Studies at University of Oulu 2016-2017

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

Physics, Master of Science, 120 ECTS Credits

Profile of the Degree: 

In the degree programme in physics, research is conducted and courses are given in Physics of matter and Astronomy, Earth and space physics. The department also trains top experts on these fields. Several research groups operate in both of the sections. In addition, the degree programme involves a line of study for subject teacher.

The degree programme comprises compulsory and optional major subject studies and optional minor subject studies. The studies consist of lectures, exercise problems, laboratory exercises, research projects and independent studying. Already during the M.Sc. studies, the student may participate in the work of research groups and international projects. Active students may contribute to articles written for international journals and take part in conferences. This speeds up the integration of the students to the international scientific community and opens doors to a successful career.

1. Astronomy, Earth and space physics

  1. Master in Physics (Space Physics)

In addition to the compulsory studies, the programme includes space physics courses with the largest selection of topics in whole Finland. The wealth of courses and their timely content which reflects the latest research, offers an excellent basis for learning space physics. The studies consist of lectures, exercise problems, laboratory exercises, research projects and independent studying.

The most important projects study space climate and ionospheric radar measurements. The space climate research concentrates on the long term changes in solar activity and its effects in near-Earth space, atmosphere and climate. Accordingly, space climate research is currently and international hot topic and the research at Oulu is internationally top level. The ionospheric research concentrates mainly on international EISCAT radar measurements and is currently heavily centered on the development and building of the new EISCAT_3D radar array. The research on these topics also belongs to the international top level. Active students have the chance to participate in these projects, may contribute to articles written for international journals and take part in conferences.

An English-language M.Sc. degree in this field of science can be obtained.

  1. Master in Astronomy (Space Physics)

The research groups in astronomy have an active role in several international research collaborations which cover topics ranging from Solar System bodies to birth and evolution of galaxies. The research in astronomy contains both theoretical and observational studies. In the observational side, the data is obtained by space telescopes and probes (e.g. Spitzer Space Telescope, Cassini) or ESO's (European Southern Observatory) telescopes in Chile, which are among the best ground-based telescopes in the world.

The master's degree students can participate in the activities of the research groups. Graduate students have often a possibility to visit foreign partner institutes.

An English-language M.Sc. degree in this field of science can be obtained.

NB: The Master studies in geophysics are completed in the Oulu Mining School.

2. Physics of matter

a) Master in Physics (Atomic, Molecular and Material Physics)

In Atomic, Molecular and Material Physics compulsory major subject studies can be obtained in the following degree programmes: the Master’s Degree Programme in Magnetic Resonance in Materials (MRM) or the Master’s Degree Programme in Synchrotron Radiation Based Science and Accelerator Physics (SR).

Two Oulu-based physics research groups of high international standing carry out both experimental and computational/theoretical research in the field of this programme. The equipment of the groups is of high quality. The students learn how to apply modern experimental and computational methods of characterizing the structure of matter, and the methods can be applied to many different fields of science.

An English-language M.Sc. degree in this field of science can be obtained.

b) Master in Theoretical Physics

In theoretical physics one learns about the central theories of physics. The teachers of theoretical physics are active researchers, which is applied in all teaching. Part of the courses introduces active fields of research. In the pro gradu work it is possible to participate in active theoretical research.

An English-language M.Sc. degree in this field of science can be obtained.

c) Master in Biophysics

The University of Oulu is the only place in Finland where biophysics can be studied as a major subject in MSc or PhD studies. Biophysics is an interdisciplinary field of science located at the intersection of natural and medical sciences and engineering. In biophysics we study and teach the fundamental processes of living organisms, starting from the basis of physics and mathematics. Important sub-fields during studies are measurement and modeling methods, signal analysis, bimolecular and cellular biophysics and neuroscience. Both MSc’s and PhD’s in biophysics are in demand, because biophysicists are trained for various interdisciplinary research and development tasks and, at the PhD level, for research at high international level.

An English-language M.Sc. degree in this field of science can be obtained.

3. Master in Physics (Subject Teacher Education)

The degree programme in physics (subject teacher education) comprises compulsory major subject studies in physics and studies in a secondary teaching subject, which can be e.g. mathematics, chemistry or information technology. The degree must also include pedagogical studies of 60 ECTS credits (KTK - Pedagogical Studies for Teachers). Part of the pedagogical studies and minor subject studies are already included to the Bachelor's degree.

Another field in physics (biophysics, geophysics, theoretical physics and astronomy) can also be the major subject, but in that case supplementary studies are needed for the teaching subjects. Pedagogical studies are also compulsory.

Courses Required for the Degree: 

The course structure diagram (attachment) shows the M.Sc. degree structure of each semester (autumn and spring semester) and the required study modules with their credits.

A M.Sc. degree consists of at least 80 credits of advanced studies in the major subject and optional studies, with the complete degree consisting of 120 credits.

