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Education Master's and PhD degree programmes Ecology and Evolution
Header image Ecology and Evolution

Ecology and Evolution

Which organisms are able to adapt to global change? How do birds decide when and where to migrate? When and why do individual differences in physiology or behaviour evolve?

This Master's programme has a selection procedure and admits a maximum of 50 students per year. For more information about the selection procedure, please check here .

During the two-year Master's programme Ecology and Evolution you will gain insight into the living organism in relation to its environment. Ecology and evolution are strongly interdependent: without ecology, we cannot really understand natural selection; and without evolution, we cannot really understand the properties of organisms and their interaction with the environment. Ecology and evolution are relevant for all domains of the life sciences.

Ecology and evolutionary biology play a crucial role in facing the grand challenges of our time. This includes the development of realistic plans for coping with the implications of global change, for stopping the alarming biodiversity loss, for designing evolutionarily stable strategies to set-up a sustainable society, and for developing evolution-informed medical treatment. The research fields of ecology and evolution are highly dynamic. Powerful new techniques (e.g. GPS-tracking of migrating birds over the whole planet; remote sensing; tracking of individual cells in a culture of micro-organisms; genome-wide sequencing; individual-based simulations; new methods to analyse ‘big data’) allow us to resolve long-standing puzzles.

These new approaches lead to new insights and concepts that change our way of thinking, including a range of new integrative disciplines (e.g. evo-devo; evolutionary medicine; evolutionary community ecology; ecological immunology; evolutionary systems biology; adaptation and conservation genomics; evolutionary psychology). With this Master's programme, we aim to educate the new generation of scientists in ecology and evolution, both those who want to study the big fundamental questions in all domains of the life sciences and those who want to contribute to solving the grand challenges of our time.

The Master's degree programme Ecology and Evolution is offered by the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), which conducts internationally recognized research in a unique diversity of areas relevant for ecology and evolution, including conservation biology, community ecology, microbial ecology, marine biology, evolutionary genetics and genomics, evolutionary systems biology, ecophysiology, neurobiology, chronobiology, evolutionary medicine, behavioural ecology, animal personality research, social evolution, and theoretical biology. We study a wide array of species, from microbes, algae, plants and insects to vertebrates such as fish, birds, rodents, marine mammals, large herbivores and humans.

The selective Master's programme offers 2 specialized research tracks:

1) Evolutionary Biology, that is strongly research-oriented and designed to provide an optimal preparation for a subsequent PhD and eventually a career in academic research;

2) Ecology & Conservation, to educate the new generation of ecologists to contribute to understanding and solving the global ecological problems, as a scientist and practitioner in the field. In this programme, you will learn how organisms, populations and communities are affected by changing environmental conditions, and how this knowledge can contribute to successful ecological conservation and restoration programs.

The selective Master's programme is designed for students primarily aiming for a career in research, and who are able to keep up with the study pace of the cohort that starts in September. Students who aim for a career that focuses on the business and policy side of science are referred to our Master’s programme Biology. The Master's programme Biology is also an option for students who would like to start after the start studying during the academic year, but restrictions and deadlines apply.


Facts & Figures
Degree
MSc in Ecology and Evolution
Course type
Master
Duration
24 months (120 ECTS)
Croho code
60365
Language of instruction
English
Start
September
Faculty
Science and Engineering
Why study this programme in Groningen?
  • Combination of in-depth training and the opportunity for designing a tailor-made programme in ecology and evolution
  • Possibility to obtain a double degree with the universities Uppsala, Montpellier or Munich - for students in the Evolutionary Biology track that are registered in the MEME programme (https://www.evobio.eu)
  • Students form collaborative cohorts and frequently interact with their supervisors & teachers
  • Coaching by personal mentor
  • Broad spectrum of research projects, tailored to the individual preferences of the student, ranging from microbes to whales, and from molecules to ecosystems. Research can be conducted in the field or in the lab and theoretically as well as experimentally.
  • Opportunities to conduct field work in diverse environments (on all five continents), including the nearby Wadden Sea (on the UNESCO World Heritage list) and the arctic regions.
  • Our faculty is the home of the 2016 Nobel laureate in Chemistry, Ben Feringa, and GELIFES is the home of the 2014 Spinoza Prize winner, Theunis Piersma.
Programme

Curriculum

You can choose between the two tracks:

1) Evolutionary Biology

2) Ecology & Conservation

The programme tracks start with a series of mandatory courses on the advanced theory and state-of the-art in the research field of the tracks (20-30 EC), followed by a series of elective specialist-topic or skill courses, tailored to the individual preferences of the student (10-20 EC). A large proportion of the programme is devoted to two research projects in which the students are fully embedded in a research group of their choice, to conduct their own research. To guarantee optimal supervision and a first-class research environment, the first project (30-40 EC) has to be carried out at the University of Groningen. The second project (30 EC) is to be conducted in a different research group, either at the University of Groningen or elsewhere, to learn new techniques and scientific approaches, and to extend the scientific network. If desired, this second project can be done abroad. Possibility to obtain a double degree with the universities Uppsala, Montpellier or Munich, for students in the Evolutionary Biology track that are registered in the MEME programme.

