Studies at University of Oulu 2013-2014

The University of Oulu offers study opportunities with a solid academic foundation ranging from 5-6 year degree programmes and master’s programmes to doctoral training. There are also several possibilities such as open university studies, executive training and continuing education for developing and maintaining skills and competencies.

In addition to a variety of student exchange programmes, international master’s degree programmes in English are offered in six fields of study, making the university an international study environment.

5-6 Year Degree Programmes

MSc in Animal Physiology

Profile of the Degree: 

Animal physiology studies the vital functions of animal at the level of cells, tissues, organs and whole organisms. The theoretical paradigms of physiology are adaptation, regulation and evolution.

According to the system under study, physiology can be divided e.g. into neuro- and electrophysiology, endocrinology, metabolic physiology, respiratory and circulatory physiology, and muscle physiology. Evolutionary physiology and ecophysiology study the adaptation of populations and species. The methodological toolbox of physiology is probably the widest in biology. In addition to traditional biochemical, physical, and microscopic methods, more and more tools of molecular biology are used. The object of study can be, for example, a cell culture, blood sample, isolated tissue or organ or a whole animal. Both conventional laboratory animals and wild animals can be used as study objects. Animal physiologists also collaborate with medical physiologists in studies of human physiology. The master’s program in animal physiology offers courses that deal with may of these approaches to physiology.

The subject of master´s thesis is selected from the topics of the research groups. These include molecular regulation of body weight, energy metabolism in birds and mammals, the mechanisms and evolution of thermogenic mechanisms, hormonal regulation of body fat stores, adaptation to cold, and various forms of torpor, neural photosensitivity and circadian rhythms.

Courses Required for the Degree: 


Specialisation Bioscience, Major Animal Physiology

MSc degree (120 ECTS) consists of animal physiology major (80 ECTS). The degree does not include compulsory minor studies. Instead the student can choose optional advanced major courses, optional minors and single courses which are important for the his/her personal study plan.

Further information: see Course Structure Diagram.

Learning Outcomes: 

General learning outcomes

The Master of Science in Biology

  • can apply theory into practice: produce new biological data and make conclusions
  • can comment and participate in scientific discussion and can justify own opinions in scientific questions
  • is able to study analytically and critically existing knowledge
  • is able to analyse, represent, make conclusions and apply skills in own special field with the help of diverse methodological proficiency and good basic knowledge
  • is thoroughly international in work and in objectives.

Specific learning outcomes

The Master of Science in Animal Physiology

  • is able to describe physiological systems at the level of cells, organs and organ systems in major animals groups
  • knows the concepts of regulation, adaptation and homeostasis, and can apply them in the analysis of physiological systems
  • is able to use cell and tissue samples or whole animals as objects of study, and knows the advantages and shortcomings of each model
  • is able to use the main biochemical, molecular, microscopic, physical and statistical methods of animal physiology.
  • knows the practical and ethical issues related to the use of experimental animals, and is able to perform minor animal operations
  • has an in-depth understanding of a special area in animal physiology. This includes mastering the scientific literature and special methods in that area.
  • is able to independently plan a series of experiments aiming to solving of a physiological problem or testing a hypothesis and is able to produce a scientific report of the experiment.
Arrangements for Recognition of Prior Learning: 

The recognition of prior learning and credit transfer will take place in the beginning of the studies. If the student already has a university or other degree, and if he/she would like to apply his/her prior learning, he/she has to contact the amanuensis.

The recognition of prior learning follows the main principles as defined by the University of Oulu.

More information: Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Modes of Study: 

Biology studies are full-time studies and they equal to 60 ECTS per year. This is 1 600 study work hours in one academic year. MSc degree is done in two years as full-time studies. Studies are carried out as contact teaching. Studies consist of lectures, exercises, laboratory work and field excursions. Problem solving, group works and seminars are also typical studying methods as well as self-directed learning. Studies are full-time and teaching takes place normally between 8 and 18 o’clock.

Language of Instruction: 

Teaching is mainly in Finnish. Some courses are also in English.

Examination Regulations, Assessment and Grading: 

The student completes the degree-related studies as defined in the curriculum. MSc studies in major have to be advanced studies. Minor and other studies can be general studies, basic studies, intermediate studies or advanced studies. Student does personal study plan which includes the study modules and schedule. The study plan describes the compulsory and optional courses and credits. It supports the progress of studies and helps the student to make a meaningful, personal degree.

1 ECTS is estimated as 27 hours studies. During one academic year (Autumn and Spring semester) students will perform 60 ECTS (i.e. 1 600 hours studies). Lectures are free of attendance however active participation is strongly recommended. In practical courses there is compulsory attendance.

The study units are primarily completed by attending examinations and they are assessed by the person responsible for the study unit. Typically in academic year there are three exam opportunities per course. Student has to register in weboodi system to courses and exams. The assessment is often based on the grades of final or mid-term exams. Also other assessment criteria are used, including species identification exam, oral exam, work report, practical work, seminar presentation and study journal. Study unit descriptions give more exact information on the assessment of study units.

Grades used in assessment of studies are pass/failed or numeric values 0-5 where 5 (excellent; ECTS A), 4 (very good; ECTS B), 3 (good; ECTS C), 2 (satisfactory; ECTS D), 1 (sufficient; ECTS E), 0 failed. Grades used in assessment of the Bachelor of Science thesis is pass/failed. See also The University of Oulu Education Regulations paragraph 17. The Master’s Thesis (Pro Gradu Thesis) is written final work in the degree and it is graded as 0-5. In determining the final grade for a study module, a credit-weighted average is used. The grade of Pro Gradu Thesis will not be considered when determining the average of advanced studies.

Occupational Profiles of Graduates: 

Animal physiologists are typically employed by universities and other research organizations, biomedical and biotechnological enterprises and lately also as biology teachers.

Access to Further Studies: 

MSc degree qualifies  to do postgraduate studies and degree for the Licentiate of Philosophy (PhLic) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.

More information: University of Oulu Graduate School (UniOGS)

Graduation Requirements: 

Student has to apply the Master of Science Degree from the Faculty of Science after finishing all the required studies. Accepted personal study plan is attached to the degree application. Master of Science degree’s compulsory and optional studies are described in the structure of the MSc studies section.

Faculty of Science instructions and forms (in Finnish)

Qualification Requirements and Regulations: 

All education in the University of Oulu is based on the principles of the joint European credit transfer system (ECTS) which facilitates the transparency of education and the recognition of degrees at an international level. All degrees awarded from the University of Oulu are recognised by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.

Master of Science degree (MSc) is the higher academic degree which gives an opportunity to variety of employments. MSc degree gives a more profound understanding in the specific scientific field in biology chosen by the student. Student can influence the degree curriculum by choosing optional major and/or minor courses and traineeship place according to own interest.

The degree provides language proficiency required of personnel in public bodies in accordance with the Language Proficiency Section 6:

Government Decree on University Degrees 794/2004, Language Proficiency Section 6

Basic information

Level of the Degree: 
Master's Degree
Duration of Studies: 
2 years
ECTS Credits: 
Language of Instruction: 
Graduate Profiles: 
Location of Instruction: 
+358 (0)294 481239
esa.hohtola (at)


Applying Information: 
The degree is part of a five-year degree programme which is applied for through the joint application system at The main language of instruction in the degree programme is Finnish. Read more detailed information about admission requirements and applying from The Applicant’s Guide 2013.