Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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International Master's programme Biodiversity Sciences


Programme Goals

Biodiversity forms the foundation for all ecosystem functions and human well-being on Earth. In the last decades, we have encountered a dramatic loss in and restructuring of biodiversity. Biodiversity Science provides the scientific basis to quantify the state and change of biodiversity across space and time, to understand the underlying evolutionary and ecological processes as well as the consequences of biodiversity change for ecosystems and humans. Finally, as biodiversity and its change are strongly linked to society, the programme has a strong interdisciplinary component, addressing the options of how biodiversity can be maintained and integrated into the management of our planet’s resources.

To achieve this goal different disciplines are engaged in the international master's programme Biodiversity Sciences, ranging from organismic to molecular sciences in biology, biogeochemistry, bioinformatics and landscape ecology.

Measuring photosynthesis on drought-tolerant species in Halle (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Measuring photosynthesis on drought-tolerant species in Halle (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Measuring photosynthesis on drought-tolerant species in Halle (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Cherry pollination experiment in one of the orchards in Saxony-Anhalt in 2020 (Photograph: Robert Paxton)

Cherry pollination experiment in one of the orchards in Saxony-Anhalt in 2020 (Photograph: Robert Paxton)

Cherry pollination experiment in one of the orchards in Saxony-Anhalt in 2020 (Photograph: Robert Paxton)

The MSc programme Biodiversity Sciences is specifically designed for degree holders in biology, ecology, biogeochemistry, landscape ecology, natural resource management, bioinformatics and related disciplines. The course has a strong focus on research. Other important study goals are interdisciplinary knowledge, communication and teamwork skills. In addition, in-depth courses are offered in all contributing disciplines. It is expected that all applicants have a basic knowledge in organismic biology. Finally, degree holders will be able to carry out scientific work and critically evaluate scientific results in a responsible and independent manner. The international character of scientific research, which is dominated by the English language, is taken into account by the fact that the study programme is carried out entirely in English.

Student course on critical grass taxa (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Student course on critical grass taxa (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Student course on critical grass taxa (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Benefits

The study programme is embedded in numerous research projects carried out at Halle University.  The course lecturers in this programme are the world leading experts in  species identification and taxonomy, biodiversity monitoring  programmes, regional and global assessment reports (e.g. IPBES) and  integrated scenario development. There is a high number of research  platforms that are open for students’ projects (BEF-China, Ecotron  facility and Global Change Experimental Facility in Bad Lauchstädt,  zoological and botanical collections, top laboratories in all types of  molecular biology).

Together with its partner universities Leipzig  and Jena, Halle University jointly runs the German Centre for  Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.  iDiv is a research centre funded by the German Research Foundation  (DFG), with four of the nine core professors being affiliated to Halle  University. iDiv is a global hotspot in biodiversity science, with about  800 scientists in Central Germany working jointly and across  disciplines on the key questions of biodiversity science. Another  partner of iDiv is the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)  with research institutes in Leipzig and Halle, which is the biggest  federal research institute in the field of ecological and environmental  research. This environment offers all types of topics for master theses  and internships, as well as for subsequent PhD theses. With iDiv’s  international network, internships and study stays abroad can be  efficiently supported.

Students also profit from course programmes  of the two partner universities in Leipzig and Jena. Courses taken  there are credited also in Halle and vice versa.

The study  programme will be limited to 30 students per year. This small course  sizes will allow strong interactions with the course lecturers. In  addition, a mentoring programme will make sure that every student is  assisted in achieving her/his potential personal career goals.

Resurvey of dry grasslands plots on prorphyry outcrops north of Halle in 2020 (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Resurvey of dry grasslands plots on prorphyry outcrops north of Halle in 2020 (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Resurvey of dry grasslands plots on prorphyry outcrops north of Halle in 2020 (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Career Opportunities

The programme qualifies for positions in research and applied fields:

  • Basic research on all aspects of biodiversity
  • Subject-specific teaching tasks
  • International development cooperation on biodiversity conservation.
  • Private sector: consulting, management and planning.
  • Public sector: biodiversity monitoring and administration.
  • Political consultancy

The programme also qualifies for PhD positions.

