Studying in the Department of History at the University of Oulu

There are still traces of academic freedom left in the Faculty of Humanities and in the studies in the Department of History especially. A Master’s Degree with a major in either History or the History of Science and Ideas can be assembled rather freely, i.e. the choice of minor subjects is only marginally restricted. Likewise, no pressure is put on the student to do anything and participation in examinations and seminar meetings is voluntary. In short, one can study according one’s own schedule.

Nevertheless, one should not be under the impression that a student of history is completely free. The fact that every student is obligated to study is the first limitation to this complete freedom. Another limitation that is typical of various disciplines is a curriculum which defines the structure and order of the student’s studies. For example, the Master’s Thesis cannot be written before one has successfully passed the precursory methodological courses. Furthermore, those who wish to become so-called subject teachers should bear in mind that sufficient knowledge in certain minor subjects is a qualification for permanent positions and is stipulated by Finnish Law. A third factor that limits freedom of study is the limited nature of the student allowances paid by the Social Insurance Institution. If one aims to achieve a Master’s Degree, he/she will receive student allowances for a maximum of 55 months.    

Every student has to make countless decisions. One has to decide about the number and the type of the minor subjects. Does one wants to become a teacher or end up, for example, working in a career within the archive system? Whether or not to study abroad? How to choose the topic for the Master’s Thesis? A student is not, however, expected to answer these questions alone. To make these decisions easier for students, the Department of History has adopted a system in which a personal study plan is drawn up in cooperation with a study advisor who is a member of the staff. The personal study plan is created at the beginning of the student’s first year in the Department and is re-examined as the student’s studies progress and his/her objectives and wishes become more well-defined. The decision about and responsibility concerning one’s studies are ultimately always in the hands of the student but the teaching staff and/or study advisor and the so-called omaopettaja (a member of staff who acts as a tutor) help in the finding and following a meaningful study path.     


The Department of History offers Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees, and on postgraduate level Licentiate of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in history and in history of science and ideas.

There are two major subjects:
• History
• History of Science and Ideas

The department also hosts several minor subjects in history and related fields:
• Classical Languages and Cultures
• Study of Practical Ethics and World Views
• Philosophy
• East and Southeast Asian Studies
• Japanese Studies
• Futures Studies
• Political Science

ECTS Guide for the Faculty of Humanities

Each year 36 new students begin their studies in one of the two major subjects after passing the entrance examination that takes place in May. Minor studies, on the other hand, are open to all students enrolled at the University of Oulu. Most of the teaching is in Finnish. Studies can be carried out independently in English and in Swedish through literature exams, essays and seminar papers.

The students are encouraged to spend one or two terms studying in one of the foreign universities with which the department has bilateral or multilateral agreements.

Last updated: 25.4.2013