Programme options
Evolutionary Biology (track)

This programme is for students with an interest in understanding all facets of evolution.

It offers advanced theoretical and practical training to provide students with a head-start in a subsequent PhD, and eventually a career in scientific research. During the first year, students follow a set of multidisciplinary courses that are developed to provide an overview of the fundamental principles underlying modern evolutionary biology, including developing the scientific, methodological and academic skills required for conducting research. During two major research projects, students receive individually supervised research training, while working on their own research questions. During these projects, students are fully embedded in leading research groups where they and can make use of state-of-the art research methods and facilities. Research projects can be conducted in all areas related to ecology and evolution. There are options for students to follow part of their programme at one of our partner universities: Uppsala, Montpellier or Munich . Under strict mobility requirements, students can study at two of these partner universities, and in the end receive MSc degrees from two universities (a "double degree").

More information about this option

Ecology & Conservation (track)

This programme is designed for students that strive to become an ecologist that can contribute to an understanding of the global ecological problems, and help to solve them.

In this programme, students will learn how organisms, populations and communities are affected by changing environmental conditions, and how this knowledge can contribute to successful ecological conservation and restoration programs. This track will equip students with the knowledge and skills to work in scientific research, conservation & restoration, ecological consultancy, management, education, private corporations and (non-) governmental organizations. The first semester consists of three mandatory advanced courses, and the option for a series of elective courses. In the two major research projects, students are individually supervised while working on their own research questions. Research projects can be conducted in all areas related to ecology, conservation and evolution.

More information about this option

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is recommended
  • For an average of 20 weeks
  • Maximum of 60 EC

Exchange: All our science and engineering programmes offer study abroad possibilities at a number of partner institutions. Our partners include top-100 universities in Europe (for example in Germany, UK, and Sweden) and in the USA, China, South-East Asia, and South America. Our exchange programmes have a typical duration of one semester and count toward your final degree.

Entry requirements

Transfer options

Transferring from...

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
BiologyAll Research universities

Additional requirements

Additional requirements:
  • knowledge minimum
  • written request
More information:

This Master's degree programme is selective, please read the information about the selection procedure.

A Bachelor's degree in Biology is required, with specialization in Ecology or Marine Biology.

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
BiologyUniversity of Groningen

Additional requirements

Additional requirements:
  • knowledge minimum
  • written request
More information:

This Master's degree programme is selective, please read the information about the selection procedure.

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
BiologyRadboud University Nijmegen

Additional requirements

Additional requirements:
  • knowledge minimum
  • written request
More information:

This Master's degree programme is selective, please read the information about the selection procedure.

A Bachelor's degree in Biology is required, with specialization in Ecology or Marine Biology.

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
knowledge minimum

English proficiency on VWO level is required.

previous education

This master's degree programme has a selection procedure; read the information below!

An academic Bachelor's degree in Biology with a specialization in Ecology, Evolution or another related field. This is merely an indication of required background knowledge. The admissions board determines whether the specific contents of this/these course(s) meet the admission requirements of the master programme for which you applied.

Information about admission possibilities and requirements for students from a Dutch HBO institute is published on: https://www.rug.nl/fse/msc-admission

other admission requirements

The Ecology and Evolution research master is selective. Selection will be based on academic performance and motivation to determine if you will be selected for the master's programme. After you have registered via www.rug.nl/fse/msc-admission (before May 1st) your application will be requested to pass on to the Admissions Board of the programme.

BEFORE YOU APPLY
Make sure to visit 'MSc Application Procedure' at http://www.rug.nl/fse/msc-admission for all the necessary information about the procedure and admission requirements.

Registration procedure

The Board of Admissions will decide whether you can be admitted to the Master's degree programme.

Please fill out this checklist to explain why you want to apply for this Master's degree programme (questions to be addressed are outlined on the form).

You can use the checklist to describe your pre-education. Please provide two reference letters (non EU applicants) or provide the names of those we may contact for reference (EU applicants) using the application form. Please also provide a bachelor thesis or another individually written report of an academic assignment. If such a report is not available an assignment will be given to you by the Board of Admissions.

Selection procedure

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students01 May 202201 September 2022
01 May 202301 September 2023
EU/EEA students01 May 202201 September 2022
01 May 202301 September 2023
non-EU/EEA students01 May 202201 September 2022
01 May 202301 September 2023

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
language test

MAKE SURE TO VISIT http://www.rug.nl/fwn/fmns-programme/admissions/msc/language-requirements for all the necessary information about required language tests and minimum scores.

previous education

This master's degree programme has a selection procedure; read the information below.

