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Studium Biologie Master Studies

Systematics and Evolution

MSc Coordinator of the Master in Systematics and Evolution

MSc Coordinator of the Plant Sciences Master: Dr. Colin Hughes

Study Coordinator of the MSc in Biology: Dr. Karin Isler


Evolutionary biologists investigate questions about patterns and processes responsible for evolution and diversity, and the loss thereof (extinction). At population level, these include mutation, natural and sexual selection, gene flow, genetic drift, adaptation and speciation, under the umbrella of microevolution. At and above species level, macroevolution is concerned with phylogenetics, trait evolution, and the drivers of evolutionary diversification in relation to geography, climate and other environmental factors. There are close links here to biogeography and paleontology. Systematic biology, encompassing species and taxon delimitation, taxonomy, phylogenetics and classification, underpins all these topics, and indeed biology in general.


Students can choose from a wide range of courses including Principles of Evolution Theory & Practice, Human Behavioural Ecology and Cultural Evolution, Paleobiology and Evolution, Evolutionary Medicine, Evolutionary genetics and genomics, Biogeography & Biodiversity, and Bioinformatics for comparative and evolutionary genomics, as well as courses devoted to aspects of analysis and computation. Appropriate courses should be discussed and chosen in consultation with supervisors. The module BIO 338 Introduction to Scientific Writing (0 ECTS, one day in September or February) is mandatory for all Biology Master’s students. The module should be taken before writing the Master’s Thesis (BIO 511).


Potential Master’s Thesis research projects span a wide range topics in micro- and macroevolution and systematic biology, and an equally wide range of organismal groups, as well as more theoretical topics. The links below provide information about the interests of the relevant UZH research groups. Detailed information about possible Master’s thesis projects is available by contacting the individual professors.


Students wishing to take this Master’s program should discuss their choice of course and lecture modules and, where appropriate, research project modules, with the supervisor of their Master’s thesis and submit their proposed learning agreement, in writing, to the Master’s coordinator for approval, enclosing a declaration of consent from their supervisor.

Master’s thesis in Systematics and Evolution: Module BIO 511.


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