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Orientation on Biodiversity and Sustainability


Admission requirements

This course is for MSc students in Biology.


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) biodiversity assessments; (2) macroecology and hotspots of biodiversity; (3) ecosystem services and sustainability; and (4) human impacts on biodiversity, such as 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 classmates and instructors. Students will receive lectures 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 - 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.

Course objectives

After completion of the course, students are able to:  

  • Summarize the research fields covered by the Biodiversity and Sustainability specialisation

  • Explain the basic concepts and the key scientific questions covered by those research fields

  • Summarize the research and methods used within the research groups participating in the Biodiversity and Sustainability specialisation

  • Outline the choices for a first MSc research project and plan a concept programme for the 2-years MSc specialisation

  • Develop a research proposal to formulate research questions and methodology


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

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.

Reading list



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: P.M. van Bodegom and Dr. Y. Si
Email: and