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Orientation on Evolutionary Biology


Admission requirements

This course is for MSc students in Biology.


Coordinator: Prof. Dr. M. Schilthuizen


The module “Orientation on Evolutionary Biology” offers a kaleidoscopic overview of the field of Evolutionary Biology, with emphasis on those aspects for which the three Leiden partner institutes (IBL, CML, and Naturalis) are particularly strong, namely: (1) evolutionary systematics, based on natural history collections; (2) population genetics applied to conservation; (3) urban evolution; (4) character evolution; (5) evo-devo, and (6) speciation. The students will receive lectures in the mornings and practicals or field trips in the afternoons. There will be ample opportunity to learn about the collections, the labs, and other joint facilities of the three institutes. The lectures and practicals will be given by a broad range of scientists from all three institutes, and will all refer to research carried out in this field. There will also be several opportunities to interact socially with class mates and instructors.

Learning goals

Course objectives:

  • To provide students with an overview of the research fields covered by the MSc-program.

  • To introduce them to basic concepts and the key scientific questions connected to those research fields.

  • To familiarize students with the research and methods used within the research groups participating in the MSc specialisation.

  • To facilitate the choice for a first MSc research project, and to enable the planning of a concept program for the two years’ MSc specialisation.

Final qualifications:
A starting MSc student has an overview of the research fields, basic scientific concepts, key scientific questions, research topics and methods connected with the MSc research cluster, and established a first draft for his/her concept MSc study program, and a prioritization for his/her first research project.


From 6 September 2021. The detailed timetable will be published on Brightspac

Mode of instruction

Lectures and field practicals.

Assessment method

Students will expand and publish a Wikipedia "stub".

The updated entry will be graded and evaluated on the following points:

  • Scientific and objective content (33%)

  • The ability of the student to clarify the scientific content to the general public (33%)

  • Use of the English language (33%)

Individual feedback will be provided

The final grade consists of the following partical grades: only the final mark of the Wikipedia stub writing assignment.

Inspection and feedback on the examination

Date: 15 Sept. 2020. Students will fill out an evaluation form beforehand. The feedback will be discussed in the classroom after the final lecture of the course.


Brightspace will be used for communication.

Reading list

None required.


Via Usis

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.