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MSc Ecology and Evolution

Specialization Ecology & Conservation

Mankind is changing our planet at an unprecedented rate, and the need for highly skilled conservation ecologists has never been higher. Conservation ecology is a broad and interdisciplinary field that combines a thorough understanding of fundamental ecological processes with hands-on ecological applications. As student in conservation ecology, you will learn how organisms, populations and communities are affected by these changing environmental conditions, and how this knowledge can contribute to successful ecological conservation and restoration programs.

We aim at educating the new generation of ecologists that will contribute to an understanding of the global ecological problems, and helping to solve them. Our newly developed track within the two-year Ecology and Evolution programme is meant for motivated students who want to understand nature, and are concerned about its sustainable conservation in a world that is changing rapidly. Our classes, labs and fieldwork cover a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic environments. You will learn fundamental concepts and techniques required for carrying out an ecological study, as well as how to implement these to solve conservation issues. This prepares you to become both a scientist and practitioner in the field. We highly value field ecological skills, and combine these with up-to-date new techniques such as satellite tracking, remote sensing or molecular methods.

Our track consists of a series of courses that prepare the students for their individual MSc-research projects. You will learn important academic skills and tools such as scientific writing, field-techniques, data handling and analyses, and advanced conservation and eco-evolutionary theory. The track begins in September with a block of 4 track-specific courses (16 weeks, in total 25 EC) until Christmas (Ecology Research Skills, Conservation Ecology Practices, Flyway Ecology, and Advanced Population and Community Ecology), followed by a block of elective courses (6 weeks, 2 x 5 EC), during which students can learn new skills and tools (e.g. Molecular Methods in Ecology & Evolution, Advanced Statistics) and prepare for their MSc research project (Research Proposal Ecology & Evolution). With the obligatory elements Essay, Colloquium, Research Projects the track adds up to the required 120 EC (see Table).

Research opportunities for MSc projects

We work with a multitude of species and communities of plants, insects, birds and mammals and in various environments that vary from heavily human-impacted landscapes (e.g. agricultural fields) to relatively undisturbed natural landscapes (e.g. salt marshes, heathlands, forests or savannas). There are plenty of options for your individual MSc research project, e.g.

Field work with Pied Flycatchers in Drenthe
Field work with Pied Flycatchers in Drenthe
Predator behaviour in Białowieza National Park, Poland
Predator behaviour in Białowieza National Park, Poland
Grazing experiments on Dutch salt marshes
Grazing experiments on Dutch salt marshes
Impact of human activity on deer, Veluwezoom National Park
Impact of human activity on deer, Veluwezoom National Park
Coastal defence by mussels - Fieldwork on the island of Griend
Coastal defence by mussels - Fieldwork on the island of Griend
Food availability for Black-tailed Godwit chicks in Friesland
Food availability for Black-tailed Godwit chicks in Friesland

Career perspectives

Graduates of Conservation Ecology are well equipped to work in scientific research, conservation & restoration, ecological consultancy, management, education, private corporations and (non-) governmental organizations


An academic Bachelor’s degree in any field of biological sciences. This includes, but is not restricted to, ecology, evolution, physiology, genetics , molecular biology, microbiology, theoretical biology and behavior. This MSc track is research oriented, and although there are no official requirements with respect to grades, candidates are expected to have affinity with field-work, lab work and analytical skills (data processing & statistics).

Check our facebook page for up-to-date changes and project opportunities!

Study elements track Ecology & Conservation ECTS credits
See for detailed study guide
Main track courses:
•  Ecological research skills
•  Conservation ecology practices
•  Flyway ecology
•  Advanced population & community ecology

Tool box courses Ecology & Evolution/Marine Biology:
•  Molecular methods in ecology & evolution
•  Research proposal ecology & evolution
•  Advanced statistics
•  Practical bioinformatics for biologists
•  Meta analyses in ecology
•  Mathematical models in ecology & evolution
•  Self-organization of social systems
•  Radio isotopes in experimental biology
and more...

Research project 1 (University of Groningen) ≥40
Research project 2 (anywhere in the world with approval) ≥30
Essay 5
Colloquium 5
Total 120
Last modified:08 April 2019 1.50 p.m.