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Biological Sciences: Evolution of Behaviour and Mind (track)
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Study Programme

Learning by Research

The primary focus of the track Evolution of Behaviour and Mind is learning by doing research, conducted either within the university at the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), the Psychology Research Institute (PRI), the Center for Research in Experimental Economics and Political Decision Making (CREED), or at other research institutes in the Netherlands or abroad. The following research areas are available within the university:

  • Behavioural Ecology
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Decision Making


Courses offer you the foundation required to conduct research in different topics related to Evolution of Behaviour and Mind. The programme's curriculum covers a variety of topics in different disciplines, including evolutionary modeling, comparative research, evolutionary psychology, evolutionary medicine, cross-cultural studies, and cultural evolution. In addition, you will be trained in data analysis and statistics, and in skills such as programming, and in doing research with an experimental, observational, or questionnaire design.

Courses include Current Trends in EBM and Masterclasses in EBM. In addition, there is a wide range of elective courses to choose from.

Research project

The Research Project is a compulsory component of the track. Research projects give you the opportunity to acquire practical experience by empirical scientific research methods and to learn to work independently as a researcher. You will design and carry out your own projects, under supervision of and with feedback by research staff. A research project is carried out full-time, and its topic must be different from that of any other research project or the literature review. Unless students choose a major (see below), two research projects must be done, each with a minimum of 30 EC and maximum of 60 EC.

Literature review

The Literature Review (12 EC) is another compulsory part of the track. By writing a literature review you are challenged to make a detailed study of the recent literature on a chosen topic. You are free to choose and develop a proposal on a topic of your interest after consultation of one the lecturers. Your topic should fit within the scope of the programme or track.

Majors or Tesla Minor: if you want more than research

Students of the Master's programme Biological Sciences have further the option to choose one of three professional majors (60 EC) or minor (30 EC), each designed to train a specific set of skills needed as a secondary school teacher, in policy and communication or elsewhere outside the academia:

  • The major Teaching
    Prepares students to become a teacher in Biology at secondary schools and Higher Vocational Education (Dutch: HBO). This major is offered by the Interfacultaire Lerarenopleidingen (ILO).
  • The major Science Communication
    Prepares students for a role in communication between science and other societal sectors. This major is offered by the Athena Institute of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).
  • The major Science in Society
    Trains skills such as reading and writing policy advisory reports, management and leadership, and organisation, and is meant for students with a broad interest in current affairs, social issues, policy, management and entrepreneurship. This major is offered by the Athena Institute of the VU.
  • Minor Tesla
    Trains skills needed in interdisciplinary environments by tackling real business or societal cases with external partners. This Tesla minor has recently been developed by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at the Faculty of Science. 

Accreditation and academic title

Evolution of Behaviour and Mind is a track of the Master's programme in Biological Sciences. The Master's programme in Biological Sciences has been accredited by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). This means that upon successful completion of the programme, students will receive a Master's degree in Biological Sciences and the title of Master of Science (MSc).

Bring your own device

All students enrolled in Biological Sciences are requested to bring their own laptop, due to the nature of the programme. More information on specific system requirements can be found here.