Doctoral Programme in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences

The central themes of DENVI are environmental change and sustainable development as well as climate change, land use, and the Baltic Sea and its catchment area. The programme gathers together the essential fields of natural and social sciences, law and humanities that are needed to study the complexity of environmental change and pathways to sustainable development.  DENVI aims to study environmental change from biological processes to environmental governance – seeking solutions for a more sustainable future. DENVI considers the environment broadly from natural habitats to built-up environments.

On DENVI’s interdisciplinary courses the students’ own research is put into a wider perspective. The doctoral programme aims to provide its members with skills for interdisciplinary research and interaction, which are needed to solve complex environmental problems. These are taught on interdisciplinary workshops that take place twice a year. The themes of the workshops are planned so that each DENVI student may participate in at least two workshops during his/her PhD studies. Additionally, DENVI organises an interdisciplinary student symposium which offers students an opportunity to improve their presentation skills, to get feedback from colleagues, and to share academic questions within an interdisciplinary framework to further strengthen the DENVI community.

The Faculty of Biological & Environmental Sciences has main responsibility for the programme.

The DENVI Annual Meeting will be held on Monday 28th May on the Kumpula campus.
More details

Mari Joensuu was awarded a Heikki & Hilma Honkanen Foundation grant at an award ceremony at the end of November. Together with the grant she also received two unique medals from the foundation. Congratulations to Mari from all at DENVI!

The two new student members on the DENVI board for 2018-2019 will be Sophia Hagolani-Albov & Janne Salovaara. You can read about how they will serve the DENVI candidates here.

Juha Mikola (director), Faculty of Biological & Environmental Sciences

Sophia Hagolani-Albov (student representative), Faculty of Agriculture & Forestry
Sirkku Juhola, Faculty of Biological & Environmental Sciences (deputy Minna Väliranta)
Mika Lavento, Faculty of Arts
Leena Nurminen, Faculty of Biological & Environmental Sciences (deputy Sakari Kuikka)
Mari Pihlatie, Faculty of Agriculture & Forestry
Janne Salovaara (student representative), Faculty of Biological & Environmental Sciences
Arho Toikka, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tuuli Toivonen, Faculty of Science (vice-director) (deputy Enrico di Minin)

Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Department of Environmental Sciences
Päivi Haapasaari, University researcher
Maija Heikkilä, Academy research fellow
Susanna Hietanen, Academy research fellow
Jukka Horppila, Professor
Tom Jilbert, Assistant professor
Sirkku Juhola, Associate professor
Timo Kairesalo, Professor
Merja Kontro, University lecturer
Atte Korhola, Professor
Kaisa Korhonen-Kurki, Research coordinator
Johan Kotze, University lecturer
Sakari Kuikka, Professor
Anna Kuparinen, Academy research fellow
Jorma Kuparinen, Professor
Annukka Lehikoinen, University researcehr
Hannu Lehtonen, Professor
Elina Leskinen, University lecturer
Kristina Lindström, Professor
Sirkku Manninen , University lecturer
Ilmo Massa, University lecturer
Juha Mikola , University lecturer
Samu Mäntyniemi, Professor
Jari Niemelä , Professor
Juha Niemistö, University researcher
Leena Nurminen, University lecturer
Anne Ojala, University lecturer
Mikko Olin, University researcher
Olli-Pekka Penttinen, University lecturer
Anna-Lea Rantalainen, University lecturer
Heikki Setälä, Professor
Rauni Strömmer, Professor
Petra Tallberg, University researcher
Jarno Vanhatalo, University researcher
Tarmo Virtanen, University lecturer
Anssi Vähätalo, Principal investigator
Minna Väliranta, University researcher
Jan Weckström, University researcher
Risto Willamo, University lecturer

Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences
Anni Arponen, University lecturer
Mar Cabeza, University lecturer
Atte Moilanen, Professor
Aili Pyhälä, Post doctoral researcher
Matthew Robson, Academy research fellow
Kim Yrjälä , Adjunct professor

Faculty of Science, Department of Geosciences and Geography
Enrico Di Minin, University researcher
Mikael Fortelius, Professor
Michael Gentile, Assistant Professor
Tommi Inkinen, Professor
Miska Luoto, Professor
Markku Löytönen, Professor
Sami Moisio, Professor
Matti Mõttus, Academy research fellow
Petri Pellikka, Professor
Pauliina Raento, Professor
Rami Ratvio, University lecturer
Janne Rinne, Professor
Olli Ruth, University lecturer
Harry Schulman, Professor
Heikki Seppä, Professor
Mika Siljander, University lecturer
Anders Siren, University lecturer
Janne Soininen, Assistant Professor
Tuuli Toivonen, Professor (tenure track)
Mari Vaattovaara, Professor
John Westerholm, Professor

