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Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - MSc

Course Description

Ecology and evolutionary biology offer a perspective on biology from the level of genes to communities of species.

In the master's degree program, you can become familiar with a wide variety of topics in three areas: ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology. You can choose studies from any of these areas, as well as from other master's degree programmes. The programme is diverse and multidisciplinary: teaching is done with lectures, laboratory and computer training courses, interactive seminars, study tours and field courses. The field courses range from the northern subarctic region to tropical rainforests.

Our wide expertise extends from molecular ecology to population and community biology. The Centres of Excellence of Metapopulation Biology and Biological Interactions are located in our department.

Our programme offers you a wide range of options: evolutionary biology or genetics for those interested in ecological genetics and genomics, as well as the ability to take advantage of the high-quality molecular ecology and systematics laboratory; conservation biology for those interested in regional or global environmental problems; and ecological modelling skills for those interested in computational biology. Our training also offers Behavioural Ecology.

Ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology are not only fascinating topics for basic research, they also have a key role in addressing global environmental challenges.

Upon graduating from the Master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology programme, you will:
-Have mastered the main theories and methods in ecology and evolutionary biology and be able to apply them to practical problems.
-Be able to plan and carry out a scientific research project.
-Have read the relevant scientific literature and be able to utilise your expertise in different types of work.
-Be able to work as an expert in your field.
-Be able to to write good scientific English.
-Be able to work in research projects and groups.
-Be able to continue on to doctoral studies.

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 Master's degree program includes studies of ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology. The studies are organised in modules. You can affect the content of the studies by planning your personal curriculum. You can study the following themes:
-Ecology studies the abundance and distribution of species (animals, plants, microbes) and the interactions among them and with the environment. The perspective ranges from the molecular to the ecosystem level. In ecology, a central question is: Why are some species able to invade new habitats and displace native species? Which species are able to adapt to environmental change or migrate with the changing climate, and which species will become extinct?
-Evolutionary biology examines the processes which support biodiversity on its various levels (genes – individuals – populations – species – ecosystems). You will learn about the theory of evolution and how to use population genetics and genomics methods in researching evolutionary issues.
-Conservation Biology studies the depletion of biodiversity, its causes and consequences. You will learn to apply ecological theory to the problems of environmental conservation, to assess the effectiveness of methods of conservation, as well as to resolve the problems relating to conservation e.g. by modelling and computational methods. The training emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary education in the area of conservation.

Programme Structure

You undertake modules producing a total of 120 credits (ECTS) according to your personal study plan. The degree consists of:
-60 credits of advanced studies, including a research project (Master’s thesis, 30 credits)
-60 credits of other studies chosen from the Programme or from other Programmes

Career planning or extracurricular activities can be included in your personal study plan. If you are studying to qualify as a biology teacher, you will need 60 credits of pedagogical studies in your degree. This applies only to Finnish or Swedish speaking students.

Career Prospects

Master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology gives an access to the capability of University teaching and research tasks, for a wide range of expert and administrative tasks of the various research centres, companies, in the field of public administration (e.g., The UNITED NATIONS, the European Union, the State and the provincial administration, cities, municipalities), international and national organizations and the media. The degree also provides the scientific validity for doctoral education in different areas of biology.

The Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is a well-liked option among students studying towards biology teacher qualification (Finnish and Swedish speaking students).


You will have the opportunity to study at foreign universities and research institutions within the framework of an international student exchange. You can also gain valuable experience by working as a tutor of international students or participating in the international activities of the Student Union or other student organisations.

The teachers and researchers in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology are internationally known and respected. Their research groups host numerous international researchers as visitors and workers. They also employ many foreign graduate students, which creates an international atmosphere in the programme.

Visit the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - MSc page on the University of Helsinki website for more details!

Entry Requirements

See the website for the latest admission requirements: View Website

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