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Learning by Research

The primary focus of the Ecology and Evolution track is learning by doing research, conducted either within the university at the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), at other research institutes in the Netherlands or abroad. The following research areas are offered within the university:

  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Experimental Plant Systematics
  • Population Biology
  • Computational Geo-Ecology
  • Paleoecology and Landscape Ecology
  • Theoretical Ecology


Courses offer you the foundation required to conduct research in all issues related to ecology and evolution. The programme's curriculum covers a variety of topics in different disciplines, including evolutionary ecology, modelling of biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics, data analysis and statistics, paleo-ecology, microbial ecology, genomics, spatial ecology and conservation.

These courses incorporate theory with laboratory and field work. They usually comprise a study load of 6 EC each and are taught on a full-time basis in a consecutive period of four weeks, in the first semester of each year. 

Course teaching in this track is shared with the MSc Ecology of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). Therefore, as a Biological Sciences student you benefit from the expertise, networks and research projects at both universities.

Become part of the world-wide research network in Ecology and Evolution

Master's students in Ecology and Evolution have many internship options at prestigious affiliated institutes in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and abroad, such as:

For detailed information regarding the curriculum and courses, check the UvA Course Catalogue or download the study schedule. 

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 in a research laboratory or in the field. You will design and carry out your own projects, under supervision of and with feedback of research staff. A research project is carried out full-time, and its subject 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 subject. 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 minor Tesla has recently been developed by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at the Faculty of Science.

Accreditation and degree

Ecology and Evolution is a track of the Master's programme in Biological Sciences. This programme has been accredited by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). 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.