Master of Science in Biomolecular Sciences
From molecules, to cells and organisms
You already have a Bachelor’s degree in biology, biotechnology, chemistry, or biomedical science, but you’re still fascinated by the biochemical unity that underlies the world’s
biological diversity? Then the Master in Biomolecular Sciences is the programme you’re looking for!
Biomolecular Science is a rapidly developing discipline in modern life sciences. It stands at the crossroads of chemical, biological, physical and computational sciences and
focuses on the molecular understanding of cellular functions. Anticipating this evolution, this Master’s programme will focus on the understanding of cellular processes, biological molecules and their interactions.
The programme also aims to develop the state of mind to perform and manage research in a multidisciplinary and international context. Therefore, our students are also trained in different aspects of research communication and research management.
The two-year master focuses on 4 particular domains of Biomolecular Sciences:
- Protein Structure and Function
- Applied Immunology
- Advanced Molecular Biology
The content of the programme was outlined by a number of outstanding and multidisciplinary scientific teams. The embedding of the programme in this high-level scientific environment is our guarantee for a strong multidisciplinary programme that interlaces theoretical formation with research-oriented skills. To endorse the research-oriented nature of the Master, the advanced courses and the electives are taught by leading researchers with a proven scientific track record.
The two-year programme has a strong emphasis on performing research. Its concept requires full-time attendance and active participation in lectures and discovery-based laboratory work to develop the state of mind that drives the progress of science.
Students as scientists
During the practical trainings, problem-solving based formats are used in which students work collaboratively to make observations and analyse experimental results. Students who learned via problem-solving formats demonstrate better problem-solving ability, conceptual understanding, and success in subsequent courses compared with students who learn in traditional, passive formats.
The content of the programme was outlined by a number of outstanding and multidisciplinary scientific teams. The embedding of the programme in this high-level scientific environment is our guarantee for a strong multidisciplinary programme that interlaces theoretical formation with research-oriented skills. To endorse the research-oriented nature of the Master, the advanced courses and the electives are taught by leading researchers with a proven scientific track record (see ‘Research Areas’).
The programme of the first year is composed of 4 compulsory modules:
The courses are at advanced level and consist of 26 class hours and 6 days of practical training. The practical trainings link up with the advanced courses and will take place in the research labs under the guidance of experienced postdocs.
- Protein Structure and Function (15 ECTS)
- Applied Immunology (15 ECTS)
- Advanced Molecular Biology (20 ECTS)
- Bioinformatics (10 ECTS)
The programme of the second year is composed of 3 modules
- Elective courses (4x5 ECTS)
- Master’s Thesis (30 ECTS)
- Research Communication and Management (10 ECTS)
Some Electives courses:
High Throughput Techniques 5
Vaccine Technology 5
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 5
Microbial Life in Extreme Conditions 5
Stem Cell Biology 5
Micro- and Nanobiotechnology 5
Protein Maturation and Trafficking 5
Advanced Aspects of Molecular Pharmacology 5
Master’s Thesis (30 ECTS)
You will carry out, under the direction and supervision of a promoter, an independent research project and prepare a dissertation, that is, a written account of the research and its results. During the experimental part of the Master’s thesis, you learn to plan and perform experiments and critically interpret the results obtained. You also learn to report both orally and in written, prepare presentations and summarise literature data. You learn to present your work in public and answer questions from a jury and the audience. Any topic is potentially acceptable as long as it offers a real contribution to Biomolecular Sciences.
Research Communication and Management (10 ECTS)
This part of the programme includes the writing of the results of the dissertation in a publication format, seminars on intellectual property rights, scientific writing, project development and the writing of a research proposal. The latter can be a proposal for a continuation of the topic of the Master’s thesis, a proposal for a PhD project, or a proposal for another research project in Biomolecular Sciences, and is intended to help you to continue your career in biomolecular research.
Detailed descriptions of the course contents, expected knowledge at the start of the course and examinations formats can be consulted on the website at www.vub.ac.be/biomolecular-sciences/master
Click here to take a look at an exaple timetable.
For admission to the Master of Biomolecular Sciences, students need a bachelor degree in the field of biology, chemistry, or biomedical sciences or equivalent. Equivalency will be evaluated case by case by the Admission Board.
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.
