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Book Exam


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the specializations of the MSc Biology is required.


NB: This course can be done only after consultation/consent of the study adviser.

As an optional theoretical course, students can do an oral examination, the Book Exam, about a specialized book on a particular subject of choice.

The Book Exam is an independent module, for which the student is expected to study (specific chapters of) a biological textbook or a book covering a specialist biological subject, supplemented with one or two recent reviews from a scientific journal.
There are no lectures or other types of contact teaching. The grade is given solely based on the student’s performance in the examination.

Course objectives

After completion of the course, students are able to:   
1. Give a clear and well-founded summary on the study of the literature and to explain the concepts and knowledge found therein.
2. Analyze and evaluate scientific literature, as well as define the problems and approaches found therein.
3. Contrast and synthesize the concepts and knowledge of the literature with other concepts and knowledge from other literature
4. Provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism on the literature and express this to others on an academic level.
5. Participate in current debates on the subject(s) of the literature c.q. the theoretical foundations of the specialization


To access the timetables for all courses and degree programs at Leiden University, please use the [MyTimetable] ( tool (login required). Any teaching activities that you have successfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimetable. Additionally, any timetables you manually add will be saved and shown the next time you log in.

MyTimetable offers the convenience of integrating your timetable with popular calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and other smartphone calendar apps. Any changes made to the timetable will be automatically synced with your calendar. If desired, you can enable email notifications for timetable changes in the "Settings" section (after logging in).

For more information, please watch the instructional video or visit the "help-page" within MyTimetable. Note that Joint Degree students from Leiden/Delft will need to merge their two separate timetables into one. A video tutorial is available to guide you through the merging process.

Mode of instruction

Self study & oral examination

The responsible examiner is available for questions about the selected subject. For questions about enrollment, approval, etc, contact the Study Advisor.

Assessment method

Individual, oral exam taken by an examiner of the Institute of Biology.
It may take 1 – 2 hours

Reading List

Literature (books and articles). All legally available scientific literature.
The total amount of literature to be studied should amount to approximately 500 pages, depending on the complexity and quantity of the literature to be studied.


1) After consultation with the study advisor, the student is permitted to make an appointment with an examiner to discuss the subject, book selection and time frame.
2) A signed ‘Book Exam agreement’ must be entered and approved in ProjectMAP prior to the start.
3) Register for the course, see below

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.


Education Office Biology


Feedback on the examination will be discussed after the book exam has taken place.
If the exam is assessed as unsatisfactory, it is possible to resit the exam based on the feedback.