Master degree projects in biology
You can perform a master's degree project of 30, 45 or 60 credits in either General biology or one of the specializations Animal ecology, Aquatic ecology, Conservation biology or Plant science.
To be able to do a master´s degree project in biology you should be enrolled in the Master´s program in biology at Lund University and should have completed 45 credits of relevant advanced level courses within the programme (specific for each specialisation).
Before the start
- Check with the study advisor Lotta Persmark that you fulfil the requirements for starting a degree project.
- Contact a supervisor within the area of your interest and discuss the general outline of the project. Note that you may conduct the project outside the university, at a company or another university. If you do your project outside the Department of Biology you also need a contact person at the Department of Biology (an Internal supervisor). Discuss with your coordinator whether this is needed. You can do a 30 credits project corresponding to 20 weeks of work, 45 credits (30 weeks) or a 60 credits (40 weeks) project. If you do not find what you want among our project proposals at our education blog or if you do not know what you want, feel free to discuss this with your coordinator.
- Economy. A sum of 6000 or 8000 SEK is available for each master's project performed within Lund University. Discuss with your supervisor how this should be used and include a budget in your project plan. If you perform your master's project outside Lund University some funding is available for insurance or fieldwork, but costs for travel to and from the place where the project is performed (another university) are not covered. Discuss the project costs with your Internal supervisor and if needed include a budget in your project plan.
- Write a project plan together with your supervisor. The plan should be brief, but give a clear description of your specific project (2–3 A4 pages). It should contain:
- Project title
- Name and e-mail to you and the supervisor
- Research area, credits, department or another place where you will work
- Introduction, with a theoretical background to the project and key references (5-10)
- Aim(s) of the project
- Material and methods, including planned statistical analyses
- A budget
- Time plan (rough planning of the project) including a date for the half time evaluation. Remember to include enough time to write the report.
- Ethical aspects on the project (that is ethical or other permits needed, potential 3R-aspects, if research question or potential obtained results requires ethical considerations and such)
- Fill in the registration form (pdf, 1 MB, new tab) Lotta Persmark will confirm that you are eligible to start the project by adding a signature on the registration form. You and your supervisor should also sign the form and after that the coordinator of the programme, who should also approve the project plan. The coordinator is in most cases also the examiner of the project, unless another examiner is appointed. Hand in the registration form around 2 weeks before the start of the project to Lotta Persmark. Note that if you will do your project during the summer you must register before the 15 June.
- If you are going to work experimentally with research animals (including all vertebrates, octopuses and lampreys) during your degree project you need to complete a specific course including animal research ethics, regulations, care-taking/handling, and such. Discuss with your supervisor if you need this course and if so you apply for the course about work with laboratory animals (pdf, 225 kB, new tab).
- If you are going to perform fieldwork, fill in a risk analyses form (pdf; 574 kB; new window).
- Ongoing projects. Write a description of the project. This should include your name, title of the project, supervisor, a short summary of the project and a photo of yourself or something connected to the project. Download the template for ongoing projects template (pptx; 69kB). Email the description to Lotta [dot] Persmark [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se. This is intended for publication on the notice board in the Ecology Building.
- Insurance. You need insurance if you are going to work outside Sweden. Lotta Persmark at the Education office will help you.
- During the degree project work, you will write a project logbook, either electronically or in a notebook (which you can get from the education office). Make careful, daily notes about experimental design, technical details of experiments, raw data and calculations which will be of great help when you start to write your report. In the logbook, you also register if you take time off (because of vacation, illness or malfunctioning machines), or other significant events. Please note that to have the possibility of obtaining the highest grade (pass with distinction – väl godkänt) a degree project cannot exceed the stipulated time with more than 20% (that is 23 weeks for a 30 cr project). Please, bring the logbook to the examination.
- It is advisable to start to write as soon as possible. Parts of the introduction and methods can be written in parallel with your empirical/theoretical work. As results are starting to be analysed, construct figures and tables that can be included in the report. Attend seminars and group meetings arranged by your research group and section of which you are a member.
- If something is not working the way you would like it to, for example, problems with your supervisor, contact your coordinator, contact person or study advisor as soon as possible. The earlier we address a problem the sooner it can be solved.
- Help with statistics? Hopefully your supervisor masters the statistics skills needed, but if you (both) need more help there is a weekly statistics help on Tuesdays 9-12 am. It is recommended that you go there together with your supervisor. You find more information about the statistics help on our internal website.
- A half-time evaluation should be done when half the time of the project has passed, download instructions and form (docx, 60 kB). Please send to the coordinator who makes sure the result is registered in LADOK.
Sometimes a project may need to be prolonged or shortened. This must be done latest at the half-time evaluation. The reasons for the change have to be explained in written form to the coordinator, and a new project plan has to be submitted.
