Start your research project

The main part of your training as a Master's student of the Graduate School of Life Sciences is formed by the one or two research projects. More information about the start of your research project is available below.

After finishing his/her research project the student is capable of:

  • Translating a Life Sciences problem into a relevant research question, suitable for research development or product design.
  • Designing a suitable research plan to test the formulated research questions, according to methodological and scientific standards.
  • Independently performing research, with the required accuracy. Graduates are able to handle, analyse, interpret and evaluate the empirically derived data in a correct manner.
  • Discussing the outcomes of empirical research and linking them with scientific theories.
  • Indicating the importance of research activities for solving a biomedical question or problem, if applicable from a social perspective.
  • Critically reflecting on their own research work in Life Sciences, from a social perspective.
  • Comprehensibly reporting research results orally and in writing, to specialised and non-specialised audiences in an international context.

In order to assess whether the student has achieved these learning outcomes or to discuss the specific criteria on beforehand, the research project rubrics for research skills, research report and presentation can be used.

It is important to make agreements with your examiner/supervisor about the publication of the work you do, at the start of your project. Usually, publication rights will be transferred to your supervisor or his/her research group.

As to copyrights (auteursrecht), by signing the application form the student declares to transfer the copyright of any and all products, including the tangible and intellectual products of the research project, to the institute where you perform your project. This can be either Utrecht University, the University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMC Utrecht) or your host institute. The rights of the student by scientific standards to be a co-author of publications or to be otherwise acknowledged are still recognized.

Your contribution may be acknowledged in different ways. Not only does this depend on the amount of data/texts you have contributed (to), but it also depends on the quality of your work and the level of independence during the project. You may be named in the acknowledgments, your report/writing assignment may be used as a literature reference or you may be asked to be a co-author for an article.

Any questions regarding these issues should be addressed to the head of your group.

When you start looking for a suitable research group for your research project, use your network:

  • ask teachers from courses you liked about their research (group)
  • talk to your (older) fellow students about their research projects
  • talk to the programme coordinator about interesting groups
  • talk to lab chiefs / scientists / profs / postdocs

You can also visit the websites of the different Master’s programmes. They often have an overview of the research groups involved in the programme. UU Career Services hosts an internship database, which contains some projects for Life Sciences students at companies within the Netherlands. The career officers of the GSLS also regularly post internship offers on their LinkedIn page

In January of each year a Research Project Market is organized for GSLS and medicine students. 

Thing to consider when you are looking for a research project:

  • Choose a research project within the scope of your Master’s programme.
  • Ask for approval from your programme coordinator and the Board of Examiners.
  • Your major research project has to be done at Utrecht University or at the UMC Utrecht. Research projects of Science and Business Management, Biomedical Image Sciences, and Epidemiology (Postgraduate) can partly be conducted elsewhere/abroad, but only in cooperation with Utrecht University.

When you find a suitable project, make sure you meet both your examiner as well as your daily supervisor, to see if you get along. Discuss all details with your (laboratory) supervisor. An overview of what you should discuss can be found on the General application form* and includes:

  • subject of your project;
  • starting date and planning of general matters such as your courses and holidays. More information about the (maximal) duration of research project and extending your project is available here.
  • agreements on other meetings in which you should participate such as weekly lab meetings, journal clubs, seminars, etc.

*Note: students from the master's programme CSDB and SBM participate in a pilot in which the entire research project and business internship procedure is digitized. More information can be found under 'Pilot Osiris Zaak'.

Read more about the application procedure under 'Application procedure and approval'.

Together with your Master’s programme coordinator the Board of Examiners (BoE) assesses the quality and suitability of your research projects. This is done before the start of your the project. You can only start your project after you have received approval from the BoE. This approval is sent in the form of an email by one of the research project coordinators

  • Use the General application form* to ask for approval from the Board of Examiners.
  • Hand in the application form at the Master’s Administration Office at least 20 working days before the start of your project. 
  • Only typed and printed (so no handwritten) forms will be accepted.

*Note: students from the master's programme CSDB and SBM participate in a pilot in which the entire research project and business internship procedure is digitized. More information can be found under 'Pilot Osiris Zaak'.

External projects, at non-university institutes or abroad require signing of an additional contract, the GSLS Internship contract. More information about external projects is available here.

For more information and guidelines about research project supervision and progress you can consult the:

On the website of UU Library a libguide about PubMed and other libguides are available.

There are also general guidelines for writing a scientific paper:

Students from the master's programme CSDB and SBM participate in a pilot in which the entire procedure for the research project, business internship and writing assignment is digitized. For you, this means that after arranging your research project, business internship or writing assignment, you can register this via under the tab ‘Cases’ (‘Zaken’ in Dutch). Here, you can also check the status of your application, submit your interim assessment and finalize your research project, business internship or writing assignment.

More information about this new procedure can be found in the manual for students. This procedure is new for your examiner as well, so please inform him/her beforehand and point out the available manual for examiners.

Both the digital procedure and the manual were created with the utmost care, but they may be incomplete or contain some errors. Please help us to improve both during the pilot by informing us about your findings. For comments or questions please contact your Master’s administration via

BMS - or +31 (0)88 7559397. or +31 (0)30 2531858.