Goal, Content and Structure

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.

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 ecosystems. Plants 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. Based on your previous studies we will evaluate the possible need for supplementary studies, which will be included in your degree.

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:

  • PBIO-110 Plant Growth and Developmental Biology, 15 cr
  • PBIO-120 Plant Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, 15 cr
  • PBIO-130 Advanced Plant Molecular Biology, 15 cr
  • PBIO-140 Evolutionary Ecology of Plants, 15 cr
  • PBIO-150 Subarctic Ecology and Flora, 15 cr
  • PBIO-160 Taxonomy and Systematics, 15 cr
  • PBIO-170 Diversity and Distribution of Plants and Fungi, 15 cr

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.

By choosing study modules you find interesting you will be able to deepen your expertise in particular areas of plant biology. Your degree can thus be tailored depending on your aspirations, whether you want to be a university researcher, entrepreneur, or environmental/agricultural consultant. You will also be free to pick individual courses from any module, without having to take all courses in it. However, each module is a coherent entity so we recommend that you take all of the courses in it.

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.

The PBIO degree structure as a simplified diagram and a PDF:

PBIO structure