Learning Outcomes: 

After the completion of the M.Sc. degree, the student is able to (in addition to the requirements for the B.Sc. degree)

  • apply the existing information and create novel information in the major subject
  • design and complete small-scale scientific projects in the major subject
  • analyze the phenomena of physics using mathematical and computational methods
  • communicate her/his expertise and results both in writing and orally, using the concepts of the major subject.

She/he has a scientific way of thinking and solving problems. She/he is able to search for information and draw up reports. She/he is capable of evaluating information with a critical approach.

A M.Sc. graduate has a profound knowledge of physics, theoretical physics, biophysics or astronomy and adequate knowledge of the minor subjects relating to the major subject.

A subject teacher graduate knows how to utilize different teaching methods and is familiar with different ways of learning. She/he also has a basic knowledge of the development of the scientific way of thinking and world view. She/he knows how to apply the existing knowledge of physics and how to carry out wide learning entities, research projects and laboratory demonstrations for teaching purposes. The student also can evaluate how effective the teaching methods are and how well the learning goals have been obtained.

The learning outcomes of pedagogical studies in the subject teacher education: KTK - Pedagogical Studies for Teachers

Arrangements for Recognition of Prior Learning: 

Courses of the degree programme in physics can be substituted by prior courses of the same level and approximately the same contents. The student must deliver a document and a course description of any previously completed course to the department.

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: 

A M.Sc. degree (120 credits) can be completed in two years by studying full-time. The lectures, exercise sessions, exercise days and laboratory exercises are organized on weekdays within the university building. The teaching mostly takes place at the university, but some courses may include home exercises and/or home exams. The studies naturally include a substantial amount of independent work.

Language of Instruction: 

The Master of Science degree can be completed in Finnish or English. The lectures and exercises for advanced courses are given in Finnish or English, depending on the teacher and students. Exams can be taken in either Finnish or English. Nearly all of the textbooks are in English.

Examination Regulations, Assessment and Grading: 

The student completes the required major subject studies and the optional studies according to the curriculum. The courses are mainly completed by taking an exam, and they are assessed by the person in charge of the course.

The assessment is often based on the grades of the end or final exams. Other assessment methods are also used, including home exams, laboratory reports etc. The details on the completion of the courses can be found in the description of each course in WebOodi.

The courses are graded either by a numerical scale ranging from 0 to 5 or by the grades pass/fail. The grading system in use is notified in the course description. The grade in each study module is calculated as the credit-weighted average of the course grades.

To complete the M.Sc. degree, a master’s thesis must be written in either Finnish or English. The thesis is graded separately in the diploma. The grade awarded to the thesis is not taken into account when calculating the grade in the major subject.

Occupational Profiles of Graduates: 

A person holding a M.Sc. degree in the degree programme in physics can find employment in Finland or abroad in e.g. basic research, applied research, industry, education, public administration or publication.

A graduate from the degree programme qualifies as a teacher of physics and can find employment in the schools of Finland/Europe at different educational levels.

Access to Further Studies: 

A M.Sc. degree in the major subject, together with the minor subjects included in the degree, lay a firm basis for doctoral studies in the field of the major subject chosen by the student.

More information: University of Oulu Graduate School (UniOGS)

A subject teacher graduate has the possibility to supplement her/his studies to correspond to a physics researcher’s M.Sc. degree and consequently become entitled to continue on to a doctoral degree.

Graduation Requirements and Final Project: 

A M.Sc. degree consists of major and minor subject studies included in the curriculum. The compulsory part of the degree programme includes the pre-determined courses that depend on the specialization subject (NMR or SR). In addition, the student must choose a certain amount of optional studies in physics. A master’s thesis of 35 credits is required to complete the degree. The student must write a summary of the thesis, which also serves as the maturity test for the M.Sc. degree. The degree is granted on application.

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.

A M.Sc. degree holder is qualified to work e.g. as an expert in research institutes. She/he is also qualified to complete a post-graduate degree aiming at a position as a researcher or specialist. Such degrees include the Licentiate of Philosophy (Ph.Lic.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees and e.g. the medical physicist degree.

The pedagogical studies included in the degree qualify the student as a teacher in comprehensive and upper secondary schools and other educational establishments. A M.Sc. degree holder qualifies as a teacher in e.g. upper secondary schools in at least two subjects e.g. physics and mathematics, physics and chemistry or physics and information technology. In addition, the language proficiency requirements of the degree qualify a M.Sc. graduate for employment in the civil service according to the section on language proficiency, 6 §.

Basic information

Level of the Degree: 
Master's Degree
Duration of Studies: 
2 years
ECTS Credits: 
Language of Instruction: 
Finnish or English
Graduate Profiles: 
Physics Teacher
Location of Instruction: 
+358 (0)294 481311
juhani.lounila (at)


Applying Information: 
The degree is part of a five-year degree programme which is applied for through the