Towards the end
- The degree project should be written like a scientific report. The report should include a scientific abstract in English. Choose a journal and consult its ”Instructions for authors” through the journal´s web site. Follow the design of that journal throughout the report; how to handle references, report statistical results and so on. For advice see “Instructions for project reports” (pdf, 198 kB, new tab).
- Write in a stringent scientific style and avoid excessive length. However, you are allowed to be slightly more explicit with background, explanations, and such than what one would be in a real paper. You are also allowed to include description and discussion of preliminary or incomplete results and to introduce and show that you understand the chosen methodology and strategies by explaining them and providing necessary details.
- Plagiarism. You are not allowed to present someone else’s work, such as text, figures, or results, without giving proper reference. This also applies to material you find on the Internet. Therefore make sure that you correctly use citations. You may of course refer to the work of others, but you need to re-write it in your own words and refer to the source of information in a correct way. Read more at the Lund University Library website and discuss with your supervisor if you are unsure.
- Write a popular science summary of your project. Write it in English or Swedish. Let a friend or a fellow master student read and give feedback. Your popular science summary must be approved by your supervisor before the examination. You can find guidelines for this summary here (docx, 25 kB). Hand in the popular science summary to the examiner and opponent together with the report.
- Time for the examination. When you and your supervisor decide that the report is ready it is time to notify the coordinator who arranges the examination. The examination committee consists of the examiner, the external opponent and your supervisor. The supervisor will give input to, but will not take part in the decision or grading of the thesis. If the supervisor can not attend the examination, he/she should provide a written evaluation of the project or discuss it directly with the examiner.
- Send the report to Urkund. To avoid and prevent cheating and plagiarism, all master's theses written at the Department of Biology are checked in ”Urkund”, a program that uses internet/databases to scan a report for copied text etc. At least ten days before the examination you should send your report to urkund via your coordinator's address: N [dot] N [dot] lu [at] analys [dot] urkund [dot] se.
- At the same time, send your popular summary to your coordinator.
- During the examination, you make an oral presentation of your project. This means a summary of your project in approximately 15 minutes, preferentially with the aid of presentation software, like Powerpoint. Then a discussion follows during which you answer questions about your work. The examination committee then has an internal discussion before the examiner decides about the grading of the project. The examiner is responsible for reporting the grade to the Education office (where it will be registered in LADOK).
- Grades: If the degree project does not fulfil the requirements for the grade Pass, you will be given instructions about how to improve the work to reach the grade Pass. To reach the grade Pass with distinction (Väl Godkänt) two criteria must be fulfilled:
- You must have demonstrated high ability to work independently, including creative problem-posing, problem-solving and deduction, and to put the results into a general context, for example, a scientific area of research or relevant biological applications.
- The time-frame for the project should not have been exceeded by more than 20 %. The written and oral presentations of the exam project should be of high quality.
- Make the last corrections of the report. Incorporate the changes suggested by the examination committee into the final version. Create the cover page, which has a specified template for cover page (pdf, 2 MB, new tab) that you fill in. Note that for "Year" in the template you choose the year you are examined. Include your pdf-cover page as the first page in your report. Now send the complete report (as a pdf-file), together with the popular science summary and the abstract (as a word files) to johanna_bjarney [dot] jonsdottir [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se within two weeks of the examination.
- Publication of your master thesis. Your abstract and your popular summary will be published at Lund University’s master’s thesis database (LUP Student Papers), information on the Library of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering's website). If you and your supervisor choose to publish the whole thesis in LUP Student Papers, this will be regarded as a publication and you cannot publish the work in other outlets, like scientific journals. Therefore, discuss with your supervisor if you should publish only the abstract or the whole thesis. A hard copy of the thesis will be deposited and displayed at the Biological Library. If you or your supervisor find this inappropriate, inform Jóhanna B. Jónsdóttir.
- If you have had any expenses during the project, please fill in >the expenses form (pdf, 957 kB, new tab).
- Please complete the course evaluation. You will get the web address in an email.
- Apply for your degree certificate. You have to apply for your master’s degree certificate online, through the Student Portal (login to the Student Portal with your Stil ID and follow the instructions). Contact Lotta Persmark if you have questions. It may take up to two months for the Degree office to award the certificate.
Form, templates & guidelines
- Registration form Master's Degree project (pdf, 1 MB, new tab)
- Application working with research animals (pdf 66 kB new tab)
- Risk analyses for field work (pdf, 574 kB, new tab)
- Template for Presentation of Degree Project (pptx, 68 kB, new tab)
- Half Time Evaluation form (docx, 60 kB, new tab)
- Instructions and template for popular summary (docx, 25 kB, new tab)
- Template for Evaluation of Degree Project (pdf, 1 MB, new tab)
- Guidelines for Evaluation of Degree Project (pdf, 133 kB, new tab)
- Template for cover page (pdf, 2 MB, new tab)