Master's degree programme in Biology
I had always dreamed of going to Europe, and I had heard that it was easy to get by with English in Scandinavia, so for me the choice was easy. I thought I would learn a lot here and I certainly did. At Aarhus University, I learned how to establish a research project from scratch by myself, and I learned to write scientific articles even though I’m still just at Master’s level.
Graduate, MSc in Biology programme, from Vietnam
The MSc programme in Biology provides you with the opportunity to specialise in one or more of the areas of biology that you find most interesting. Because all students begin with a basic knowledge of biology, the teaching is at a high level right from the start. The Department of Bioscience at Aarhus University is popular among students and researchers from abroad. It is an active and international research environment.
INDIVIDUAL STUDY PLAN
When you commence your MSc programme in Biology, you compose your own individual study plan in collaboration with a lecturer. The degree programme counts as 120 ECTS and consists of elective courses and a thesis. The considerable freedom of choice is an excellent opportunity for in-depth studies in one of the many disciplines within biology – such as genetics, evolution and ecology, ecophysiology, aquatic biology, microbiology, and ecosystem function and management.
The MSc thesis is often based on a major fieldwork and/or laboratory project. Under the supervision of a researcher, students are personally responsible for a project description as well as for preparing and completing their thesis. The practical element must be substantiated by theory and the project is placed in a wider context, so students will normally spend a full year working on their thesis. The thesis may be combined with fieldwork abroad, if this is deemed relevant for the project.
WELCOME TO THE RESEARCH GROUP
Teaching is carried out by researchers who are specialists in their subject and who keep up-to-date with the latest developments in their field.
For students on the programme, the door to your lecturer’s office is always open if you need clarification of the study material, and you are encouraged to ask questions at lectures and during exercises. The programme requires high-level academic skills and independent study, but in return, students gain considerable benefits in the form of academic challenge, practical competencies and scientific knowledge.
When you write your thesis, you become associated with a group of researchers where you participate in a journal club and attend guest lectures, in addition to taking part in academic discussions and dialogue.
Graduates from the Department of Bioscience find work in a wide range of dynamic fields, including research and development, administration, and consultancy, as well as teaching and communication. With a MSc in Biology from Aarhus University you will have excellent opportunities to continue your career with a PhD at a Danish or international university.
The following Bachelor’s degrees qualify students for admission to the Master’s degree programme in Biology:
- A Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Aarhus University, the University of Southern Denmark or the University of Copenhagen.
The following other degrees can provide admission to the Master’s degree programme in Biology:
- Another Bachelor of Science degree with subject components in Biology equalling 60 ECTS credits, as well as basic subject components in Mathematics, Chemistry and Statistics.
Other qualifications can provide admission to the Master’s degree programme, provided the university assesses that their level, extent and content correspond to the degrees mentioned above.
Legal right of admission
Students of the Bachelor's degree programme in Biology at Aarhus University have the right to be admitted to the Master's degree programme in Biology on the condition that application is made with a view to continuing directly from the Bachelor's degree programme to the Master's degree programme. The legal right of admission requires receipt of the application by Aarhus University within the appropriate period of time.
As the Master’s degree programme in Biology (due to government legislation) only admits a limited number of students each year, meeting the admission requirements does not in itself guarantee admission to the programme.
In evaluating qualified applicants, the admissions committee assesses each applicant on the basis of the average mark (i.e. GPA) of the Bachelor’s degree at the time of application. Marks/grades obtained after the application deadline will not be included in the GPA.
The admissions committee assesses each applicant’s marks on the basis of the information provided by diplomas and transcripts.
Since English is the language of instruction in all subjects, all applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency.
Please see the general admission requirements.
The Master’s degree in biology counts as 120 ECTS credits and mainly consists of subjects within the biology field of study. You specialise by participating in course activities and projects and by writing a thesis. During your very first week, you structure your own individual study programme with the help of a teacher from the biology degree programme by choosing courses from a course catalogue. Your programme is based on your academic qualifications and interests and the subjects you studied for your Bachelor’s degree. The plan must be approved by the Board of Studies before you can enrol for examinations.
For more information about the individual courses, visit our course catalogue.
If you would like information about a Master’s thesis in biology working with research groups at the Department of Bioscience, go to their respective web sites.
A year divided into four terms
The teaching is divided into terms with four terms per year. Each term consists of a block of seven weeks followed by an examination period of 2–4 weeks. Example of a course calendar.
PhD degree programme
If you have the necessary skills and interest, you have the option of applying for admission to the PhD programme. You can apply when you have completed your Bachelor’s degree and one year of your Master’s degree or when you have completed your Master’s degree. In the PhD programme, you start working on a research project and are gradually trained through courses and personal guidance to become a researcher. For more information click here or read examples of current research projects at the Department of Bioscience.
