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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 pitch. When students present their ideas, feedback will be given on the formulation of research questions and the links to the potential (experimental/sampling) design and data analysis methods. In combination, this will prepare the students for the MSc specialization on biodiversity and sustainability.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to

· Describe basic scientific concepts, key questions and used methodology of research fields that are associated with the specialization and explain how these fields may be integrated in biological research. · Explain which research field(s) or combination of fields they find most interesting. · Formulate specific ideas about research groups or researchers they would like to approach to enquire about a research project. · Define personal aims and plans for their MSc study and possibly for a future career. · Recognize and appreciate the interests and expertise of fellow students in this specialization. · Design and pitch a scientific research idea


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

Students will develop a potential research idea tailored to their specialization and present this in a concise 5-minute pitch. Grading is based on the following criteria: the presentation must encompass an overview of the topic and its fundamental concept, a clearly articulated scientific research question and/or hypothesis including the rationale for this choice, potential research methods to address the research question, prospects for application, and key literature references. The participants for excursions, who’s who event and research pitch seminars are obligatory.

The final assessment consists of the following partial components:

  • Research pitch: 100%

Minimum grade:
Courses require a minimum, unrounded 5.5 grade to complete.

If a course has 2 or more written partial exams, the minimum grade only applies to the weighted average of the exams.
For partial grades from components other than exams (e.g. practicals, seminars, writing assignments), the bottom grade does apply to the individual components.

Please refer to the Student Charter for an overview of regulations.

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: Dr. Y. Si


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.