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Top Lectures in Biology


Admission requirements

The course is open to Biology master students.

Contact information

Administrative issues (Brightspace, timetables etc.): Contact: S. Wijfjes Email:

Academic issues: Coordinator: Prof.dr.M.K. Richardson Email:


The Top Lectures in Biology course consists of 6 lectures, selected by each MSc student from a preset program of 16 lectures (over two years) by invited experts from different fields of biology. Each lecture is organised by one of the research groups in the IBL that participate in the Masters (Biology) teaching, or by NCB Naturalis. The level of each lecture is aimed at both MSc students and IBL staff. An important aspect of the course is to learn to critically evaluate scientific data, and the hypotheses and models derived from these data. The speakers actively participate in the teaching part.
The participants of this course have to thoroughly prepare for each lecture, by reading the provided review and research papers, and by submitting two questions for the speaker on Blackboard, as they are expected to actively engage in a scientific discussion with the speaker. The course also includes a final symposium, during which each participant gives a presentation in which they discuss a research paper of choice related to one of the attended Top Lectures.

Learning goals

Course objectives: To provide the student with insight into specialist biological research, including the way in which complex research questions are formulated and analysed experimentally.

Final qualifications: To be a more advanced MSc student with a broad theoretical background on a range of research topics in Biology who is able to understand lectures by specialists, and to critically assess the research presented.


25 January 2021 – 25 June 2021

There are one or two Top Lectures per month, starting in February of each year, at times to be announced on Brightspace and on websites (e.g. IBL, Sciences). You may complete the 6 lectures and presentation in one year or over two years (with the end presentation in the second year).

Mode of instruction

Each Top Lecture is given by an expert in a relevant Biology field, who is a National or International scientist of high reputation. The scientist will give their Top Lecture based on their own field of research subject. Before or after this lecture, there is a discussion session with the students, in which the invited scientist discusses the questions that the students have pre-submitted via a forum on Brightspace. The students will previously have read two research articles and one review article relevant to the lecture, which have been placed for them on Brightspace.

Assessment method

For the elite level 3 EC are awarded for (i) attendance of six Top Lectures of the student’s choice; (ii) attendance at the discussion session of each of those six lectures; (iii) for the timely posting of two questions related to the read articles on the Brightspace forum; (iv) for presenting a research paper in the final symposium. Students will be graded based on their participation in the discussion and their presentation in the final symposium.

Inspection and feedback on the examination

Date: N.A


Brightspace will be used for communication.

Reading list

The students are provided in advance via Brightspace with one review article and two primary research articles (supplied by the invited lecturer).


Via Usis before December 31, 2020
The maximum number of participants is 30 students.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.