Curricular Structure

This MSc program was designed by scientists from the Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences (IZN) in Heidelberg for students with a strong interest in neurobiology. With its strong emphasis on the experimental aspects, this program aims to give you the best possible start to a career in neuroscience.

Preconditions

We expect you to have a good basic knowledge of molecular cell biology (BSc level) and a pronounced interest in neurobiology. During the 1st semester of the MSc program, the most important topics in cell biology, molecular biology, and biochemistry will be recapitulated in a joint lecture for all MSc participants before starting the theoretical part of your Major program “Neuroscience” in the 2nd semester.

Time Table

March – July: Admission procedure for MSc "Molecular Biosciences"
1st sem.

Frontiers in Biosciences I
5 weeks lecture + tutorials

IZN Lab Rotation program + seminar

Optional & interesting: The IZN-Lectures (every Wednesday)

15 CP

Frontiers in Biosciences II
5 weeks lecture + tutorials

IZN Lab Rotation program + seminar

Optional & interesting: The IZN-Lectures (every Wednesday)

15 CP
2nd sem.

Focus Bioscience I
5 weeks lecture + tutorials
"Introduction to Neuroscience"

IZN Lab Rotation program + seminar

Optional & interesting: The IZN-Lectures (every Wednesday)

15 CP

Focus Bioscience II
5 weeks lecture + tutorials
"Molecules, neurons, networks, behavior"

IZN Lab Rotation program + seminar

Optional & interesting: The IZN-Lectures (every Wednesday)

15 CP
3rd sem.

Biolab
IZN Lab Rotation program

or student exchange program Life Science for Health Externer Inhalt

Optional & interesting: The IZN-Lectures (every Wednesday)

15 CP

Working in Biosciences
6 weeks practicals in any lab

or student exchange program Life Science for Health Externer Inhalt

Optional & interesting: The IZN-Lectures (every Wednesday)

15 CP
4th sem. Master thesis in an IZN neuroscience lab

Disputation
30 CP
  common program for all MSc students   free choice among all labs in the MSc program
  teaching program of the Major Neuroscience IZN Lab Rotation program 18 weeks of individual neuroscience lab practice

 

Frontiers in Biosciences I + II

Lecture and tutorials

Both modules in "Frontiers in Biosciences" consist of a lecture cycle for all MSc students. The following topics will be taught:

  • Macromolecular complexes
  • Dynamics of cell architecture
  • Cell-cell communication
  • Systems biology
  • Alteration of networks by infectious pathogens
  • Evolution and diversity

The goal of this lecture cycle is to ensure that MSc students in all Majors have the knowledge needed for the specific Major programs. At the same time, the lectures present the main topics of biological research at Heidelberg University. All lectures (mostly 3 per week) are accompanied by tutorials (2 per week). The tutorials will be held in smaller groups and will be used to focus on each week's lectures.

After the lectures and tutorials (08:15 – 09:45), you are free to plan the rest of the day. You may wish to recapitulate the lecture material, or to prepare for the written examination that takes place at the end of each first-semester module.

IZN Lab Rotation program and seminar

You will also start your participation in the IZN Lab Rotation program where you can choose from a variety of lab practicals. The list of available lab practicals will be published at the beginning of each semester on the IZN website (PDF Adobe). Most students take a total of 6 – 8 weeks of lab rotations within the first semester.

A seminar accompanies the IZN Lab Rotation program for the 1st and 2nd semester. To find a seminar for each IZN Lab rotation, there are two possibilities (see below). In both cases, please contact the person organizing the seminar directly about admission requirements, duration etc.

  • You can choose one of the regular seminars on our recommendation list (PDF Adobe).
    These seminars usually take place on 4 evenings 17:00 – 20:00 in Jan/Feb. Here students report about their experiences in the various lab practicals. In this way, each student learns about the work going on in the many IZN labs and will find it easier to make an informed choice from the Lab Rotation program.
  • There are hundreds of other seminars offered by related institutions (DKFZ, Medical Faculty, etc.), some of which may be of interest to neuroscience students. You can explore the current list in the University's lecture database (LSF Externer Inhalt) .
    When choosing one of those seminars, please make sure that the topic is related to neurosciences, and ask the MSc Neuroscience Coordination office if that seminar will be accepted for your MSc studies.

Additional courses

Two additional introductory courses are offered in the first semester:

  • Introduction to Neuronal Networks
    This is a 5-day learning-by-playing course on phenomena emerging from interconnected neurons (1 week, 10:00 – 16:00, in January).
  • Introduction to Neuroanatomy
    In this course, scientists of the Dept. of Anatomy (Faculty of Medicine) guide you through the structures and functions of the human brain (9 lectures, 18:15 – 19:45, from January to March). Following the lectures, there is a demo-preparation of the human brain.

You conclude the 1st semester with grades in “Frontiers in Bioscience I and II” (15 credit points each).

