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Biology: Evolutionary Biology

This research-oriented master specialisation provides students with in-depth knowledge about Evolutionary Sciences. Evolutionary changes over time and study the origin and maintenance of biological variation all over the tree of life. The mechanisms that drive the adaptation of organisms and their features are investigated at all biological levels. Thus, the specialisation includes genomics, functional developmental genetics, paleobiology, behavioural biology and evolutionary ecology. The important contribution of Naturalis to the programme makes this specialisation particularly attractive. With this master specialisation completed, the students are well equipped to start a career in evolutionary research or to take the responsibility for projects in an industrial or institutional research environment.

Coordinator: Dr. M. van der Zee

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 Evolutionary Biology 2
Advanced Statistics 4
Genomic Architecture 6
Development and Evolution 6
Integrative Taxonomy 6
Research Project (Biologie) 60

Specialisation related elective courses

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Advanced Academic Skills Elite Course 6
Animal Personality 6
Biodiversity and Conservation (seminar) 4
Book exam 6
Economic Botany Today 4
Ecosystem Services 6
Human Impacts on Biodiversity 6
Introduction to Laboratory Animal Science 1
Methods in Biodiversity Analysis 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
Image Analysis with Applications in Microscopy 6

Other elective courses

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Advanced Cell Biology 4
Advanced Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology 3
Chemistry of System Earth 3
Global Regulatory Networks in Bacteria (GRNB) 6
The Immune system of plants 6
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
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)

  • and 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, Naturalis, LUMC (for instance human population genetics, virus evolution, evolution of ageing, resistance etc.) or NIOO departments that contribute to the chosen specialisation. Research projects can range from experimental laboratory work on the molecular mechanisms of development to big data studies on evolutionary ecology. Students are encouraged to do an 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 lectures, or an extension of the duration of a research project. A list of approved elective courses is available on the e-prospectus. For courses outside the Leiden University biology programme and for all research projects, 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
The Evolutionary Biology study programme comprises several compulsory courses. The course Orientation on Evolutionary Biology 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, and an introduction into the bio-informatics required to study these genomes. Together with the Advanced Statistics course, and one of the specialisation courses this will prepare the students theoretically 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 and LUMC 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.