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.

Ecological 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.

Questions about the programme

If you have detailed questions about the contents of the programme, please contact Joris Koene via joris.koene@vu.nl    

Samenvatting Evolutionary Biology and Ecology




1 semester (30 EC)


1 September