The Master’s programme in Environmental Biology offers different kinds of Master’s courses in various specialisation tracks. 

Plant Biology

Molecular plant physiology and biotechnology

The Netherlands is world-leader in export of commercial plant seeds and starting materials and houses a large plant breeding industry. The green sector is continuously looking for highly educated and motivated employees. Next to this, participation and contribution of companies and/or public organisations is nowadays often a prerequisite for obtaining public funding for (fundamental) research projects. Therefore, knowing the green sector, biological questions/problems the sector deals with, and opportunities provided, are indispensable for a (future) career in plant biology.
In this master course the utilisation of molecular genetic, -omics and phenotyping tools, techniques and platforms in the green biotechnology sector and plant breeding industry will be discussed. In addition, an overview will be given on aspects of commercialisation, ethics, regulations, intellectual property, funding opportunities and sector organization.
The course will be taught over a period of ten weeks and consists primarily of project-based learning, supplemented with a seminar series by lecturers from academia, breeding companies, funding agencies/offices and the public sector. As part of the course, various web based tools, techniques and data mining skills will be introduced and exercised, including QTL analysis, genome-wide association mapping (GWAS), high-throughput phenotypic analysis of plant traits, sequence analysis, micro-array data analysis, and proteomics data analysis.
During the course acquired theoretical knowledge and practical skills will be applied. During the first 7 weeks participating students will together write a review paper in which a relevant question or problem regarding applied plant biology is addressed. On a regular basis project meetings will be organized. During these meetings project progression, organization, results and deadlines will be discussed. In weeks 8 to 10 a project proposal on a topic relevant to the plant breeding industry will be written, focusing on technological innovation and company participation.
The course contains four modules:
Module 1)        Friday-lectures series by UU-teachers and several guest-lecturers (concept)
Module 2)        Introduction and hands-on practicals of relevant and commonly used web-based tools and databases that can be used as starting point for investigations of     genes and genomes and  can be consulted during the development of the review/opinion paper and the project pre-proposal (concept)
Module 3)        Writing of a scientific review/opinion paper on a relevant and present topic in molecular plant physiology/plant biotechnology (context).
Module 4)        Developing a research project and writing a pre-proposal on applied aspects of the subject of the review/opinion paper (context).
These modules are tightly connected and together form the basis of the concept-context based structure of the course. In this section, first the factual requirements, contents and organization of each module is described (see also course schedule in Appendix B) and in the subsequent section the assimilation of these modules into an integrated concept-context learning strategy is presented.
Brief overview of the concepts that will be addressed:
-         Fundamentals and introduction to plant biotechnology and applied plant research with focus on  molecular biology, genetics and ~omics.
-         Getting acquainted and practice with useful (web-based) tools and techniques for molecular physiology, genetics and data mining including gene function and gene ontology, QTL analysis, Genome-Wide Association mapping and high throughput analysis of plant traits, sequence analysis, blasts, micro-array data analysis, proteomic data analysis and metabolomic data analysis and chemical genetics.
-         Possibilities of large scale experimental platforms for plant research and breeding (phenotyping and ~omics).
-         Plant breeding and biotechnology; principles, techniques, theory and applications.
-         Post-harvest processing of seeds, starting materials and plant materials.
-         Ethics and regulations regarding breeding and the use and admittance of transgenic materials (GGO’s).
-         Law and jurisdiction (GGO laws, patenting, intellectual property etc.).
-         Funding of plant science research, funding organization and grant opportunities.
Brief overview of the contexts that will be acquainted/familiarized by the students:
-         Commercial plant science, plant science companies and public organizations, and the organization structure of the ‘green sector’ within the Netherlands.
-         Typical questions/problems the green sector deals with. In other words; get acquainted with real-life issues that exemplify the type of work the students may face in their future career
-         The position of the Dutch plant breeding industry in the Netherlands and world-wide.
-         The position of fundamental (molecular) plant research at public institutions (universities), and the contribution and interaction with, the private and public green sector. How do private partners and public institutions depend on each other? And where do their interests overlap or differ?.
The following hands-on skills and competences will be trained:
-         Using relevant web-based tools for molecular physiology, genetics and data mining.
-         Assessing and combining large scale datasets.
-         Project management, project communication and reflection.
-         Developing and writing of a review/opinion paper on a present topic in in molecular plant physiology/plant biotechnology.
-         Critical evaluation and peer-review of project proposals and being part of an evaluation panel.
-         Developing an intended research project and writing a pre-proposal on applied aspects of the subject of the review/opinion paper for a pretended Netherlands Scientific Organization (NWO) or technology foundation STW, call on a topsector project requiring technological innovation and potential economic/and or societal impact for the Netherlands.
There is no written exam. The knowledge of the students will be examined by the research proposal, the review paper and results of the data analysis and exercises. Active participation in discussions and verifiable contribution to the end products (review paper and project proposal) is required to successfully pass the course.

