MSc in Biological Sciences - Ecology and Evolution

University of Amsterdam

Program Description

MSc in Biological Sciences - Ecology and Evolution

University of Amsterdam

The aim of the two-year track Ecology and Evolution in the Master's program Biological Sciences is to promote understanding of the relationships between living organisms, the evolution of species and the function of ecosystems, in order to contribute to more sustainability on earth.

Ecology and Evolution at the UvA is the study for you, if you
  • are looking for expert training to thoroughly understand how plant and animal species originate and together shape communities that inhabit the ecosystems on our planet;
  • want to explore the options to improve and protect the earth's biodiversity;
  • are interested in a wide choice of courses and internships in the Netherlands, Europe or anywhere in the world.

What does Ecology and Evolution at the UvA have to offer me?

The Master’s track Ecology and Evolution builds on the internationally renowned research of the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED). Teaching and learning activities are firmly integrated with the current research. Track-specific research can be fundamental (e.g. speciation, soil-plant-insect interactions, community dynamics, long-term (paleo) ecology) or applied (e.g. pest control, nature conservation, bird migration, ecosystem services).

The following research areas are offered at the University of Amsterdam

  • Biodiversity and conservation biology
  • Eco-evolutionary dynamics
  • Evolution of behavior and species interactions
  • Genetics and genomics of adaptation
  • Impact of climate change and anthropogenic disturbance
  • Landscape genetics
  • Macro-ecology
  • Paleoecology
  • Population management and biological pest-control
  • Social evolution

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.

Study program


The primary focus of the track is 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 on all issues related to ecology and evolution. The program's curriculum covers a variety of topics in different disciplines, including evolutionary ecology, modeling 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.

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. You will design and carry out your own projects, under the supervision of, and with feedback from, 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 program or track.

Majors or Tesla Minor: if you want more than research

Students of the Master’s program 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 organization, 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 has recently been developed by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at the Faculty of Science

Career prospects

  • Graduates of the Master's program Biological Sciences are well prepared for a career in fundamental or applied research, or as a trained professional. Below you find a chart of the various sectors where our graduates start their career.
Examples of positions our alumni hold are:
  • Annemiek Bijlmer - Ecological advisor - Ministry of Economic Affairs
  • Marlou Scheltens - Biology teacher - High school
  • Setareh Mohammadin - Ph.D. candidate - Wageningen University

The job market

Overall, the career perspectives for Biological Sciences graduates are good. As shown in the table below, most alumni did find a qualified job within six months after graduation.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated January 12, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2018
24 months
Full time
2,006 EUR
Netherlands - Amsterdam
Start date: Sept. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2018
Netherlands - Amsterdam
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
EU/EEA students. Non-EU/EEA students €14,630 per year.