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Literature Review


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.

A literature review is an individual and supervised literature review on a very limited part of a biological field. A biological question is elaborated on the basis of a number of original articles from the scientific literature. It also provides an overview and critique of relevant literature published on your topic of investigation.

Although a review may not use new or original data, it still provides an academic contribution through the interpretations it makes and the conclusions it draws. The results are elaborated in a report, which is a well-running summary of the literature that has been read and relevant to the research question.

The size of a literature review of 6 EC is approximately 15 pages. All guidelines can be found on Brightspace > Opleiding Biologie > Master Biology - Year 1 and 2 > Guidelines Msc Literature Review

Course objectives

After completion of the course, students are able to:  
1. Obtain in-depth knowledge about a recent question, concepts and approaches in a specific part of a biological field. 
2. Critically evaluate scientific publications and studies
3. Summarize and relate various scientific studies and/or views in relation to the research question
4. Describe abstract, problem definition, hypothesis, analysis, interpretation and discussion in a clear manner, written in the form of a review of a pre-selected scientific journal


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

Theoretical and practical instructions provided by the supervisor. The
scope and frequency of the guidance must indicated on the literature review agreement.
The responsible supervisor is available for questions about the selected subject. For questions about enrollment, approval, etc, contact the Study Advisor.

Assessment Method

Evaluation of the written literature review by the supervisor according to the criteria on the assessment form.

Reading list

Depending on the complexity and quantity of articles, the guideline for the literature
review is approximately 80-150 pages of primary literature.


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.


Education Office Biology


Use course code 4313LRCML if you do the Literature Review at the CML.