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Biology: Evolution Biodiversity and Conservation

This is a specialisation of the Biology Master.

Coordinator: Prof. dr. C.J. ten Cate, email:

This MSc specialisation will start on Monday 5 September, 2011 at 9.00 in room 1.5.31, Sylvius Laboratory, with an information lecture.

First Year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Compulsory theoretical course:

EBC Fundamentals of Evolution, Biodiversity and Conservation 12

Two EBC 'trend' courses are compulsory:

EBC Trends in Behaviour and Ecology 6
EBC Trends in Biodiversity in Time and Space 6
EBC Trends in Development and Evolution 6
EBC Trends in Conservation Biology 6

In addition, two of the following elements are also compulsory:

Book Exam 6
EBC Seminar 4
EBC Top Lectures 4
Spotlight on Biology, Advanced Lecture series 4

Second Year


Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Biodiversity and Conservation (seminar) 4
Book Exam 6
EBC Top Lectures 4
Economic Botany 4
Plant Families of the Tropics 5
Spotlight on Biology, Advanced Lecture series 4
Science Methodology 4
The Immune system of plants (seminar) 4

Meer info

Theoretical training

It is stronly advised to follow the Fundamentals and Trend courses in the first year of your master programme.

  • EBC fundamentals. This is a broad-ranging 8 week (12 EC) ’basics’ course, consisting of 4 modules. In the first one, students will use the changes in the famous Lake Victoria system to discover how this can give rise to an enormous variety in research questions on all sorts of topics and disciplines. The next modules (‘Fundamentals of evolutionary change’, ‘Richness of the world’, Fundamentals of conservation biology’) will provide students with a broad kaleidoscope of subjects providing a background for later specialization. This compulsory course is based on lectures and self study using primary literature.

  • EBC ‘trends’ courses. Thematic 4 week (6 EC) courses. Each year there are four courses, two in parallel, providing students with an integrated picture on specific topics. Students have to do two of these courses during their MSc program.

To complete the theoretical training, two of the following elements are obligatory (each element is 4-6 EC, and may be followed either in year 1 or in year 2):

  • Seminar. Seminars are discussion groups in which students present and discuss the latest research papers and views on particular specialized subjects. Each year there will be a choice of several seminars.

  • Top lectures. The research groups participating in the MSc program will each year invite several top scientists in various fields to present their work. This will be combined with a discussion meeting with MSc and PhD students to discuss the work and papers of the scientist.

  • Book exam. The student will take an oral exam on a book of choice provided by the various staff members.

  • Spotlight meetings. Every month scientists from various research groups in the IBL will present their findings at a ‘spotlight’ meeting.

Research projects

Research-projects are the core of the MSc program. Students will be member of a research group of their choice and work on a specific project, usually in close collaboration with a staff member or PhD student. Each project will be finished with writing an MSc-thesis in the form of a manuscript for publication in an international journal. The minimum time to be spent on research projects is 60 EC. A research project should be minimally 36 EC and compulsory is at least one research project (of min. 36 EC) within one of the participating institutes.

Optional elements

The obligatory theoretical component consists of 32 EC and the minimum time to be spend on research projects is 60 EC. This leaves 28 EC which students may use either on expanding the theoretical parts with other courses (at Leiden or elsewhere), or on their research projects. For courses outside the LU biology programme (max.10 EC) and for all external research projects, prior approval of the Board of Examiners is required.
Note: a maximum of 12 EC of optional elements at a level < 400 are permitted.

Mentor guidance

Each MSc-student will be assigned to a specific staff member who will arrange to meet with the student once every 6 months, or otherwise on his or her demands to discuss matters relating to progress, interests, job prospects, etcetera.