Forms of teaching
At the University of Aarhus, you are in close contact with researchers in a way that you rarely experience at other universities. The door to the professor’s office is always open if you need clarification of the study material, and you are encouraged to ask questions at lectures and during exercises. We make heavy demands on your academic skills and independence. In return, you gain considerable benefits in the form of academic challenges and scientific knowledge, in addition to broad competences.
The teaching at the university is based on independence, critical thinking and collaboration. Part of the teaching is in the form of lectures that introduce new angles to the material compared with the textbooks. The theoretical and practical exercises take place in small groups where you work with relevant issues in depth. Most biology students also spend a certain amount of time on laboratory work or work related to field courses.
The varied forms of teaching, collaboration in groups and the opportunity for close scientific dialogue with the researchers provide you with general competences that are in great demand in the global job market. These competences include abstract, critical and independent thinking, analytical skills and strategic planning. You can use these skills in many contexts – even in jobs you didn’t know you were qualified for.
There is more to life as a biology student at the University of Aarhus than subjects and lessons. The all-round, inspiring student life at the Department of Biological Sciences is centred at Biologiens Hus (the House of Biology), a small building with a hall, a reading room and group rooms, in which the students meet for academic and social activities. This venue houses collections of field literature and textbooks, and makes rooms available for the Bio-Geobladet newsletter and the department’s Student Committee, which keeps students informed about activities at the Department of Biological Sciences. In addition, a number of student organisations at the department organise academic activities, excursions, celebrations and social events. The different student committees at the university consist of students who meet to discuss issues relating to the degree programme. These organisations influence the academic content of the degree programmes, from department and centre level to the top management levels at the university.
Campus – a unique place
The University of Aarhus is unique, especially because the buildings are grouped in one campus area close to the Aarhus city centre. The campus has many green areas and a beautiful park surrounding a small lake. Here you also find student accommodation and an underground system of corridors, which means that you don’t have to get your feet wet going from the canteen to your study area. There are also lecture theatres and a host of activities ranging from sports days to the regatta on the lake, interesting lectures, a film club, libraries and university celebrations. The campus ensures that you have easy access to the canteen, student counsellors, teachers, the bookshop, the State and University Library and the Friday bar.
Aarhus as a study centre
The university is not all Aarhus has to offer. As the second-largest city in Denmark, Aarhus has numerous different cultural activities. The well-known Aarhus Festival is celebrated for a week at the beginning of September every year and the streets really come to life. During the rest of the year, you can visit different music venues and concert halls in the city or find entertainment at one of the many theatres in Aarhus. The city’s many museums include ARoS – the major international art museum, which is a spectacular place for visual experiences. If you have had enough of cultural activities, you can ride your bike to the beach in no time or go for walks in the Risskov woods or in the beautiful woods around Marselisborg. The forty thousand young students in Aarhus make up 17.5% of the population, which leaves its mark on city life. Aarhus is a young, dynamic city with plenty of opportunities.
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Job functions for grads
This data is derived from AU's 2013/2014 employment survey. This data should not be considered a completely accurate representation of the labour market and job functions for all graduates of the individual degree programmes. It exclusively represent the responses submitted to the survey in the years in question.
With a Master’s degree in biology, you have the following competences:
- You have general knowledge of biology and detailed knowledge of key disciplines, methodologies, theories and concepts within biology.
- You can independently plan, manage and implement projects and apply the results in scientifically relevant decision processes.
- You can assess the applicability and appropriateness of theoretical, experimental and practical methodologies for the analysis and solution of scientific questions and issues.
- You can structure your own competence development independently and critically.
- You are able to systematically and critically familiarise yourself with new subject areas.
- You can communicate academic questions and issues to both a scientific and a general audience.
- You can collaborate constructively on a scientific basis to solve subject-related issues.
The University of Aarhus educates biology graduates for the regional, national and international job markets. Graduates from the Department of Biological Sciences find work in many different fields and institutions. Most jobs are within research, administration and consultancy as well as teaching and communication in the private or public sectors.
Biologists are employed in positions within a wide range of biology areas ranging from biotechnology, nature and the environment to biological production within agriculture and the fishing industry. Many biologists also work as consultants or environmental officers within environmental administration and management.
If you have a burning desire to communicate about biology, you can choose to teach at upper secondary school or at laboratory technicians’ or teachers’ training colleges, or in connection with different forms of adult education. Finally, some biologists work with communicating biological knowledge in the media and publishing worlds or as nature consultants. A biology degree is the key to many different types of jobs throughout society.
For more information about job opportunities, go to: biology.au.dk/karriere and nat.au.dk/erhverv.