Biology Geography Geology

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Deadline: Sep 1, 2023
351–400 place StudyQA ranking:3053 Duration:3 years You need IELTS certificate

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Biology, geography and geology are traditionally strong research areas at the University of Turku. The Doctoral Programme creates a diversified framework for natural scientific research in these disciplines and fosters interaction among them.

PhD thesis

As a rule of thumb, a PhD thesis based on journal articles consists of an introduction and 4 scientific articles, two of which have already been published or accepted for publication. The most​ important criterion is not the number of papers, however, but the overall scientific quality of the PhD thesis. If the papers included in the thesis are scientific heavy-weighters, three or even two papers may suffice. On the other hand, if the papers are lighter than average in a scientific sense, more papers may be needed. This may also be the case if the own contribution of the defendant to coauthored papers has been limited, e.g. the defendant has more than one paper where she/he is not the first author.​

A PhD thesis can also be a monograph, i.e. written as a coherent book. ​This format is rarely used in the natural sciences, however, because scientific merit is mostly judged by publications in scientific journals. Your chances of succeeding in a scientific career are therefore better if you have published in scientific journals already before graduating.

The research director is responsible for assessing that the thesis fulfils the requirements before proposing to the faculty that the pre­-examiners be nominated.

All research has to be carried out such that it conforms with good scientific practice and research ethics. Guidelines are available both at the European level and nationally​. 


Apart from writing a PhD thesis, doctoral students are required to attend courses and carry out other studies that together give a total of 60 ECTS. Each doctoral student makes a personal study plan, which is meant to ensure that the student obtains the knowledge and skills that are needed to successfully carry out the research on which the PhD thesis is based.

The studies can include, apart from courses specifically tailored for doctoral students, also intermediate to advanced level courses targeted at BSc or MSc students. Basic courses meant for BSc students cannot be included in a doctoral degree. Courses given at any recognised university in Finland or abroad are eligible.

The PhD thesis cannot be sent for pre-­examination until enough studies have been completed and registered, and the research director has approved them.​  

Recommended contents of the study plan

  • 8-12 ECTS Literature examination (Obligatory. Contact your supervisor or research director to agree on the books or other scientific literature.)
  • 10 ECTS Literature review (An essay based on recent journal articles related to your research topic. Cannot be included in your thesis.)
  • 10-20 ECTS University courses in the major subject
  • 10-20 ECTS University courses in supporting subjects
  • 4-8 ECTS PhD seminar (highly recommended for students in ecology and biodiversity)
  • 2 ECTS scientific ethics (Obligatory, course offered by UTUGS)
  • 4-8 ECTS transferable skills courses (e.g. those offered by UTUGS)
  • 4-8 ECTS Participation and presentation (oral or poster) in international conferences (2 ECTS/conference)
  • 0-4 ECTS Teaching in university courses (1 ECTS for each 1 ECTS taught)
  • 0-4 ECTS Public outreach (e.g. school visits, popular articles on scientific topics, scientific blogging)
  • 0-4 ECTS Scientific publications that do not form a part of the thesis (2 ECTS/publication)
  • 0-4 ECTS Research visits to a foreign research institution (2 ECTS/month)

How to register your credits

Credits from courses you take at the University of Turku are registered routinely by the course teacher.

Other credits are registered by the BGG coordinator. You need to present the appropriate course certificate or other proof of having completed the activity in question. Credits from conferences, research visits etc. need to be endorsed by your supervisor or research director.


In order to be eligible for doctoral studies in BGG, you must have an appropriate university degree (typically MSc). Eligibility criteria and the responsibilities of postgraduate students can be found from the instructions concerning doctoral training given by the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.  

Before applying, you must also make contact with the department in which you wish to graduate. This is because you need supervisors for your PhD research, and you are most likely to be successful in finding them if your research interests coincide with those of a research project that is already active in the Department of Biology​ or in the Department of Geography and Geology. As a general rule, doctoral students should have at least two supervisors. A single supervisor is only possible if you also have an advisory group. An advisory group typically consists of 3-4 persons, and some of them should be from a different university. 

Both your research plan and the supervision arrangements have to be approved by a professor in the department in question. This professor will become your research director ("valvoja" in Finnish) if your application for the right to study is approved.  

When you have decided to apply to the BGG doctoral programme, please note the below practical things that have to be sorted out before submitting an application.


Are you missing a course on a specific topic that would help you in your thesis work?  Have you got the feeling that no one organises a course that is just right for you? How about organising the course yourself, and inviting someone inspiring to teach it! BGG now provides funding for specialized PhD courses organised by BGG doctoral students and/or staff of the departments of Biology and Geography & Geology. Open the form on the right to see what information BGG asks you to provide. You can submit a course proposal any time of the year, but the chances of getting funded are best in the beginning of each calendar year​​.

BG​G travel grants 

We are pleased to announce that the BGG travel grants are open from 2 May until 14 May, 2017. Next call for applications will open in autumn 2017. Instructions and application link will be sent to the BGG students by email. 

BGG Doctoral Programme supports the travel of its students to events that benefit the students' networking and learning possibilities. Use this opportunity to get funding for travel to international conferences, workshops,  and PhD courses that will be beneficial for your studies. BGG can cover the costs of travel, accommodation, and attendance fees. BGG may give partial grants, in which case the applicant needs to cover the remaining costs by other means. Costs will be reimbursed after the travel in exchange for original receipts. To get reimbursed, click the "BBG Travel reimbursement form" on the right side of this page and follow the instructions.

BG​G grants for finalizing a doctoral dissertation

The BGG grants for finalizing a doctoral dissertation are open from 2 May until 14 May, 2017. Next call for applications will open in autumn 2017. Instructions and application link will be sent to BGG students by email.

BGG Doctoral Programme awards 1-3 month grants for doctoral students who are at the very last stages of their doctoral studies.

PLEASE NOTE  that you are only eligible for financial support from BGG if you have given a presentation in the latest BGG Doctoral Training Days, or otherwise submitted an annual report of the previous year.

​UTUGS-funded doctoral student positions

University of Turku Graduate School (UTUGS) annually allocates funds to providing a salary for a limited number of doctoral candidates in each doctoral programme. Funding may be for up to four years. The call for UTUGS funded positions is open once a year in September. 

Aurora Database

Database for Finnish and international Foundations and other funding bodies.
Check out also the useful "alert"-function, which can automatically remind you of approaching deadlines. 

Academy of Finland

​The main science funding organization in Finland with different types of funding schemes.

PoDoCo - Post Docs in Companies

PoDoCo is a matchmaking program supporting long term competitiveness and strategic renewal of companies and employment of young doctors in the private sector. PoDoCo program is aimed for all young doctors who have recently completed or will soon complete their doctorate degree are welcome to join the PoDoCo Program. PoDoCo spring application round is open on 1.3.-13.4.2017.



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