Topic outline

  • students in a study hallway
    Photo: Petri Anttila / Aalto University. All rights reserved.

    Introduction to the course

    The purpose of the Finland Studies open online course is to offer a starting point for learning about studying at Finnish universities. The course has been designed especially for international students, and faculty coming to teach in Finland, and those who wish to know more about Finnish universities. The course content has been produced collectively by experts from Aalto University Student Services, students, teaching professionals and researchers. The course offers societal-, organisational-, and individual-level perspectives on Finnish student life as well as practical know-how for studying in Finland.

    The course consists of five main chapters, with each chapter comprising several sections that end either with an open-ended reflective question or a quiz. The assignments, alongside the course materials, are designed to help students navigate Finnish university life and reflect on their future studies in Finland.

    A key motivation for offering the Finland Studies course is international students’ need for resources to acquaint them with the Finnish university system and academic culture. Adapting to a new way of studying requires effort from both students and the university, and this course aims to ease the possible adjustment process and provide the participant with a concise information package and opportunity for reflection.

    The course is part of the national Talent Boost programme, coordinated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Education and Culture, that aims to promote integration of international talents in Finland.

    course content in picture

  • Intended learning outcomes

    In this course (1 ETCS), we will look at how to navigate Finnish university life. Once you have finished the course, you will have a better understanding of what studying at a Finnish university is like. The course is an open online course, and the material is divided into five (5) chapters.


    • Subject: Studying at a Finnish university
    • Level: Introductory
    • Prerequisites: None
    • Language: English
    • Credit: 1 ETCS

    Course content

    • The Finnish education system with a focus on the higher education system
    • The key elements of studying at a Finnish university
    • Studying in a foreign language in a diverse community
    • Student well-being and study support
    • Student life and activities

    Learning outcomes

    After the course, students will know the main principles on which the education system in Finland is based with a focus on higher education. Students will be introduced to some of the pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning in Finnish higher education to better understand what studying at a Finnish university is like.

    Students will learn how student well-being and studying are supported in the Finnish higher education system. They will recognise the characteristics of a diverse higher education community and acquire tools to facilitate their integration into the Finnish academic community.

    How to complete the course

    This course consists of five chapters, with each chapter containing a varying number of sections. Each section is followed by either a quiz or an open-ended assignment or both so that you can reflect on what you have learned. To complete the course, read the article in each section and complete all the quizzes and open-ended questions.

    Enrolment options

    Sign up for the course to create an account. See the enrollment steps below.
    For Aalto University students: In order to receive 1 ECTS, enroll also on the LC-7010 Finland Studies MOOC course on SISU.

  • Photo: Petri Anttila / Aalto University. All rights reserved.

    In Chapter 1, students will learn the main principles on which the Finnish education system and higher education system is built. Students will understand the factors behind a high-quality and successful education system. They will learn how certain core values, such as equality, non-discrimination and diversity, have shaped and are promoted in the Finnish education system

    Students will be introduced to the idea of lifewide learning and its role in future career planning and in building one’s learning path. They will learn how studying is supported and a safe learning environment is promoted at a university level. Students will understand the central student rights and regulations that help them navigate Finnish university life. 

  • students chatting around a table
    Photo: Unto Rautio / Aalto University. All rights reserved.

    Chapter 2 discusses elements of studying at a Finnish university. Students will come to understand the importance of creativity and critical thinking (CCT) skills and how the Finnish education system both supports and promotes these skills. They will learn factors promoting both creativity and critical thinking.

    Students will learn the key to enhanced learning through collaboration and the meaning of learning as an active and constructive process. They will acquire the tools for participation in successful collaborative learning projects and understand the importance of collaborative problem-solving as a vital working-life skill in all industries. In addition, students
    will learn the common practicalities and aims of challenge-based learning approaches. They will understand the skillset and process of challenge-based learning and be able to apply this skillset to their studies.

    Furthermore, students will learn about the centrality of sustainability in the Finnish higher education system and how it is addressed there. They will come to understand how sustainability is integrated into teaching for students to contribute to a more sustainable world.

  • Photo: Pasi Markkanen / The Shortcut. Finland Promotion Board. All rights reserved.

    Chapter 3 will focus on students learning to communicate in a multicultural community. Students will learn to critically engage with the notion of culture and how cultures can be approached using different frameworks. They will reflect upon ‘doing’ and ‘having’ culture in their own lives.

    Students will be introduced to some cultural aspects of Finnish life. They will also reflect on the advantages of learning the local languages, Finnish and Swedish. They will understand how local language skills can provide a path to full participation in the community and enhance better understanding of the local culture. 

    Students will also be introduced to the academic writing skills required when studying in a higher education degree programme in English. They will learn some of the crucial perspectives they must consider as academic writers. In addition, they will learn the importance of referring to previous work in academic writing and understand ways to develop their academic writing skills.

  • Photo: Petri Anttila / Aalto University. All rights reserved.

    Chapter 4 introduces students to the ways in which student well-being and studying are supported in the Finnish higher education system. Students will learn the key aspects of study well-being and study ability and how the skills supporting them can be developed throughout their lives – from higher education to working life.

    They will understand ways of fostering their study well-being and reflect upon recovery. They will learn skills that are important for success in studying and how to practise their study skills. Students will acquire the tools for time management and effective self-leadership that support coping with independent studying. 
    They will learn elements of and actions that promote an inclusive study environment. Students will learn the meaning of a sense of belongingness and how it can affect study well-being. They will reflect on ways to promote a welcoming and inclusive environment for all.

    In addition, students will learn the role of university guidance and counselling in ensuring successful studying for all. Students will be introduced to the kind of guidance offered by Finnish universities and what it can mean in practice.

  • Photo: Roee Cohen / Aalto University.  All rights reserved.

    Chapter 5 introduces students to student life in Finland. They will gain insights into and reflect on what it can be like to be a student at a Finnish university. Furthermore, they will learn ways to participate in the university community. Students will be introduced to what the student union is, how it is formed, who it represents, and how to get involved in student life through the student union.

    Students will learn practical tips for finding their own place in the community. They will reflect upon things that make them feel welcome in a community and how the community and the student themselves can increase the feeling of being welcomed and included. Students will be introduced to the alumni network and the progression from studying to working life. They will learn how to utilize the alumni network while they are still studying and how this network, in addition to university services, can support career design and lifewide learning.

  • All members    

    Aalto University Student Services experts, students, teaching professionals and researchers have collectively produced the course content.

    Here you can get to know the authors of each chapter better: