Master of Science Biology / Biologie

Study Programme

We offer a wide range of courses:

  • fundamentals of biology
  • two different research specializations: i) neuro- and behavioural science, or ii) biodiversity
  • neuro- and behavioural studies, brain function from animal models to humans and clinical applications
  • the science of biodiversity change and its consequences
  • advanced statistics, modelling, and programming in Python and R

In the master programme you

  • learn how to plan and conduct cutting-edge research
  • apply science to tackle real-world problems
  • develop essential soft skills
  • prepare for a job in science, biotechnology, conservation, and others

Key benefits:

  • study in a vibrant international hotspot of neuro- and behavioural science and biodiversity research with world-leading institutions
  • enjoy small courses led by dedicated lecturers
  • one-to-one mentoring for every student to help you in achieving your potential and your personal career goals
  • study in English to prepare you for an international job market (several modules in German are also available)
  • learn to conduct independent research through dedicated courses preparing you for your thesis project
  • easily integrate internships and study abroad at one of our many global partner universities from Finland to Australia
  • use unique research platforms (Bioimaging core facility, Ecotron, a Global Change Experimental Facility, Canopy Crane, Primate Research Center)
  • a large and connected local neuroscience community with an upcoming dedicated neuroscience graduate school
  • live in a vibrant city, the fastest growing one in Germany, with a rich cultural scene, affordable housing, and a lots of parks and lakes.

Study Contents

The MSc Biology can be studied in three variants: a) with a research specialisation in neurobiology, cognition, and behaviour, b) with a research specialisation in biodiversity, and, if you can’t decide just yet, c) without specialisation. You will complete most course work in the first year, and work on thesis-related research most of the second year and spend time abroad or in industry.

In addition to the fundamentals of biology at the MSc level, the research specialisation in neuro- and behavioural science covers the organisation and processing of information in biological systems, including the neural mechanisms of learning, sensation, cognition, plasticity, and others. You will work on many different levels from genes and neurons to brains and behaviour, using different model organisms from insects to primates, including humans.

The research specialisation in biodiversity, ecology and evolution is designed to systematically cover the integration levels of life (molecules, organisms, populations, communities, ecosystems) along which ecological and evolutionary processes intertwine, thereby producing the various facets of biodiversity.

The programme offers the possibility to study without specialisation. This option is meant for students who are still looking for a thematic focus, or aim for a broad biological education. Students are free to choose among many electives, but are more responsible for the overall balance of their study programme. If you do have a preference for one of the specialisations, you should apply directly for it to increase your chances of acceptance.


The MSc Biology is divided into three levels: In the first and second semester, you can choose six modules to balance knowledge differences and to establish your specialization. A broad range of modules allows not only biological topics, but also includes selected modules from other Institutes (Psychology, Bioinformatics, Geography, Biochemistry, and Medicine). In the 3rd semester, you complete an external internship to establish contacts with potential employers and institutions, and learn the technical and methodological foundations for your masters thesis in a theoreticum and a lab course. Alternatively, you can spend the 3rd semester abroad to study at one of our Erasmus or global partner institutions. In the 4th semester you complete your master thesis in a lab of your choice (potentially also abroad). Throughout the entire programme, you are assisted by a professor in planning your studies and meet programme milestones in a timely manner (one-to-one mentoring system).

Job perspectives

The majority of graduates from the MSc Biology programme in the last few years work as research scientists in the private sector (biotech and biomedical) and in academia. Several have founded successful companies. Many graduates completed a research PhD (excellent local opportunities at our own Institute and other major research centres including the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, the Paul Flechsig Institute for Brain Sciences, and others). The programme includes internships at local biotech companies and research institutes.

Admission Requirements

We expect from you

  • enthusiasm for biology, neuroscience or biodiversity
  • a BSc degree in Biology or related sciences
  • a study profile in biology, neuroscience or biodiversity
  • B2 English language skills
  • C1 German language skills

Students are selected on the basis of a competitive procedure and admitted to the programme based on i) your BSc grades, ii) the fit of the elective modules in your BSc with one of the specialisations of the MSc Biology, iii) your letter of motivation for applying including relevant additional qualifications, and iv) your participation in student administration and governance (if available). 

How to apply

Students with a degree from a German university apply throughAlmaWeb between 01.05. and 31.05.

Students with foreign degrees apply through uni-assist between 01.04. - 31.05.

You are also required to enclose a letter of motivation (max. two pages) and submit a summary of your BSc thesis.

Contact for administrative questions (enrolment and course of studies):
Study Office (Faculty of Life Sciences, Leipzig University)
Talstraße 33, 04103 Leipzig, Germany

For questions about the scientific content, please contact a researcher with the relevant area of expertise at the institute.

Nach oben

Admission documents and criteria

The Master of Science Biology degree program uses the following selection criteria:

Places are awarded based on a) the grades in a bachelor's degree program. Additional points can be awarded for b) elective modules in the Bachelor's programme that fit the chosen specialisation in the MSc programme, c) a thematically fitting BSc thesis topic, d) the letter of motivation, and e) achievements in student governance and administration.

a) Admission points are calculated as follows: A maximum of 100 and a minimum of 40 admission points are awarded for your BSc grade point average (provide a transcript of records for your BSc), inversely proportional to the grade between 1.0 and 4.0 (points = 120 - grade * 20). If the bachelor's program has not yet been successfully completed at the time of application, a certificate must be submitted stating that the bachelor's degree can be achieved before the start of the master's program.

b) Up to 10 admission points can be granted for elective modules taken during your BSc that fit with your intended specialisation. Please provide a list of your BSc elective modules and state in which of the specialisations they belong ("neuroscience and behavioral sciences", "biodiversity, ecology and evolution", or "without specialisation"). Admission points can be awarded for up to three modules with a clear focus on the topics of the desired specialisation (1 point per 5 ECTS points). Modules in which these topics are only side aspects, introductory events, internships, and voluntary excursions are not eligible. 

c) A further 4 admission points can be awarded for a bachelor thesis that fits thematically with the chosen specialisation. Please provide a half-page summary your bachelor thesis (submitted or ongoing).

d) Up to 20 further admission points can be awarded for your letter of motivation for applying to your chosen specialisation. Please provide a letter of motivation (max. two pages) describing your relevant additional qualifications, such as training in relevant professions, volunteer or part-time work in a relevant area, civil-science activities, programming skills, internships, or scientific publications.

e) Two additional admission points can be awarded to applicants who have demonstrable involvement in student self-governance or administration. Please provide evidence of your involvement in your letter of motivation.

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

letzte Änderung: 16.05.2019


For questions about the application procedure and other administrative issues:

Study Office, Faculty of Life Sciences
Talstraße 33, 04103 Leipzig

For questions about the scientific content of a module please contact the respective research group.

If you would like to speak to other students from the degree program, the members of the Student Council are happy to help you in all practical matters of studying at the Institute.

Quick Facts:

  • NCU
  • standard study period:

4 semesters

  • study credits:

120 ECTS

  • start:

fall semester

  • eligibility requirements:

aptitude test

  • language requirements:

English: B2, German: C1