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  • Evolutionary Biology

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Our courses in the Electronic Course Catalogue

Below you will find an overview of the wide range of seminars, courses and research opportunities we offer in the Department of Evolutionary Biology. We contribute to teaching throughout the relevant Bachelor and Master programmes, and hope you will be able to find something suitable for you whatever the stage of your studies here in Bielefeld.

In the Evolution Seminar, we discuss recent findings in evolutionary biology and evolutionary ecology. These typically come from current projects and research modules, Bachelor and Master theses, as well as PhD dissertations conducted in the Department. Furthermore, collaboration partners and guests from other universities also regularly visit to present their work. This informal seminar offers a great opportunity to gain an insight into active research in our department and beyond, and students at all levels are always welcome to attend. Talks are given in English, but presentation of student projects and participation in the discussion in German is always possible. A continuously updated overview over the program can be found on the main page. If you are interested in getting weekly invitations on the day before the seminar please forward your email address to Prof. Dr. Klaus Reinhold ( Credit points can be earned, for example by writing an essay on a selected presentation of the seminar series.

For second-year or third-year Bachelor students, we offer a special module "Key Concepts in Evolutionary Ecology" (Theoretische Grundlagen der evolutionären Ökologie), within which students develop a deeper understanding of some selected aspects of current evolutionary research. Topics that we cover typically include natural and sexual selection, life-history evolution, evolutionary conflicts and speciation. The module will shed light on the diversity of ideas and approaches developed for understanding fundamental questions in evolutionary biology. Among other things, you will learn how to critically read, evaluate and discuss the primary literature. For questions related to this course, contact Dr. Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar.

Module offered in the summer semester and delivered mostly (or entirely) in English.


This weekly course aims to provide a detailed but simple and clear introduction to Evidence Synthesis with a special focus on current methodological developments in Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. The course will include practical guidelines on how to perform, read and evaluate this essential type of scientific literature. In addition, the course will be taught within the framework of Open Science, with lectures exclusively focused on explaining important concepts in Open Science, and open science principles sprinkled throughout all lectures. Credit points can be earned through regular active participation in lectures, and by writing reports and doing exercises. In addition, lectures may include some reading preparation in advance. This course is open to all levels, including Bachelor, Master and PhD students. For any questions, feel free to get in touch with Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar (

Module offered by Dr. Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar during the winter semester and delivered entirely in English.


This weekly course is designed for biologists to develop their scientific writing skills. It aims at biologists at any stage of their university career from bachelor, to master and doctoral students. The course consists of four hours per week per semester. The course allocates two hours to in-person lectures and discussions on specific components of scientific writing. These lectures and discussions are complemented by two hours of carefully chosen exercises of a diverse nature. The two-hour exercise component of the course takes place at a time that suits the students, to accommodate the different schedules and writing paces and experiences of each participant. The course will explore multiple examples of scientific writing, for instance, how to write BSc, MSc and PhD dissertations (depending on demand), but also how to write abstracts for manuscripts, conferences or grant proposals. Overall, the course offers a goal-orientated, hands-on approach to scientific writing, and will accommodate on-demand requests from the daily scientific work of the participants.

Module offered by Dr. Maria Moiron during the winter semester and delivered entirely in English.


During the third year of the Bachelor programme, we are happy to host you if you want to conduct a project module in our department. We offer exciting research projects on a variety of different topics and using a range of different model systems (e.g. birds, insects, flatworms). Results may be presented as a short talk in the Evolution Seminar or as a scientific poster presentation. For further details, please visit the student projects page or the webpages of individual staff members to get an overview of our research, and then contact the member of staff you would be interested in working with directly.

Module offered continuously as agreed upon with the chosen supervisor(s).


In the first year of the Master programme Behaviour: From Neural Mechanisms to Evolution, we run the master module E: Evolution of Behaviour. During this module, you will learn to understand behaviour from an evolutionary perspective. Following introductory lectures, you will design compact research projects using insects as model organisms. Experiments are then conducted on a two-week field trip to Greece that forms the middle part of the module. On the return to Bielefeld, the results of the projects are analysed and presented in the form of an oral presentation and a scientific paper.

Module offered in summer semester and delivered in English.


