Goal of the programme
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 study tracks (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
Further information about the studies on the Master’s programme website.
Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, who do not have a permanent residence status in the area and pursue their studies in English, are liable to pay tuition fees. You can check from FAQ at the Studyinfo website whether or not you are required to pay tuition fees.
Find out more about the Be 1* of the Best Scholarship Programme.
Information on the languages of instruction
The main teaching language within the Master’s programme is English. Assignments, including the Master’s thesis, may also be written in Finnish or Swedish.
The first year of the advanced module of the Master’s programme contains the method courses of your chosen study track, 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 study track. 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 study track
The Master’s programme in geography is divided into study tracks. The study tracks offer students the opportunity to specialise in different areas of geography. The Master’s programme contains both general and study track-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 study tracks in the Master’s programme for geography are:
- physical geography
- human & urban geography and spatial planning
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 & urban geography and spatial planning is a study track, 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 study track 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 study track. Relevant themes for the study track 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 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.
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 study track (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
The MSc thesis (Pro gradu) is a supervised final research project in which you deepen your knowledge in geography and develop your skills as a researcher. The thesis yields 30 credits. The purpose of the thesis work is to develop your abilities in independent information seeking, analysis of existing information, and critical interpretation of it. In your MSc thesis, you demonstrate your in-depth knowledge of a central issue or phenomenon within your subject and your ability to employ scientific research methods. A meritorious MSc thesis will produce new knowledge about geographical phenomena and report the findings clearly and according to good scientific practices.
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
The qualification for subject teachers is attained through the upper university degree (Master’s programme). However, the subjects that you will want to teach must, for the most part, be included in your lower degree.
If you are admitted into the programme in 2019, you will not be able to apply for a study right in pedagogical studies during your Master’s degree. However, you can apply for a study right after you have completed the Master’s degree.
You may apply if you meet the following three requirements:
- You have completed by 31 July 2019 a first-cycle degree (e.g., bachelor’s degree) or second-cycle degree (e.g., master’s degree) or a postgraduate degree in Finland or abroad.
- You have completed or will complete studies required for the master’s programme by 11 January 2019. Below are more details concerning applicable studies.
- You are able to demonstrate your proficiency in English, Finnish or Swedish (Updated 18/12/2018: Finnish and Swedish added). For further instructions on demonstrating your language skills, see the section “Required enclosures”.
If you are currently or have previously been a student at the University of Helsinki, please note the following rules.
If you have refugee status or are in a refugee-like situation, and you do not have the official documents to prove your eligibility to apply for higher education, you can still apply to the University of Helsinki.
You may be admitted if
- You prove your eligibility (see above) by the deadline
- You submit the application and the required attachments within the specified deadline. The application form is open from 3 December 2018 (8:00h Finnish time) to 11 January 2019 (15:00h Finnish time). Read more about what will happen after the application period.
- You have a first-cycle degree in geography or another applicable degree, which includes at least 25 credits of studies of an equal level to studies for a first-cycle degree in geography. Completion of these studies in accordance with the degree requirements of the University of Helsinki Bachelor’s Programme in Geography will be considered an advantage.
Applicable previous degrees include, besides degrees in geography and regional studies, degrees in geosciences; physics; computer science; social research; politics, media and communication; history; social and cultural change and development; biology; environmental sciences; forestry; or equivalent degrees from other universities in Finland or abroad.
Please note: even if the degree you are using as grounds for application is not completed during the application round, you must have a sufficient amount of applicable studies completed by 11 January 2019.
Together with their application, applicants must submit officially certified copies of certificates on all previously completed studies that serve as the basis for their application.
The applicability of the field and the sufficiency of the completed studies will be evaluated in conjunction with admission. The University of Helsinki does not provide any preliminary evaluation on the suitability of the applicant’s previous studies.
Choosing the language of your Master’s degree
In the Master’s Programme in Geography, you can choose the language of your degree to be Finnish, Swedish or English. This means that even though most of the teaching will be offered in English, you can answer examination questions and write course assignments and your Master’s thesis in the language that you select as the language of the degree. Please note that you can apply to pursue this Master’s programme in one language only and you must demonstrate your language skills accordingly. You must select the language of your degree when submitting your application.
Factors affecting admissions
Your success in the selection process will be influenced by the evaluation of your academic performance; the focus will be on the amount, quality and grades of completed studies that are applicable to the programme, your motivation letter, and the study plan contained in it.
In the admission procedure, your application will be scored in the following three categories:
- Applicability of your previous studies
- Academic performance in the studies serving as the grounds for your application
- Your motivation letter (as part of the application form)
The evaluation of the applicability and quality of completed studies will be based on the analysis provided by the applicant on the application form of their previous studies in the key fields of geography. The motivation letter and analysis of previous studies form part of the admission criteria and when writing them you must answer the provided questions. They are part of the application form.
If several applicants have completed studies applicable to the programme, but not all can be accommodated in the programme’s quota, the applicants will be compared against each other, and the most qualified will be admitted. The programmes need not fill their student quotas to the maximum.
If in this round of admissions you are applying for more than one Master’s programme at the Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, you must rank them in order of preference on your application form. If you could be admitted to more than one programme, you can only be admitted to the one you have ranked the highest.
The Master’s programme admits no more than 15 students regardless of their selected language of degree and application option.
Applicants will be informed of the results of the student selection by 12 April 2019 at the latest. Please note the one study place per term provision if you are applying for more than one study programme in spring 2019.
Study right to be awarded
If you are admitted, you will be granted the right to pursue the degree of Master of Science in the Master’s Programme in Geography.
Statistics on applicants can be found on the University’s webpage.
The application must be accompanied by the following documents, and the documents must be submitted as instructed below:
- Official photocopy of the degree certificate/diploma
- Official transcript
- Diploma supplement (if available)
- Certificate of language proficiency
- Authorised translations into English, Finnish or Swedish
- A photocopy of your passport, your official identity card or your Finnish residence permit card
- Motivation letter and study plan (to be filled in on the application form)
1) Read carefully the instructions on application enclosures and their submission.
2) You must demonstrate your proficiency in English. Read the instructions on proving your language skills.
3) If the degree serving as grounds for application to the programme is still incomplete, you need not submit a degree certificate/diploma with the application documents. If you are admitted, the admission decision will be conditional, and you will receive instructions with your letter of admission for submitting the official degree certificate/diploma. NB! The final degree certificate/diploma must be presented by 14 August 2019 at the latest.
|Due date||11.1.2019, 15:00|
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