Master's Degree Programme in Biosciences: Evolutionary Biology

Thanks to Darwin, we know the process of evolution has shaped the bewildering variation we see around us. Through this Master's Degree programme students will acquire an explicit evolutionary biological perspective in the study of nature, thereby increasing capacity for understanding patterns and processes, on scales varying from the cellular to the ecosystem level.

Students can expect to acquire scientific and analytical skills, expertise in present theories and up-to-date technologies, as well as practical skills including teamwork and interpersonal skills; all in an international environment. After starting with a general overview of evolutionary biology, and what is entails to be a biological researcher, this programme focuses mainly on evolutionary genetics. Emphasis is on gaining data science (programming) skills, with expertise in bioinformatics, molecular and quantitative genetics. Teachers include experts in human genetics, microbial, and quantitative evolutionary genetics. Expertise in phylogenetics of animals and plants is brought in by experts from our Museum of Natural History. The skills and knowledge obtained pave the way for future career paths in academia or industry.

Programme in brief

PROGRAMME STRUCTURE

Courses will contain of a mix of teaching methods, including lectures, exercises, laboratory and computer practicals, student-driven presentations as well as completion of an independent research project (M.S. Thesis). Numerical analysis of biological data including bioinformatics and other statistical analyses will be part of curriculum.

The Master’s degree in Bioscience is a two-year programme amounting to 120 ECTS. Both tracks follow their own curriculum of courses. The degree is comprised of:

  • Common courses which provides you essential knowledge needed as well as transferrable skills including mandatory language studies
  • Track-specific major subject studies that will provide the state-of-the-art theories and practical skills relevant to the field
  • Selectable studies that expand your knowledge in specific thematic areas and special themes of your choice
  • Master’s thesis where you will apply your newly acquired knowledge
MASTER'S THESIS & TOPICS

To complete your studies, you will carry out a final project that is an independent and experimental, supervised research project aiming for the Master’s thesis. The purpose of the Master thesis is to display your obtained skills in terms of data gathering, data analysis and interpretation of the analyses, as well as setting your project within the larger scientific background based on scientific literature. You will present your project and its results in a Master’s seminar that follows procedures used in scientific meetings. You will also write a Master’s thesis that describes your experimental work and its results as well as includes a review of relevant background literature.

Examples of fields for MSc topics

  • Evolution of antibiotic resistance
  • Human paleogenomics
  • Life history of pre-industrial humans
  • Changes in gene expression in response to climate change
  • Evolutionary quantitative genetics
  • Phylogeny of Amazonian ferns
SPECIALISATION TRACKS

The programme offers two tracks:

  • Evolutionary Biology (M.Sc). 
  • Molecular Systems Biology (M.Sc.)


In Evolutionary Biology track the focus is on deepening knowledge of evolutionary biology, ecology, genetics, and physiology, with a special focus on bioinformatic and computational methods for analyzing and interpreting evolutionary and NGS data, both modern and ancient DNA.

Molecular Systems Biology track offers extensive training in modern molecular biology and education focused on systems biology (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, gene/protein structure-function relationships) with a special focus on practical laboratory skills and molecular interaction networks.

Career options

COMPETENCE DESCRIPTION

In Evolutionary Biology track, you will get strong background for working with phenotypic and genetic variation, both theory and practice. The practice focuses on bioinformatics and statistical analyses using various platforms, where a number of courses include hands-on computer practicals, to provide the student with concrete data analysis skills much sought after in both research and industry.

JOB OPTIONS

Master's Programme in Biosciences educates future experts for positions in academia, industry, and public sector. Students graduating from the programme are eligible for scientific postgraduate degree studies, and may work, among others, as:

  • Research scientist
  • Lecturer
  • Project manager
  • Research coordinator
     
CAREER IN RESEARCH

Master of Science degree provides you with eligibility for scientific postgraduate degree studies. Postgraduate degrees are doctoral and licentiate degrees. Degrees can be completed at the University of Turku in the University of Turku Graduate School and one of the Doctoral Programmes.

Entry requirements

GENERAL ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

General Requirement

You are an eligible applicant for Master’s-level studies if

  • you have a nationally recognized first cycle degree – normally a Bachelor’s degree – from an accredited institution of higher education,
  • your degree corresponds to at least 180 ECTS (European credits) or to three years of full-time study,
  • your degree is in a relevant field for the Master’s degree programme that you’re applying to. Please check the programme page for detailed degree requirements.


Language Requirements

Applicants must have excellent English language skills and a certificate that proves those skills. You can indicate your language skills by taking one of the internationally recognized English language tests. 

Applicants must reach the minimum required test results to be considered eligible to the University of Turku. No exceptions will be made. Read more about the language requirements here.

TRACK-SPECIFIC ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

The applicant’s previous degree on the basis of which s/he is seeking admission to the Master’s Degree Programme in Biosciences must be in a relevant field of study. Relevant fields of previous studies for the Evolutionary Biology track are

  • ecology
  • evolutionary biology
  • genetics
  • physiology

Also basic knowledge of numerical analysis of biological data e.g. bioinformatics or statistical analyses is required.

You may apply to both specialization fields of the programme, but the choices must be prioritized on the application form.

SUPPLEMENTARY STUDIES

The contents of formally eligible applicants' previous degrees do not always correspond to the academic level of the programme. Therefore admitted students can be advised or required to complete additional, Bachelor level studies while studying for the Master's Degree. These studies are not part of the Master's Degree and may extend the targeted study time. The extent and contents of the supplementary studies are defined individually for each student when a personal study plan is formulated in the beginning of the studies. The amount of required supplementary studies cannot exceed 60 ECTS.

Since the language of instruction in Bachelor’s level at the University of Turku is Finnish, an applicant needing supplementary studies available only in Finnish can be required to submit proof for Finnish skills during the application process. In case such proof is not submitted, the applicant needing supplementary studies must be rejected.

APPLICATION EVALUATION

Annually 15 students are admitted to the Master's Degree Programme in Biosciences. The decision of admission will be based on:

  • the relevance of the applicant’s awarded degree(s)
  • the amount, relevance and grades of the courses in the degree(s)
  • the language test result (see Language requirements)
  • the motivation letter
  • possible answers to the optional questions included in the application
  • possible relevant work experience
  • possible interview

It is possible to have only one Bachelor’s or Master’s study right at the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Therefore, when accepting an offered study place, the student will lose any previous BSc. or MSc. study right at the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Sitaatti masters sci Tuomisto
Evolutionary biology aims to ask one of the biggest questions humans have ever asked: how did everything we see around us come to be?
It has something that interests every student, from evolutionary trees and the vastness of deep time, to tiny molecules.
Matleena Tuomisto
Biosciences: Evolutionary Biology
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