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Orientation on Biodiversity and Sustainability


Admission requirements

This course is for MSc students in Biology.


Coordinator: P.M. van Bodegom Email:


The course “Orientation on Biodiversity and Sustainability” offers a kaleidoscopic overview of the field central to this specialisation with emphasis on those aspects for which the three Leiden partner institutes (IBL, CML, and Naturalis) are particularly strong, namely: (1) taxonomy underlying biodiversity assessments; (2) macroecology and hotspots of biodiversity; (3) ecosystem services as a tool for sustainable use of natural resources; and (4) human impacts on biodiversity, including noise, pollution and species invasions. 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. Students will receive lectures in the mornings to get an overview on these topics as well as to gain insights in possible thesis topics. These lectures provide – in combination with field visits to research facilities in the afternoons - the inspiration for student groups to work on a research proposal. In different sessions in which students present their progress, feedback will be given on the formulation of research questions and the critical links to (experimental) design and data analysis. In combination, this will prepare the students for the MSc specialization on biodiversity and sustainability.

Learning goals

Course objectives:

  • To provide students with an overview of the research fields covered by the Biodiversity and Sustainability specialisation

  • To introduce them to the basic concepts and the key scientific questions covered by those research fields

  • To familiarize students with the research and methods used within the research groups participating in the Biodiversity and Sustainability specialisation

  • To facilitate the choice for a first MSc research project, and to enable the planning of a concept programme for the 2-years MSc specialisation.

  • To prepare students for the formulation of a research proposal and the critical components of such proposal

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 his/her concept MSc study program, and arranged his/her first research project. Moreover, the student has acquired the skills to formulate a research proposal.


From 6 September 2021 to 1 October 2021. The detailed programme will be placed on Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

By lectures, feedback sessions, field visits and self-study

Assessment method

The grade for the course is based on a mini-project in which students define a (mini) research proposal based on one of the (outdoor) research facilities. The grade is based on the framing and novelty of the proposal, the proposed hypotheses and research design and the appropriateness and persuasiveness of the argumentation used.

The final grade consists of the following partial grades:

  • Final version of the proposal: 100%

Inspection and feedback on the examination

Feedback on the draft of the proposals will be discussed with each student group individually as well as plenary during a presentation of the proposal. Feedback on the final proposal will be provided in writing to each group individually.


Brightspace will be used for communication.

Reading list



Via Usis

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