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Masters Degrees in Molecular Biology, Belgium

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What is the Master of Molecular Biology all about?.  This programme, commonly referred to as the Internuniversity Programme in Molecular Biology (IPMB), is jointly organised by. Read more

What is the Master of Molecular Biology all about?

 This programme, commonly referred to as the Internuniversity Programme in Molecular Biology (IPMB), is jointly organised by

  • KU Leuven
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • Universiteit Antwerpen

IPMB is endorsed and supported as an international programme by the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR-UDC). Although originally designed to meet the needs of students from developing countries, the programme also welcomes non-traditional and reorienting student seeking to enter the fascinating world of molecular biology. Erasmus-Socrates students studying at one of the organising universities for one or two semesters are also most welcome to attend classes and acquire laboratory skills.

Students are awarded a joint degree from the participating institutions. 


The IPMB is organised over two academic years. In view of the diverse background of its students, the first year consists of in-depth courses covering the most important topics in molecular biology. By the end of the first year, you will have obtained the level of knowledge required to take succesfully part in the advanced, specialisation courses of the second year.

Intensive laboratory training will prepare you to embark on the preparation of your thesis, which you will complete in the second year along with four advanced courses followed by three specialisation courses in the field of either human health, animal production or plant production. Much attention is also paid to the preparation and writing of the thesis, which is an original research project completed under the guidance of a supervisor and defended in public.


The Master of Molecular Biology (Interuniversity Molecular Biology - IPMB) programme is intended to offer theoretical and practical training to young scientists from developing countries, who are involved in education/research in human medicine, animal production or plant production.

This programme is designed to train these students to become capable, critical and self-reliant scientists who are able to apply the knowledge acquired to contribute to the further development of their country through their involvement in education, research and policymaking.

IPMB graduates will be able to ensure that the potential offered by molecular biology and biotechnology in terms of human and veterinary medicine and animal and plant production, find due application in their country.

Although originally conceived to meet the needs of students from developing countries, the programme offers an excellent opportunity for all students, including non-traditional and reorienting students, to study molecular biology in an international context.

Students are expected to:

  • have developed an advanced knowledge of fundamental sciences;
  • have developed an in-depth insight into biological processes;
  • have developed an in-depth insight into the functioning of living organisms in all their forms;
  • have developed a critical mind allowing them to appraise scientific and social aspects of applied molecular biology;
  • be capable of analysing and/or summarising and critically reflecting on scientific literature;
  • be capable of detecting and analysing problems and of proposing solutions to solve them;
  • be able to contribute, through molecular biological research, to solving problems faced by developing countries;
  • be able to operate as a member of a team;
  • be able to report, both orally and in writing;
  • be able to contribute to efforts to set up nationwide and international cooperation (South-South, South-North);
  • be able to operate in nationwide and international networks;
  • be able to disseminate the acquired knowledge in their country and region through their activities in education and research and through peer reviewed publications;
  • have developed skills to act as reliable advisors for local policymakers by making proposals for the further development of molecular biology in education and research, and, as such, to contribute to the further development of their country and improve the living conditions of the populations in the South;
  • be trained to a level sufficient to beginning a doctoral programme (PhD).

Career path

IPMB graduates find employment in universities, hospitals, private and governmental research laboratories and patenting bureaus, as lecturers, consultants and advisors to policy makers, among other careers. Many graduates go on to begin PhD programmes in Belgium or abroad. Students from developing countries can apply for a VLIR-UOS sandwich PhD scholarship. Flemish students can apply for a PhD scholarship of VLIR-UOS to make a PhD on developmental relevant topics.

