Biomedical Sciences

The core of health

It's all about a fascination for human life

Do you want to combine human biology with molecular biology? Or do you want to learn about the other possibilities of biomedical sciences after a year of research? This master's programme will offer you just that! 

While pursuing a Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences you can opt to study a combination of different specializations. The research specializations will enable you to embark on a career in research. In the second year you decide on your profile, eather with a focus on research or more into biomedical related specializations. These specializations will enable you to work in professions like policy officer, sciencific journalism or advisor, and the education specialization (only in Dutch) will enable you to teach at pre-university or higher vocational education level.

Are you interested in infectious diseases and do you want to gain a deeper understanding of how the immune system works? Then you can focus on both these specializations. Does your scientific interest lie in neurobiology and your professional ambition in policy-making? Then you can combine these two. You can tailor your programme according to your own desires and interests, in the form of internships and/or compiling your own biomedical programme in the second year.

The Master's in Biomedical Sciences is a two-year full-time programme, commencing each September.
The curriculum in brief:

  • After your first research specialization in either Immunology, Infectious Disease, Neurobiology or Molecular Oncology (proposed start 2017-2018)
  • you can choose to either do:
    • a second research specialization in another of these subjects,
    • an ICSE specialization: International Public Health, Science Communication, Science in Society or 'eerstegraads lerarenopleiding Biologie'
    • or an alternative second biomedical research year that you can compile yourself.
  • There are two compulsory courses: Scientific Writing in English and Ethics in Life Sciences 
  • You will go on two internships, either both in research or one practical and one research placement. 
  • You will write a literature thesis. 

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be awarded a Master of Science degree (MSc).

Active research

Lectures form only a comparatively modest part of the Biomedical Sciences programme. For the most part, you are encouraged to conduct your own research. There is plenty of scope for practical work, giving you the opportunity to use the very latest research methods and equipment. You can also take a work placement in a policy-making, education or communication position, depending on your chosen profile. 

Design your own programme

If you choose to compile your own second year you can choose from all the subjects taught by the Master programme. You can also opt to take part of your programme or a work placement elsewhere in the Netherlands or abroad.

Outline of the programme

The full Master’s programme in Biomedical Sciences takes two years and consists of 120 EC.  

The programme consist of: 

  • Eight specializations
  • Two compulsory courses (total of 6 EC) 
  • Optional courses (nr. of EC depends on combination of specializations) 
  • First internship (30 EC) 
  • Second internship (30 EC) 
  • Literature thesis (9 EC)

Course descriptions

Biomedical Sciences courses in study guide.

Other interesting programmes

Biomolecular Sciences
Cardiovascular Research
Management, Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in the Health and Life Sciences
Neurosciences
Oncology

Job prospects

Your job prospects are excellent with a Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences. Most of our graduates enter scientific research. 

The research-oriented specializations will enable you to embark on a career in research. The specialization in IPH will equip you for a career as scientific researcher, policymaker, advisor or manager in the field of international public health at a university, research institute, government ministry, industry, non-governmental or international organization. The societal specialization will equip you for a position as a policy officer. The communication specialization will enable you to work in public relations or scientific journalism, and the education specialization (only in Dutch) will enable you to teach at pre-university or higher vocational education level. 

Orientation towards a career and the labour market

Spending part of the programme conducting internships helps to prepare and familiarize students with the labour market. In addition, students are introduced to the labour market by yearly Career days or during Business Days organised by NiBi (the Netherlands Institute for Biology).
 
More about NiBi (Dutch website)

Bèta Career Event

Each year the Stichting Bèta Bedrijvencontactdag Amsterdam organizes a Career Event. Large companies are represented at the event. The career event offers lectures, workshops and a speed-date lunch to enable students to meet with future employers.  
 
More information:
https://www.facebook.com/betacareerevent
http://www.bcfcareerevent.nl/
http://www.beta-bedrijvendagen.nl/

Scientific careers

A Master’s in Biomedical Sciences is a great springboard for a scientific career. With this degree, you can conduct PhD research at a university or specialist institute.
 
The Master’s degree gives access to a number of PhD degree programmes at VU University Amsterdam or elsewhere.

