Master of Biology (Leuven)

Master of Science

What is the Master of Biology all about?

The Master of Science in Biology emphasises problem-solving, independent thinking, and communication. You will be trained in the theory and techniques of fundamental and applied research in one of two areas of specialisation: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology or Molecular Biology and Physiology.

This is an initial Master's programme and can be followed on a full-time or part-time basis.





The 120 ECTS programme compromises four mandatory modules:

  • Common Core (18 ECTS)
    You will obtain the necessary training in analysing and processing complex biological data, in basic programming, and in discussing biological topics in a societal context.
  • Advanced Biology (54 ECTS)
    You can follow two modules: ‘Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology’ and ‘Molecular Biology and Physiology’. Throughout advanced and specialised courses, you will obtain the necessary knowledge and insights in a specific area of Biology.
    You can specialise in one module or combine courses from both modules to design a programme that fits your needs and interests.
  • Elective courses (18 ECTS)
    You can select additional courses in Advanced Biology, courses on Entrepreneurship, take remedial courses to fill in knowledge gaps and/or follow courses from other master’s programmes.
  • Master’s Thesis (30 ECTS).
    You will conduct your own original scientific research in the field of biology in an academic setting with the help of a supervisor. You will defend your master’s thesis publicly.


The Department of Biology is committed to excellence in teaching and research and is comprised of four divisions with diverse research activities ranging from molecular and physiological research at the level of cells and organisms to ecological research on populations, communities, and ecosystems. Although many research groups conduct in-depth analyses on specific model organisms, as a whole the department studies an impressive diversity of lifeforms.

Our research is internationally renowned and embedded in well-established worldwide collaborations with other universities, research institutes, and companies. Our primary goal is to obtain insight into patterns and processes at different levels of biological organisation and to understand the basis and evolution of the mechanisms that allow organisms to adapt to their constantly changing environment. This knowledge often leads to applications with important economic or societal benefits. The department attracts many students and hosts approximately 250 staff members.


Application deadline

  • 1 March 2017 (for non-EEA citizens) 
  • 1 June 2017 (for EEA citizens) 

KU Leuven uses an online application system. You can download and submit your application form via Students with a Flemish degree can consult

Tuition fee

The current tuition fee is 890 euro. The tuition fee for the 2017-2018 academic year will be determined in the spring of 2017. Please consult the website for the most recent information:



Is this the right programme for me?

Applicants must hold an academic Bachelor's degree and be familiar with the subjects and courses listed below. Within the programme, 18 credits are allotted for filling possible gaps in students' basic knowledge.

Basic Sciences: at least 30 credits

  • Chemistry (9)
  • Statistics (4)
  • Mathematics (5)
  • Physics (8)
  • Bio-Organic Chemistry (6)


Fundamental Biology: at least 30 credits

  • Cell Biology and Biochemistry (9)
  • Animal, Plant or General Biology (8 and 6)
  • Animal Diversity (6)
  • Plant Diversity (6)


Advanced Biology: at least 30 credits

  • Microbiology (6)
  • Ecology (6)
  • Genetics and Molecular Biology (3 and 6)
  • Evolutionary Biology or Developmental Biology (6)
  • Animal or Plant Physiology (6)


Good knowledge of the English language is essential. Unless you are of Anglo-Saxon origin, you will be asked to submit a TOEFL or IELTS certificate.



The objective of this programme is to train students as biologists capable of working in a research environment in fundamental biological sciences at an international level.

Knowledge and insight
A 'Master of Biology':
-  possesses a general knowledge and insight in biological phenomena, as well as a more profound understanding of a specialized area of Biology;
-  has a well-funded insight in living matter, as well as in the relationship between living and non-living matter;
-  has a wide fundamental knowledge in Biology and related sciences which he can integrate to efficiently and independently acquire new insights and practical skills.
Applying knowledge and insight
A 'Master of Biology':
-  can integrate his/her knowledge of biological processes at different levels of organisation and with other areas of study;
-  is capable of independently processing and implementing information from the international scientific literature and can employ this information to detect problems within the scientific context;
-   can produce a relevant answer to a scientific question or produce a problem-solving strategy for scientific experiments and observations;
-  can efficiently assimilate information and evaluate it in a scientifically correct manner with the necessary criticism;
-  has the expertise to plan within the context of a research team an original research project, to autonomously and accurately execute this study and to analyse and interpret the data;
-  is capable of performing and implementing a risk analysis for the experiments to be conducted, regarding the possible implications for biological safety and for the environment;
-  has acquired the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are necessary to function in his/her scientific community and is capable of performing scientific research according to the required (academic) standards.
A 'Master of Biology':
-  has good communicative skills in English;
-  can summarize and critically interpret his own findings at different levels and communicate towards various target groups;
-  can clearly report on scientific research regarding his/her field of specialty, and on more general biological information, both orally and in written form before a specialised public;
-  can collaborate in international team and contribute to a constructive atmosphere of mutual respect and trust in a professional context;
-  is capable of performing a responsible role within a group and can show responsibility for its final result.
Generation of judgement
A 'Master of Biology':
-  possesses the attitude and has developed problem-solving capabilities that are sufficient to function as a scientifically professional and ethically responsible biologist;
-  is aware of the legal, social and ethical context, as well as of the safety aspects associated with scientific research and acts accordingly;
-  has acquired a sociological sense of responsibility and an ethical and critical attitude. This enables him/her to autonomously make a critical analysis and to defend a well-founded point-of-view regarding problems in our society that have a link with biology.
Learning skills
A 'Master of Biology':
-  can co-operate with international fellow-students and researchers, including those from other (sub)disciplines, and has acquired the necessary attitudes, as well as the sense of responsibility, to participate in the team, in a professional context;
-  possesses a sufficiently critical attitude allowing him/her to autonomously obtain knowledge, perform research activities and work on scientific problems, with a sense of originality and creativity;
-  has acquired the necessary practical skills to stay informed of recent international developments in his/her field of expertise, as well as Biology and Science in general, and understands that it is therefore necessary to permanently update his/her knowledge and know-how.

Career perspectives

As a graduate of the programme, you will be in a position to pursue a career as a scientific researcher at universities, agro-industries, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, environmental conservation organisations and NGO's.
You will also be an excellent candidate for employment as a scientific advisor in banks and private investment foundations, a policy officer in governmental and public administration, a scientific communications advisor, scientific journalist, or a science teacher.


Faculty of Science

Programme director
Prof. R. Stoks
Tel. +32 16 32 37 10

Administrative Office
Geel Huis
Kasteelpark Arenberg 11 box 2100
3001 HEVERLEE, Belgium
tel. + 32 16 32 14 01

Visit the programme's web page.


Study Advice Service
Naamsestraat 80 box 5415
3000 LEUVEN, Belgium

To contact us, please complete the contact form on our website .



In the context of the wellbeing law certain data must be stored for each student and they must be informed timely on the subject of:

  • the risks to which the student is exposed during the study programme (practicals, traineeships, master's theses,…)
  • the associated preventive measures for each risk, such as medical follow-up, personal protective equipment and instructions.
The risks and preventive measures are collected in the HSE-file for students. Through this link you can consult the HSE-file. The HSE-file will be used for traineeships and/or master’s theses. For more information about traineeships, we refer to the following site: traineeship.. For questions, please contact the HSE Department.