Registration: Send an e-mail to the course coordinator (Dr. Marcel Proveniers; The mail should contain 1) your name; 2) student number; 3) e-mail address; 4) telephone number; 5) current Master track. Maximum number of participants: flexible.
Mandatory for students in Master's programme: NO.
Optional for students in other Master's programmes GS-LS

The course is open to all students enrolled in the Utrecht University Environmental Biology MSc program and all students following equivalent programs (such as the UU masters; Science and Business management and Molecular and Cellular life sciences) that are interested in fundamental and applied plant sciences, molecular biology or biotechnology.

To successfully participate in this course students are assumed to have a bachelor degree in biology, molecular biology, (applied) biotechnology or equivalent program, with at least an introduction course in botany/plant biology and in biotechnology. Basic knowledge of genetics, molecular biology and signal transduction is required. Students that passed the UU bachelor courses Plant Physiology or Plant Adaptation and Defense and Molecular Genetics or Genome Biology (or equivalents) are perfectly prepared for successful participation in the master course Molecular Plant Physiology & Plant Biology.

Plants in their environment

The course is separated in four parts and will be taught over a ten week period. It consists of three modular parts that are described below, and the writing of a popular science essay in the final 2½ weeks. The modular parts of the course have subjects in common that will be explained at different levels of organization (cell, tissue, whole plant and population).     1.     Abiotic interactions; Shade avoidance
Light is a major limiting resource for autotrophic plant growth. Sensing the light environment and responding in such a way that photon absorption is maximized is thus essential for plants in a competitive environment. When subject to vegetational shading, plants are exposed to a variety of informational signals, which include altered light quality and a reduction in light quantity. The former includes a decrease in the ratio of red to far-red wavelengths (low R : FR) and is detected by the phytochrome family of plant photoreceptors. Monitoring of R:FR ratios can provide an early and unambiguous warning of the presence of competing vegetation, thereby evoking escape responses before plants are actually shaded. In this part of the course we will discuss both the adaptive responses of plants to their light environment as it is modified by neighboring plants, as well as the molecular and hormonal signaling mechanisms underlying these physiological responses. It will further be discussed how these shade avoidance responses affect the plant’s ability to cope with other stresses, such as attack of herbivorous insects and pathogenic micro-organisms.
2.     Biotic interactions; Signaling in plant-microbe interactions
In nature, plants are constantly under attack of pathogenic micro-organisms and herbivorous insects. Evolution has provided plants with sophisticated defensive strategies to “perceive” attack by pathogens and insects, and to translate that “perception” into an appropriate defense response. This plant innate immunity is based on a surprisingly complex response that is highly flexible in its capacity to recognize and respond to the invader encountered. Besides harmful pathogens, plants also interact with beneficial micro-organisms that help the plant to defend themselves. During the course we will provide insight in the biological processes that are involved in the interaction of plants with beneficial and harmful organisms in their environment. The role of signaling between organisms, and transduction of hormonal signals to effective defense responses in the plant will play a central role. In this part, we will focus on the interaction of plants with micro-organisms and insects that naturally occur in their environment.
3.     Competition
The third part of the course will address the functional interpretation of morphological and physiological plant characteristics, focusing on changes in allocation patterns (root/shoot, stem/leaves, nitrogen distribution in the canopy) in response to the above- and belowground detection of neighbors, c.q. competitors. The contrast between optimal and evolutionarily stable allocation patterns will be discussed as an example of the far-reaching consequences of evolutionary game theory for the analysis of plant responses to biotic and abiotic changes in their environment in situations, where the pay-off of the response depends on the response of neighbors.
Literature/study material used:
Research/review papers will be provided during the course.

