The main components of this two-year Master’s programme (120 EC) are practical research training (1 and 2) and advanced theoretical education (3 till 6). The aim of the research project is to train students as independent researchers. Under the guidance of an experience researcher, you will work on a well-defined project of your choice, and practise all aspects of research. For the theoretical education, you take part in advanced theoretical courses, follow seminars, and write a Master’s thesis or a research proposal on a topic of your choice, under the supervision of a staff member. The programme can only be followed full-time.
The components of the Master's programme are:

The major research project (9 months) is carried out in one of the participating Environmental Biology research groups and will teach you the practice of scientific research. Under the guidance of a staff member, a post-doctoral fellow, or an advanced PhD student, you work on a well-defined project of your choice, practising all aspects of research: designing experiments, planning, conducting experiments, collecting and interpreting data, drawing conclusions, and writing reports or an article for a scientific publication. Furthermore, you take part in work discussions and journal club meetings in order to understand the meaning of the work compared to that of the research group and of the scientific community as a whole. The project is finished with a written report and an oral presentation.

Decide for yourself which topic you find most interesting by looking at the websites of the groups and people pages. We offer a wide array of research projects to which you contribute to ongoing research. As research within the Environmental Biology groups develops rapidly, please contact the researchers directly for the latest opportunities.

As part of your study programme you have to select one out of 9 profiles, to deepen your education in a specific field. You can choose between either a Research profile or a Science profile.

Research profiles (4): focus on in depth research skills and aim to deepen your experience in a research field, by being part of a research group.

Science profiles (5): focus on broader skills and have a practical approach.

  • Science Communication and Education consist of theoretical courses followed by practical work in the specific field.
  • The Management profile combines skills in the life sciences with courses in business and economics.
  • Life Science and Society and Translational Life Sciences are profiles with a capstone project throughout the profile, supplemented with (compulsory) courses. This will give you a broader view on the life science to society and how to translate problems (and solutions) to society.

The Environmental Biology programme offers a variety of advanced courses. Most courses are taught on a half-time basis. Students may also participate in MSc courses offered by other MSc programmes at Utrecht University, but this needs first to be approved by the Programme Coordinator.

Repair courses Behavioural Ecology

The repair courses "Theory of Behavioural Biology" and "Observing Behaviour" are provided to students that plan to follow the track Behavioural Ecology and whom are advised to take one or more of these courses at the start of the Master Programme. The credit points can be used in the Electives. Please contact Liesbeth Sterck for further information and the time schedule of these courses.

General courses for Master students of the Graduate School of Life Sciences

For a list of general courses (part of free electives) see the course list of the Graduate School of Life Sciences.

Electives can be used to address deficiencies in your previous education, complete additional theoretical courses or extend a research project or internship.

  • You do a master thesis to demonstrate your ability to write a clear overview of recent literature addressing the topic in question. The thesis contains both a discussion/evaluation of hypotheses and a personal view.
  • or you write a scientific research proposal in the format of a NWO Top Talent application.
  • or you write a scientific proposal in the format of a STW/EU application.

More information about the writing assignment in the Study Guide of Life Sciences.

Part I: Introducing Life Sciences

This compulsory course is given in the first week of September for all Master's students. More information about ILS is available in the study guide.

Part II: Navigation Towards Personal Excellence

Navigation Towards Personal Excellence (NTPE) expands on the information about profiles, valorisation, and experiences of alumni during ILS with 3 workshops and reflection days within your own Master’s programme. More information can be found in the study guide.

Part III: Life Sciences Seminars

Every month a seminar is organised by a different Master's programme. For more information about the LS seminars, please visit the study guide.

The ILS, NTPE and LS seminars are part of the Life Sciences Academy, which is 1.5 credits in total.

Note: Students, whom started their Master’s before September 2018, are enrolled in the courses Introducing Life Sciences (BMB509713) and Life Sciences seminars (BMB509214 or GSLS-SEMIN). Together with Introducing Life Sciences, the Life Sciences seminars are 1.5 credits in total. More information is available in the study guide.

Please note that at least 60 of the 120 EC need to be carried out in association with one of the Utrecht University groups!

Avoid overlap in timeslots of courses

When you register for courses, please take notice of the different timeslots in order to avoid overlap in the timeslots. By checking the timeslots, you can create a feasible schedule. The week is divided into the following timeslots: