General information

What kinds of research can I do?
Research covers a large part of your Master's and based on your programme it can take the following forms:

- A Research Project consisting of experimental research, which is completed by writing a report and giving a final oral presentation*. This can be either a Major Research Project, which is a central component of all programmes, or a Profile Research Project as part of the Profile you have selected.
- A Business Internship consisting of practical work within the field of business, which is completed by writing a report and giving a final oral presentation.

The Major Research Project is the central element of the Master’s programme. This component has to be conducted at Utrecht University, UMC Utrecht, the Hubrecht Institute or the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology.

Depending on which Profile you select (for the programmes where this is applicable), you might choose to do an additional Profile Research Project of different lengths. These, as well as Business Internships can be done outside Utrecht University, in the Netherlands or abroad, at universities as well as private companies.

Would you like to know more about academic versus business internships? Listen to episode 14 of the Radio Life Sciences podcast to hear the stories of three (former) students that did both.

Daily supervision is done by the examiner or one or more experts in the field, which can also be a PhD candidate or post doc. In the case of an external research project or business internship, the daily supervision is the responsibility of the external supervisor at the host institute.

Written report
The supervisor determines the format of the written report.

Research reports have to include the following sections: abstract, plain language summary, introduction, materials & methods, results (containing a clear presentation of the results obtained), conclusion & discussion (in which the student critically evaluates the results and discusses them in the context of the relevant literature), and references. 

Reports of business internships have to include a management summary, plain language summary, introduction, company analysis, market analysis, research conducted, results, discussion, conclusions and recommendations, references and a personal experience report.

Plain language summary
A plain language summary is a ~500-word summary specifically aimed at informing laymen about the content of the project. The target audience is able to understand Biology at High School level.
(!) Upon completion of the report, a PDF file has to be sent to the administration office.

Final presentation
The final presentation is an important part of every research project. It is given at the research group where you have performed your research. If the research project is performed externally, the final presentation has to be given both at the host institute and at the department of the examiner. Alternatively, the examiner can be present during the final presentation in the host institute.

The time allocated to the Major Research Project, the Profile projects and the Business Internship includes the time spent on the written report and final presentation.

*With the corona-measures in place, the GSLS introduced in 2020 the temporary solution of doing ‘alternative theoretical components’. The goal of these theoretical components was to replace part of the practical work of the research projects and thus prevent study delay. However, starting from the 1st of July 2021 these alternative theoretical components won’t be allowed anymore to replace the practical work in the major research projects and in the general research profile since students are allowed again to work fulltime in the laboratories.

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 Life Sciences 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 skillsresearch 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 you declare 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.