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Biology: Biodiversity and Sustainability

The critical importance of biodiversity and the services provided by nature for our society is increasingly endorsed by national and international conventions. However, to implement the right policy measures for creating a sustainable society, a much better understanding of the biological processes involved is essential. This master specialisation aims to discuss and answer these societal relevant biological questions, such as; How much biodiversity do we need to ensure that nature functions well? What determines the stability of ecosystems? How can we quantify ecosystem services? Are invasive species always bad for the ecosystem? Will species be able to adapt sufficiently fast to global change and what are appropriate measures to facilitate this process? And, how can we optimize ecosystem functioning and biodiversity for a sustainable society? By using ‘sustainability’ as a guiding principle, the programme provides students with an academic attitude by stimulating reflective, independent and creative thinking to support, conserve and manage biodiversity and sustainable ecosystem services. This master specialisation prepares students for a PhD programme and/or for research positions at universities or research institutes and for positions at governmental organisations and consultancy agencies.

Coordinator: Prof dr. P. van Bodegom

Website Instituut Biologie Leiden

For a description of the full programme click the more information button!

This MSc specialisation will start on Monday 4 September, 2017 at the Sylvius Laboratory, with an information lecture.

Compulsory elements

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Compulsory elements:

Orientation on Biodiversity and Sustainability 2
Advanced Statistics 4
Genomic Architecture 6
Ecosystem Services 6
Human Impacts on Biodiversity 6
Methods in Biodiversity Analysis 6
Research Project (Biologie) 60

Specialisation related elective courses

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Advanced Academic Skills Elite Course 6
Biodiversity and Conservation (seminar) 4
Book exam 6
Economic Botany Today 4
Integrative Taxonomy 6
Plant Families of the Tropics 5
Top Lectures Basic 1
Top Lectures Elite 3
Tropical Biodiversity and Field Methods (South East Asia) 6

Courses organized by the Faculty of Science or LUMC:

Advances in Data Mining 6
Computational Molecular Biology 6

Other elective courses

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Animal Personality 6
Advanced Cell Biology 4
Advanced Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology 3
Chemistry of System Earth 3
Development and Evolution 6
Global Regulatory Networks in Bacteria (GRNB) 6
The Immune system of plants 6
Introduction to Laboratory Animal Science 1
Mechanisms of Disease 6
Paleobiology 3
Practical Assistance 2/10

Courses organized by the Faculty of Science or LUMC:

Biological Mechanisms of Ageing and Development 4
From genetic disease to functional genomics 6
Image Analysis with Applications in Microscopy 6
Mathematical Biology: Metabolic Network Analysis (BM) 6
Model organisms in cancer drug discovery and development 4
Multiscale Mathematical Biology (BM) 6
Science and the public: contemporary and historical perspectives 6
Science Methodology (SCM) 4
Stem Cells 6
Other approved electives 1/6

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 and the end 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 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 a 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 in one of the IBL, CML or Naturalis departments that contribute to the chosen specialisation. Research projects can range from experimental studies on molecular tools for biomonitoring or sustainable use of resources and human impacts on biodiversity to field research in the Netherlands (e.g. on pollination services and nature conservation mechanisms) or elsewhere (e.g. terrestrial and marine studies in Southeast Asia) to study biological mechanisms associated with biodiversity and sustainability. Students are encouraged to do a second external project at an institute abroad. 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 an extension of the duration of a research project. A list of approved elective courses is available in the e-guide. For courses outside the Leiden University biology programme, prior approval of the Board of Examiners is required.
Note: No more than 12 EC of optional theoretical elements of level < 400 are permitted and at most 15 EC of 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
Courses cover a broad range of relevant subjects and provide in-depth theoretical knowledge as well as training in practical skills and advanced research tools. The course Orientation on Biodiversity and Sustainability provides a state of the art overview of the scientific research and research methods used in the departments participating in this MSc specialisation.
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 as tools for biomonitoring, and an introduction into bio-informatics. The interface between biodiversity and sustainability is taught in ‘Ecosystem Services’ and ‘Human Impacts on Biodiversity’. In addition, students are trained in ‘Advanced Statistics’ and ‘Methods in Biodiversity Analysis’, providing the methodological tools for their training in scientific research during the Research Project(s).
A variety of additional courses from other MSc specialisations in Biology and from other MSc programmes at the Faculty of Science can be chosen as electives. For details (description, literature, exam dates and further calendar events) about the different courses see the e-prospectus and Blackboard.