Plant Sciences


Contact: Prof. Dr. Sylvain Bischof

Plants constitute the first link in the food chain. They populate large areas of the Earth and have adapted to extremely different environmental conditions in a wide variety of ecological systems. The aim of the Master's program in Plant Sciences is to enable the student to understand the function and evolution of plants on different levels. The main focus of the program is on the developmental biology of plants, the relationship between plants and their pathogens and the way plants react to changing environmental conditions.


The Master's program is based on block courses and special lectures that cover the structure, function, genetics and development of plants. These can be readily combined with modules from the fields of genomics, structural cell biology and biochemistry. Students can supplement their studies with the other biological-science modules at the University, ETH Zurich and the University of Basel, within the framework of the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center.




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.

In addition, students are entitled to select their core elective modules1 from the full range of biology modules offered by the University of Zurich, ETHZ (551-0140-00L Epigenetics, 551-1120-00L Genes, Genomes and Genetic Systems...) and the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center.

Two block courses must, however, be taken from the following list:

BIO281 Plant Cell Biology (6 ECTS) (until spring 2019)
BIO 282 Methods in Molecular Plant Biology (6 ECTS)
BIO 283 Molecular Plant Biochemistry (6 ECTS) (until spring 2020)
BIO 285 Genetic and Epigenetic Control of Plant Development (6 ECTS)
BIO 286 Plant Sensing (6 ECTS)
BIO 288 Mechanisms of plant disease resistance against fungal pathogens (6 ECTS)
BIO 289 Mechanisms of Plant-Microbe-Interactions (6 ECTS)
BIO 293 Genetics meets Epigenetics (6 ECTS) (until spring 2020)
BIO 294 Bioinformatics for Comparative and Evolutionary Genomics (6 ECTS)
BIO 314 Plant Epigenetics (6 ECTS)

Students who have already completed four or more of these courses during their Bachelor's degree can select other modules upon approval by the supervisor of their Master's thesis. Students who have taken four or fewer block courses in plant science during their entire Bachelor's and Master's degree studies are strongly recommended to take additional plant science modules.

Master's thesis in Plant Sciences:
BIO 505