Study instructions and learning methods


The department endeavors to train people who are well suited to the modern society through having good academic knowledge and broad methodological skills. For example geoinformatics is a strong methodological strength in the department.

The courses may include lectures, practical classes, seminars, literature examinations and excursions. Many courses are held in English, particularly in the MSc level. Most of the literature to read is in English. In examinations, students may answer in English. Students can also make use of the courses taught in English in other departments of the university.

In many courses, the virtual leaning environment Moodle is in active use. Often students have to prepare study reports or short essays that are delivered in digital form. Details of them will be set up individually for each course.

Common to all studies, students are expected to follow the principles of high professional ethics and good scientific practice.

Preparing a research plan 

This section contains short instructions to help those students who prepare their research plan (usually MSc thesis) in English.

It is recommendable to start by reading scientific literature to get familiar enough with the overall research topic. It is also useful to consider which skills and knowledge you expect to need in you later professional life. If appropriate, try to incorporate many different methods into your research plan in collaboration with your supervisor in order to make the research effort as useful for your professional growth as possible. However, you should not plan to use those methods which are unrealistic to accomplish within this department due to economical or other limitations.

When writing you study plan, try to be at the same time both ambitious realistic. You should aim at concentrating your effort to the most essential so as your limited resources will not get divided between too many small tasks.

The general structure of the research plan should be as follows.

Title and date
Your name and contact information including e-mail
Name of supervisor(s)

• Define shortly the scientific and practical background of your work. Start from general topics and end up with subjects about your work. Try to define research hypotheses if appropriate. Few literature references are welcomed but they should not bee too many. Typically, 1–1.5 pages is enough for this section.

General objective
• Just using a couple of sentences, describe the essential content of your work; what is it all about.

Specific objectives
• Prepare a list of the specific objectives that are needed to fulfil the "general objective". Each of these objectives should be formulated shortly and precisely. Each objective should be workable with the data and methods that will be available for this study.

Material and methods
• Start by describing the your study area and the overall research methodology. Use flow charts if appropriate.
• Then describe shortly your foreseen study materials, source data, laboratory and analytical methods, and so on.
• These texts should be short but comprehensive enough to get an idea of your work. The foreseen methods should be appropriate to meet with your research objectives.

• In table or chart form, express all the critical phases of work with their foreseen timetables. Just believe that usually it takes 2–5 times more time to complete the final writing work than most students beforehand tend to think.

• Does your work require specific funding for field work, laboratory analyses or for some other part? If yes, how will it be organized.

• Describe the possible linkages of your work with other research projects, institutions, processes or other instances.   


• Prepare a preliminary list of contents for your MSc thesis, possibly also outlining the main contents of each chapter.

• In most studies with empirical data, the following main chapters are recommended:
1. Introduction
2. Literature survey
3. Material and methods
4. Results
5. Discussion