Master of Science in Life Sciences - Natural Resource Sciences

Master of Science in Life Sciences

A major challenge of our time is to create a liveable world for ourselves and future generations. Applied environmental research seeks scientific, life-affirming and viable solutions for the responsible and efficient use of limited resources.

On completion of the specialisation in Natural Resource Sciences your unique skills as an environmental expert will be highly sought after in business, politics, research and education.

Educational objective

On completion of the MSc degree programme in Life Sciences you will have sound specialist knowledge and skills to apply at the interface of nature and society. You will be able to analyse multifaceted environmental systems holistically and develop innovative and viable solutions, taking economic, ecological and social aspects into consideration. You will be in a position to critically examine, reflect on and justify projects from the perspective of environmental ethics. In a complex working world with interdisciplinary demands and highly specialised issues to tackle, you will be a sought-after specialist at leadership level.


The study programme enables you to recognise current problems and possible future developments, and analyse them holistically. You bridge the gap between theory and practice by developing innovative and viable solution strategies. Your comprehensive competence profile includes personal competences. For example, the focus on the Master’s thesis and application-oriented research demands creative problem solving, critical thinking, and the ability to see things from different perspectives. Your work in the research group develops your resourcefulness, critical faculties, leadership qualities and the ability to work in a team. The learning concept and structure of the programme promote self-discipline, intercultural competence and language skills.

Structure of the MSc programme

Structure of the study programme
The general structure of a full-time Master’s programme. You determine the actual sequence and focal points yourself.

The three semesters of full-time study leading to a Master of Science in Life Sciences include the following three steps, giving a total of 90 ECTS credits. Studying part-time is possible.

  1. Choice of your subject area
  2. Specialisation: Specialisation Skills and Master’s thesis (total 60 credits)
  3. Foundations: Entrepreneurial Skills and Advanced Life Sciences Skills (total 30 Credits)

Before your studies begin, you decide on your personal educational goals, define the topic of your Master’s thesis, and decide on your individual plan of study from the selection of modules together your supervisor and the head of your specialisation.

1. Subject area

Through your choice of a subject area you determine the focus of your studies: this is where you complete the main part of your studies, working in an appropriate research group. The subject areas reflect the Institute’s current focal points in research and may therefore vary.

2. Specialisation

You study your subject-based specialisation in the Institute of Natural Resource Sciences at the ZHAW in Wädenswil. Teaching is scheduled on three weekdays (Monday to Wednesday) and other learning activities may occur throughout the week.

You deepen and specialise your knowledge of Natural Resource Sciences by attending all the following three tutorials and three plenary events.

Specialisation Skills: Tutorials – 21 credits

Tutorials involve project and research work personally tailored to your needs and carried out under the guidance of your supervisor. You work on tasks in ongoing projects as part of a research group in your subject area.

Specialisation Skills: plenary events – 9 credits

Plenary events comprise lectures, practical exercises and excursions which you take part in together with students from all the subject areas of your specialisation:

Master Thesis – 30 credits

The Master’s thesis is the core of your studies. On the basis of research you have carried out, you answer a specific question in this field and work out solutions that are relevant for research, industry and society.

You will find more information on working methods, research groups and possible topics for your Master’s thesis at...

3. Foundations

Advanced Life Science Skills – 18 credits

In six modules on two days per week (Thursday and Friday) in the region of Berne you prepare for your later scientific specialisation. These study weeks are a cooperative venture which you attend together with Master’s students from the BFH, FHNW and HES-SO.

You attend six modules out of a choice from the three degree programmes Life Sciences, Engineering and Social Work:

Entrepreneurial Skills – 12 credits

In a total of three seminar weeks at the ABZ in Spiez you learn how to understand and use the interfaces between your technical or scientific core area and the economic and social environment. These weeks are a cooperative venture which you attend together with Master’s  students from the BFH, FHNW and HES-SO.

You select three of the following five modules: