Goal of the programme
Materials are substances or things from which something is or can be made. Technological development is often based on the development of new materials. Materials research plays an important part in solving challenging problems relating to energy, food, water, health and well-being, the environment, sustainable use of resources, and urbanisation.
An expert in materials research studies the chemical and physical bases of existing and new materials; their synthesis and processing, composition and structure, properties and performance. As an expert in materials research, your skills will be needed in research institutions, the technology industry (electronics and electrotechnical industry, information technology, mechanical engineering, metal industry, consulting), chemical industry, forest industry, energy industry, medical technology and pharmaceuticals.
This programme combines expertise from the areas of chemistry, physics and materials research at the University of Helsinki, which are ranked high in international evaluations. In the programme, you will focus on the fundamental physical and chemical problems in synthesising and characterising materials, developing new materials and improving existing ones. Your studies will concentrate on materials science rather than materials engineering.
Upon graduating from the programme you will have a solid understanding of the essential concepts, theories, and experimental methods of materials research. You will learn the different types of materials and will be able to apply and adapt theories and experimental methods to new problems in the field and assess critically other scientists’ work. You will also be able to communicate information in your field to both colleagues and laymen.
Depending on the study line you choose you will gain in-depth understanding of
- The synthesis, processing, structure and properties of inorganic materials
- Modelling methods in materials research
- The structure and dynamics of biomolecular systems
- The synthesis, structure and properties of polymers
- Applications of materials research in industrial applications
- The use of methods of physics in medicine
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
All teaching is in English. You can also take exams in Finnish or Swedish, and you can write your Master’s thesis in Finnish or Swedish, as well as in English. The only exceptions are certain courses related to medical physics education and part of the education for radiation protection experts (RPE) and radiation protection officers (RPO). In these cases, the teaching is in Finnish.
In the programme, all teaching is based on the teachers’ solid expertise in the fundamental chemistry and physics of materials. All teachers also use their own current research in the field in their teaching.
Your studies will include a variety of teaching methods such as lectures, exercises, laboratory work, projects and summer schools.
In addition to your specialisation, you can include studies in minor subjects from other programmes in chemistry, physics and computer science.
Selection of the study track
At the beginning of your studies you will make a personal study plan, with the help of teaching staff, where you choose your study line. This programme has the following six study lines representing different branches of materials research.
Experimental materials physics
Here you will study the properties and processing of a wide variety of materials using experimental methods of physics to characterise and process them. In this programme the materials range from the thin films used in electronics components, future fusion reactor materials, and energy materials to biological and medical materials. The methods are based on different radiation species, mostly X-rays and ion beams.
Computational materials physics
In this study line you will use computer simulations to model the structures, properties and processes of materials, both inorganic materials such as metals and semiconductors, and biological materials such as cell membranes and proteins. You will also study various nanostructures. The methods are mostly atomistic ones where information is obtained with atomic level precision. Supercomputers are often needed for the calculations. Modelling research is closely connected with the experimental work related to the other study lines.
Medical physics is a branch of applied physics encompassing the concepts, principles and methodology of the physical sciences to medicine in clinics. Primarily, medical physics seeks to develop safe and efficient diagnosis and treatment methods for human diseases with the highest quality assurance protocols. In Finland most medical physicists are licensed hospital physicists (PhD or Phil.Lic).
Polymer materials chemistry
In this line you will study polymer synthesis and characterisation methods. One of the central questions in polymer chemistry is how the properties of large molecules depend on the chemical structure and on the size and shape of the polymer. The number of applications of synthetic polymers is constantly increasing, due to the development of polymerisation processes as well as to better comprehension of the physical properties of polymers.
Inorganic materials chemistry
Thin films form the most important research topic in inorganic materials chemistry. Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is the most widely studied deposition method. The ALD research covers virtually all areas related to ALD: precursor synthesis and characterisation, film growth and characterisation, reaction mechanism studies, and the first steps of taking the processes toward applications. The emphasis has been on thin film materials needed in future generation integrated circuits, but applications of ALD in energy technologies, optics, surface engineering and biomaterials are also being studied. Other thin film deposition techniques studied include electrodeposition, SILAR (successive ionic layer adsorption and reaction) and sol-gel. Nanostructured materials are prepared either directly (fibres by electrospinning and porous materials by anodisation) or by combining these or other templates with thin film deposition techniques.
Electronics and industrial applications
Sound and light are used both to sense and to actuate across a broad spectrum of disciplines employing samples ranging from red hot steel to smooth muscle fibres. Particular interest is in exploiting the link between the structure and mechanics of the samples. The main emphasis is on developing quantitative methods suitable for the needs of industry. To support these goals, research concentrates on several applied physics disciplines, the main areas being ultrasonics, photoacoustics, fibre optics and confocal microscopy.
The programme consists of 120 credits (ECTS) and can be completed in two academic years. The studies cover:
- Personal study plan
- Common courses for all students in the programme (10-20 credits)
- Advanced studies in your chosen study line and studies from other lines or programmes (70-80 credits)
- Master’s thesis (30 credits)
Studies in the programme include a Master’s thesis worth 30 credits. In your thesis you will focus on a particular problem in materials research, applying the knowledge and skills you have acquired during your studies to solve the problem. Your thesis is a written work that demonstrates your ability to think scientifically, your command of research methods, your familiarity with your area of research, and your aptitude for written scientific communication. Your thesis should contain a definition of the research questions, a review of the relevant literature, and a theoretical, computational and/or experimental section pursuing your solution to the research questions.
You will have a supervisor who will have regular meetings with you to ensure that your thesis work is progressing smoothly and on schedule. You will be expected to complete your thesis in one semester.
Although the thesis is an independent project, you will often work as a part of a research group in the field. You can also write the thesis while working in a company on a topic defined by the company, assuming the topic matches the requirements. This is an issue you will need to discuss with your supervisor.
With an MSc or PhD in materials research, you will be in a good position to find rewarding jobs in research institutions and industry. As a graduate in materials research you will have many potential career paths inside and outside universities. Many MSc graduates have continued their studies in doctoral programmes in Finland and abroad. Employers of our graduates include the technology industry (electronics and electrotechnical industry, information technology, mechanical engineering, metal industry, consulting), chemical industry, forest industry, energy industry, medical technology and pharmaceuticals.
Within the programme it is possible to obtain qualification as a radiation protection expert (RPE) and radiation protection officer (RPO). RPE and RPO are the official EU-wide names for personnel responsible for radiation protection in working environments. The education and examination are regulated by radiation authorities such as STUK. Note that teaching for RPE and RPO is given in Finnish. The requirements for RPE and RPO will be defined before the end of 2017.
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 physics or chemistry or another applicable degree.
- You have completed at least 60 credits of key field-specific studies of an equal level to studies for a first-cycle degree in physics or chemistry.
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 Materials Research, 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.
Choosing a study track
The study tracks in the Master’s Programme in Materials Research are:
- Experimental materials physics
- Computational materials physics
- Medical physics and biophysics
- Polymer materials chemistry
- Inorganic materials chemistry
- Electronics and industrial applications
The applicants must specify the study track they apply for. When selecting the study track the applicants are required to have completed field-specific studies supporting the selected study track. For example, applicants for the study track in computational materials physics are required to have programming skills. The study track will be registered as part of your study right if you are admitted.
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 field-specific studies in physics and chemistry. The feasibility of the study plan will be evaluated in relation to the overall impression gained from the other admission criteria.
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.The University of Helsinki does not provide any preliminary evaluation on the suitability of the applicant’s previous studies.
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 20 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 have been granted the right to pursue the degree of Master of Science in the Master’s Programme in Materials Research.
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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