you can also study in other languages. You can include, for example, a semester abroad or courses taught in Finnish or Swedish in your degree as optional studies.

The programme is coordinated by the Network of European Studies at the University of Helsinki (NES), in close cooperation with the Centre for Nordic Studies (CENS) and a wide range of disciplines in the field of the humanities and social sciences.

The University of Helsinki is part of Europeaum, an association of leading European research universities that provide teaching in the field of European studies, and is also its only Nordic member. As a Master’s degree student here, you will have access to seminars and courses organised by Europaeum, including a substantial subsidy covering most of your travel costs.

The University of Helsinki is also part in a Nordic capital universities network and is building a strategic partnership with Stockholm University. In addition, our strong Nordic networks also enable you to benefit from teacher exchanges, bilateral courses (blended on-line and classroom teaching) and excursions.

You will be living and learning in an international and multicultural environment with students and staff from all over the world. It is also possible to spend a semester abroad as an exchange student at one of university´s numerous partner universities or include a traineeship abroad as part of your degree programme.