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Systematics and Biodiversity


Admission requirements


  • BSc-course Biodiversity, theory and practice of systematics or equivalent knowledge of phylogenetic reconstruction.

  • MSc-course Advanced Statistics.


The main aim of this course is to introduce a number of approaches, methods and issues that are relevant to biological taxonomy and biodiversity in the wide sense, including actual and historical analyses of biodiversity and evolution. The following topics will be introduced and practiced:

  • Taxonomy as an information storage and – retrieval system in the age of Internet.

  • Phylogenetic analysis: concepts and applications.

  • Analysis of geographic structure and gene flow in and between populations.

  • Analysis of historic and stratigraphic patterns and the timing and geographic context of reconstructed phylogenies.

  • Data analysis and management applied to (spatial) biodiversity data.

Course objectives

After completion of this course, students can:
1. Interpret biological diversity in terms of character and function, species richness, phylogenetic distinctiveness, and geographic structure.
2. Develop a phylogenetic analysis from molecular data and evaluate the results.
3. Summarize the findings of a scholarly publication relevant to the course topic and critique it in class.
4. Formulate a hypothesis on climate impacts and design a species distribution modelling experiment to test it.
5. Appraise different types of biodiversity data and their applications, such as DNA barcodes, specimen images, species occurrences, and traits and characters.
6. Design in silico experiments with good data management and reproducible analysis.
7. Present and argue to professional standards the merits of scientific findings in writing and speech.
8. Describe the (specific) characteristics of spatial data and GIS.
9. Evaluate different spatial analysis tools available to solve a spatial problem.


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, computer exercises, literature study, demonstrations.

Assessment method

Written reports, oral presentation, and examination.

The final grade consists of the following partial grades:

  • Exam, 50%, passing grade required

  • Written report, 20%, passing grade required

  • Oral presentation, 20%, passing grade required

  • Participation, 10%, passing grade required

Reading list

Relevant literature will be made available on Brightspace.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Coordinator: Dr. J.A. Miller and Dr. R.A. Vos



The information about this subject is subject to change for 2022-2023.