Biomolecular Sciences

Cell Biology

Programme structure
Cell Biology is one of two Master’s programmes in Biomolecular Sciences; the other is Biological Chemistry. The Cell Biology compulsory courses run from September to the end of February. Most of the students begin with this. Students who need to catch up on certain subjects can take specific Bachelor’s courses in this period so that everyone is at the same level in February. Most students start their first work placement after the compulsory courses. The second work placement, the literature survey and the additional selected topics form the main elements of the second year of study.

The full Master’s programme takes two years and is worth 120 ECTS. The programme consist of the following elements:

Compulsory courses
The Cell Biology programme starts in September and October with two compulsory courses: 

  • Protein Science (6 ECTS, September);
  • Genomes and Gene Expression (6 ECTS, October);

Followed by a choice of either: 

  • Cell Structures and Functions (6 ECTS, November);
  • Evolving Networks (6 ECTS, December)

If only one of the above mentioned courses is followed, one of the following courses can be chosen as alternative as well as other courses from this or another Master's programme:

  • Drug-induced Stress and Cellular Responses or Developmental Biology (6 ECTS, November)
  • Signal Transduction in Health and Disease or Extreme Biology (6 ECTS, December)

And a program with technical modules in January until March of which also 6 ECTS are compulsory. This programme provides you with a thorough grounding in the subjects and methods of the Institute and prepares you for one or more work placements.

Formative Academic Skills (9 ECTS total)

  • Ethics (3 ECTS)
  • Business and Innovation in Life Sciences (3 ECTS, Choice option)
  • Scientific Writing Skills in English (3 ECTS)

Work placements
Your work placements will account for a minimum of 60 ECTS, one shorter work placement (24-30 ECTS) and one longer work placement (30-36 ECTS). You are free to carry out your work placements within VU University Amsterdam or VUmc, at a hospital or company or an institute or other university in the Netherlands or abroad. Your first work placement should preferably be carried out in Amsterdam.

Literature survey
As a Master’s student you are also required to carry out a literature survey (9 ECTS). You are expected to complete this task more or less independently, though you will, of course, receive expert guidance from one of the teaching staff. You can decide on your own topic and research question.

Optional courses (12 ECTS)
  • Two courses can be selected from the course programme as mentioned above 
  • One or more courses can be selected from ‘selected topics’
  • The traineeship can be extended with 6 ECTS
  • Courses can be selected from other programmes within the Master.
  • Courses can be selected from other masters.

In case of any deficiencies, a maximum of 12 ECTS can be spend on Bsc courses.

The research institute BioCentrum Amsterdam offers a number of short and intensive courses in among others mass spectroscopy, protein purification and protein synthesis.

Selected topics (each 6 ECTS)
The aim of the selected topics/optional components is to provide you with in-depth knowledge of various areas. You will deal with the theoretical and practical aspects of the subject. Your choice of courses and optional components will depend on your own interests and the topic of your research work placements. If necessary, you can take a tutorial to fill in any gaps in your existing knowledge. The optional components in the Master’s programme in Cell Biology are:

  • Epigenetics
  • Structural Biology 
  • Protein Structure as Molecular Basis of Disease 
  • Molecular Biotechnology 
  • Cellular Protein Trafficking 

Once you have passed all the components of the Master’s programme, you will be awarded the title Master of Science in Biomolecular Sciences. This is recognized internationally. 

Course descriptions

Online course information with respect to Cell Biology can be found at Course guide


For further information about admission to the programme you can contact the mastercoordinator.

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See also