Send an e-mail to the course coordinator (Marcel Proveniers; The mail should contain 1) your name; 2) student number; 3) e-mail address; 4) telephone number; 5) current Master track.
Mandatory for students in Master’s programme: NO.
Optional for students in other Master’s programmes GS-LS: Environmental Biology, especially the specialization programme Behavioural Ecology; and any other master programme with relevant basal courses.   After completion of the course, the student should have a pround understanding of:  
1.     the adaptive strategies plants have evolved  to avoid shading by competing neighboring vegetation
2.     the above- and below-ground plant-plant signaling mechanisms that are involved in neighbor detection
3.     defensive strategies plants have evolved to perceive attack by pathogens and insects
4.     how plants translate that perception into an appropriate defense response
5.     plant-plant-signaling mechanisms important for communication among neighbors in response to attack by pathogens and insect pests
6.     the implications of neighbor signaling mechanisms for the functioning of the plant population as a whole
7.     the molecular and hormonal signaling mechanisms underlying shade avoidance and defense responses  At the end of the course, students should be able to:
1.     interpret and discuss related specialist literature
2.     understand recent developments in the field and to indicate implications for the field and for society
3.     communicate research results, orally and in writing, to both specialists and educated laymen    


Introduction in fungal biology

The aim of this course is to introduce the participants in the ecology, physiology, molecular biology, developmental biology and biotechnology of fungi. Students will participate in the annual meeting of the section Mycology of the Dutch Society for Microbiology. This meeting, which takes place in Utrecht, consists of a morning program with invited speakers and a program in the afternoon with offered papers. Students will make a summary of 50% of the presentations. The subject of one of the presentations will be studied in more detail. To this end, the presenter will be interviewed resulting in a review article with background and state of the art information, as well as perspectives.

Literature/study material used:
Participants will do their own literature search

Send an e-mail to the course coordinator (H.A.B. Wösten, The mail should contain 1) your name; 2) student number; 3) e-mail address; 4) telephone number; 5) current Master track. Please note: the number of participants is limited to 25. Only the first registrations can be accepted.

Mandatory for students in Master’s programme: NO.
Optional for students in other Master’s programmes GS-LS:

Food- and Indoor Mycology

There is no content available for this course.

Fungal biodiversity

This course gives a concise overview of the biodiversity of the Fungal Kingdom. The course focuses on systematics (Oomycetes, Chytridiomycetes, Zygomycetes, Ascomycetes, Basidiomycetes, Deuteromycetes) and general ecology of fungi, as well as related topics such as soil mycology and diagnostics of plant pathogens. Both visual and molecular recognition methods will be discussed and practical hands on experience will be gained in the recognition and isolation of fungi.
There is overlap with the course Food and Airborne Fungi. Therefore, a student can only participate in one of the courses.
Send an e-mail to the course coordinator (Prof. dr P.W. Crous, The mail should contain 1) your name; 2) student number; 3) e-mail address; 4) telephone number; 5) current Master track. Please note: the number of participants is limited to 25. Only the first registrations can be accepted.

Mandatory for students in Master’s programme: NO.
Optional for students in other Master’s programmes GS-LS: Infection and Immunity

Molecular fungal biology

Molecular biology has elucidated numerous mechanisms how fungal cells function as isolated entities or within their environment. Fungi even are used as model organisms for more complex eukaryotes such as animals and humans. The aim of the course is to learn how to set up, perform and interpret experiments in the field of molecular fungal biology. In the first week students will make a literature study and will prepare a research plan. In the following three weeks experiments will be performed and research articles will be discussed. Results will be presented by means of a report at the end of week 5. Literature/study material used:Selected articles and articles resulting from a literature search by the participants Registration:Send an e-mail to the course coordinator (Dr. L.G. Lugones, The mail should contain 1) your name; 2) student number; 3) e-mail address; 4) telephone number; 5) current Master track. Please note: the number of participants is limited to 25. Only the first registrations can be accepted.
Evaluation: The student is evaluated on basis of his background knowledge (20%), his experimental skills (30%), and the way the student plans (10%), interprets (20%), and presents (20%) his experiments.
Mandatory for students in Master’s programme: NO.
Optional for students in other Master’s programmes GS-LS: Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences. After completion of the course, students should be able to:
1) Define a research question from selected literature
2) Translate the research question into an experimental set up
3) Perform experiments
4) Interpret results and design follow-up experiments
5) Present articles and the project to peers


Ecology of Natural Resources (compulsory)

Introduction and course set – up
Climate change, expanding human populations and the increasing search for available land, put the natural resources of our world under high pressure. There is a dire need to develop methods to manage these resources in a sustainable manner. To do so, profound ecological knowledge on how natural resources function and respond to management is required. The aim of this course is to strengthen your expertise in plant-, microbial and landscape ecology and to show how this expertise is of vital importance to natural resource management.

