Faculty of Science

Study programs

Master's in Molecular Life Sciences

The Program in Molecular Life Sciences of the University of Bern is run jointly by the Institutes of Cell Biology and Plant Sciences and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Science Faculty. Moreover, many research groups of the Medical and Veterinary Faculties take an active part in shaping the program. This interdisciplinary aspect is one of the key advantages for studying Molecular Life Sciences in Bern.

Molecular Life Science research in Bern is particularly strong in the fields of Host-Pathogen Interactions/Molecular Parasitology, RNA Biology and Membrane Biochemistry, but many other research projects exist and offer opportunities for students to do their MSc or PhD theses.

In the master curriculum, and in particular by preparing their master thesis, the students deepen and specialise their knowledge and skills in the area of molecular life sciences. A particular emphasis of the program is to involve the students actively in research projects. The degree of „Master of Science (M Sc) in Molecular Life Sciences“ can lead to an employment in industrial, governmental and research settings or to a further education, e.g. to PhD studies.

 

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Basic information
Degree:
Master of Science in Molecular Life Sciences, Universität Bern
Number of credits: 90 ECTS credits
Degree programs:
  • Mono 90 ECTS credits with special qualification:
    • Biochemistry/Chemical Biology
    • Cell and Molecular Biology 
    • Microbiology/Immunology
    • Neuro- and Developmental Biology
    • Plant Physiology
       

Offer for other degree programs:

  • Minor 30 ECTS credits (no special qualification)
Duration: 3 semesters
Language: English
Beginning of studies: Fall or spring semester
Anhang zum Studienplan MLS (Revision 11) (PDF, 229KB)

MLS Specializations

  • Biochemistry/Chemical Biology
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology/Immunology
  • Neuro-/Developmental Biology (jointly with University of Fribourg)
  • Plant Physiology

 

Module structure

Regular learning units

30 ECTS points divided into two modules of 15 ECTS points each:

Special qualification module consisting of learning units from the selected specialisation area.
General module consisting of learning units from a wider list, including those of the entire master program and certain units of the BSc programs in biology, biochemistry and chemistry.

In each module, the average of the obtained grades, each weighed according to its ECTS points, must be 4.0 or more. Students have to mark by themselves any insufficient grades that they want to be included and compensated in a given module.

Master thesis

60 ECTS points. The grade given by the supervisor, in consideration of the research work and the written thesis, must be 4.0 or more. An active participation in seminars and group meetings specified by the supervisor is mandatory.

Compound grade

The grade of the M Sc diploma is the average between the grades of the modules of regular learning units and the master thesis, weighed according to their ECTS points.
The grades of the additional learning units do not count for the compound grade but will be listed in the diploma supplement.

Courses and timetables for all specializations in the fall semester

Courses and timetables for all specializations in the spring semester

 

Biochemistry/Chemical Biology

A typical master thesis is carried out at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry or at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine in a research group oriented towards biochemistry or organic chemistry.
The research topics include RNA processing and transport, nucleic acid chemistry, ribosome function, mitochondrial biogenesis, membrane biochemistry, structure determination of proteins as well as combinatorial and medicinal chemistry.

Please note that the selection process outlined in the Master thesis tab must be followed.

Cell and Molecular Biology

Master theses can be carried out in a large number of research groups of the Institutes of Cell Biology, Plant Sciences, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and the Medical and Vetsuisse Faculties.
Research topics include DNA repair and recombination, molecular biology of RNA, molecular parasitology, developmental biology, signal transduction, protein biochemistry, microbial physiology and biochemistry. Yeasts, bacteria, trypanosomatids, insects and mammalian cell cultures are used as model systems.

Please note that the selection process outlined in the Master thesis tab must be followed.

Microbiology/Immunology

Master theses can be carried out in selected research groups of the Science, Medical and Veterinary Faculties.
The participating groups work on various aspects of immunology, inflammation, pathology, infectiology, virology, bacteriology and parasitology.

Please note that the selection process outlined in the Master thesis tab must be followed.

Neuro-/Developmental Biology

Master theses can be carried out in research groups of the Institutes of Cell Biology, Plant Sciences and the Medical Faculty. Additional groups at the University of Fribourg also participate in this specialisation, but, to do a MSc thesis in one of these labs, students must be immatriculated in the MSc in Biology program of the University of Fribourg.
Research topics include cell cycle and growth regulation, developmental biology, RNA localization, neurodegeneration, gene expression control and epigenetics. Drosophila, C. elegans, mice, cliliates, plants and cell cultures are used as model systems.

Please note that the selection process outlined in the Master thesis tab must be followed.

Plant Physiology

The research groups of this specialisation focus on different aspects of plant nutrition, metabolism, cellular and organism-wide transport processes, as well as on plant development.
Students enrolling in this specialisation perform their master thesis research in one of the plant physiology-oriented groups of the Institute of Plant Sciences, as well as in one group from an outside institution.

Please note that the selection process outlined in the Master thesis tab must be followed.

Regular selection process

Students of the B Sc programs in Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or Chemistry and Molecular Sciences of the University of Bern as well as outside admitted students can find their M Sc thesis supervisors through our regular selection process.