Faculty of Science, Department of Physics
Mari Pihlatie, University researcher
Timo Vesala, Academy professor

Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Forest Sciences
Frank Berninger, University lecturer
Maria Brockhaus, Professor
Jaana Bäck, Professor
Juha Helenius, Professor
Markus Holopainen, Professor
Eija Juurola, Research coordinator
Markku Kanninen, Professor
Kari Minkkinen, University lecturer
Annikki Mäkelä, Professor
Eero Nikinmaa, Professor
Albert Porcar-Castell, University researcher
Jukka Pumpanen, Academy research fellow
Olli Tahvonen, Professor
Lauri Valsta, Professor

Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Food and Environmental Sciences
Helinä Hartikainen, Professor
Jussi Heinonsalo, Academy research fellow
Markku Yli-Halla, Professor

Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Agriculture
Laura Alakukku, Professor

Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Eeva Berglund, University researcher
Janne Hukkinen, Professor
Nina Janasik-Honkela, University researcher
Matti Kortteinen, Professor
Anja Nygren, University lecturer
Arho Toikka, University lecturer

Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political and Economic Studies
Paola Minoia , University lecturer
Sakari Heikkinen, Professor

Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies
Hanna Johansson, University researcher
Mika Lavento, Professor
Kirsi Saarikangas, Professor
Mikko Saikku, Professor

Finnish Museum of Natural History
Sanna Laaka-Lindberg, University researcher
Susanna Lehvävirta, University researcher
Jyrki Muona, Senior curator
Leif Schulman, Professor

Lammi biological station
Tiina Tulonen, Laboratory coordinator

Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Riitta Autio, Senior research scientist
Anna-Stiina Heiskanen, Leading researcher
Seppo Hellsten, Development manager
Anke Kremp, Senior research scientist
Pirkko Kortelainen, Leading researcher
Kirsi Kostamo, Head of unit
Harri Kuosa , Leading researcher
Kari Lehtonen, Senior research scientist
Kaarina Lukkari, Senior research scientist
Riikka Paloniemi, Head of unit
Katri Rankinen, Senior research scientist
Heli Saarikoski, Senior research scientist
Kristian Spilling, Senior research scientist
Laura Uusitalo, Senior research scientist

Progress of each PhD student in DENVI is monitored with the help of annual thesis advisory committee meetings. The task of the committee is to support the PhD student in both scientific and other issues; to identify any potential problems; and to ensure that the personal study plan is being adhered to and if necessary to help with the necessary adjustments of this to enable the PhD project to be completed within four years.

Two external members in addition to the doctoral candidate and supervisor(s) make up the follow-up group. Although you and your supervisor are free to choose the external members, please bear in mind the rules and regulations of the university and the faculty from where your PhD degree will be granted (updated 1.8.2017).

Thesis advisory committee meetings with the students (in person) should aim to take place once a year. New students must ensure that the first meeting takes place within four months of receiving post-graduate study rights.

A progress report and summary of the meetings should be written on  separate electronic forms. Please fill in the progress report at least two weeks before the thesis advisory committee meeting, download the report for yourself as instructed on the form and email it to the committee members. The coordinator of DENVI will automatically get a copy of the report.

Please fill in the two first sections of the summary form already before the meeting. The third section should be filled in during the meeting.

The doctoral education system of the University of Helsinki consists of four doctoral schools and 32 doctoral programmes. All doctoral candidates must belong to a doctoral programme.
New doctoral candidates apply for the right to pursue a doctoral degree from their chosen doctoral programme. Make sure you are eligible for doctoral studies before applying!
The main rule of eligibility is that you must hold either a Finnish Master’s degree or a foreign degree that is roughly comparable to a Finnish Master’s degree. A foreign degree is, as a rule, considered comparable when it makes you eligible to apply for doctoral studies in the country where you have completed the degree.

General guidelines on doctoral admissions in the University of Helsinki:

According to the Universities Act (558/2009) section 37 eligible applicants for studies leading to a postgraduate research degree have completed

  • An applicable second-cycle university degree,
  • An applicable second-cycle degree from a university of applied sciences, or
  • An applicable education at an institution abroad providing eligibility for equivalent higher education in the country in question.

The purpose of student selection is to assess the motivation, commitment and aptitude of the applicants for studies. The right to complete a doctoral degree is granted on the basis of diplomas, certificates and other documents. The admission criteria include previous academic performance, the applicable content of previous studies to the prospective doctoral programme, the study plan and the research proposal.

