Masterclasses in Ecology and Evolution


Course Objective

To obtain a broad overview of the latest research in ecology and
- To learn to critically evaluate scientific research articles
- To practice skills of scientific argumentation and discussion
- Learning to discuss these topics with leading scientists in the field

Course Content

Being able to participate in discussion is an important skill for
scientists. It requires the ability to combine theoretical and empirical
knowledge as well as a critical view on the arguments put forward by
others. The best way to improve these skills is to practice them under
supervision of senior scientists. In this course students are trained to
discuss the important topics in Ecology and Evolution with top
scientists in the world, in the form of a masterclass (described below).
In doing so, students will attend seminars from these internationally
renowned scientists in the Nature of Life meetings organized by the
Institute of Ecological Sciences (VU) and in the series of IBED lectures
organized by the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics
(UvA). Both series are organized on a monthly basis throughout the year
(except the summer period). The topics for the seminars cover the whole
spectrum of ecology and evolution. An overview of upcoming and previous
seminars can be found at
sciences/nature-of-life-meetings/index.asp and
agenda/see.cfm. Students must attend six masterclasses during the 2-year
programme. Students may attend more theme lectures on a facultative
basis, subject to availability.

Teaching Methods

In preparation for each masterclass, several recent papers by the guest
speaker will be studied and extensively discussed during a tutorial
meeting with staff members of the Institute of Ecological Sciences or of
the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics. Students then
participate in a discussion meeting with the speaker (the actual
masterclass), and finally they attend the seminar as part of the course.
Students are required to participate actively in the discussion during
the tutorials, masterclass and the seminar. The total number of contact
hours (including lectures and discussions) is 30, the remaining time is
spent on preparation.

Method of Assessment

Factors which count for the final grade:
For each masterclass: active participation, theoretical insight, and
argumentation of the students in the tutorial meeting, masterclass and
seminar: 100%
Students pass after 6 satisfactorily participated masterclasses.

Entry Requirements

BSc Biology from a Dutch University. Students with a BSc in Earth
Sciences, Social Geography, Beta/Gamma, and international BA's with
Nuffic accreditation can be admitted, but extra elements can be


Primary literature and recent articles by the guest speakers, to be
announced at least one week before each masterclass.

Target Audience

Master students in Biology and Ecology (from both the Ecology and
Evolution as well as the Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology
specializations) at the VU and master students from the Biological
Sciences specialization Ecology and Evolution at the UvA.

Additional Information

Location: VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085 Amsterdam
and University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904 Amsterdam

General Information

Course Code AM_1016
Credits 3 EC
Period Ac. Year (sept)
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator prof. dr. M.P. Berg
Examiner prof. dr. J. Ellers
Teaching Staff prof. dr. J. Ellers

Practical Information

You cannot register for this course yourself; your faculty's education office carries out registration

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: