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Masters Degrees in Geography, Finland

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Students who graduate from the Master’s programme in geography have strong theoretical and practical skills. The education in geography offers a broad understanding in current social and environmental issues. Read more
Students who graduate from the Master’s programme in geography have strong theoretical and practical skills. The education in geography offers a broad understanding in current social and environmental issues. Our students can work as experts in their field, both independently and as members of multi-professional teams.

The teaching within the programme is connected with the work of the geography research groups. It is often possible to write the final thesis as part of work in a research group or a research institute in a related field.

The Master’s programme in geography is divided into three sub-programmes (described in section 4). Our students have been very successful in the job market after completing our programme.

The strengths of students who have completed our Master’s programme when it comes to research and expertise are:
-Their ability to apply theoretical knowledge.
-A broad understanding of multi-layered regional issues.
-Strong interaction skills within multi-disciplinary groups of specialists.
-Their ability to communicate in writing, orally, and graphically about geographical phenomena and research findings.
-Their ability to utilise and interpret various kinds of research data.
-Their versatile knowledge of methodology in geography.
-Their ability to apply the newest methods in geoinformatics and cartography.
-Their embracing of responsible and ethical scientifc practices.

The University of Helsinki will introduce annual tuition fees to foreign-language Master’s programmes starting on August 1, 2017 or later. The fee ranges from 13 000-18 000 euros. Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, who do not have a permanent residence status in the area, are liable to these fees. You can check this FAQ at the Studyinfo website whether or not you are required to pay tuition fees: https://studyinfo.fi/wp2/en/higher-education/higher-education-institutions-will-introduce-tuition-fees-in-autumn-2017/am-i-required-to-pay-tuition-fees/

Programme Contents

The first year of the advanced module of the Master’s programme contains the method courses of your chosen sub-programme, elective courses, and advanced literature. During this year you will start planning your Master’s thesis.

In the autumn of the second year, you will join a Master’s seminar and take exams on literature related to the MSc thesis. In the spring, you should be ready to present your finished MSc thesis (Pro gradu). In addition, you can take optional courses in both years that support your sub-programme. If you are studying to be a teacher, you will take courses in pedagogy during your second year.

Studying takes many forms. A large part of the instruction is contact teaching. Method and specialisation courses are usually implemented in groups of 10-20 students, where it is easy to discuss professional issues and gain deeper insights. Independent study is supported through workshops supervised by older students, and reading circles. The Master’s programme also includes extensive exams on literature in the field.

Selection of the Major

The Master’s programme in geography is divided into sub-programmes. The sub-programmes offer students the opportunity to specialise in different areas of geography. The Master’s programme contains both general and sub-programme-specific courses. The teaching within the Master’s programme in geography is seamlessly connected with the Master’s programme in urban studies and planning, which is jointly implemented with Aalto University.

The sub-programmes in the Master’s programme for geography are:
-Physical Geography
-Human Geography and Spatial Planning
-Geoinformatics

Physical Geography
Physical geography is an area of geography that studies natural systems and the regional interaction between nature and humans. The main parts of physical geography are geomorphology, climatology, hydrogeography, biogeography, and research into global change.

The Master’s courses in physical geography work towards deeper regional syntheses, explain the physical surroundings and their changes as a part of the function of regional systems, and analyse and model the relationships between different sectors. Focus areas in the Master’s programme in physical geography are the effect of global change on natural systems, watershed research, and the regional modelling of geomorphological processes and local climates. A considerable part of the Master’s programme in physical geography consists of work in small groups or in the field, where you will learn to implement theories in practice.

Having completed the Master’s programme in physical geography, you will be able to analyse and model regional systems of nature, as well as the interaction between nature and humans. In addition, the programme teaches you to analyse sustainable use of natural resources, and evaluate environmental impact. You will learn to implement theoretical knowledge and regional methods in planning a scientific thesis, implementing it in practice, and presenting your results orally and in writing. Further, the courses will train you to take specimens independently, analyse them, and interpret them. The teaching at the Master’s stage is closely connected with research on physical geography: theses are done in collaboration with a research group or research institute.