Field ecology course in the Austrian Alps in 2016 (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Field ecology course in the Austrian Alps in 2016 (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Field ecology course in the Austrian Alps in 2016 (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Modules

The content, learning objectives, workload, requirements and prerequisites of specific modules are detailed in the module catalogue and in the study and examination regulations, respectively.

Module

CP

rec. sem.

Compulsory modules (75 CP)

Design of research studies51
Statistics in Biodiversity Science51
Excursions in botany and zoology51,2,3
Research internship152,3,4
Project study153
Master thesis303/4

Compulsory optional modules (45 CP)

Methods of Systematic Botany151/2
General Zoology152/4
Field Ecology152/4
Nature Conservation152/4
Spatial Ecology and Modelling151/3
Molecular Ecology151/2
Collections and Biodiversity Research51/2/3
Spatial modelling, Scenario Development and Impact Assessment151/3
Modelling species distribution and biodiversity patterns151/3
Soil Biogeochemical Analyses51/2
Matter and material flow analysis51/2
Management of soil organic matter51/2
Statistical Data Analysis and Machine Learning in Biodiversity Research52
Computational Transcriptomics52
Computational Molecular Phylogenetics52
Computational Sequence Analysis52

Admission Requirements

For the admission requirements see

https://studienangebot.uni-halle.de/biodiversity-sciences-master-120#zulassungsvoraussetzungen

Decisions on compliance with the prerequisites are taken by the study and examination board of the programme.

Taking wood cores in the Müritz National Park (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Taking wood cores in the Müritz National Park (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Taking wood cores in the Müritz National Park (Photograph: Helge Bruelheide)

Application/Enrolment

The admission to the MSc Biodiversity Sciences (120 CP) is currently restricted (Uni-NC).  Admission is only possible for the winter semester. In total, 30 new  students can be enrolled every year. There are no tuition fees, but a social contribution, i.e. a semester fee, which also includes a semester ticket for local public transport, see https://immaamt.verwaltung.uni-halle.de/studium/semesterbeitrag/).

For deadlines and details of applications including the required documents see

https://studienangebot.uni-halle.de/biodiversity-sciences-master-120#bewerbung-einschreibung

The  selection committee draws up a ranking list for the selection decision.  The selection is made on the basis of selection criteria. For the  selection decision, a maximum score of 140 admission points can be  achieved, which is determined on the basis of the evaluation of the  following selection criteria: a) the overall grade (GPA) in the  bachelor's degree programme,b) elective modules in the Bachelor's  programme that fit with the specialisation of the MSc programme, c) the  topic of the BSc thesis in the field of biodiversity sciences, and d) additional qualifications relevant for the master’s programme.

a) With regard to the GPA,  admission points are calculated as follows: A maximum of 100 and a  minimum of 40 admission points are awarded for your bachelor's grade  point average, inversely proportional to the grade between 1.0 and 4.0 (points = 120 - grade * 20).

b)  Up to 10 admission points can be granted for elective or compulsory  modules  taken during your bachelor's studies. Please provide a modules  overview and state how they fit with the MSc programme. Admission points  can be awarded for up to three modules with a clear focus on biology,  ecology, biogeochemistry, landscape ecology, natural resource management  and bioinformatics (1 point per 5 ECTS points). Modules in which these  topics only played a marginal role, were introductory events or  voluntary excursions are not eligible for credit.

c) 10 admission points can be awarded for a bachelor's thesis in the area of biodiversity science. Please provide a half-page summary your bachelor's thesis (submitted or ongoing).

d)  20 admission points can be awarded for relevant additional  qualifications. Examples of relevant additional qualifications are:  Long-term engagement in nature conservation associations or  scientific societies, special taxonomic knowledge and civic activities  in the field of biodiversity, programming skills, completed training in  relevant occupations (e.g. gardener, forest manager, farmer, animal  keeper, ranger, lab technician), and voluntary internships in a  relevant field (preferably also abroad).

Applicants are ranked according to the sum of the admission points obtained.

Taking exudate samples in the TreeDì root interaction experiment in 2020 (Photograph: Sylvia Haider)

Taking exudate samples in the TreeDì root interaction experiment in 2020 (Photograph: Sylvia Haider)

Taking exudate samples in the TreeDì root interaction experiment in 2020 (Photograph: Sylvia Haider)

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