Focus Bioscience I

In the 2nd semester you will study two neuroscience modules, each consisting of a neuroscience lecture and tutorials, the IZN Lab Rotation program and a seminar. For planning your second semester, please refer to the up-to-date information on the IZN website .
The first part is "Focus Bioscience I":

Lecture and tutorials

Introduction to neuroscience (a primer for neuroscience majors)

This 5-week lecture is only for the Neuroscience major students.
In this lecture, you will acquire a firm background in modern neuroscience. The teaching format resembles that of a seminar: One or two students prepare a textbook chapter for each lecture and present the material. Students and lecturers then discuss the topic in-depth together so as to ensure proper understanding of the neuroscience basics.

Text books include:

  • Bear, Connors et al. (2007): Neuroscience - Exploring the Brain. Lippincott
  • Deutsche Version: Neurowissenschaften, Spektrum
  • Kandel, Schwartz et al. (2013): Principles of Neuroscience. McGraw Hill
  • Purves, Augustine et al. (2007): Neuroscience. Palgrave Macmillan
  • Nicholls, Martin et al. (2012): From neuron to brain. Sinauer Assoc.

We will work through the Bear, Connors, Paradiso cover-to-cover and supplement this program with chapters from the other books.

The lecture is accompanied by tutorials.

IZN Lab Rotation program and seminar

In parallel to Introduction to Neuroscience, you will take lab courses of various durations. Again, you can choose among a range of offers specified in the IZN Lab Rotation program.

Additionally, there will be a seminar.

Focus Bioscience II

In the 2nd semester you will study two neuroscience modules each consisting of a neuroscience lecture and tutorials, the IZN Lab Rotation program and a seminar. For planning your second semester, please refer to the up-to-date information on the IZN website .
The second part is "Focus Bioscience II":

Lecture and tutorials

Molecules, neurons, networks, behavior (IZN summer lecture)

This 5-week lecture is only for the Neuroscience major students.
It is a lecture series ("IZN summer lecture") on neuroscience topics which are particularly well represented in the Heidelberg research community:

  • Growth and maintenance
  • Synaptic transmission and communication
  • Neuronal networks and computation
  • Network function and plasticity
  • Neuropathy and neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neuroregeneration

This lecture will help you find out more about current research activities in the IZN research groups and plan ahead towards your Master thesis and possible PhD projects. To conclude this module, you will submit a written essay on one of the lecture topics.

The lecture is accompanied by tutorials.

IZN Lab Rotation program and seminar

In parallel to the IZN summer lecture you will take lab courses of various durations. Again, you can choose among a range of offers specified in the IZN Lab Rotation program.

Additionally, there will be a seminar.

Biolab + Working in Biosciences

Biolab

Biolab is a Lab Rotation module. It usually comprises 6 – 8 weeks of lab work in the IZN Lab Rotation program.

Working in Biosciences

The module Working in Bioscience can be taken as a 6-week Lab Rotation with an IZN investigator. You can, however, also take this module in any lab of any major in the MSc program “Molecular Biosciences”.
A particularly interesting option is to take this module in our student exchange program LSH (“Life Science for Health”). This allows you to participate in a biomedical course at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, or at the Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, Netherlands. Please check our faculty web page  for details about this program.

The 3rd semester is generally a good time to organize lab internships outside Heidelberg. We will assist you in finding suitable labs and honor all internships which are consistent with our syllabus in scientific topic, quality, and duration. Thus, you will spend the 3rd semester mainly in the lab, learning neuroscience methods and discussing experimental approaches to scientific problems. You conclude the 3rd semester with module grades in Biolab and Working in Bioscience (15 credit points each).

You have completed the IZN Lab Rotation program with a total of 18 weeks, plus 6 weeks in the Working in Bioscience module.

Master thesis

During the 3rd semester you should decide in which of the laboratories you would like to work on your Master project. It is best to discuss this question with the IZN lecturers and to set the topic and the time schedule for your project well in advance.

Master thesis

For your Master thesis you will work on a neuroscience project for 6 months in the lab of one of the IZN investigators who will supervise and support your project. After finishing the lab work, you will write a Master thesis and, to conclude the MSc program, report about your work in a disputation with two examiners.

If you have chosen to complete the 24 weeks of your Lab Rotation program in less than 3 semesters, you can start your Master project earlier. If you wish to be fast, you can start your Master project in late summer (after the 2nd semester), finish your Master thesis at the end of the 3rd semester, and join a graduate program at the start of the 4th semester. On the other hand, many students wish to do more than the required 24-week Lab Rotation, and others wish to extend an overseas internship or an industrial internship and start their Master thesis later — it is your choice. We will support you.

After completing the six modules of the program, you will be awarded the degree

Master of Science "Molecular Biosciences", Major Neuroscience

 

The time schedule for this program is our suggestion for a 4-semester MSc course. If you wish, you can save time by doing more practical weeks in the 1st and 2nd semester. In total, you need 18 weeks in the IZN Lab Rotation program plus 6 weeks of practicals in any lab of your choice. You can easily start the project for your Master thesis already in September following the 2nd semester. In this way, you can complete the MSc program within three semesters.

Editor: email
Latest Revision: 2016-06-01
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