During the academic year 2017-2018 the application periods are as follows for DENVI:

  • 1-14 September, 2017
  • 3-16 April, 2018

Apply for doctoral education (including information regarding language requirements)
Eligibility and educational documents
Application process
Selection criteria for doctoral studies in DENVI

Applications must be submitted via the online application form. Please read carefully all the criteria before applying. All the applications, which do not fulfill the guidelines and criteria, will be rejected.

Prepare your application carefully, concentrating on the three sections below in addition to the educational documents required to support your application.

  • Find a supervisor: In many ways, the most important person in the whole process of obtaining a doctoral degree is your supervisor. He or she will supervise your research and guide you through your studies. Applications to DENVI require that you have a supervisor when you submit your application. An extensive list of DENVI supervisors can be found on these webpages. After finding a potential supervisor, contact him or her to discuss your research ideas and plans. Please note that professors and principal investigators get dozens of emails from potential doctoral candidates. If you want to get your email noticed, you must give the professor/ principal investigator the information they need, quickly, clearly and professionally.
  • Write a research plan: this should be written IN ENGLISH directly into the application form. Check the University of Helsinki guidelines for further information.
  • Compose a study plan: consult the DENVI degree structure and requirements to plan your doctoral studies.

Documents to be attached to your electronic application form:

  • Copies of your previous degree certificate(s) (Master's degree or equivalent and potential Bachelor's degree)

  • Transcript of records for your previous degree(s) (Master's degree or equivalent and potential Bachelor's degree)

  • Certificate of language proficiency from a language test rather than through your educational background. NOTE! This document must also be sent in paper form to Admissions Services AND must arrive by the application deadline. Instructions for English, Finnish or Swedish language proficiency.

  • A permit by an Ethical Review Board and/or by the National Animal Experiment Board, if required by the research arrangement

  • A signed letter of commitment from your supervisor(s), the responsible professor as well as the proposed members of your thesis committee

Documents to be sent by post to Admissions Services for applicants whose previous degree is not from the University of Helsinki and for applicants proving language proficiency with a language test:

  • An officially certified copy of your previous degree certificate (Master's degree or equivalent)

  • An official transcript of studies included in the Master's degree (or equivalent)

  • Certificate of language proficiency from a language test

Applications, along with the required additional documents, must be submitted by the end of the application period. Applications are submitted via an electronic application form, which closes at 15:00 EEST on the last day of the round of applications. Applications and additional documents sent by email are not accepted. Incomplete applications are not considered.

Application form

When selecting students for doctoral education, it must be ensured that the admitted students have access to high-quality supervision and support related to the topic of their doctoral dissertation. Applications can be rejected if no suitable supervisor can be designated for the dissertation.

The doctoral programme's board assesses all applications to the programme that meet the formal requirements. The board draws up an admission proposal indicating the names of the admitted and rejected applicants, together with the reasons for each decision. The final decision is made by the degree-awarding faculty.

Applicants will be informed of the admission results, including the reasons for them by a letter of acceptance, to be sent by e-mail to the address given in the application. Admitted applicants must report whether they accept the offer by a specified deadline. Those who fail to report whether they accept the offer or to submit the requested documents by the deadline will lose their place.

Timetable for the decisions:

Application period

Letters of acceptance to be sent by

Deadline for accepting the offer

Study rights begin









The so-called one place rule has extended to cover all education leading to a university degree, including doctoral and licentiate degrees. The rule of one study place per term concerns all degree programme application options.
The main points are:

  • If you are offered more than one study place at a higher education institution leading to a university degree starting at the same term, you may accept only one of them
  • A place of study granted through a university-to-university transfer within Finland is not governed by this rule.
  • Accordingly, you may be completing several on-going degree programmes simultaneously, but only if your admission to these programmes has been granted in different terms.

Applicants dissatisfied with admissions decisions may appeal in writing to the faculty council or a body appointed by it within 14 days of the announcement of the admission results. Should you receive a decision rejecting your application, it will be accompanied by information on the appeals procedure.

For further information, please contact the University of Helsinki Admission Services, admissions(at)


Doctoral Education Planning Officer
Dr. Karen Sims-Huopaniemi

  • Email: denvi-info(at)
  • Phone: +358-50-448 2228

Travel grant information: anita.tienhaara(at)

YEB doctoral school information: yeb-info(at)

Examination of doctoral thesis information: viikki-phd(at)

Post-graduate study rights/Admissions: admissions(at)