Skip to content

International dimension and the impacts of Finland joining the military Alliance on the Military Sciences Master’s Degree

National Defence University
Publication date 10.5.2024 10.39
Press release

Finland’s NATO membership contributes to the officer’s career becoming more international in nature, and international activities will be an increasingly central part of the Master of Military Sciences Degree as well. At the same time, the requirements set by NATO lend themselves to making the officer’s career and education increasingly versatile.

Director of the National Defence University’s Master’s Degree Programme, Lieutenant Commander Marcus Duncker says that the activities will be developed in a number of different areas in the future. 

“This development work does not involve only international exercise activity or instruction of operational art and tactics related to it. It also means an increase in teaching in English in various scientific fields in a relevant way, Lieutenant Commander Marcus Duncker specifies. 

English language training is, in fact, an increasingly important part of Finnish officer training.  All students have foreign language studies included in their degree studies, most of them English.  In addition to study units, using English is striven to be increased in Master’s degree studies, for example, in connection with the teaching of other subject matters and in every day situations to support teaching. As a matter of fact, during their studies, the students get English language training both through theory and practise.

For example in International Exercises and Comprehensive Crisis Management, English-language teaching of theory and practical exercises are seamlessly combined. In addition to having the students carry out an exercise in practise in English, the course includes lectures on the international operating environment, exercises and crisis management.. The director of the course, Captain Santeri Sandberg says that it course coaches students for the future.  

”Having achieved the course, the student has, among other things, the skills to  work in the English language in a staff position corresponding to a similar position in his own organization.”, Captain Sandberg sums up.

Interesting career paths

Master ‘s degree students as well have become aware that the officer’s career is becoming more international. Many of them have taken part in international training even before Finland became a member of NATO, but its role is perceived as more and more central since our country joined the Alliance. First Lieutenant Jyri-Oskari Pätäri who is a student on Military Sciences Master’s Degree Course 12 thinks that interesting career paths may open up in the future through NATO. 

First Lieutenant Jyri-Oskari Pätäri, 2024

Pätäri says he has also noticed that learning contributed  by the Alliance has been striven to be integrated into master’s studies where possible given the short period of time.  Efforts to introduce this learning have been felt, for example, on the International Exercises and Comprehensive Crisis Management Course where the NATO tactical planning instructions were met with great enthusiasm by the students.  An English-language professional vocabulary has also played a key role on the course. 

“The most important thing learnt is the military and professional vocabulary with the help of which Finnish military language can be translated into English in a form understandable to international partners, Pätäri says. 

Continuing process

NATO membership is also reflected in the testing of master’s degree students’ language skills.  The Head of the Language Training Branch of the Defence Language Centre Laura Murto says that on English courses, students have been given written use assignments following the goals of the NATO STANAG 6001 language standard, for example.     

“The language skills of officers intended to be posted to NATO tasks are tested by a NATO STANAG 6001-based language examination which measures general language skills.   Each task has its own special vocabulary, so the examination does not include vocabulary assignments.  The better a person’s linguistic skills are, the quicker he/she is to assimilate the vocabulary required for the new task,” Murto says. 

Language training at the National Defence University has been partly renewed as a consequence of Finland’s NATO membership, but it is important to remember that the development work has only just begun.  According to Murto, the limitations of mandatory language courses, in particular and large teaching groups have been identified as development targets.  

“English language teaching, in particular, has been striven to be developed in the direction of blended learning, within the limits of resources.  Courses organized in the Moodle environment offer the students  optional opportunities for working on their English skills also outside mandatory courses, Murto explains. 

Murto says that she has noticed that Finland’s NATO membership has given a significant boost to the students’ motivation to study the language.  

“An increasing number of optional courses have been included in the studies and the students are more interested in the subject matter.  Due to the increase in motivation and optional blended-learning training, it is possible to time English language studies in a way efficient from the learning point of view.