Master's Degree Programme in Biosciences: Evolutionary Biology

Learn how biological patterns and processes work from individual cells to entire ecosystems! Through this Evolutionary Biology specialisation track students will acquire an explicit evolutionary biological perspective in the study of nature.

Thanks to Darwin, we know the process of evolution has shaped the bewildering variation we see around us. 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 it 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, and 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.

Entry 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 section on track-specific admission requirements 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 for the University of Turku. No exceptions will be made. Read more about the language requirements here.

Study right

It is not possible to have more than one Bachelor’s or Master’s study right at the same Faculty. Therefore, when accepting an offered study place, the student will lose any previous BSc. or MSc. study right at the Faculty of Science at the University of Turku.


Before you start preparing your application, always read the full admission requirements on the application portal

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 not apply to more than one specialization track within the same Master’s Degree Programme at the University of Turku. Therefore, you should carefully consider that your educational background is suitable enough for the track that you are applying to.


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 and your answers to the optional questions included in the application
  • possible relevant work experience
  • possible interview

In addition to the education diploma and language certificate, you should include testimonials of any relevant work experience in your application. 

The academic evaluation is made only for complete applications that are received during the application period. Any preliminary assessment of suitability or chances for admission will not be given.

Programme in brief


Courses will contain 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 the 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 provide you with the 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

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

The programme offers two tracks:

In the 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.

The 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.


The Evolutionary Biology track falls under the Department of Biology, which houses a wide scope of topics in research and teaching. Evolutionary questions are tackled on various levels including the cell and molecular level population genetics, and evolutionary ecology in both animals and plants. An active collaboration with the adjacent Biodiversity unit which houses a zoological museum, as well as a botanical museum and a botanical garden allows the student to tap into an active community working on evolutionary questions.  

Career prospects


In the 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.


Master's Programme in Biosciences educates future experts for positions in academia, industry, and the 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

A 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.


The focus of the Evolutionary Biology track is to provide students with skills in data science and bioinformatics with a strong foundation in evolutionary biology. These skills are key to evolutionary analyses but also essential in other fields of bioscience. Emphasis in course work is on training to collect, synthesize and communicate information orally and in writing which are important transferable skills for your future career.

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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