PhD degree programmes
PhD programmes are organized within a number of research schools at the faculty. The PhD programme always consists of carrying out a research project leading to a PhD thesis/dissertation, and of several compulsory or elective course modules. For more information on PhD programmes and Research Schools please refer to:

Research Schools VU

Research schools Vumc 

The programme contains the following one-year specializations:

First and/or second year Research specializations (54-60 EC):

  • Immunology 
  • Infectious Diseases 
  • Neurobiology
  • Molecular Oncology (proposed start 2017-2018)

Second year ICSE specializations:

Depth, variety and practical applicability
The Master’s programme in Biomedical Sciences offers no fewer than eight different specializations. But you are not restricted to those eight: you can also partly design your own programme. This means you can tailor part of your degree to your own particular interests and background.

International orientation
You can perform parts of this programme abroad. Internships abroad are especially encouraged. Because you design your own programme at VU University Amsterdam, you can be flexible in your choices at the international level.

Practical footing
As a student of Biomedical Sciences, you will gain plenty of research experience. Two 20-week internships hone your practical skills and help you to discover what job will suit you in the future. You gain a wider insight into your career perspectives.

The internship is an important part of the Master’s programme and involves many different aspects, such as writing a research proposal, theoretical preparation, practical execution, literature survey, report writing, oral presentation, and participation in the scientific activities of a research department.

The minimum study load of an internship is 30 EC (20 weeks = whole semester = 5 months), the maximum is 36 EC (24 weeks = 6 months). The total credits of the internships together should not exceed 66 EC. The first research internship is advised to take place at the VU/VUmc, the second internship is advised to take place externally. The choice of internships depends on numerous motivations.

In both cases the internships will take the form of a practical extension of your specialization in Biomedical Sciences. Your placement could involve participation in an ongoing research project or you might conduct your own research in the area that most appeals to you. On the basis of courses in which the student has participated, the student may be inspired to a particular subject. Interesting providers for external internships are for instance the NKI, KIT, Sanquin, RIVM, TNO or you can go abroad. Sometimes, subjects are published on Blackboard.

If you follow the IPH, Education, Communication or Science in Society specialization, you will complete your second placement in the educational sector, in business, with an executive or administrative agency, or an external research institute.

Examples (subject, specialization):

  • The role of IgA and FcaRI on neutrophils in IBD, Immunology
  • Exploring the involvement of additional membrane proteins in protein transport via the type VII secretion pathway using chemical crosslinking, Infectious Diseases
  • Characterizing SPPL2b expression in Alzheimer's disease, Neurobiology
  • The implications of synthetic biology regarding the threat of smallpox outbreak, RIVM, International Public Health
  • Filming researchers for knowledge dissemination, Science & Media, Science Communication

Literature study

As a Master’s student in Biomedical Sciences you are also required to carry out a literature study, apart from the two internships. This will be done on a largely independent basis, under the supervision of a subject teacher. You are free to provide your own research question. In the literature study, you must demonstrate that you are capable of efficiently processing the material in a given field and of evaluating it critically. Your handling of the literature should not only allow you to produce a clear analysis of the state of the science, but also enable you to pinpoint the limitations and problems in the field under review.

Examples (subject, specialization):

  • The immunology behind HIV-vaccines, Immunology
  • Viral RNA, more than just a gene?, Infectious diseases

Overview Biomedical Sciences

Language of instruction

English

Duration

2 years

Application deadline

1 June for Dutch students. 1 April for EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA students.* * EU/EEA students with an international degree who do not need housing services through Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam can still apply until 1 June.

Start date

1 September

Study type

Full-time

Specializations

First and/or second year: Immunology / Infectious Diseases / Neurobiology / Molecular Oncology (proposed start 2017-2018) Second year: International Public Health / Communication / Science in Society / Eerstegraads lerarenopleiding Biologie

Admission requirements

Language proficiency Our admission requirements

Field of Interest

Behavioural and Social Sciences/Health and Movement/Natural Sciences

Research specializations

With a specialization in Immunology you will have a broad understanding of immunological processes. Ranging from the molecular and cellular interactions between host and pathogen to an integrative knowledge of the role of the immune system in various pathologies, such as cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmunity. You have specialized in one of the subjects within the field of Immunology. You possess knowledge of current theory and the key research questions in the field of immunology and have an understanding of the scientific and social relevance of this subject area.  