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Do you have a Bachelor’s degree in biology, biotechnology, chemistry, biochemistry, bioengineering or biomedical science, and are you still fascinated by… Read more

Do you have a Bachelor’s degree in biology, biotechnology, chemistry, biochemistry, bioengineering or biomedical science, and are you still fascinated by the biochemical unity that underlies the world’s biological diversity? Then the Master in Molecular Biology is the programme you’re looking for! This high-level scientific programme with strong multidisciplinary courses combines a theoretical formation with research-oriented skills. The Master is an interuniversity programme, jointly organised by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, KULeuven and the University of Antwerp, all located in Belgium. Students can choose between the Profile Biotechnology for Global Health and the Profile Agro- and Plant Biotechnology.


Applying Molecular Biology to improve Life

Molecular Biology is a rapidly developing discipline. It stands at the crossroads of chemical, biological, physical and computational sciences and focuses on the understanding of cellular processes, biological molecules and their interactions. Molecular Biology is a multidisciplinary area of study that deals with the structure and function of molecules as well as their interplay in creating the phenomenon of life.


After graduation, you will be able to contribute to the improvement of human health or plant production through a molecular biological approach. You will know how to appraise the scientific and social aspects of applied molecular biology.

We train our students so they can cope with a wide range of scientific problems as well as the development of preventive strategies, diagnostic techniques and therapies while being aware of the ethical issues related to this field.

A critical mind will allow you to consider and reflect on existing and new theories within the study field and will help you to solve global problems or issues that both developing and developed countries are facing.


Students as scientists

The programme content has been developed by several outstanding and multidisciplinary scientific teams. The advanced courses and electives are taught by leading researchers with a proven scientific track record, thus contributing to the research-oriented nature of the programme.

The two-year Interuniversity Master in Molecular Biology requires full-time attendance and active participation in lectures and discovery-based laboratory work to develop the mentality that drives the progress of science.

During practical training, problem-solving formats are used in which students work together to make observations and to analyze experimental results. Students who learn via problem-solving formats demonstrate better problem-solving ability, conceptual understanding and success in subsequent courses than those who learn in traditional, passive ways.

Career opportunities

Masters of Molecular Biology find employment in universities, hospitals, private and governmental research laboratories, patenting bureaus, as lecturers, consultants, advisors to policy-makers, etc. Many graduates proceed to PhD-programmes in Belgium or abroad.

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What is the Master of Biology all about?. The Master of Science in Biology emphasises problem-solving, independent thinking, and communication. Read more

What is the Master of Biology all about?

The Master of Science in Biology emphasises problem-solving, independent thinking, and communication. You will be trained in the theory and techniques of fundamental and applied research in one of two areas of specialisation: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biologyor Molecular Biology and Physiology.

This is an initial Master's programme and can be followed on a full-time or part-time basis.


The 120 ECTS programme compromises four mandatory modules:

  • Common Core (18 ECTS)
  • You will obtain the necessary training in analysing and processing complex biological data, in basic programming, and in discussing biological topics in a societal context.
  • Advanced Biology (54 ECTS)
  • You can follow two modules: ‘Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology’ and ‘Molecular Biology and Physiology’. Throughout advanced and specialised courses, you will obtain the necessary knowledge and insights in a specific area of Biology.
  • You can specialise in one module or combine courses from both modules to design a programme that fits your needs and interests.
  • Elective courses (18 ECTS)
  • You can select additional courses in Advanced Biology, courses on Entrepreneurship, take remedial courses to fill in knowledge gaps and/or follow courses from other master’s programmes.
  • Master’s Thesis (30 ECTS). 
  • You will conduct your own original scientific research in the field of biology in an academic setting with the help of a supervisor. You will defend your master’s thesis publicly.


The Department of Biology is committed to excellence in teaching and research and is comprised of four divisions with diverse research activities ranging from molecular and physiological research at the level of cells and organisms to ecological research on populations, communities, and ecosystems. Although many research groups conduct in-depth analyses on specific model organisms, as a whole the department studies an impressive diversity of lifeforms.

Our research is internationally renowned and embedded in well-established worldwide collaborations with other universities, research institutes, and companies. Our primary goal is to obtain insight into patterns and processes at different levels of biological organisation and to understand the basis and evolution of the mechanisms that allow organisms to adapt to their constantly changing environment. This knowledge often leads to applications with important economic or societal benefits. The department attracts many students and hosts approximately 250 staff members.

