Master of Science in Biology: Ecology and Biodiversity

The graduation option Ecology and Biodiversity allows students to gain experience in the research methods used to study the ecology and evolution of organisms found in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems.

A staff of experts teaches up-to-date knowledge on individual organisms, populations, species communities and ecosystems, backed up by their active research experience in taxonomy and phylogeny, vertebrate and invertebrate ecology, evolutionary ecology, biogeography, plant ecology, plant-animal interactions, and nature management. In addition, students are introduced into ecological research by means of practical field training and excursions in Belgium and abroad

Programme structure

Compulsory: 42 ECTS

Electives: 48 ECTS
Can be chosen from 3 groups
- Conceptual Courses
- Applied Courses
- Practical & Technical skills

Master's Thesis: 30 ECTS

For an overview of all Master courses, click here.

Click here to take a look at an example timetable.

Practice makes perfect

During your studies you will gain a lot of (international) practical experience, both in research labs and in the field. Ecological excursions in Belgium, abroad (Northern France and Southern Europe) and possibly even at sea help you to broaden your horizon.

You can do part of your study programme abroad through the well-known Erasmus programme, but there is also a whole range of other possibilities both inside and outside of Europe. You might choose to study a semester at another European university, or you can do your entire master's thesis or the fieldwork for your thesis abroad. Alternatively, you can also opt for an international internship.  

You can go on Erasmus exchange to:


For more information you can contact:

Exchange Coordinator Biology

Coordinator Internationalisation - Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences



The Master of Science in Biology is open to holders of a Bachelor degree in Biology. For other academic bachelors in science, applied science and life sciences, equivalency will be evaluated based on scientific competences and skills of the students by the Master of Biology Steering Committee.

Application procedure

Admission is based upon acceptance of the application (proof of meeting the academic and language requirements, satisfactory background,...). All necessary information regarding the admission requirements, deadlines and application forms can be found on the application page

Language requirements

To be admitted to the programme, students need to be proficient in English.

As a Master in Biology, you will find work in many sectors. Most Biology masters play an active role in research, in universities as well as in the business world (medical and pharmaceutical industry, agro-industry). In addition to this, as a Master in Biology, you can also perform policy and governance work at the municipal, regional, federal or international levels.

Biologists also find their way into education (secondary, higher and university) and into the educational sector (nature and environment, among others). In each job, the knowledge and skills that you have acquired during your education at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel will be an important trump card.

Career guidance? VUB Career Center is your one-stop shop!

The VUB alumni are known to be critical, independent and open-minded people. Even then your first steps on the job market are not always easy. The VUB Career Center gives you that extra push you need to make it work. They offer individual advice on career opportunities and can help you to pimp your cv, or prepare for your first job interview. And you don't have to wait until after graduation. Pay them a first visit during your studies to find out what the job market has to offer you.


Student life

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a dynamic and modern university with three campuses in the Brussels-Capital region. The main campus in Etterbeek offers high-quality education and research in a green and stimulating environment. With all fields of study being represented there, you can go above and beyond your own discipline. At our student restaurant, you will easily find an engineering student standing next to a future philosopher trying to decide together between a pasta meal or the vegetarian selection of the day.
Our students do not feel like they are just a number in a long row of unknown students. They have good relationships with their lecturers and assistants who have an open-door policy where students with questions are always welcome. Small group workshops are also used to ensure close interaction and hands-on experience. Educational assessment conducted annually indicates that our students are “satisfied” to “very satisfied” with 90% of their courses.

Lecture halls and laboratories are furnished with the most up-to-date equipment. Modern sports facilities, including gymnasiums, fitness rooms, tennis and squash courts, and a swimming pool, can be found on campus.

For more information on student life in Brussels and at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, go to

City life

Brussels is the capital of Europe, but it wasn't always. Actually, Victor Hugo was amongst the first pro-Europeans who redeemed Brussels' geographical location ideal to be the capital of Europe.

You will encounter a strange mix of skyscrapers and small curving streets, of bourgeois and bohémien, of oui and non. It will get you lost, but it does so with everyone.

Brussels gives you what you expect from a real city: high buildings, busy traffic, an underground art scene, eccentric old ladies dressed in drag, bars on every corner, and a lot of love from the locals. Brussels is officially a bilingual city, which means that everywhere you go you'll see signs in French and in Dutch (and very often in English too). However, you'll find that most people in Brussels are native French speakers rather than Dutch speakers.

Here, in our belle Bruxelles you'll discover one of the greatest cities in Europe...

Brussels is a challenging city which you can explore endlessly, but you have to take some time to discover its true face. For a push in the right direction, take a look at the following pages:


I am a freshwater ecologist and I attended the MSc in Biology: Environment, Biodiversity and Ecosystems. My time at the VUB was very important for my formation. I learned a lot about every single process that characterises the research in general, and moreover I gained expertise in oral skills and presentation techniques. I appreciated the multidisciplinary approach offered by the faculty: a vast choice of electives ensures a dynamic learning process of many different subjects, allowing you to build up a general knowledge and to link different scientific areas. An applied approach to ecology ensures that you gain skills during the field work, and the excursions offered by the MSc were inspiring, intense and enjoyable. Furthermore, students from different MSc programmes join the excursions. This ensures real sharing of theoretical and practical knowledge.
Pierluigi Colangeli


I am Italian and after my Bachelor I decided to go abroad for a Master. After visiting several universities in different European countries, I came across the VUB. One of the first things I noticed, is the close and nice relationship among students and professors. I like it very much as it creates the perfect environment for studying and growing. The programme of 'Environment, Biodiversity & Ecosystems' offers a wide choice of fields of study, and gives everyone the opportunity to find his own path in the world of science.
Silvia Lechthaler


Biologists will usually see and understand things in a unique perspective: from systems to units, from macro to micro, from global to local. We generate this perspective throughout study, reflections, observations and fun. However, outside this community of biologists, views and perspectives can be very different. Human thoughts and actions are linked and they have an effect on our surrounding systems. This is something that has caught my attention. Over the past years I’ve been studying these linkages in one of the most well-known natural wonders of the world and famous for biologist: The Galapagos Islands of my home country Ecuador.
This complex socio-ecological system is my study area since 2009. I use a set of methods both from the social and ecological fields, to understand the dynamics that are taking place in Galapagos: environmental impacts and perceptions, conservation discourses, human-wildlife conflicts (giant tortoises and farmers) and decisions analysis for conservation-sustainability management options.
Our research has produced interesting results; such as for example that a farmers’ direct actions against giant tortoises is associated to crop and fence damages in the agricultural areas; but not to the negative perception of this iconic species. This information can be used to identify risk areas to mitigate socio-ecological conflicts and to move towards better conservation and sustainability objectives in the archipelago.

PhD student Francisco Benitez Capistros


I was drawn to the Master of Biology (Environment, Biodiversity & Ecosystems) by its internship option and the numerous opportunities to engage in field excursions. In this academic field, practical work is as crucial as theoretical work, and the VUB offers a superb balance. Studying in the heart of the environmentally progressive European Union offered me the opportunity to observe and learn among students and professors who share a similar passion for conservation. The VUB’s approach to education also guarantees that professors have ample personal time for you. Thus, real kinships are developed with your instructors. I am glad I used this chance to acquire and develop the scientific skills needed to succeed in the real world.
Karan Prakash