Three specialized courses (18 EC) and a research placement (30 EC) are compulsory, and: an extra optional course (6 EC) or an extension of the internship (6 EC) or the literature study in the field of specialization (9 EC).

With a specialization in Infectious diseases you have a broad understanding of the biology of pathogenic organisms and the interaction between pathogens and their hosts. You have the ability to conduct scientific research in the field of medical microbiology and to critically assess the results of microbial research. You have specialized in one of the subjects within the field of medical microbiology.

Three specialised courses (18 EC) and a research placement (30 EC) are compulsory, and: an extra optional course (6 EC) or an extension of the internship (6 EC) or the literature study in the field of specialization (9 EC).

With a specialization in Neurobiology you have knowledge, insight and understanding of the state of the art in terms of developing theories and insight into the most important current research issues in the neurosciences. You have the ability to conduct scientific research in the field of  neurobiological research and to critically assess the results. You have specialized in one of the subjects within the field of neurobiology. You possess knowledge of the significance of neurobiology within the context of brain research and some of its clinical implications.

Three specialized courses (18 EC) and a research placement (30 EC) are compulsory, and: an extra optional course (6 EC) or an extension of the internship (6 EC) or the literature study in the field of specialization (9 EC).

ICSE specializations

When you choose a specialization in International public health you will have a broad understanding of current and future challenges in international public health, their main causes, and applied and potential interventions. You have specialized knowledge of relevant concepts from various disciplines, including epidemiology, policy science, anthropology, management studies, biomedical sciences and health sciences. You will have the ability to conduct scientific research in the field of international public health and to critically assess the results of international public health research. You have specialized in one of the subjects within the field of international public health. And, you possess knowledge of current theory and the key research questions in this field and has an understanding of the scientific and social relevance of this subject area.

The programme for the IPH specialization has a study load of 54 EC and can only be attended in the second year of the master.

Admission
A course in epidemiology is compulsory to be admissible to this specific specialization. VU-students with a deficiency in epidemiology can obtain the relevant knowledge through the bachelor’s course ‘Epidemiology’, external students can include the former course in their bachelor’s programme or do an epidemiology course during their first master year.

For questions about the courses of this specific specialization, contact the specialization coordinator Dirk Essink.

For all other questions, including admission, we refer to the general admission section of the Master’s programme in Biomedical Sciences.

Biomedical science is increasingly becoming an interdisciplinary research field in which biomedical scientists can no longer function effectively in isolation. Rather, they benefit from interaction with other scientists (such as those in the fields of molecular biology, neurobiology and immunobiology) and societal actors (such as doctors, patients and policymakers). Communication about science takes place between academic peers and between scientists and the general public. This makes the Communication specialization a complex and dynamic field of research and practice, for example on patient participation in health research, the use and effects of media metaphors and hype, and public understanding of emergent technologies. With this specialization you have a theoretical understanding of the complex problems that arise during such communication processes. You have developed the necessary skills to act professionally at this interface to enhance communication and the outcomes of communication between scientific actors and society.

The programme for the Communication specialization has a study load of 54 EC and can only be attended in the second year of the master.

For questions about the courses within this specific specialization, contact the specialization coordinator Frank Kupper.

For all other questions, including admission, we refer to the general admission section of the Master’s programme in Biomedical Sciences.

When you choose the Science in Society specialization you combine an academic approach with the skills and competences that will allow you to perform scientific research at the interface of the biomedical sciences and society. The specialization aims to develop strategies that contribute to an understanding of complex societal problems and strategies to solve complex societal problems through interdisciplinary research. In addition, the programme analyses the social, economic and ethical aspects of new developments in the biomedical sciences, so as to assess their implications for society. You will have the necessary skills to collaborate and communicate with researchers from various scientific disciplines (including but not limited to those in the life sciences) and societal actors, and the ability to use these academic insights.

The Science in Society specialization has a study load of 54 EC and can only be attended in the second year of the master.

