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Research project : First-Step & Master research project

More than 50 host laboratories in 12 different topics are involved in our Master.

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Objectives

  • Develop the ability to understand a biological system

  • Learn to develop a research question, formulate a hypothesis and define an appropriate experimental approach to answer the question

  • Develop analytical and critical thinking

  • Be part of a research group

  • Communicate results orally and in writing

  • Develop autonomy in conducting a research project

Description

To achieve their objectives, the three Masters of the School of Biology offer two research projects:

The First-step project (15 ECTS credits) takes place in the first semester. It lasts for 10 weeks and provides an introduction to the individual Master thesis project.

The Master thesis project (45 ECTS credits) takes place in the second and third semesters. It's a major research project that provides students with the opportunity to work at the frontiers of knowledge in their field.

To achieve this objective, each student is supervised by a project director who proposes the research theme and is responsible for monitoring the project. The project  director may also appoint  a “ direct supervisor” who is usually a member of the laboratory and is responsible for closely supervising the project and the student. For both practical projects, the three following aspects are assessed:

  • The practical work performed throughout the project
  • The preparation of a report for the First-step project or a thesis for the Master thesis project 
  • The oral defence

The Master thesis reports are kept in the Library of Biology of UNIL.

Project selection & registration (for students)

First-step and Master thesis projects are offered by the UNIL project Directors. The project registration is compulsory and is made via a SylviaAcad database.

Outside the following periods, the access to the database is not possible.

Research projects Projects consultation Projects registration Choices to make
First-step  September 19 to
October 1st, 2017
September 19 to October 1st, 2017 1
Master

September 19 to November 15, 2017 *

November 1st to 15, 2017 3 in order of preference

WARNING:  for a Master thesis projects outside of UNIL : the deadline is November 1st.

* During this period, students have the opportunity to contact and visit different host laboratories to help them to make their choice.

First-step project and the Masters thesis project must be undertaken in two different laboratories.

The School of Biology in agreement with the Head of the Masters and the Directors of Master thesis  of selected projects subsequently assign topics to students until the 30th November.

More information in the Guide to research work for the Master of Science in Biology on the right side of the page.

Project submission (for teachers)

The School of Biology has a SylviaAcad database for First-step and Master thesis projects. Teachers who would like to offer projects can use it, following the procedure.

To ensure a good balance between proposed First-step and Master thesis projects, teachers must offer a First-step project to be able to propose a Master thesis project.

Also, students are not permitted to perform their First-step and Master thesis projects under the same director.

Please, look at our Guide to research work for the Master of Science in Biology on the right side of this page.

 

Consultation and submission of research projects :

Procedure: Step by step procedure for directors

Acces to the database :

 

Your Master thesis project outside of UNIL (Switzerland or abroad)

Administrative procedures

For students who want to do the Master thesis project in another institution, the deadline for the registration is November 1st, so as to enable the Council of the School of Biology to approve your proposal.

The application file, done by the student, must include:

The project description must enable members of the Council of the School of Biology to judge the scientific content of the proposed project and to determine if it corresponds to the expected level for a Master thesis project.

The CV of the external Director must enable members of the Council of the School of Biology to evaluate if the person, according to his skills, experience and work environment will be able to support the student in the achievement of the practical work, the analysis of the results, the writing of the report… while offering satisfactory work conditions.

The choice of the UNIL Director is also important to consider because he/she will guarantee that the work done conforms to the requirements of a UNIL Master thesis project. We invite you to discuss this issue with your head of the Master.

For Master projects proposed in a public or nonprofit organization, the student may receive limited financial support (eg. for field trip fees). To apply, the student must complete his·her application with a detailed budget, emitted and signed by the external Director stating that the fees mentioned cannot be supported by the host organization. This document must also be approved by the co-Director UNIL.

Kindly note that you will also have to make your 3 choices of Master thesis projects on the database online offered by UNIL. In case your external Master project is not accepted by the Council of the School of Biology, your UNIL project choices will be considered.

Additional information for projects abroad only

Please note that if you do your Master thesis project abroad, you will have to plan to leave only after the summer exam session, which means around the beginning of July. This will necessitate a request for an extension of the duration of your Master (4 semesters instead of 3) and the oral presentation of your Master research project will be at least August 31 of the following year.

Finally, we would like you to pay attention to the fact that for a Master thesis project abroad, students are responsible for all the administrative steps and no financial support can be granted outside of the agreements that UNIL has with some foreign universities (agreements).

Guide to research work for the Master of Science in Biology

Guide to research work
for the Master of Science in Biology (PDF)

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General instructions about the master project thesis. Please start by consulting the Master guidelines from the School of Biology.

For the MLS master we have the additional specific guidelines for the report:

  • The document has to contain the following parts: Title page (format provided by the School of Biology), Abstract written in French and also in English, Table of contents, Introduction, Results, Discussion, Materials & Methods, Figures/tables with legends, References.
  • Each abstract is limited to 250 words.
  • Total length of: Abstract, Introduction, Results and Discussion is limited to 7000 words.
  • No word limit on materials & methods because students have to learn to properly explain the methods used and/or developed.
  • Every figure or table that is shown needs a legend and has to be properly described in the main text.
  • These are guidelines, exceptions are possible but only with the explicit consent from the student’s PI.

Grading the master:

Practical Work: grade given by the PI and the assistant who supervised the student
Written Report: grade given by the PI and an independent PI
Oral Defense: based on a presentation (about 30min) + answer to the questions (max 30min). Presentation is public but graded by the PI and one external PI.
Final grade: average of the 3 grades

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Guide to research work
for the Master of Science in Biology (PDF)

 

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