Human Geography and Spatial Planning
Human geography and spatial planning is a sub-programme, where regional structures and related planning is studied. Urban structures, regional social structures, statewide regional structures, the regional development in the European Union, and globalisation are studied. At the core of the sub-programme is the spatial transformation of society. The Master’s programme studies such phenomena as the divergence of regional and urban structures, urban culture, as well as the political-geographical dynamics of regions. In addition, sustainability, multiculturalism, segregation, housing, and migration are at the core of the sub-programme. Relevant themes for the sub-programme are also regional and urban planning, the political ecology of use of natural resources and land, and gobal development issues. These geographical phenomena and themes are studied through both theoretical and empirical questions, which can be analysed with different qualitative and quantitative methods.

The programme goes into how theories on cities and regional systems can be transformed into empirical research questions. After completing their Master’s theses, students can independently gather empirical data on the main dimensions of regional and urban structures and regional development, they can analyse these data with both qualitative and quantitative methods, and they can evaluate the planning practices connected with regional and social structures. After graduating from the Master’s programme, students will be able to communicate about phenomena and research findings in regional and urban structures, both orally and in writing.

Geoinformatics
Geoinformatics is an effective approach to the study and understanding of complex regional issues. Geoinformatics studies and develops computational methods for gaining, processing, analysing, and presenting positioning data. As a part of geography, geoinformatics is a research method on the one hand, to be used in the study of complex regional issues from urban environments to natural ones, from studying local environments to issues of sustainability in developing countries. On the other hand, the methods are the object of research. In urban environments, the methods of geoinformatics can be used to study accessibility and mobility, for example, or to plan a good park network. In the context of developing countries, the research into climate change, land use, or interaction between humans and environment with the help of quantitative, qualitative, and involving methods rises into the front. Students in geography reach a basic understanding of geoinformatics methods in the study of geographical issues, the sources and use of different sets of data (remote sensing, global and national databases, geographical Big Data), analysis methods, and effective visualisation of results.

At the Master’s level, as a student specialising in geoinformatics you will advance your skills both theoretically and technically, developing your methodological expertise from data acquisition to data refinement and visualisation with the help of geoinformatics methods. The instruction is directly connected with the work of research groups and theses are often written as a part of research work. After graduating, you will be able to utilise versatile approaches in geoinformatics in research into geographical questions. You will be able to follow the rapid development of the subject independently, and participate on your own.

Programme Structure

The Master’s programme in geography comprises 120 credits (ECTS) and you should graduate as a Master of Science in two academic years. The following courses are included in the degree:
-60 credits of shared advanced courses or according to sub-programme (including MSc thesis 30 credits).
-60 credits of other courses from your own or other programmes.
-60 credits of courses in pedagogy for teaching students.
-The other studies may include working-life or periods of international work or study.
-Working-life orientation and career planning.
-Personal study plan.

Career Prospects

The Master’s programme in geography provides you with excellent abilities to work in research or as specialists. Our graduates have found good employment in the public and private sectors, in Finland and abroad. Their postings include:
-Evaluation of environmental effects and environment consultation.
-Positioning and remote-sensing work.
-Regional and urban planning.
-Governmental community and regional administration.
-Governmental posts in ministries.
-Organisational posts.
-Development cooperation projects.
-Communication and publishing work.
-Teaching.

Internationalization

The Master’s programme in geography offers many opportunities for international work:
-Student exchange in one of the exchange locations of the faculty or university.
-Traineeship abroad.
-Participation in international projects and expeditions (e.g. to the Taita research station in Kenya).
-Participation in international research groups (writing your thesis).
-Participation in language courses at the University of Helsinki (a wide range of languages, including rare ones).

Research Focus

In physical geography:
-Research into global change, especially the environmental effects of climate change.
-Watershed research, the physical-chemical quality and ecological status of water systems.
-Natural systems, their function and change.
-Regional analytics and modelling in research into natural systems.
-Positioning and remote-sensing methods and their application when studying the status and changes in natural environments.
-‘Big data,’ analysis of regional and temporal data.
-The Arctic areas: status, change and vulnerability.

In human geography and spatial planning:
-Transformation and segregation in the social and physical urban environment.
-The changing rationalities and concepts of regional and urban planning.
-Regional policy and geopolitics.
-Urbanisation and changing relationships between state and cities.
-Internationalisation of cities and states.
-The spatial planning system of the European Union.
-Regional policy of data-intensive economics.
-The political ecology and management of natural resources and land use.
-Globalisation.

In geoinformatics:
-Spatial data analysis, new information sources.
-Development of remote-sensing methods for environmental study, especially hyper-spectral remote-sensing data and drone applications.
-Application of geoinformatics methods to environmental and urban research.

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Upon completing the master’s programme in Urban Studies & Planning, you will be able to. -Understand theories and identify concepts and empirical research methods relevant to urban studies and planning from the related fields of social sciences, humanities, ecology, engineering, architecture, design and art. Read more
Upon completing the master’s programme in Urban Studies & Planning, you will be able to:
-Understand theories and identify concepts and empirical research methods relevant to urban studies and planning from the related fields of social sciences, humanities, ecology, engineering, architecture, design and art.
-Demonstrate a working understanding of the role of urban government, policy-making and planning in urban development.
-Critically and creatively pose and answer significant research questions relevant within and across multiple fields of theory and practice.
-Gather, process and develop relevant conclusions based on information from multiple sources.
-Produce, collect and analyse cases and data relevant to urban phenomena.
-Use digital and other tools to collect, analyse and share data.
-Develop responses to urban problems using relevant tools and techniques for representing, modelling, prototyping, testing and evaluating solutions.
-Understand and develop integrated approaches within and across urban research and applied planning.
-Communicate your understanding of and responses to urban phenomena visually, graphically, orally and in writing.
-Write academic, professional and popular texts on urban themes based on relevant literature.
-Apply and develop skills for co-production of knowledge and co-design.
-Work productively and cooperatively in multidisciplinary, multiprofessional and international environments.

And in terms of knowledge and skills in relation to specialisations and professions, you will be able to:
-Apply the general knowledge and skills introduced, developed and demonstrated within the courses and thesis work.
-Place urban analyses and proposals in relation to your specialisation and contextualise them in relation to others.
-Identify, differentiate and articulate relations among various theories and methods relevant to your specialisation.
-Develop and reflect on your competence in urban studies and planning in relation to your professional role.
-Carry out independent research on urban issues in your field using relevant research methods and responsible scientific practice.
-Analyse phenomena and develop solutions through the use of digital and other tools, such as GIS and CAD.
-Fulfil specific professional degrees in accordance with the relevant professional codes and directives (such as those of architects, landscape architects, and urban planners.
-Demonstrate your competence to work as a professional and/or researcher in urban studies and planning.
-Communicate professionally and constructively with different experts, practitioners and stakeholders in the field of urban studies and planning.
-Articulate your professional identity in terms of established and emerging roles relevant to urban studies and planning.

The University of Helsinki will introduce annual tuition fees to foreign-language Master’s programmes starting on August 1, 2017 or later. The fee ranges from 13 000-18 000 euros. Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, who do not have a permanent residence status in the area, are liable to these fees. You can check this FAQ at the Studyinfo website whether or not you are required to pay tuition fees.

Programme Contents

Urbanisation is a global phenomenon that is shaping the future of our societies. Most of the key challenges of contemporary societies are encountered and addressed in cities. Cities provide enormous economic, technical and cultural opportunities, but they are also places of social conflict and segregation as well as environmental and health problems. The magnitude of these challenges implies that no single profession or field of research can tackle them. Urban development requires an integrated approach. To this end, two prominent Finnish universities have joined forces in this unique and interdisciplinary Master’s programme.

The Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning prepares you to excel as a professional capable of understanding and addressing complex urban development challenges. You will learn to address such challenges through a curriculum and pedagogical approach that includes interdisciplinary breadth as well as depth in core areas of knowledge, skills and practice. The programme balances theoretical, historical and conceptual knowledge with the acquisition of methods, skills and experience. You will thus gain a broad understanding of urban phenomena as well as practical experience in collaborative and practical situations. This is the foundation of the programme and of the elements in the curriculum.

Taking full advantage of the joint university structure, the programme unites leading expertise from the University of Helsinki and Aalto University into three major study lines. The signature elements in the programme are interdisciplinary studies that address urban challenge themes. These themes relate to urgent contemporary issues found not only in Finland but on the European and global scale, including controversies intrinsic to urbanisation. The urban challenge themes may be attached to focus areas, research projects or collaborations within our universities, municipalities and regions in order to provide a constructive and critical framework for study and practice. These themes cross the boundaries of disciplines and professions, and are united in addressing a common challenge and emphasising a forward-looking perspective.

Selection of the Major

There are three study lines in the Master’s programme in Urban Studies & Planning:

Urban Planning and Design
Urban Planning and Design (USP Plans) addresses urban development by integrating the knowledge, skills and pedagogical approaches of planning and design and by developing synergies across multiple disciplines. The constructive power of design to imagine, structure, visualise and communicate is combined with the analytical rigour and critical understanding of planning and urban governance history, methodologies and tools. USP Plans develops and deepens such skills while advancing your professional capabilities through challenge-based learning within concrete cases, multi-disciplinary collaboration, and learning-by-doing experimentation. USP Plans is oriented towards planners, architects, landscape architects, and spatial, service and strategic designers.

Urban Life, Economy and Cultures
Urban Life, Economy and Cultures (USP Peoples) addresses urban development by integrating analysis of socio-economic, digital and physical structures with planning. Here you will explore and apply theories and methodologies from the social and political sciences. The focus is on socio-spatial dynamics changes, including influences of policies and markets, actors and structures, decision-making processes, social mixing and demographics. USP Peoples deepens your knowledge of foundational studies while advancing your professional capabilities through challenge-based and collaborative learning, including situated municipal and field studies. USP Peoples is oriented towards planners, urban economists and managers and those interested in urban humanities.

Urban Ecologies and Systems
Urban Ecologies and Systems (USP Systems) addresses urban development by integrating technical and natural science knowledge. This includes methodologies for studying, assessing and planning for social and ecological resilience, technological innovation and complex adaptive systems. It applies systems approaches to identify multi-dimensional planning while retaining a holistic perspective on the complex and historical dynamics affecting multiple scales. USP Systems develops your understanding of foundational studies while advancing your professional capabilities through challenge-based and collaborative learning, including urban, digital and ecological field studies. USP Systems is oriented towards planners, engineers, architects, landscape architects, and environmental managers.

Programme Structure

The requirement for completing the Master’s programme in Urban Studies and Planning is 120 credits (ECTS), which can be done in two years. The curriculum consists of:

Core Urban Challenge Studios (20 credits)
Common urban challenge studios integrate multiple expert areas to study and address contemporary urban phenomena from different perspectives. Here you will explore urban challenge themes theoretically from different perspectives and you will address them practically within specific cases, sites or initiatives. Your teachers represent key disciplines and professions, and your studies will be conducted in cooperation with partners in research and municipalities. Examples of urban challenge themes include:
-Urban economies and the challenge of governance and welfare.
-Social integration and the challenge of urban typologies and heritage.
-Liveability and the global challenge of fast-paced cities.
-Socio-Ecological habitats and the challenge of densification.

Specialisation coursework (20 credits)
The three study lines offer courses for you to specialise within one of the three competence areas in the broad field of urban studies and planning. Both universities offer courses for each study line; these can be adapted to support your advancement, background knowledge and skills. The courses cover topics such as urban geography, urban sociology, urban ecology, urban economics, urban ethnology and history, environmental policy, urban planning, urban design, landscape architecture, real estate economics, service and strategic design, etc.