The central theme of the course will be ecosystem services. Ecosystems provide many benefits either directly through material goods (e.g. timber, food or medicinal plants) or indirectly as a result of their basic functioning (e.g. carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, climate regulation, control of water and quality and crop pollination). The main goals of the course are to develop an understanding that many of our natural resources are biological in nature, to examine the mechanisms involved in the procurement of ecosystem services and to critically appraise the impacts of global change as well as conservation and management strategies on ecosystems and the crucial services they deliver. Special attention is paid to carbon and nutrient cycle dynamics and in the combined impacts of microbes and vegetation in the delivery of vital ecosystem services. Furthermore, the course is designed to develop skills in examining primary and secondary (review) literature, the analysis and interpretation of experimental and field data and various forms of scientific communication.
Week 1
General MSc introduction. Organized by the Graduate School of Life Sciences
Week 2-4
The first part provides and overview of biological ecosystem services and the mechanisms responsible for them. The first introductory lectures examine the global carbon and nutrient (with emphasis on nitrogen) cycles, especially regarding the interplay of microbial processes and vegetation. The following lectures examine the procurement of other biological resources, including water purification, food production, bioremediation and attenuation and resources for natural products. Each of the lectures is accompanied by background literature (2 to 3 articles) distributed via Blackboard. At the same time, the course participants run a laboratory experiment designed to examine the impact of microbial diversity on ecosystem functioning. Each student group (of 3 students) tackles a different part of the group experiment and results are exchanged at the end of the experimental work. Each student group presents their results and summarizes the experiment by writing a short research article (Nature letter format) with emphasis on data interpretation and statistics and appropriate use of literature. After submission of the manuscript, the students get feedback from the instructors as to errors and room for improvement and are then given the opportunity to revise their manuscripts based upon these comments.
Week 5-7
The second part of the course includes a number of expert guest lectures that demonstrate the practical and applied issues related to biological natural resources, and their management and conservation. Included in this series is a one-day workshop given by the hold of the Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation (currently Jaboury Gazhoul). In addition, a series of PhD and post-doc presentations (5-6 in total) related to ecosystem services are given. Each presentation includes background literature and background to the topic of research. At the end of this series, students are assigned one of the research presentation topics and instructed to write a brief individual commentary (750 words – according to The ISME Journal guidelines for commentaries). This assignment is designed to go beyond simply summarizing research, with emphasis on forming and defending an opinion. After grading, feedback is available regarding the strong and weak points of the commentaries.
Week 8-10
For the third part of the course, student groups (3 students per group – different groups than during the first part of the course) choose a final research project from a list of topics related to the content of the lectures. It is also possible for students to develop their own topic in discussion with the course organizers. The final assignment is to produce an educational movie for your peers (approx.. 10 min) concerning specific research issues related to the chosen topic, as well as a written summary. Each student group is assigned an advisor/mentor to help guide the development of the film project. Each group meets regularly with the group advisor to discuss the project plan and progress. During the final day of the course, the movies of all the groups are presented to the class. Each movie is first introduced by the student group in question, and the film presentation is followed up by a question and answer session as well as a class evaluation of the strong and weaker points of the film. Project grades are determined by the joint scoring of all of the project mentors.
Examination and gradingThe final grade is made up of three parts as follows:

Microbial diversity experiment (35%)
Individual commentary report (20%)
Research project with movie & summary report (45%)

There is no final examination! Attendance to lectures, workshop and laboratory activities is obliged.

We will provide all necessary material on blackboard.

September - November 2016. This course will be given in time-slot A+D.

Contact information
Prof. George Kowalchuk (coordinator); Padualaan 8, Kruyt-building, room N304; e-mail; tel 030-2532837
Alternative contact person Marijke van Kuijk Padualaan 8, Kruyt-building, room N305; e-mail tel 030-2536846

Registration for the course can be done by sending an e-mail to the coordinator Prof. George Kowalchuk ( and provide the following information:
1) course name; 2) your name; 3) your student number; 4) the MSc programme in which you participate.

Management of Natural Resources in Context (compulsory)

The course ‘Management of natural resources in context’ (MAN) is a reflection on and exercise in natural resources management in its societal context. The emphasis is on the application of what you already know, what you are able to do in the field of natural resources management and on learning by doing. The main activity of the course consists of working on two major assignments.Assignment A1. In the first assignment you will evaluate practical cases of community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), a form of managing common-pool resources. Many resources worldwide are common-pool resources, e.g. forests which are not privately owned but accessible and available to groups of local people. In this assignment you will reflect on the role of different stakeholders in relation to specific types of natural resources management, including nature conservation.