To be admitted to the programme, students need to be proficient in English. (www.vub.ac.be/en/admission)
During your studies, you have the opportunity to broaden your horizon by spending time abroad for courses, internship or even your Master's thesis. Within Europe, the Bioengineering Department has Erasmus+ mobility agreements with the following universities:
- Hungary Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest
- Poland Medical University of Gdansk
- Poland Gdansk Univeristy of Technology
- Spain Universidad de Alcalá
- Spain Universidad de Murcia
- Spain Universitat de Barcelona
However, multiple possibilities also exist for stays outside of Europe.
For more information you can contact:
Exchange Coordinator Bioengineering Sciences
Coordinator Internationalisation - Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences
Scientific research in the Brussels-Capital Region is mainly geared towards highly specialised sectors and advanced technologies.
Biomolecular science is a rapidly developing discipline in modern life science, therefore companies need ambitious scientists that understand cellular processes, biological molecules and their interactions.
The problem-solving formats in the programme and courses such as Research Communication and Management are intended to support you to continue your career in biomolecular research.
After graduation, you can embark on a PhD, join any R&D department of a Pharmaceutical, Food or Biotech company; work on environmental protection, develop state-of-the-art equipment in biotechnology or be part of their sales and marketing department.
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.
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 http://my.vub.ac.be/en
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:
After my Erasmus exchange at the VUB, I decided to apply for the Master in Biomolecular Sciences. The diversified programme broadened my scientific horizons and was the perfect choice after finishing a Bachelor in Biotechnology at the University of Gdansk in Poland. During practical trainings I was introduced to many new laboratory techniques and got an overview of scientific work at VUB. The one-year master project was a great opportunity to gain experience in independent laboratory work. I’ve been living here for three years and I am now working at the laboratory. So my story at VUB continues…”
Natalia Smiejkowska, alumna and researcher at Lab of Myeloid Cell Immunology, VIB-VUB
Being from Canada and having completed my Bachelor degree there, it was not long after that I sought international opportunities to broaden both my scientific and cultural views. With this in mind I chose to partake in the Master of Science in Biomolecular Sciences.Combining people of several different cultures to explore several different facets of science had not only evoked my curiosity but allowed me to develop valuable skills (perseverance, techniques, etc.) and to refine my interests. Armed with these assets, upon completion of the program I immediately transitioned into life as a PhD candidate. I have spent the last several years investigating various inflammation associated pathologies in an attempt to develop more effective diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. This is just the beginning to a world of possibilities!
Amanda Sparkes, PhD student
During the practical trainings of the master programme in Biomolecular Sciences, I discovered a very attractive specificity, the field of Cancer Immunology. I succeeded in doing my master dissertation in this research topic. That was a really hard year, with long, tiring experiments. However, believe it or not, doing research gave me so much knowledge, experience and strength that in the end I just kept trying until I had interesting results.
After finishing this master, my only wish was to become a PhD student which was definitely related to the proposed topic by my promoter: “Macrophages, the top regulators of immune responses, induce cancer growth and metastasis”. The depletion of these pro-tumoral macrophages could be a novel cancer therapy. My desire to work in this field as a PhD candidate and the support of my promoter and my colleagues led me to my situation now: IWT-granted-PhD student wishing to help research in a four-year-period of time. To conclude, what I learned as a foreign student is that if you really want something, struggle for it. Nothing is impossible with the only prerequisites... desire and a bit of luck.
Evangelia BOLLI, PhD student
My interest in embryonic development initiated while following the Master in Biomolecular Sciences program. Fundamental questions of developmental biology, such as the mechanisms that drive cell differentiation and morphogenesis, attracted my attention and directed me to discover the fascinating world of the developing embryo in terms of cell polarization, axis formation and patterning, all directed by complex regulatory mechanisms of gene expression. I decided to join the Developmental and Stem cell biology group (Prof. Luc Leyns), in which I did my master thesis and continued with a PhD. In the lab, we are focusing on the identification and functional characterization of novel genes that are involved in early developmental stages. We are using mouse Embryonic Stem cells as a model of the early stage embryo and genome editing techniques to alter the expression of genes that could play a role in the differentiation towards the mesodermal or neural fates. Our research aims to add pieces to the molecular puzzle that lies under the complex mechanism of germ layer formation and patterning.
Eleni Dakou, PhD student