Introduction to Master in Behaviour, Evolution and Conservation


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The Master's programme in Behavior, Evolution and Conservation (BEC) is for students who wish to deepen their knowledge in ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology, while developing relevant technical and quantitative skills. The programme offers a broad selection of courses on subjects ranging from evolutionary genetics and molecular mechanisms of evolution, through social behavior and interspecific interactions, to applied ecology and conservation biology. The technical and quantitative skills are fostered through dedicated courses in molecular methods applied to ecology, statistics, bioinformatics, programming, GIS, spatial modeling, and scientific writing. Several field courses prepare students for research in the field. A course on mountain ecosystems integrates many of these concepts and techniques in the context of the local Alpine environment. Finally, three interdisciplinary specialisations within the program provide links to economics, geosciences, and computational biology.

A strong emphasis is placed on students' personal research projects which account for 50% of the credits towards the degree. Researchers associated with the master's programme assure an opportunity for a large diversity of projects that may involve field work, laboratory experiments, genomics, bioinformatics or modeling, in a broad range of animals, plants and microbe systems. Most of the teachers and researchers associated with the Master BEC are at the Department of Ecology and Evolution (DEE); other involved departments include the Department of Computational Biology, the Center for Integrative Genomics (CIG), the Department of Fundamental Microbiology (DMF) as well as external institutions, such as the Zoological Museum of Lausanne, the Lausanne Botanical Garden, or the environmental research and education center Maison de la Rivière.

The language of the Master's program is English. While preexisting knowledge of French is thus not required, learning some French would make living in Lausanne much easier.

The Master's degree in Behavior, Evolution and Conservation prepares students for classical scientific careers, as well as for those where communication skills are essential, or where the ability to develop, manage and plan projects are key. Typical examples of career opportunities are in academic research, museums, conservation NGOs, federal research stations and offices, public services for environmental protection, and private applied ecology agencies. The strong statistical skills developed in the Master are also sought after, e.g., in public health, whereas the orientation towards biodiversity provides a good basis for students who want to become biology teachers.


At the end of the Master of Science (MSc) studies in Behaviour, Evolution and Conservation (hereafter Master), students will be able to:

  1. Use scientific knowledge and creativity to solve scientific problems in ecology, evolutionary science and conservation biology.
  2. Answer a biological question by observation, collection of data from experiments and/or computational analyses.
  3. Observe and learn, both theoretically and experimentally, and adapt to new information.
  4. Analyse various types of data obtained either from their own research or from the scientific literature, to integrate and synthesise them.
  5. Handle, analyse and synthesise bibliographic resources (databases, scientific journals etc.), during the design and implementation of a scientific project.
  6. Critically appraise their own and others’ scientific methods, results and conclusions.
  7. Engage in scientific discussions and problem solving.
  8. Organise and manage their work and projects individually and in a team, including being proactive in using key resources.
  9. Communicate about science orally and in writing (seminars, posters, written reports and scientific articles).
  10. Defend a project in front of experts and explain its broader societal relevance.
  11. Be fluent in written and oral scientific English.

Specific training objectives by specialisations are described on their individual webpages.

About Lausanne and the University

Lausanne is a medium-sized city on the shores of Lake Geneva, bordering the UNESCO World Heritage region of Lavaux. It offers a multitude of cultural and recreational opportunities while the proximity of the lake and the Alps, easily accessible with public transport, present countless possibilities for outdoor activities.

The University of Lausanne is a vibrant community of about 17,000 students and 3,700 faculty and staff, with a long tradition of excellence in research, most recently recognized by the 2017 Nobel prize in chemistry.

The activities of Master BEC take place on the main campus located on the lake shore on the western outskirts of the city. The campus includes a sports center accessible to all students.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution

Head of the Master BEC

Biophore office 3111
Tel. +41 21 692 41 61

For any administrative question (e.g. registration, equivalencies, etc.) : please contact the School of Biology.

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in Master BEC

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CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 40 10
Fax +41 21 692 40 05