Career perspectives

As a graduate of the programme, you will be in a position to pursue a career as a scientific researcher at universitiesagro-industries, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, environmental conservation organisations and NGO's

You will also be an excellent candidate for employment as a scientific advisor in banks and private investment foundations, a policy officer in governmental and public administration, a scientific communications advisor, scientific journalist, or a science teacher.

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The programme includes the following profiles. Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences . This profile introduces students into the study of animal and plant development, microbiology, cell signaling pathways, cytoskeleton dynamics, cancer biology, virology and immunology. Read more

The programme includes the following profiles:

Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences 

This profile introduces students into the study of animal and plant development, microbiology, cell signaling pathways, cytoskeleton dynamics, cancer biology, virology and immunology. Courses of this profile span multiple levels of biological organization, from whole organisms down to the molecular level. Students choosing this profile not only receive up-to-date knowledge on these topics but also acquire the laboratory skills required to engage in cutting-edge research.

Ecology and Biodiversity 

This profile allows students to gain experience in the research methods used to study the evolution and ecology of organisms found in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems. A staff of experts teaches up-to-date knowledge on individual organisms, populations, species communities and ecosystems, backed up by their active research experience in taxonomy and phylogeny, vertebrate and invertebrate ecology, evolutionary ecology, biogeography, plant ecology, plant-animal interactions, and nature management. In addition, students are introduced into ecological research by means of practical field training and excursions in Belgium and abroad.


This unique profile addresses biology students with a passion for amphibians and reptiles. An international team of visiting scientists organizes lectures on diversity, ecology, physiology, behavior, evolution and conservation biology and prepares students for a professional career in herpetology. Ecological and herpetological field courses in European and tropical countries form an important part of this programme. As a student, you will be in a stimulating environment, with fellow students and top-experts sharing your passion. For more information, have a look at http://www.herpetology.be.

Human Ecology

This profile focuses on the interaction between humans and their natural environment. The increasing impact of the human population on ecosystems worldwide stresses the urgent need for researchers with a multidisciplinary background, that engage in developmental plans for a durable use and management of natural resources. The profile Human Ecology addresses an international audience of students and offers a course programme that, besides scientific topics, also addresses technological, socio-economical and political aspects. For more information, have a look at http://www.humanecology.be.

EMMC Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems

The world faces a crisis risking extinction of species through global warming. Due to impact of e.g., changes in land use and destruction of habitats, tropical rain forests, mangrove forests and coral reefs are disappearing and with them ecosystem functions, goods and services on which human populations are dependent. In order to conserve nature, to manage or even to restore tropical biodiversity and ecosystems, we must understand patterns of tropical biodiversity, study how organisms interact with their environment and how they respond to perturbations and change. Next to research, this is dealt with in this unique masters programme. http://www.tropimundo.eu

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What's the Master of Nanoscience, Nanotechnology and Nanoengineering all about? . Nanoscience is the study of phenomena and manipulation on the atomic and molecular scales (nanometers. Read more

What's the Master of Nanoscience, Nanotechnology and Nanoengineering all about? 

Nanoscience is the study of phenomena and manipulation on the atomic and molecular scales (nanometers: i.e., one billionth of a meter). Important material properties such as the electrical, optical and mechanical are determined by the way molecules and atoms assemble into larger structures on the nanoscale. Nanotechnology is the application of this science in new nanomaterials and nano-concepts to create new components, systems and products. Nanotechnology is the key to unlocking the ability to design custom-made materials which possess any property we require. These newborn scientific disciplines are situated at the interface of physics, chemistry, material science, microelectronics, biochemistry and biotechnology. Consequently, control of the discipline requires an academic and multidisciplinary scientific education.

