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Advanced Academic Skills Elite Course


Admission requirements

A BSc in Biology or related subject (University or HLO), with a solid theoretical and practical training and sufficient knowledge of Mathematics and Statistics. The student should be in the final stage of his/her (last) MSc research project.


This course concerns a four-weeks MSc-training in all skills that are required for prospective PhD-students, but that will also come in handy in almost any academic-level job. We aim at the development of conceptual understanding and associative and interdisciplinary thinking. We also intend to provide a better perspective on the nature and speed of scientific developments within a discipline. The students will be educated at an advanced level in various scientific skills, such as writing scientific texts, presenting scientific papers, communicating facts and opinions, reviewing and criticizing work by peers, and writing novel research proposals. The course is open for students of all four IBL-MSc-specialisations and welcomes MSc-students from anywhere. Students are allowed to further develop their own individual expertise in the direction of their choice by selecting primary literature for the various assignments and by scientific sparring with: the course coordinators, MSc-specialisation specific supervisors and fellow students with similar and different interests.

Course Objectives

After completion of the course, students are able to:

  • Develop skills in creativity, interdisciplinary thinking and scientific project design

  • Formulate and write a viable and well-defined research proposal based on current NWO guidelines.

  • Present written and oral research ideas in a clear and well-argued manner,

  • Review and evaluate peer research proposals, ideas and oral presentations

  • Reflect on diverse career trajectories within and outside of academics

  • Reflect on key elements of academic life: scientific ethics, implicit bias, the role of social media, effective scientific presentations, the structure of academic institutes and funding bodies


Four full weeks from 29 May 2023 - 23 June 2023, during which students are required to be present at all group activities and otherwise work in groups or individually. Although there will be fixed contact hours typically in the morning throughout the course, there is reasonable flexibility and independence in how and when students allocate their effort and time.

Mode of instruction

This course is based on lectures, discussions, student presentations, essay assignments, and self study, using primary literature. The time schedule involves a limited number of fixed contact hours with teachers. The course will require presence for about 4 hours per day. The rest of the time will be spent on self study and student interactions independent of teachers. Do expect a heavy workload for a five-day work week and full day commitment at least during office hours.

Assessment method

Testing will be done by two short written assignments (once in a pair and once individually), two oral presentations and a longer written assignment (both individually, each student will present).

Reading list

Students will read a variable number of documents and scientific papers. Several will be provided by the teachers and are the same for all students. Others will be selected by the students themselves guided by their own interests.


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.



Your registration is not complete if you have not registered for all course components available in my study map (exam, lecture, etc.).

Hand-outs of lectures, informative documents, references to primary literature and links to important websites will be provided via Brightspace.

Maximum number of participants: 14