Education

From 2013 the introductory courses in physics are starting twice a year, at the beginning of the autumn and spring semesters. In introductory level, attention has been paid on modernisation of the content and on better meeting the requirements of more advanced courses. These changes have proved to be twofold: While in feedback the new courses have been found motivating, they have also been evaluated to be more demanding.

The Department has been successful in actively engaging the top-level researchers in teaching, which ensures that the best expertise and the most up-to-date insights in physics are available to students. The need of professionalism in teaching is also noted, and many of the teachers have attended courses on university pedagogy in order to improve their teaching skills.

Management of Educational Activities have followed the earlier years. In 2013 the international student exchange and exchange programmes have received more attention, with a long-term goal of increasing the number of foreign students and to make the studies attractive to them.

In Physics, the Bachelor level education gives a basic knowledge of all the currently relevant concepts in physics, and provides students with the necessary mathematical, computational and experimental tools. At the Master's level, the student specializes in a certain physics subfield, and obtains expert knowledge in this field. There are seven special orientations in Physics: aerosol and environmental physics, space physics, bio- and medical physics, electronics and industrial applications, particle and nuclear physics (including also cosmology), computational physics, and material and nanophysics.

In implementation of the teaching strategy of the Physics Department the following areas of monitoring and further development have been identified: 1. Study paths and impact of teaching, 2. Study flow and learning targets, 3. Joint electronic application system to higher education, 4. Student recruitment, 5. Internationalization. For example, relevance of our education to the labour market has been highlighted by inviting the Department's alumni to share their experience to students at various events and courses (e.g., Introduction to physical sciences), and by intensifying efforts to provide summer trainee positions. In line with the internationalization strategy a Master's Degree Programme in Physical Sciences (helsinki.fi/facultyofscience/studies/apply_physics) is available in English, including Physics (six specialization lines), Theoretical Physics, Astronomy and Meteorology. In addition, two of the previous international Master's Programmes continue: Master's Degree Programme in Atmosphere-Biosphere Studies (ABS) and Modeling Molecules and Nanosystems (MoMoNano).

Physics teacher education

The Physics Teacher education programme of pre-service teachers for lower and upper secondary schools is an important part of the Department's teaching responsibilities. For teacher education, special courses are given in the Master's degree studies. The number of the physics students taking the physics teachers' study programme and the teacher's licence seems to be settling to below 10 students per year, but the number of students taking the teachers' studies as a minor subject is expected to be around 25–30. Clearly, this trend needs to be taken into account in future planning of the structure of the studies. In addition, in teacher education first steps have been taken to take better advantage of the multidisciplinary character of the current physical sciences – including e.g. environmental physics, biophysics, geophysics, space physics and astronomy and physical meteorology. All these branches of physics have much potential to enrich the current teacher education.

Teaching in Swedish

The teaching of physics in Swedish serves the Swedish-speaking population of the country, in accordance with the bilingual status of the University of Helsinki. It helps to attract students to the Department from Swedish-speaking schools from the whole country and makes their transition to also take courses lectured in Finnish or English easier. The number of students is fairly small, with around 10 new major and 10 minor students coming in each year. This allows for tailoring the teaching programme annually to the needs of the students. In a joint forum between the students and teachers, the "Studiekollegiet", the higher-level courses to be taught and their timing in the following year are selected to match the students' needs as well as possible considering the teaching resources. The same forum is also used for evaluation of the teaching. All Swedish-speaking teachers are also involved in outreach activities, such as arranging continued education of teachers in Swedish, handling the matriculation exams in physics, and information of physics studies to high schools.

In 2013 the Swedish teaching line expanded its activities by starting a bilingual teaching programme, where students of both Finnish and Swedish school education can obtain a bilingual Bachelor's degree if they take at least 1/3 of the studies in both domestic languages. This teaching initiative significantly expands the number of students that have an incentive to take courses in Swedish.