For questions about the courses within this specific specialization, contact the specialization coordinator Tjerk Jan Schuitmaker-Warnaar.

For all other questions, including admission, we refer to the general admission section of the Master’s programme in Biomedical Sciences.

This career profile specifically trains students to be professional teachers of biology in the Dutch VWO system (higher secondary school). Note that the Education Specialization is identical to the Master’s in ‘Leraar Voorbereidend Hoger Onderwijs - Biologie’ that can be followed in addition to a research Master’s in Biology or the Biomedical Sciences. Students can begin this programme at two different times during the year: in September and February. More information on the educational programme
 
Structure of the programme
The educational programme is taught in Dutch and consists of 60 EC of compulsory modules and can only be attended in the second year of the master.

Entry Requirements: at least 30 EC in biological courses, including at least courses in Evolution, Ecology, Biodiversity, Plant physiology and Field work.

 

Dutch students

To be considered for admission to the Master’s programme in Biomedical Sciences you must meet the following requirements. The Admission Board will determine whether the qualification in question is sufficiently relevant to warrant admission, based on the following criteria:

1. Knowledge
A minimum of 24EC in molecular biology and a minimum of 24EC in human biology, including at least:
  • Cell biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Statistics

And preferably

  • (Human) anatomy and physiology
  • Histology and pathology

2. Research laboratory skills:

  • Practical laboratory techniques gained in courses
  • Preferably a bachelor research internship of ≥12EC in a research laboratory. The internship should be performed at a research department within a university, academic medical center or acknowledged research institute.

3. Grades:

Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from a Dutch university or a Bachelor’s degree in Gezondheid en Leven, major Biomedisch, from VU University Amsterdam?

  • Direct admission: final grade bachelor research internship/thesis in a relevant field (molecular biology or human biology) is at least 7.5 and a bachelor grade average of at least 7.0 (excluding the internship)
  • Intake procedure: final grade bachelor research internship/thesis in a relevant field (molecular biology or human biology) is at least 7.0

Holding another Bachelor's degree from a university or a Bachelor’s degree from an institute of higher education (HBO/HLO) in the Netherlands?

  • Intake procedure: final grade bachelor research internship/thesis in a relevant field (molecular biology or human biology) is at least 7.5 and a bachelor grade average of at least 7.0 (excluding the internship).
  • For bachelor’s degree from an institute of higher education (HBO/HLO): on a program of 240EC (4 years of study; including the propedeuse)

4. English language proficiency requirements:
VU University Amsterdam requires all applicants to pass an English language proficiency test.
N.B. Students who need a visa (MVV) to enter the Netherlands must have passed the test and submitted the original test certificate before 1 June. All other students have to submit the test certificate at the latest before 1 September.

Copies of your English test results can be sent to the following addresses:

5. Intake procedure (when the above criteria are met):
Interview to assess competence to function at academic MSc level, motivation for a career in research, and a small assessment, discussing an article chosen by the admission board.

If criteria are not completely met, you might still be considered to do the intake.The Admission board may set additional requirements if necessary, for example Bachelor courses in a pre master program (with a maximum of 30EC).In some, but not all cases direct admission might be possible without the need for a pre master program and/or assessment.

You can apply online for admission to a master’s programme at VU University. Applications for admission to the master’s programme, and the application fee payments (if relevant) must have been received by VU University no later than:

StudentsDeadline
Dutch students from institutions other than VU University Amsterdam 1 June
Dutch students from VU University Amsterdam 1 June 
Dutch students with an international degree 1 June 

In case you wish to contact the Master’s coordinator for information or advice you need to know that no rights can be derived from the reply given by the coordinator regarding your admission. Only with the “admission email” you will be officially notified about your conditional or unconditional admission.


