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Biology: Plant Sciences and Natural Products

The Master specialisation Plant Sciences and Natural Products is a specialisation of the Biology Master and offers a research-oriented education in plant sciences with a strong focus on the generation of fundamental scientific knowledge that can lead to the improvement of crop quality and yield. Important aspects of plant development and the interaction of plants with the environment can be studied at different often integrated levels ranging from the molecular, genetic and cellular levels to organismal and population levels. It is also possible to study the production of plant natural products that are important for the food or pharmaceutical industries.
A major part of the master training is actively taking part in a running research project within the Plant Sciences and Natural Products research area at the Institute of Biology, the Faculty of Science, Naturalis Biodiversity Center or Institute of Environmental Sciences There are also possibilities for external projects at other plant institutes in the Netherlands or abroad.

Coordinator: Dr. R. Offringa

Website Instituut Biologie Leiden

For a description of the full programme read the more information button!
For the timetable and registration in usis and codes, see under ‘files’ (bestanden)

This MSc specialisation will start on Monday 5 September, 2016 at the Sylvius Laboratory, with an information lecture.

Compulsory elements

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Compulsory elements:

Orientation on Plant Sciences and Natural Products 3
Advanced Statistics 3
Genomic Architecture 6
Book exam 3
Research Project Min. 60

At least one of the following specialisation courses is compulsory:

The Immune system of plants 6
Metabolomics 6
Development and Evolution 6

At least 9 EC by following an additional specialisation course or approved electives, see Tab 'Electives'

Biology Electives

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Specialisation courses of the other Biology Master Specialisations:

Human Impacts on Biodiversity 6
Global Regulatory Networks in Bacteria (GRNB) 6
Mechanisms of Disease 6
Methods in Biodiversity Analysis 6

Approved Electives:

Advanced Academic Skills Elite Course 6
Animal Cognition 6
Biodiversity and Conservation (seminar) 4
Economic Botany Today 4
Ecosystem Services 6
Introduction to Laboratory Animal Science 1
Plant Families of the Tropics 5
Top Lectures Basic 1
Top Lectures Elite 3
Tropical Biodiversity and Field Methods (Caribbean) 6
Practical Assistance 2-10

Other Electives

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Other approved electives 1-6

Electives Faculty of Science

Science and the public: contemporary and historical perspectives 6
Science Methodology 4

More info

Programme (120 EC)
The MSc specialisation consists of:

  • a theoretical part (30-60 EC)

  • one or more research projects (60-90 EC).

The programme includes several compulsory components, mostly at the start of the programme, and can be expanded with a wide choice of elective elements. The mandatory components in the 1st semester aim to provide students with the theoretical and practical background needed for an efficient start of the specialisation Research Project at the end of this semester. The Research Projects are the actual core of the MSc programme. Students will be member of a research group of their choice and work full time on a specific project. Each project will be finished with an MSc thesis written in the form of a manuscript for an international scientific journal. At least one but preferably two Research Projects are part of the study programme.
The Specialisation Research Project has to be done within the Plant Sciences and Natural Products research area at the Institute Biology Leiden, the Faculty of Science, Naturalis Biodiversity Center or Institute of Environmental Sciences. All Research Projects require prior approval by the Board of Examiners through approval of the individual study plan of a student and approval of the research agreement.

Compulsory components:
The compulsory theoretical components consist of at least 30 EC, and the minimum time to be spent on research projects is 60 EC. The specialisation Research Project should be minimally 36 EC, and a second Research Project should be at least 30 EC. A single research project cannot exceed 60 EC.

Electives/Optional elements:
The optional part of the programme can consist of either additional courses or lectures, or an extension of the duration of a research project. A list of approved elective courses is available on the e-guide. For courses outside the LU biology programme and for all research projects, prior approval of the Board of Examiners is required. Note: maximally 12 EC of optional theoretical elements of level < 400 are permitted and max 15 EC non-biology courses.

Approval of programme
The individual study programme consisting of choices of courses and one or two research projects must have prior approval of the Board of Examiners.

Short description of the Courses
The Plant Sciences and Natural Products study programme comprises several compulsory courses. The course Orientation on Plant Sciences and Natural Products provides a state of the art overview of the scientific research and research methods used in the departments participating in this MSc specialisation taken from presentations by group leaders and PhD students. The course “Genomic Architecture” aims at training students to become “genome-enabled” biologists by giving an overview of the structure, function and evolution of genomes. Together with the Advanced Statistics course, and one of the specialisation courses Immune Systems of Plants or Metabolomics, this will prepare the students theoretically for their training in scientific research during the Research Project(s).
At the beginning of the second semester (in year 1 or 2) students prepare individually from an advanced text book for a specialised examination. A variety of additional courses from other MSc specialisations in Biology and from other MSc programmes at the Faculty of Science and LUMC can be chosen as electives. Available book titles are provided in the electronic study guide (e-prospectus). For details (description, literature, exam dates and further calendar events) about the different courses see the e-prospectus and Blackboard.