Evolutionary Biology and Ecology


Evolution is central

Evolution is a central theme in biology, which pervades all biological disciplines. This minor program is designed to illustrate how evolutionary thinking has penetrated such diverse areas as ecology, genetics, molecular biology, animal physiology and behavioural sciences. Via studying the unifying principles of biology, the program provides an in-depth treatment of selected topics in modern biological sciences, in such a way that students are stimulated to pursue their further studies in a specialized graduate programme focussed on one of these topics. At the same time, this minor provides a broad basis for pursuing a general biology graduate programme combined with a professional career in education or science communication.

Ecosystem Modelling

uses the acquired understanding of ecosystems, climate and carbon cycling as a basis to explain current ecological processes as well as to project these into the future.

Environmental Toxicology

offers an in depth insight into the recognition, analysis and prediction of environmental and human health problems caused by potentially toxic chemicals. 

Adaptation to Human Environments

explores the multiple ways in which animals have evolved adaptations that help them to survive in ever-changing environments (including urbanization). 

Behavioural Biology

spans the animal kingdom and approach important behaviours from evolutionary, developmental, functional and mechanistic angles. Topics will include cooperation, consciousness, aggression, play, reproduction and personalities. 

Evolutionary Genetics

discusses genome evolution in pro- and eukaryotes, evolution of chloroplasts and mitochondria, horizontal DNA transfer, evolutionary consequences of genome evolution and sex, as well as causes of speciation.

For specific information about each course please visit the study guide.

Admission and registration

3rd year undergraduate students of BSc Biology, BSc Biomedical Sciences, BSc Earth Sciences, and BSc Health & Life Sciences with a major in Biomedical Sciences from the VU, other Dutch universities and other European universities. Students from other disciplines or universities, national and international, are welcome, although additional requirements may apply.

Please see the application procedure for more information.


If you have detailed questions about the contents of the programme, please contact Sebastiaan Luyssaert, s.luyssaert@vu.nl

For questions about registration you can contact the student desk:
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Studie- en Studentadministratie
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
020-5985020 (from Monday until Friday 10:30 - 12:30/ 14:00 - 17:00)

Samenvatting Evolutionary Biology and Ecology




1 semester (30 EC)


1 September





Michella Ligtelijn

Student Evolutionary Biology and Ecology

Michella Ligtelijn 

'I like the fact that the classes are small and that the teachers are enthusiastic about their own research area.  Because of the interaction between the students and teachers, every student is actively involved in the classes. The minor Evolutionary Biology and Ecology is designed for biology students but also interesting for students with other backgrounds. If you have a question or want some more information about a certain topic, you can always approach the teachers because they are always willing to help.'