Life Sciences didactic concept: Research-Intensive Education

The 21st century could be described as the century of the Life Sciences: research is unravelling the great questions about life, health, disease and development. New, fundamental insights will lead to new clinical research and treatments, new medicines, and new policy in the field of nutrition and health. Utrecht University wishes to maintain its position as a leading European research university and so it established six Graduate Schools in 2005, including the Graduate School of Life Sciences. This school brings together all the training in the Master’s and PhD research programmes in Life Sciences at Utrecht University.

Mission of GSLS

  • To train future scientists who will be capable of drawing on their acquired knowledge, understanding and skills to conduct top-class research around the world.
  • Graduates will have had a sound academic training and gained a thorough insight into the role played by the Life Sciences in today’s society.
  • MSc students could also acquire skills for a career in the areas of science management, science regulatory work, or science education.

Research intensive education

The mission of the GSLS is to train future scientists who will be capable of drawing on their acquired knowledge, understanding and skills to conduct top-class research around the world. Therefore, direct linkage between education and high-quality international research is very important. The curriculum must be research-intensive and students have to make the most of the presence of highly qualified researchers in their immediate vicinity.

Overview of the elements of the research-intensive curriculum of the Masters' programmes.

Interdisciplinary research and training

Research at the GSLS is highly interdisciplinary. Breakthroughs take place where physics and medicine, and chemistry and biology interact. A traditional faculty structure with classic mono-disciplinary degrees such as biology, chemistry and medicine is no longer appropriate. The GSLS aims to train Master’s and PhD students so that they can engage in independent research in a multidisciplinary setting. So, the GSLS brings together the research expertise and facilities of the faculties of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Science for this purpose. The School has been structured along the lines of thematic, interdisciplinary programmes that correspond to the focus areas adopted by Utrecht University in this area.

The different Master's and PhD programmes are embedded in the research areas.

Focus area of research Master's programme PhD programme

Neuroscience & Cognition Utrecht

 Neuroscience & Cognition  Cognition & Behaviour
 Clinical & Experimental Neuroscience

Cardiovascular Research

 Biology of Disease  Cardiovascular Research

Drug Innovation

 Drug Innovation  Drug Innovation

Earth & Sustainability

 Environmental Biology  Environmental Biology


 Epidemiology  Epidemiology
 Epidemiology postgraduate
 Toxicology & Environmental Health  Toxicology & Environmental Health

Growth & Differentiation

 Cancer, Stem Cells & Developmental  Biology  Cancer, Stem Cells and Developmental Biology
 Clinical & Translational Oncology
 Regenerative Medicine & Technology  Regenerative Medicine

Infection & Immunity

 Infection & Immunity  Infection & Immunity

Life Sciences & Biocomplexity

 Molecular & Cellular Life Sciences  Molecular Life Sciences

Computational Life Sciences

 Biomedical Image Sciences  Medical Imaging

Current activities within the GSLS

  • Revision of Master’s programmes (UU-wide)
  • Navigation towards personal excellence
  • Study guide “app” GSLS
  • Internationalisation
  • Development and implementation of Rubrics