Core skills and methods coursework (20 credits)
Core skills for thesis research and professional practice are offered as basic courses. These include skills relevant to digital representation, analysis and communication, modalities and techniques of communication and argumentation, research methods and methodologies of academic research. You will learn, for example, how to use digital tools to analyse and study urban phenomena and how to illustrate your ideas and solutions visually and graphically. You will also become familiar with the theories and tools of communication and argumentation, and you will study and apply research methods.

Electives (30 credits)
You can select elective courses according to your personal study plan. You can select electives to deepen your knowledge in a specialisation or broaden your exposure to additional areas relevant to planning. For architects and landscape architects, some electives will guide your development according to the EU directive for these professions. You can also take courses at other Finnish universities, in a student exchange abroad, or in an internship in city planning and development.

Master’s Thesis (30 credits)

Career Prospects

The programme prepares you to be a professional in a field that is meaningful, growing and in demand. You will acquire the knowledge, skills and experience needed to fill both traditional and emerging planning roles (such as urban planning and design, real estate development, strategic planning, environmental planning, landscape architecture, policy and service design). To these established or emerging roles, you will bring an integrated understanding of, and training in applying, more interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to urban development. As a graduate you will be prepared to compete for local and international positions within public, private and non-profit organisations, planning, architectural and policy advisory firms, research institutes and NGOs.

Internationalization

The Master’s Programme in Urban Studies & Planning provides international scope in many ways, taking advantage of the unique Helsinki context and diverse urban contexts around the world. Each year, new students in the Master’s Programme in Urban Studies & Planning include both Finnish and international applicants. We look for students whose varied backgrounds, experiences, and education reflect the richness of contemporary society. The teachers of the programme have an international background and experience, and the programme builds on their strong international connections in their respective fields. Researchers and invited lecturers from abroad take part in the teaching of the programme. The Master’s Programme builds on the joint University of Helsinki and Aalto University Bachelor’s Program ‘Urban Academy’, including its teaching faculty, international network and advisory board of leading international experts. Your elective coursework can include a student exchange or internship abroad, and you are also encouraged to collaborate internationally on your Master’s thesis. You will thus have an opportunity to study in an international environment and acquaint yourself with different cultures. For international and Finnish students, Helsinki and Finland are well-known internationally for progressive approaches to planning. Helsinki is a UNESCO creative city; planning and design have strong roles within municipalities, government and the public sector. Finland is a European and international forerunner in technological research and innovation, such as open data in municipalities. Local and national policies support experimental and participatory culture and development. In the context of urban challenges, Helsinki provides a unique case for engaging with progressive approaches to welfare state paradigms, including public-private dynamics, changing demographics and cultures, and diverse approaches to market growth and sustainability.

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Sustaining a growing population on our dynamic planet requires deep understanding of geological and geophysical processes within the Earth, and of how they interact with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biota. Read more
Sustaining a growing population on our dynamic planet requires deep understanding of geological and geophysical processes within the Earth, and of how they interact with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biota. The Master's Programme in Geology and Geophysics trains you to address pressing questions concerning our home planet's evolution, its role as the source of raw materials needed by modern civilisation, and environmental issues. Key questions include:
-How can we decode Earth’s rock record to reveal the evolution of Earth’s crust and mantle over billions of years?
-How do we make natural resource exploration and extraction more sustainable and environmentally friendly?
-What can the Earth’s history tell us to help us forecast the impacts of climate change?
-Where can we safely construct power plants or store nuclear waste?

The programme includes four specialist options: Petrology and Economic Geology; Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology; Palaeontology and Global Change; and Solid Earth Geophysics.

