Introduction to Master in Behaviour, Evolution and Conservation


© S. Prada - UNIL

The Master program in Behavior, Evolution and Conservation (BEC) is targeted to students who wish to deepen their knowledge in ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology, while developing relevant technical and quantitative skills. The program offers a broad selection of courses on subjects ranging from evolutionary genetics and phylogeography, through social behavior and interspecific interactions, to applied ecology and conservation biology. The technical and quantitative skills are fostered through dedicated courses in statistics, computer-assisted cartography, spatial modeling, molecular methods in ecology, or scientific writing, whereas a choice of 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 specializations within the program provide links to economics, to geosciences, and to computational biology.

A strong emphasis is placed on students' personal research projects which account for 50% of the credits towards the degree. The researchers associated with the master program assure an opportunity for large diversity of projects that 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 Department of Ecology and Evolution (DEE); other departments involved include Department of Computational Biology, Center for Integrative Genomics (CIG), Department of Fundamental Microbiology (DMF) as well as external institutions, such as Zoological Museum of LausanneLausanne Botanical Garden, or the environmental research and education center Maison de la Rivière.

The language of the master is English and preexisting knowledge of French is not required; however, learning some French would make living in Lausanne much easier.

The Master 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 provide a good basis for students who want to become biology teachers.

Training objectives

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. Have a capacity for observation and learning, both theoretical and experimental, and adaptation according to new information to be taken into account.

  4. Analyse, integrate and summarise various types of data from the literature, both experimentally and in the field.

  5. Manage bibliographic resources (databases, scientific journals, etc.) and analyse and summarise the scientific literature related to the field concerned during the development of a scientific project and its realisation.

  6. Make a critical analysis of results or a scientific approach.

  7. React on the spot and appropriately during discussions and problem solving.

  8. Organise their work and projects individually and / or in teams, taking the initiatives and contacts required for their completion.

  9. Communicate their results orally and in writing through various channels (oral presentation, presentation on the basis of a poster, writing of a written report and a scientific article).

  10. Defend a project before experts and explain it to economic and political actors.

  11. Have proficiency in written and spoken English for reading scientific texts, writing articles and communicating with experts.

Specific training objectives by specialisation are described in their own webpage.


MSc BEC students may (but do not have to) choose to follow one of three interdisciplinary specializations.

The program in Behavior, Economics, and Evolution (BEE) aims at providing biology students with basic knowledge about economics and a way of thinking about making efficient decisions under limited resources, a situation prevalent in ecology, evolution, and conservation. This specialization is a collaboration with two Masters of Science programs of the Faculty of Business and Economics, the MSc Management and the MSc Economics.

The program in "Computational Ecology and Evolution" (CEE) aims at providing biology students with a quantitative way of thinking in ecology and evolution, and transferable skills in statistics and programming. Students can do purely theoretical projects, as well as combine field or lab work with advanced computational analysis.

 The specialization in "Geosciences, Ecology and Environment" (GEE) aims at providing biology students with complementary knowledge and quantitative skills in geo-environmental sciences that give them an integrated view of natural systems and allow them to solve complex ecological problems and conduct interdisciplinary basic and applied research projects in ecology and evolution.

Presentation of the Master BEC

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 15,000 students and 3,300 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.


Follow us:  

Attention please, for the moment you can only register for the 90 ECTS Masters (3 semesters).

However, we are planning to upgrade all our Masters BEC to 120 ECTS (4 semesters).

As soon as this information is confirmed, the candidates will be informed.



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.

Descriptive Flyer
in Master BEC

Fiche MSc_comportement_2016_EN_thumbnail 180x258.png


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