Renate van BelleFor further information about the programme you can contact the Master's coordinator:

Dr. Renate van Belle - van den Berg
VU medical center/VU University Amsterdam
T +31 (0)20 44 49642
E renate.van.belle-vanden.berg@vu.nl

Make an online appointment  to meet me in room WN-P354 or WN-S311: https://widget.onlineafspraken.nl/iFrame/book/key/hadf97wkkn54-zazf14


Please contact the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences Education Office:

Onderwijsbureau Bèta
Mw. Nicole Staalenhoef
E: toelating.beta@vu.nl

International students

To be considered for admission to the Master’s programme in Biomedical Sciences you must meet the following requirements. The Admission Board will determine whether the qualification in question is sufficiently relevant to warrant admission, based on the following criteria:

1. Knowledge
A minimum of 24EC in molecular biology and a minimum of 24EC in human biology, including at least:
  • Cell biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Statistics

And preferably

  • (Human) anatomy and physiology
  • Histology and pathology

2. Research laboratory skills:

  • Practical laboratory techniques gained in courses
  • Preferably a bachelor research internship of ≥12EC in a research laboratory. The internship should be performed at a research department within a university, academic medical center or acknowledged research institute.

3. Grades:

Holding an international Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field?

  • Intake procedure: final grade bachelor research internship/thesis in a relevant field (molecular biology or human biology) is at least 7.5 and a bachelor grade average of at least 7.0 (excluding the internship).
  • For bachelor’s degree from an institute of higher education (HBO/HLO): on a program of 240EC (4 years of study; including the propedeuse)

4. English language proficiency requirements:
VU University Amsterdam requires all applicants to pass an English language proficiency test.
N.B. Students who need a visa (MVV) to enter the Netherlands must have passed the test and submitted the original test certificate before 1 June. All other students have to submit the test certificate at the latest before 1 September.

Copies of your English test results can be sent to the following addresses:

5. Intake procedure (when the above criteria are met):
Interview to assess competence to function at academic MSc level, motivation for a career in research, and a small assessment, discussing an article chosen by the admission board.

If criteria are not completely met, you might still be considered to do the intake.The Admission board may set additional requirements if necessary, for example Bachelor courses in a pre master program (with a maximum of 30EC).In some, but not all cases direct admission might be possible without the need for a pre master program and/or assessment.

You can apply online for admission to a master’s programme at VU University. Applications for admission to the master’s programme, and the application fee payments (if relevant) must have been received by VU University no later than:

StudentsDeadline
non-EU/EEA and EU/EEA students who also wish to apply for a VUFP grant1 March
non-Dutch students with an international degree1 April
non-Dutch students with a Dutch degree1 June
  • Non-Dutch students with an international degree: You can contact our International Student Advisor for Earth and Life Sciences admissionsfels@vu.nl, if you have not received the “admission email” within 4 weeks after the completion of your application.
  • Once you have been admitted to the Master’s programme by the faculty’s admission board, you have completed the first part of the procedure of becoming a VU student. During the 2nd part you will be informed about all that is required to register as a VU student. International students will also be contacted by the VU Admission office about how to prepare for their stay in the Netherlands. 

In case you wish to contact the Master’s coordinator for information or advice you need to know that no rights can be derived from the reply given by the coordinator regarding your admission. Only with the “admission email” you will be officially notified about your conditional or unconditional admission.

There are several possibilities for obtaining funding. Among them are:

  • VU Fellowship Programme (VUFP)
  • Holland Scholarship Programme (HSP)
  • Orange Tulip Scholarship (OTS)
  • Fulbright scholarship
  • STUNED Scholarship Programme
  • Indonesia Endowment Fund of Education (LPDP)
  • Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP)
  • Direct Loan Programme 

Information about scholarships, fellowships and grants

Renate van BelleFor further information about the programme you can contact the Master's coordinator:

Dr. Renate van Belle - van den Berg
VU medical center/VU University Amsterdam
T +31 (0)20 44 49642
E renate.van.belle-vanden.berg@vu.nl

Make an online appointment  to meet me in room WN-P354 or WN-S311: https://widget.onlineafspraken.nl/iFrame/book/key/hadf97wkkn54-zazf14


For questions regarding your application, registration or general inquiries, please contact the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences International Student Advisor:

Sandra van Daalen
T: +31 (0)20 59 87459
E: admissionsfels@vu.nl

General information about VU University Amsterdam

Please phone us at +31 (0)20 59 85000 (Monday-Friday 10:00 to 12:00). You may also email us at study@vu.nl.