In the second year of the Master programme, we are happy to host Master students who want to conduct a research module in our department. We offer exciting research projects on a variety of different topics and using a range of different model systems (e.g. birds, insects, flatworms). Projects will be explore novel aspects of current research in our department and will therefore directly contribute to a better understanding of evolutionary processes. For further details, please visit the student projects page or the webpages of individual staff members to get an overview of our research, and then contact the member of staff you would be interested in working with directly.

Module offered continuously as agreed upon with the chosen supervisor(s).


Open Science ist ein interdisziplinäres Thema von wachsender Bedeutung – auch bereits im Studium. Im alltägli-chen Forschungsbetrieb bleibt häufig wenig Zeit für Open Science und/oder Teilaspekte wie Open Access oder Open Data, jedoch ist Open Science zunehmend politisch gewollt. Mit den wohl begründeten öffentlichen Forderungen nach Transparenz der Forschung, effizienter Nutzung von Forschungsgeldern und Offenlegung öffentliche finanzierter Forschungsprodukte (z.B. Daten, Code, etc.) im Hintergrund, hängen zunehmend auch Forschungsgelder an diesen Voraussetzungen.

Kenntnis der grundlegenden Ideen von Open Science, der Probleme die Open Science adressiert, den Teilthemenfeldern und Methoden von Open Science, den Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschieden in der Open Science Kultur zwischen verschiedenen Fachdisziplinen werden daher Schlüssel-Kompetenzen für eine nachwachsende Generation von Forschenden sein. Während jungen Forschenden in der Vergangenheit noch oft (nicht zu Unrecht) gesagt wurde, dass die Zeit, die sie in Open Science investierten für ihre Karriere verloren sei, wird es in Zukunft so sein, dass kein Forschender in der öffentlich finanzierten Forschung mehr Karriere machen kann, ohne Open Science zu praktizieren. Dies findet auch in dem geflügelten Wort Ausdruck „Open Science is just Science done right!“.

Das Seminar richtet sich an alle Studierenden, die sich für das Thema Open Science interessieren und in besondrem Maße an Studierende die eine Karriere im wissenschaftlichen Bereich in Erwägung ziehen. Sei es direkt in der Forschung, in der Forschungsförderung, dem Wissenschaftsmanagement oder der Wissenschaftspolitik. Aber auch für Studierende mit einem Interesse für Forschung ohne eigene Forschungsabsicht ist das Seminar relevant. Zu verstehen in welcher Weise Open Science die Forschung transparenter macht erlaubt es, offen publizierte Forschung in viel größerem Maße zu durchdringen. Das Seminar findet ausschließlich Online in Zoom statt.

Module offered in both the winter and the summer semesters in collaboration with other departments at the University and delivered mostly in German, with some lectures delivered in English.


The Stats Club is designed as a regular meeting for discussing and dissecting applied biostatistical problems. It offers an on-demand, goal-orientated, hands-on approach to experimental design and statistical treatment of ecological & evolutionary data from the daily scientific work of the participants. Any questions, arising either before or after experiments are carried out, can be handed in and will be disseminated among participants before meetings take place. This will provide background for a joint discussion of the issue, fuelling insight by the collective statistical expertise of all participants. The Stats Club is particularly suitable if you are planning or analysing your own experiments during project, research and master modules or Bachelor and Master theses. If you are interested in getting weekly invitations and materials on the day before the Club meets please forward your email address to Dr. Tim Schmoll ( Credit points will be granted for example for writing an essay on a selected presentation or statistical problem discussed in the Club.

Every Tuesday during semester time at 9.15 in VHF 211


For first-year Bachelor students we offer an introduction to evolutionary biology within the basic module Biologie II. During these sessions, you will become acquainted with central concepts such as selection, allelic frequency change, and phylogenies. The complementary practical parts are designed to enable active learning, and you are encouraged to work hands-on and self-dependently on a few instructive exercises.

Module offered in summer semester and delivered in German.


For second-year Bachelor students we offer a more thorough introduction to evolutionary thinking within the advanced module Verhalten und neuronale Mechanismen. The evolutionary part of this module covers a selected range of fundamental topics, from the logic of evolutionary explanations, to mechanisms of microevolution, through to understanding phylogenetic relationships between taxa. The sessions are interactive and include practical parts. We particularly encourage discussions among participants that will familiarize you with the basic evolutionary terms, concepts and methods and how they can be applied to the evolution of behaviour and biodiversity in general. There are currently different variants of the advanced module, which differ in the number of session on evolutionary topics.

Module offered in winter semester and delivered in German.


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