Assignment A2. In the second assignment you will develop a design for a sustainable multifunctional bio-energy plantation. Biomass is a natural resource that can be used as a feedstock for energy production. Bioenergy can partly replace the use of fossil fuel resources, thus reducing CO2 emissions and mitigating climate change. The area under bio-energy plantations is rapidly increasing. However, there are serious concerns about negative ecological and social impacts of bio-energy plantations, e.g. loss of biodiversity, decrease of food production and increase of food prices.
In a small project team you will design an innovative plan for sustainable production of bio-energy. For an area in the Netherlands, Tanzania or Indonesia, you will develop a plantation, while considering environmental conditions, suitable plant species, and proper management practices, and by applying a multifunctional approach (protecting or enhancing local biodiversity, protecting water resources, landscape-level planning).

Prerequisite knowledge
We recommend to take this course in the second year of the track E&NRM in Environmental Biology. If you would be interested in attending the course, but you are a first year’s master student, or a participant of another master programme, please contact the course coordinator.

Behavioural Ecology

Zoo conservation biology

Conservation Biology is a relatively new multidisciplinary field in biology which focuses on biological principles and their applications for the preservation of species and habitats, biodiversity conservation in general and the maintenance of equilibrium within ecosystems. It represents a fusion of relevant ideas from ecology, population biology, genetics, biogeography, behaviour and a number of applied disciplines such as wildlife management and forestry. Zoo Conservation Biology specifically approaches this broad field of research from a zoo perspective, and this course will mainly focus on areas of interest that are related to small population management in captive settings and in field conservation programs.
This course is part of the Master in Environmental Biology at Utrecht University specialization programme Behavioural Ecology.
By web subscription at:

Evolutionary perspectives on sexual behaviour

In this course all aspects of sexual behaviour will be presented on the basis of the book "The Red Queen, Sex &The Evolution of Human Nature" of Matt Ridley, 1993, key papers and recent articles. Although the title of the book suggests differently, the major part of the book deals with animal behaviour. Human behaviour is also treated from a biological point of view.

In the book, the different aspects of animal sexual behaviour are discussed following five main questions. These questions will be discussed amongst students in a book discussion meeting. The questions are:

1. Why sex, while sex is expensive?
2. Why gender?
3. Who chooses whom?
4. Monogamy or polygamy?
5. Sexing the mind?

Within each of these main questions several essay subjects are distinguished, one of which will be handed to you as part of an essay writing exercise. The goal of this exercise is that you learn how to set up, write, and critically evaluate a scientific topic in English. We provide reference to a key paper for each essay subject, and we expect an additional in-depth literature review from you.

After writing your own essay, you will critically assess the essays of two fellow students. This task is designed to make you familiar with different writing styles and approaches in how to write an essay, and to look at written text critically.

Having received the comments of your fellow students, you will then edit your own essay again, by incorporating the comments of your fellow students into your essay. The goal of this exercise is that you will learn how to separate useful from non-useful comments and to re-write your own text to improve it relative to the previous version.

In the final exercise of this course, you will present your essay in English in a 10 minute powerpoint presentation. The goal of this exercise is that you will learn how to extract the essential elements from your written text and to effectively convey its message to a broad audience.

Registration:Send an e-mail to the course coordinator ( The mail should contain 1) your name; 2) student number; 3) e-mail address; 4) telephone number; 5) current Master track. Please note: the number of participants is limited to 20. Only the first registrations can be accepted.

Mandatory for students in Master’s programme: NO.

Optional for students in other Master’s programmes GS-LS: Neuroscience and Cognition, especially the tracks Cognitive Neuroscience and Behavioural Neuroscience; Environmental Biology, especially the specialization programme Behavioural Ecology; and any other master programme with relevant basal courses.

Ethology and Welfare

Period: 12 November 2018 - 7 December 2018

  1. dr. Saskia Arndt
  2. mw. Annemarie Baars
  3. dr. Frank Meijboom
  4. dr. Matthijs Schilder
  5. dr. Claudia Vinke
  6. prof dr L. Vanderschuren
  7. dr. Heidi Lesscher
  8. dr. Hetty Boleij
  9. dr. Vivian Goerlich-Jansson
  10. mw. Marsha Reijgwart MSc
  11. dr. Frank van Eerdenburg
  12. dr. Franz Josef van der Staay
  13. dr. Rebecca Nordquist
  14. dr. Yvonne van Zeeland