In the Master of Science in Nanoscience, Nanotechnology and Nanoengineering, you will learn the basics of physics, biology and chemistry on the nanometer scale; these courses will be complemented by courses in technology and engineering to ensure practical know-how. The programme is strongly research oriented, and is largely based on the research of centres like imec (Interuniversity Microelectronics Center), the Leuven Nanocenter and INPAC (Institute for Nanoscale Physics and Chemistry) at the Faculty of Science, all global research leaders in nanoscience, nanotechnology and nanoengineering. In your Master’s thesis, you will have the opportunity to work in the exciting research programmes of these institutes.

The objective of the Master of Science in Nanoscience, Nanotechnology and Nano engineering is to provide top quality multidisciplinary tertiary education in nanoscience as well as in the use of nanotechnologies for systems and sensors on the macro-scale.


Students follow a set of introductory courses to give them a common starting basis, a compulsory common block of core programme courses to give them the necessary multidisciplinary background of nanoscience, nanotechnology and nanoengineering, and a selection of programme courses to provide some non-technical skills. The students also select their specialisation option for which they choose a set of compulsory specific programme courses, a number of elective broadening programme courses and do their Master’s thesis research project.

  1. The fundamental courses (max 15 credits, 6 courses) introduce the students to relevant disciplines in which they have had no or little training during their Bachelor’s education. These are necessary in order to prepare students from different backgrounds for the core programme courses and the specialisation programme courses of the Master’s.
  2. The general interest courses (9-12 credits) are imparting non-technical skills to the students in domains such as management, economics, languages, quality management, ethics, psychology, etc.
  3. The core courses (39 credits, 8 courses) contain first of all 6 compulsory courses focusing on the thorough basic education within the main disciplines of the Master’s: nanophysics, nanochemistry, nanoelectronics and nanobiochemistry. These core programme courses deliver the basic competences (knowledge, skills and attitudes) to prepare the students for their specialisation in one of the subdisciplines of the Master. Next all students also have to follow one out of two available practical courses where they learn to carry out some practical experimental work, which takes place in small teams. Also part of the core courses is the Lecture Series on Nanoscience, Nanotechnology and Nanoengineering, which is a series of seminars (14-18 per year) on various topics related to nanoscience, nanotechnology and nanoengineering, given by national and international guest speakers.
  4. The specific courses (21 credits) are compulsory programme courses of the specialisation option. These programme courses are deepening the student’s competences in one of the specialising disciplines of the Master’s programme and prepare them also for the thesis work.
  5. The broadening courses (9-27 credits) allow the students to choose additional progamme courses, either from their own or from the other options of the Master’s, which allow them to broaden their scope beyond the chosen specialisation. They can also choose to do an industrial internship on a nanoscience, nanotechnology or nanoengineering related topic at a nanotechnology company or research institute.
  6. The Master’s thesis (24 credits) is intended to bring the students in close and active contact with a multidisciplinary research environment. The student is assigned a relevant research project and work in close collaboration with PhD students, postdocs and professors. The research project is spread over the two semesters of the second Master’s year, and is finalised with a written Master’s thesis report, a publishable summary paper and a public presentation.

 You can also follow a similar programme in the frame of an interuniversity programme, the Erasmus Mundus Master of Science in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

Career perspectives

In the coming decades, nanoscience and nanotechnology will undoubtedly become the driving force for a new set of products, systems, and applications. These disciplines are even expected to form the basis for a new industrial revolution.

Within a few years, nanoscience applications are expected to impact virtually every technological sector and ultimately many aspects of our daily life. In the coming five-to-ten years, many new products and companies will emerge based on nanotechnology and nanosciences. These new products will stem from the knowledge developed at the interface of the various scientific disciplines offered in this Master's programme.

Thus, graduates will find a wealth of career opportunities in the sectors and industries developing these new technologies: electronics, new and smart materials, chemical technology, biotechnology, R&D, independent consultancies and more. Graduates have an ideal background to become the invaluable interface between these areas and will be able to apply their broad perspective on nanoscience and nanotechnology to the development and creation of new products and even new companies.

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