Master's Programme in Biology – NABiS – Nordic Master in Biodiversity and Systematics

120 credits

The diversity of organisms on our planet and their evolutionary relationships are in focus for the students in the Nordic Academy of Biodiversity and Systematics (NABiS), a specialisation within the Master's Programme in Biology. With morphological and molecular tools, our knowledge about biodiversity in a broad sense is growing, enabling us to ask fundamental questions about evolution and biogeography, as well as assess, e.g., the effects of climate change and conservation needs.

Autumn 2023 Autumn 2023, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

Autumn 2024 Autumn 2024, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

NABiS (Nordic Academy of Biodiversity and Systematic Studies) is a cooperative programme hosted by six universities in Sweden and Norway. Each university offers courses where it has specialist competence, both regarding organismal groups, and also in theoretical and analytical aspects. Combining courses at different universities leads to a top-quality Master's degree in systematics and taxonomy.

Far from all organisms have been discovered and described, and among the organisms we know, evolutionary relationships are in many cases still in need of studies. In this specialisation, students are trained to gain systematic, taxonomic and analytical expertise, as well as the bioinformatics tools needed in our society to be able to understand and take action against the loss of biodiversity.

During the programme, you can expect to:

  • become an expert in systematics and taxonomy,
  • gain experience and knowledge to be able to take measures against declining biodiversity,
  • gain experience and lessons from your participation in a research institution.

You will also have an extensive professional network, consisting of fellow students and professors at the collaborating universities in the Scandinavian countries, after completing the programme.

Collaborating universities for the programme are University of Gothenburg (Sweden), Stockholm University (Sweden), Uppsala University (Sweden), Lund University (Sweden), University of Oslo (Norway), and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway).

Student profile

You have a broad interest in biology or a more narrowly focused interest in a specific sub-area. Either way, you are willing to take a lot of responsibility to form your own educational experience from the very wide range of biology courses offered at the different universities.

Ideally, during your Bachelor's degree, you had the opportunity to work in a laboratory and do some field work as well as use statistics to analyse data from your work. Writing lab reports and shorter essays is something you already have experience with.

A PhD education is a distinct possibility in your future so you would value coming in close contact with current research and prominent researchers in this international field.


The programme leads to the degree of Master of Science (120 credits) with Biology as the main field of study. After one year of study, it is possible to obtain a degree of Master of Science (60 credits).

This specialisation is given jointly by several Swedish and Norwegian universities. The arrangement is that you have a home university where you have your physical residence and usually do your degree work. You can take courses at the other participating universities. However, these courses are usually given in the form of online or mixed education. The latter means that in addition to online learning, it also includes elements that are usually at a field station for one or two weeks, focusing on skills, such as species identification or laboratory work.

See the details of the courses given at each participating NABiS university.

You start your studies with two core courses: Alphataxonomical Principles (5 credits) given by the University of Gothenburg, and Fundamental and Molecular Systematics (10 credits) at Uppsala University. The former gives you the basics of, for example, how to describe and name species and other taxa, while the second course gives you the theory and skills in how to study and analyse the shared evolutionary history of species. We use this knowledge to study character evolution and biogeography and for classification.

After that, you can choose courses fairly freely depending on your interest and career plan. Two tracks are envisaged in the programme, one leading to an academic career and the other to more practical work with, for example, inventories.

The elective courses are divided into four categories: Biodiversity - Identification includes practical courses for learning to use literature to identify organisms. Biodiversity - Classification deals with organism groups from a slightly more theoretical aspect. Systematic Theory deals with analytical techniques to study evolutionary history. Tools provide you with practical skills to handle, for example, data and collections. You can also supplement with other courses in the Master's Programme in Biology, with specialisation in such as Conservation Biology.

Finally, you do a thesis of 30, 45 or 60 credits where you will be able to apply the knowledge and skills you have acquired.

Courses within the programme

Courses within the programme are found in the programme outline.

Biology instruction at Uppsala University is done in close connection to current research. All teachers for the individual courses in the Master's Programme in Biology are active scientists, ensuring that you will get an education that reaches the absolute forefront of the respective field.

The courses provide factual knowledge and practical training in the form of laboratory work and field trips, as well as the ability to solve problems, think analytically and work scientifically. Communication training is integrated into all courses of the programme.

The Master's Programme in Biology has a strong international character, and all courses are taught in English.

The Master's programme in biology gives you knowledge and skills for qualified professional activities with special and advanced tasks in business, government and self-employment. You can also continue with a doctoral programme.

Biologists from Uppsala University have a wide field of work, depending on focus and interest. The NABiS specialisation means that you acquire a large network of contacts within the Nordic region and you can work with issues within systematics and taxonomy that require molecular biological competence.

Our alumni work, for example, in places such as the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, Västra Götaland County Administrative Board and the Oslo Natural History Museum. The job titles include country manager, technician and doctoral student.

The programme is aimed at students who are interested in a career in:

  • nature conservation management (public administration or as a private consultant),
  • administration in government agencies (e.g. the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency) or private organisations (e.g. WWF, Naturskyddsföreningen),
  • administration in biodiversity infrastructures (e.g. GBIF), or
  • an academic career as a museum curator or researcher.

As a biologist, you can also work as a teacher or science journalist.

Career support

During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career.