An academic Bachelor's degree in Biology with a specialization in Ecology, Evolution or another related field. This is merely an indication of required background knowledge. The Admissions Board determines whether the specific contents of this/these course(s) meet the admission requirements of the master programme for which you applied.

other admission requirements

The Ecology and Evolution research master is selective. Selection will be based on academic performance and motivation to determine if you will be selected for the master's programme. After you have registered in www.studielink.nl (before May 1st) your application will be requested to pass on to the Admissions Board of the programme.

BEFORE YOU APPLY Make sure to visit 'MSc Application Procedure' at: http://www.rug.nl/fwn/fmns-programme/admissions/msc/ for all the necessary information about the procedure and admission requirements.

Registration procedure

The Board of Admissions will decide whether you can be admitted to the Master's degree programme.

Please fill out the checklist to explain why you choose to apply for this Master's degree programme (questions to be addressed are outlined on the form).

Use the checklist to describe your pre-education.

Provide two reference letters (non EU applicants) or provide the names of those we may contact for reference (EU applicants) using the application form.
Provide a bachelor thesis or another individually written report of an academic assignment. If such a report is not available an assignment will be given by the Board of Admissions.

Selection procedure

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students01 May 202201 September 2022
01 May 202301 September 2023
EU/EEA students01 May 202201 September 2022
01 May 202301 September 2023
non-EU/EEA students01 May 202201 September 2022
01 May 202301 September 2023
Tuition fees
NationalityYearFeeProgramme form
EU/EEA2021-2022€ 1084full-time
non-EU/EEA2021-2022€ 17416full-time
EU/EEA2022-2023€ 2209full-time
non-EU/EEA2022-2023€ 18850full-time

Practical information for:

After your studies

Job prospects

Graduates of the programme who have chosen for the selective research master often enter a PhD programme or join a research and development team in a company or research institute.

For an overview of the different fields our students find jobs in: https://www.rug.nl/fse/beta-studie/testimonials/first-job-ees-students.png

Job examples

  • PhD research position
  • R&D in a company or research institute
  • Scientific advisor, project officer or consultant
Research

Research Projects in Various Fields

The Master's degree programme is coordinated by the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES; http://www.rug.nl/research/gelifes/).

GELIFES focuses its research on the level of the individual organism (behaviour, physiology, morphology, genetics, development) and on higher levels of organisation (population, communities, ecosystems). The research is being done on a broad range of organisms (terrestrial-marine; microorganisms-plants-animals) with a broad range of methods and approaches (field, lab, theoretical). A hallmark of GELIFES is that we strive to integrate mechanistic approaches (how does an organism function?) with evolutionary approaches (why does the organisms function as it does?). We specifically aim to integrate these fields that are traditionally studied in isolation.

GELIFES is part of the Faculty of Science and Engineering and embraces six research groups:

Apply nowBrochureEventsContact

Contact

  • Academic Advisors FSE (For questions regarding the programme)
  • Study Science E-Mail (For students who are interested in a Campus Tour or who have other general questions)
    Email: studyscience rug.nl
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  • 
						Testimonial of Siwen Tang

    My Ecology and Evolution programme gives me a lot of freedom, which means I can schedule my time the way I like

    – Siwen Tang
    Read more

    Life at the university is totally different from my home country China . My Ecology and Evolution programme gives me a lot of freedom, which means I can schedule my time the way I like. We work in projects a lot, so I get the chance to practice my applied skills. You learn to solve problems by yourself and work independently. But at the same time my classmates, the professors and the university staff are always there when I'm in need for help or advice!

    I love the fact that the study programme allows me to do an internship as a project. An internship gives me the chance to familiarize with our scientific work in real companies and institutes. This experience is really valuable for my future career. A piece of advice to future students would be to inform about possible projects before you arrive here. It gives you an advantage when you've already found a suitable project and supervisor.

    I would recommend Ecology and Evolution, and the city of Groningen as a whole, to any prospective student who wants to enjoy a quiet, cosy and academic studying experience abroad! The University has a great 400 year history , the residents are lovely and friendly, and all speak English at a high level. Other than that, I really enjoy riding my little cute bike to anywhere I want in this city! it's convenient and safe.

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Study associations

GLV Idun

GLV Idun (Groninger levenswetenschappenvereniging Idun) is the study association for bachelor and master students in the Life Sciences at the University of Groningen.
The association has 20 committees and organizes over 175 activities. The association has multiple purposes for its members; support in education, organizing social events, providing insights in future career paths, etc. Activities include parties and drinks, as wellThe members of a study association are characterized by their study program, contrary to a student association of which the members' study program is not relevant. Joining a study association gives an extra dimension to your student life in Groningen!
https://www.idun.nl/home
Read more
Study support

Students choose a mentor to coach them in the design of their individual programme, which will lead to a personal professional profile in Research or in Science, Business and Policy. They can design their own path, with their desired specialization or without a specialization, and their personal mentor helps them find their optimal trajectory.

More information about the general programme options and its compulsory and optional courses can be found on http://www.rug.nl/ocasys/fse/vak/showpos?opleiding=4857.