At the beginning of the spring semester (6th Semester of B Sc), the M Sc thesis project descriptions are made available on ILIAS. The corresponding link will be sent to future master students. They may pursue this information and contact potential supervisors, but no firm assignments may be made at this stage. With a deadline shortly before the end of the semester, the students declare via an on-line form which three labs they prioritize for their M Sc thesis. After contacting the supervisors, the study administration makes the assignments. This assignment will also determine the specialisation to be taken by the student.

Master thesis

The M Sc thesis may only be started, when the B Sc and any additional learning requirements imposed in the admission process have been completed. Exceptions to the latter of these rules may be proposed by the program administration and require approval of the Science faculty.

At the beginning of the M Sc thesis, the thesis supervisor and student send a completely filled out and signed form "Form Start of MSc thesis" to the program administration. This form constitutes a mutual agreement between the two partners to adhere to certain specified rules.

Individual academic requirements

The following academic qualifications are required for admission to the mono master's program in Molecular Life Sciences:

a) Bachelor of Science degree from a Swiss university or another degree recognized as equivalent in one of the following fields of study:
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry
Depending on previous education and the special qualification in which the person is interested, admission may depend, however, upon evidence of additional knowledge and expertise or the achievement of additional academic attainments. Additional academic attainments are generally units of credit from the bachelor's degree programs in Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or Chemistry and Molecular Sciences to a maximum value of 60 ECTS credits.
b) Bachelor's degree from a Swiss university or an equivalent degree in another branch of study.
Admission may depend upon evidence of additional knowledge and expertise or the achievement of additional academic attainments. Additional academic attainments have a maximum value of 60 ECTS credits
c) Bachelor's degrees from the University of Bern:
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology with a special qualification in Cell Biology
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology with a special qualification in Plant Sciences, including the required (as listed in appendix 2 of the plan of studies) units of credit associated with Plant Physiology within the bachelor's degree program
  • Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Molecular Sciences
are required in at least one of the special qualifications in order to embark upon the master's degree program without any further admission requirements which can be completed during the program of study. By contrast, certain switches of specialization between bachelor's and master's degree programs do require additional academic attainments. Additional academic attainments have a maximum value of 60 ECTS credits

The degree used for assessment purposes may not be more than ten years old.

Please consult the academic requirements for the minor as shown in the plan of studies.

 
For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office.

Current UniBE students

Apply for a change to the M Sc in Molecular Life Sciences, Universität Bern by self-service as part of the re-registration for the next semester.
Renewal of semester registration → Self-service
Recognition of academic achievements
Procedure and timing of the renewal of semester registration
   

Application with a Swiss degree

Online application
Assessment
Steps from application to registration
 

Application with an international degree

Online application
CHECKLIST - Documents for your application / Important information
Steps from application to registration

 
For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office.

MLS specific prerequisites for graduation

The graduation may be completed if:

  • Any additional learning requirements imposed for admission to the program have been successfully completed
  • The modules for the special qualification and for the general topics have been successfully completed
  • The M Sc thesis work has been completed and written
  • The written thesis has been read, corrected and positively evaluated by the thesis supervisor. The written evaluation should contain and justify in words the compound grade for the research work and the writing of the thesis.
  • A copy of the evaluation and the Master thesis as pdf file should be sent to the study administration of Molecular Life Sciences. The study administration will enter the grade and thesis title into KSL.
  • Note that, at least during the semester when the thesis is completed, the student must be correctly immatriculated.


Graduation procedure

  • For graduation, the student registers his thesis submission/ graduation at the studies secretariate of the Dean's office. Location, office hours and necessary documents are described on the faculty web page. Make sure that the requested documents are complete!
  • The Master thesis and the signed original of the supervisor's evaluation are submitted to the Dean's office.
  • After the thesis and the supervisor's evaluation have been reviewed by the faculty's study commission (usually within one to two weeks), the study commission decides on the proposed grade and the Dean's office validates it in KSL.
  • The study administration performs a final check whether all grades are correctly documented in KSL and declares the curriculum as "completed" in the KSL system.
  • Finally, the Dean's office validates the entire curriculum and informs the student when the graduation documents will be ready for collection at the Dean's office.
     

Compound grade

The grade of the M Sc diploma is the average between the grades of the modules of regular learning units and the master thesis, weighed according to their ECTS points.
The grades of the additional learning units do not count for the compound grade but will be listed in the diploma supplement.


Once you have met the specific requirements for the degree, you can apply for your degree to the Dean's Office. You will find more information on the graduation process here.
 

DIRECTOR OF STUDIES

Prof. Dr. Norbert Polacek
Departement für Chemie und Biochemie (DCB)
University of Bern
Freiestrasse 3
CH-3012 Bern
Switzerland

Phone +41 31 631 43 20
Email  norbert.polacek@dcb.unibe.ch

 

STUDY ADMINISTRATION

Dr. Anita Hochuli
Institute of Cell Biology
University of Bern
Baltzerstrasse 4
CH-3012 Bern
Switzerland

anita.hochuli@izb.unibe.ch