Upon completion of the programme, you will have gained expertise in a number of scientific and professional skills, including, depending on your specialist option:
-Assessment of geological materials (minerals, rock types, bedrock, groundwater).
-Understanding the genesis and sustainable use of mineral commodities.
-Sustainable use of the environment from the Earth Science perspective.
-Palaeontology and modelling global change using the geological record.
-The physical evolution of the Earth (plate tectonics, interplay of the mantle and crust).
-Independent and team-driven project research.
-High-level scientific writing (M.Sc. thesis and related work).
-Presentation of scientific results to scientists, students, and the general public.

The University of Helsinki will introduce annual tuition fees to foreign-language Master’s programmes starting on August 1, 2017 or later. The fee ranges from 13 000-18 000 euros. Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, who do not have a permanent residence status in the area, are liable to these fees. You can check this FAQ at the Studyinfo website whether or not you are required to pay tuition fees: https://studyinfo.fi/wp2/en/higher-education/higher-education-institutions-will-introduce-tuition-fees-in-autumn-2017/am-i-required-to-pay-tuition-fees/

Programme Contents

At the beginning of the advanced studies, you will familiarise yourself with the central research methods in the field. The studies consist of intensive learning in small groups on practical work courses, guided laboratory work on specialised courses, and tailored short-term courses led by international and Finnish experts. In addition, you will be able to take part are a variety of field courses and excursions (in Finland and beyond) to familiarise yourself with research topics in their natural surroundings.

Selection of the Major

As a student in the Master’s Programme in Geology and Geophysics, you are free to choose among the four specialist options offered:
In Petrology and Economic Geology you will study solid rock, mineral material and associated fluid systems, with targets ranging from the microscopic (and submicroscopic) scale to continents. The focus is on study of magmatic systems (volcanic and plutonic); the composition, lithology and structure of bedrock; evolution of continental crust and mantle; and the origin and assessment of economically important commodities in rock systems.

Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology combines understanding of earth surface systems such as 3D sedimentary environments, groundwater and low temperature geochemistry. The specialist option is based on practical training using top-notch analytical facilities and survey methods in cooperation with industry and authorities. In addition to basic research, the line aims to build your expertise for future careers.

Palaeontology and Global Change deals with the changing conditions and evolution of life on Earth. Research topics include fossil mammals and their environments during the last 25 million years, the environmental and evolutionary context of early humans in Africa, and the history of climate change and ecosystems during the last 100,000 years. The effect of humankind on the biosphere is a multidisciplinary topic.

Solid Earth Geophysics combines geology with geophysics to study the structure of the Earth’s interior and the physical processes related to its evolution. These ideas are not only crucial for understanding phenomena such as earthquake and volcanic activity related to Plate Tectonics, but also important for exploration of natural resources, environmental studies and engineering, for example.

Programme Structure

A Master’s degree in Geology and Geophysics requires 120 credits (ECTS) and is designed to be completed in two years of full-time study. The study requirements are:
-Advanced studies in your specialist option (60-70 credits).
-Joint studies in topics related to your specialist option (25-30 credits).
-Master’s thesis (30 credits).

Career Prospects

Expert geoscientists are in demand and employed in a range of fields nationally and internationally. Recent graduates have gone on to pursue:
-Employment in the mining and mineral resource exploration industry.
-Work as environmental and groundwater scientists in private companies and in the public sector.
-Doctoral studies in geoscience or geophysics both in Finland and abroad.
-Research work on the geology of Finland at the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK).
-Work as experts in the field of engineering geology and applied mineralogy.

Research Focus

There are many ongoing interdisciplinary research projects in the Faculty of Science. These projects are conducted in active cooperation with research institutes on the Kumpula Science Campus, as well as with other faculties, universities, and private industry.

The field of Geosciences is broad, and our research focus covers multiple branches of it. Some of the main interests at the moment include environmental topics related to groundwater and contaminated soils, the genesis of plutonic and volcanic igneous rocks, evolutionary palaeontology of mammals based on fossil teeth, and the structure and evolution of the continental crust. We are focusing on scientific research that makes it possible to understand geological processes and the structure of the Earth using our modern and diverse laboratory infrastructure.

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