Biodiversity and Systematics, Nordic Master's Programme

Master’s programme
2 years
120 credits (ECTS)
Study pace
Study form
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Application code
Full education cost: 244 000 SEK
First payment: 61 000 SEK

No fees are charged for EU and EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students.

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Seven Nordic universities collaboratively offer the Nordic master’s programme in Biodiversity and Systematics. The programme provides a broad overview of living organisms and the relationship between them. You will become familiar with nomenclatural rules, develop identification skills for inventory of species and natural habitats, be able to produce and assess molecular systematic information, and develop an understanding of the role of biodiversity in a global perspective, including the ethical and economical aspects of conservation.


Biodiversity and Systematics concerns the multitude of organisms living on our planet and the evolutionary relationships among them. Far from all existing organisms have been discovered and described, and among those that science knows of, classification is still ambiguous. In this programme, you will be trained to gain the systematic and taxonomic expertise needed to take action against global loss of biodiversity.

One programme—seven universities
The programme is distributed across seven Scandinavian universities and provides an intellectually challenging learning environment combining theoretical studies with practical elements. You are admitted to the university where you will undertake your thesis project, but you also participate in courses hosted by the other universities and sometimes at their field-stations. The programme emphasizes four components:

  • scientific knowledge
  • practical skills
  • independent academic thinking and ability to convey knowledge
  • ethics and sustainability in a global perspective

A wide range of courses and fieldwork
Since the programme is conducted between seven universities, most of the courses are web-based. These are complemented by intensive field or lab sessions where you and your fellow students meet your teachers for a short period of time. Your home university provides access to course material, for instance for practical experimental work and your thesis project. You will have the opportunity to follow your own interests and goals by choosing from our elective portfolio, which offers a wide range of subjects. Courses are continually updated to reflect developments in all areas of biodiversity and systematics research.

Programme structure and content

The programme offers a wide range of courses that are divided into four categories:

  • biodiversity — identification
  • biodiversity — classification
  • systematic theory
  • tools and skills

You should have at least one course from each category in addition to your thesis project. See further information here.

The length of your thesis is optional and amounts to 30, 45 or 60 higher education credits. It may extend over several semesters and be interspersed with courses giving practical or theoretical training.

You will be admitted to the university where you plan to carry out your thesis work. At the time of admittance, you will establish an individual curriculum, together with a programme coordinator, designating the courses to be included in your degree. Each course in the programme is offered by only one of the cooperating universities, and you apply for admission to courses at the particular universities hosting them.

Who should apply?

Do you want to explore and learn about the evolutionary relationships among the multitude of organisms living on our planet?

Are you interested in biodiversity in a global perspective and the ethical and economical aspects of conservation?

Are you concerned with the global loss of biodiversity and want to contribute to a more sustainable future?

Do you want experience from several universities in three Scandinavian countries?

If so, then apply for the Nordic master’s programme in Biodiversity and Systematics.

Prerequisites and selection


University studies of at least three full years, equal to a Bachelor's degree in Science in Biology. All credits in the degree need to be from an accredited university. The applicant's university education must also include a thesis, term paper or equivalent proof of proficiency in academic writing. Applicants must prove their knowledge of English: English 6/English B from Swedish Upper Secondary School or the equivalent level of an internationally recognized test, for example TOEFL, IELTS.


Selection is based upon the number of credits from previous university studies, maximum 165 credits.

After graduation

Graduates of the programme receive the degree Master of Science in Biology.

You will be prepared to pursue a career such as:

  • a nature conservation manager (public administrator or private consultant)
  • an officer at a government agency (Environmental Protection Agency, Swedish biodiversity Centre)
  • position within a non-governmental organization (World Wildlife Foundation, Nature Conservation Organizations)
  • manager of biodiversity infrastructures (GBIF)
  • or an academic career (museum curator or university researcher)


The teaching is mainly web-based but the practical parts of the courses at University of Gothenburg are conducted at the Botany building (Carl Skottsbergs gata 22B) and the Zoology building (Medicinaregatan 18 A), as well as in the field.

Exchange opportunities

Many jobs require international collaboration, and it is therefore a valuable qualification to spend part of your studies abroad. We provide you with good chances for exchange studies, with over 100 contracts under the Erasmus and other exchange programmes with universities and colleges around the world. If you are considering a semester or two in, for instance, Barcelona, Cardiff, Australia, or Canada, this is a good programme to choose.


A good way for you to make contacts with potential employers is to do an internship during your education. This can be completed as an optional in-depth course: Applied Project in Biology (internship). It should be linked to biology training, be placed in a workplace where biologists work, and can take place in the summer or during your studies.

You find more detailed information on the programme’s homepage.