Introduction to Master in Behaviour, Evolution and Conservation


© S. Prada - UNIL

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. Mobilise and apply knowledge acquired through creativity to solve scientific problems in ecology, evolutionary science and conservation biology.
  2. Respond to a biological question by observing and harvesting field data, laboratory or field experiments, and computational analysis.
  3. Observe and learn, both theoretically and experimentally, and adapt to new information.
  4. Analyse, integrate and summarise various types of data from the literature, both experimentally and in the field.
  5. Handle bibliographic resources (databases, scientific journals, etc.), analyse and synthesise the scientific literature related to the relevant field through the development of a scientific project and its implementation.
  6. Perform a critical analysis of results or of scientific approaches.
  7. React immediately and appropriately in discussions and problem solving.
  8. Organise their work and projects individually or in teams, taking initiatives and contacting key actors for successful completion.
  9. Communicate their results orally and in writing through different channels (oral presentation, poster presentation, written report and scientific article, etc.).
  10. Defend a project in front of experts and explain it to economic and political actors.
  11. Be fluent in scientific English, both written and oral, for reading scientific texts, writing articles and communicating with experts.

Specific training objectives by specialisation are described on their individual webpage.

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