Studies at University of Oulu 2015-2016

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.

International Master's Programmes

Ecology and Population Genetics, Master of Science, 120 ECTS Credits

Profile of the Degree: 

The ECOGEN programme emphasises on biodiversity and conservation biology issues. It provides the students with appropriate knowledge in ecology and population genetics of plant, animal and fungal species, with emphasis on endangered species and ecosystems. Students can choose ecology or genetics as their major.


Animal ecology in this programme is mainly focused on evolutionary, behavioral, population, molecular and community ecology. Particular research interests are social interactions, sexual selection, individual and population level responses to climate change and the survival of the threatened and declining populations in human modified habitats. The central themes of community ecology are associated with the loss of biodiversity and stopping in with the help of ecosystem restoration.

The most important research environments are the boreal forests, freshwater and sea shores and running waters.

Plant ecology is focused on evolutionary, population and community ecology, especially in relation to challenges of boreal, subarctic and arctic environments. Plant ecological research in Oulu emphasizes adaptation to the north, population and community ecology and conservation biology.

In addition to basic research, applied plant ecology has gained increasing attention. Plant ecological knowledge is especially important when planning the sustainable use of natural resources, the conservation and management of endangered species, communities, and ecosystems. New areas of applied plant ecology are restoration ecology and urban ecology. Teaching and research in plant ecology is supported by the Botanical museum and the Botanical gardens of the University and a network of northern research stations.

Main research topics:
•    Adaptation to the north
•    Evolution of symbiosis and mutualism
•    Conservation biology
•    Structure and diversity of plant communities


At present, it is nearly impossible to achieve a good overall view of biology without a genetics background. Genetics studies give a good start for understanding the functioning of organisms at the level of molecules, cells, individuals, and populations. The studies enable applying methods in the laboratory as well as those of data analysis. Genetics as major is focused on the genetics and evolution of populations, but it is possible to find research study topics in other areas as well.

Research areas:
•    Genetics of plant adaptation and speciation
•    Statistical methods of genetics
•    Conservation genetics, especially of mammals and birds
•    Evolutionary genetics of insect populations
•    Host-parasite evolution

Courses Required for the Degree: 

Specialisation Ecology, Major Ecology
MSc degree (120 ECTS) consists of ecology major (80 ECTS). Studies include total 12 ECTS compulsory courses in genetics. The degree does not include a compulsory minor. Student can choose optional advanced major courses, optional minors and single courses which are important for the student’s personal study plan.

Specialisation Bioscience, Major Genetics
MSc degree (120 ECTS) consists of genetics major (80 ECTS). Studies include total 12 ECTS compulsory courses in genetics. the degree does not include a compulsory minor. Student can choose optional advanced major courses, optional minors and single courses which are important for the student’s personal study plan.

Learning Outcomes: 

General Learning Outcomes

The Master of Science in Biology

  • is able to master, produce and interpret scientific knowledge
  • can apply theory into practice: produce new biological data and make conclusions
  • can comment and participate in scientific discussion and can justify his or her own opinions on scientific questions
  • is able to view the existing knowledge analytically and critically
  • is able to analyse, present, make conclusions and apply skills in his or her special field (genetics, ecology, physiology, environmental research, cell biology and molecular biology) with the help of extensive methodological competency and good scientific knowledge
  • knows how to apply appropriate methods in statistics
  • can independently plan and carry out experiments testing specific hypotheses or solving specific problems, and is able to critically discuss the outcomes of the experiments
  • is well trained for reporting scientific results to scientific and other audiences both in writing and verbally
  • biology teacher is able to educate his or her pupils the broad range of biological questions
  • is able to work well in an international context

Specific learning outcomes in Ecology

The Master of Science in Ecology

  • knows the important scientific theories and methods in ecology
  • masters the latest theories within his or her field of expertise: behavioural ecology, evolutionary ecology, population ecology, molecular ecology, community ecology or ecophysiology
  • is able to apply these theories when studying the adaptation of organisms to their environment and when researching the structure and conservation of biological communities.
  • is highly educated in natural history and species identification also outside his or her area of expertise
  • can explain the function and development of boreal ecosystems and is able to evaluate the environmental effects of human activity in the area
  • is well trained for the laboratory and field work of his or her area of expertise

Specific learning outcomes in Genetics

The Master of Science in Genetics

  • has a profound knowledge in his or her field of specialisation in genetics or physiology, including knowledge of the research literature, theoretical background and specific methods
  • knows the molecular biology and genetics of the cell and is able to follow the developments in the field
  • knows the basic principles of developmental genetics of multicellular organisms
  • is able to find relevant genetic or physiological information on his or her research object, can construct the research questions needed and is able to design the necessary experiments
  • is able to analyse the data obtained using the methods of biochemistry, molecular biology and physics
  • knows the theory and practice of the central laboratory methods in his or her area of expertise and recognises the challenges related to the rapidly developing field
  • masters the paradigm of classical, population, and quantitative genetics
  • is able to analyse data with the methods of genomics, bioinformatics and population genetics


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 and Teaching: 

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: 


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: 

The programme focuses on preparing graduates for future leadership positions in conservation biology and environmental ecology. ECOGEN students will learn methodical skills in the field of molecular ecology and genetics. This competence is needed in the environmental administration and research in the fields of e.g. conservation biology and restoration ecology.

In the biology job market, genetics expertise and the command of genetics methods is an important advantage. Especially in research related jobs, dealing with the analysis of the very large data sets provided by current genomics methods will be an advantage.

The training offers possibilities to find employment in biotechnology, bioinformatics, or the utilization or protection of biodiversity and natural resources, mainly in the fields of research or industry.

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 and Final Project: 

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

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: 
Population Biologist
Location of Instruction: 
+358 (0)294 481530
annamari.markkola (at)


Applying Information: 
The degree programme is applied for through University Admissions Finland.
Application Period: 
December 15th 2014 – January 30th 2015 (16.00 GMT +2)