nrs. 1-10: Diergeneeskunde/ Dier in Wetenschap & Maatschappij
nrs. 11-13: Diergeneeskunde/ Gezondheidszorg Landbouwhuisdieren
nr.14: Diergeneeskunde/ Gezelschapsdieren
Course description
The course focuses at behavioural and welfare problems in animals.
It addresses the (neuro)ethological basis, the implications for science and society, and clinical aspects (causes, diagnostics, prevention, treatment).
A general outline is given below:
- Ontogeny and adaptation
- Behavioural pharmacology
- Pain assessment
- Neurobiology of adaptation
- Ethological observation and adaptation
- Chronic stress & welfare
- Animal welfare – as a scientific concept
- Animal Welfare Management
- Animal welfare and Production Animals
- Ethics & Welfare
- Welfare of exotic animals & society
- Introduction clinical ethology
- Clinical ethology of pet animals
- Clinical ethology of parrots
- Behaviour & Welfare of chicken
- Recent developments in farm animal husbandry systems
- Behaviour & Welfare of rats
- Animal communication and welfare
- Transgenerational effects and welfare
- Animal choice tests/consumer demand

Literature/study material used:
Peer reviewed scientific papers

Apply via the study guide. The maximum number of participants is 25. Applications are on a "first come first serve" basis.

Mandatory for students in own Master’s programme:

Optional for students in other GSLS Master’s programme:
Environmental Biology, especially the specialization programme Behavioural Ecology; and any other master programme with relevant basal courses.

Prerequisite knowledge:
Students from the master programme Neuroscience & Cognition of the Utrecht University are expected to have completed the general Fundamentals Course (15 ECTS). Other students are required to have a demonstrable BSc-level knowledge of neuroscience or behavioral biology.

Measuring behaviour

The purpose of this course (1 week) is to acquire working knowledge of the methods for measuring and analysing animal behaviour.
The course is based on the book "Measuring Behaviour. An introductory guide".

Course set-up and study aims
Day 1: Introduction; practising observational methods; self-study
Day 2: Empirical cycle; research design; self-study
Day 3: Self-study and assignment
Day 4: Practising the statistical analysis of behavioural data; self-study
Day 5: Self-study; written exam (on Monday)
On day 3 students have to answer a set of questions pertaining to methodological issues in one or two papers, preferably related to their Masters study topic.
The course is not a course in statistics. Basic knowledge on statistical tests is presumed. On day 4 the application of some tests frequently used in behavioural biology will be reviewed. The emphasis here is on when to use which test and how to perform the test in SPSS.

Send an e-mail to the course coordinator (Dr. J. de Vries, The mail should contain 1) your name; 2) student number; 3) e-mail address; 4) telephone number; 5) current Master track. Please note: the number of participants is limited to 25. Only the first registrations can be accepted.
Mandatory for students in Master’s programme: YES

Optional for students in other Master’s programmes GS-LS: Neuroscience and Cognition, especially the tracks Cognitive Neuroscience and Behavioural Neuroscience; Environmental Biology, especially the specialization programme Behavioural Ecology; and any other master programme with relevant basal courses.

Writing assignment (7.5 EC)

You will write a Master’s thesis to demonstrate your ability to provide a clear overview of recent literature addressing the topic in question. The thesis will contains both a discussion/evaluation of the hypothesis and a personal view. Alternatively, you may write a scientific research proposal in the format of a NWO Top Talent application, or a scientific proposal in the format of a STW/EU application.

Major (51 ECTS) and Minor Research Project (33 ECTS)

Major Research Project

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 will 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 a report or an article for a scientific publication. Furthermore, you will take part in work discussions and journal club meetings in order to understand the meaning of the work related to that of the research group and of the scientific community as a whole. The project is completed with a written report and an oral presentation.

We offer a wide array of research projects in which you can contribute to ongoing research. As research within the Environmental Biology groups develops rapidly, please visit their websites or contact the professors directly to learn more about the latest opportunities. 

Minor Research Project

For your Minor Research Project (6 months), you can either join one of the Environmental Biology research groups or complete your research training at another university, research institute, or professional organisation. For the specialisation track in Ecology & Natural Resource Management, it is highly recommended to do an internship in a professional organisation, where you can develop a career as a natural resource manager. The Environmental Biology research groups maintain an extensive international network with top universities, research institutes, and professional organisations, offering you ample opportunities to complete your Minor Research Project or internship abroad.

The Minor Research Project may also be replaced by a specific profile. A profile contains theoretical and practical components in the fields of Management (M‑profile) or Teaching and Communication (C&E-profile). See the Study Guide Life Sciences for more information.