MBI - General study instructions

General study instructions

Bioinformatics studies consist both of lectures and practical work. Major subject studies in Kumpula involve both lecture courses, where a lecture course may include practical project work, and courses in which practical work in computer class. In the gene technology biology course in Viikki the working means full-time in wetlab laboratory work.

Lecture courses

A lecture course typically contains lectures and exercises. As a general rule of thumb, a student should spend double the amount of time used for lectures and exercises for each course. For instance, if the course has four hours of lectures and two hours of exercises per week, the student should study a minimum of 12 hours per week in his or her own time. In addition, attention should be paid to fulfilling the prerequisites before attending the course. Passing a lecture course usually requires completion of a sufficient number of exercises, and passing the course exam. An alternative way to pass a course is by a separate exam.

Lecture + computer class courses

The core courses Biometry and bioinformatics I, II and III are based on lectures and computer class sessions, the latter being the main style of working. It is thus important to attend the practical sessions informed in course webpages. The course Biometry and bioinformatics I does not include an exam. It is passed by submitting computer assignments, based on tutoring during the sessions. Biometry and bioinformatics II and III include exams, but they cannot be passed by just reading something, they are based on practical work in computer class and exercise sessions.

Laboratory courses (”wetlab”)

Basic skills for further biological laboratory work will be provided during the Gene technology laboratory course (or similar course to be specified in the teaching program). The student is required to take this course if he or she has not taken equivalent course earlier.


At least two seminars (6 credits) have to be included in the Master's degree. A seminar usually consists of student presentations and discussion. Seminars usually meet once a week.

Advanced internship

The degree includes an obligatory advanced internship phase. The internship position is intended to be either in a research group or in a company working in a related field. The aim of the internship is to familiarise the student with real-world bioinformatics and with people working with it. The internship position is agreed on with the student counsellor as a part of the study plan. Some available positions for the internship will be announced on the MBI web page.

Master's thesis

The Master's thesis is the final thesis done independently by the student for the MSc degree. The extent of the thesis is 40 credits (HY) or 30 credits (Aalto). Usually the topic is related to research problems of a bioinformatics research group. Ideally, the work involves members from both methodological and application fields. See Master's thesis guidelines for more detailed information.

While working on the Master's thesis, the student is expected to participate in the Master's thesis seminar on a regular basis and give two presentations, one on the research plan and the other on the (nearly) completed thesis in the seminar.

Additionally, the student must take courses in Scientific writing in English before completing the Master's thesis. Suitable courses for fulfilling this requirement are given in the Teaching programme under section Language courses.

Maturity test is taken as part of the Master’s thesis writing process.

Teaching language

The teaching language in the Programme is primarily English. Exceptions are noted in the Teaching programme.

Registration for the courses and examinations

Students register for courses and separate examinations offered by the University of Helsinki according to the registration practices in the department organizing the course. At the Department of Computer Science, the web address of the registration system is ilmo.cs.helsinki.fi, and at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the address is www.helsinki.fi/weboodi. Registration to a given study period (I, II, III, IV) will open about two weeks before the period starts. For example, registering to courses starting in period II is not possible at the beginning of period I. At the beginning of period I you can only register to period I courses. This is the common practice in Kumpula, whereas Viikki courses may use various other practices. In addition, you will get information (from Sirkka-Liisa Varvio) about some Meilahti lectures which do not use Weboodi or ILMO. Registering for courses and separate examinations offered by Aalto University School of Science and Technology with the following registration system: oodi.aalto.fi.


All courses are graded either on the six-step scale 0–5 or the two-step scale fail/pass. The lowest passing grade is 1/5, for which the student usually needs to get half the maximum points. To get the highest grade 5/5, the student usually needs at least 5/6 of the maximum points.

Teaching times

Teaching is given in four periods that are almost identical in HY and Aalto. Exact dates for the periods can be found from the web pages of the universities. In principle, the teaching periods are September-October (period I), November-December (period II), January-February (period III), and March-April (period IV).

Each period consists of six weeks of teaching, followed by an exam week. In HY, a two-week study period follows the exam week in the IV period. No teaching will be given during the period breaks.