Course syllabus

Molecular Biology: Master's Degree Project

MOBM02 (30 cr), MOBN02 (45 cr), MOBN03 (60 cr), MOBY10 (30 cr, one-year master)

You can perform a Master's Degree project of 30, 45 or 60 credits in either General Molecular Biology, or in one of the specialisations: Medical Biology, Microbiology or Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology.

The prerequisites for a Master´s Degree Project in Molecular Biology is that you are accepted to the Master´s Program in Molecular Biology at Lund University, and have completed 45 credits of relevant, theoretical and advanced courses (specific for each specialisation).

Short instructions for supervisors.

Detailed instructions for students:

Instructions for performing a MSc degree project in Molecular Biology

Before the start

  1. Contact the study advisor Tina Ledje, at the Education Office in the Ecology building, to discuss the prerequisites for the master’s project. Tina will confirm that you are eligible to start the project by adding a signature on the registration form (pdf, 1 MB, new tab).
  2. Contact a supervisor within the area of your interest and discuss the general outline of the project. Before proceeding, you should show your CV and LADOK excerpt to the supervisor. Note that the project can be conducted outside the university, e.g. at a company. If you do not find what you want among our project proposals at our education blog or if you do not know what you want, your master’s programme/specialisation coordinators may give advice.
  3. Write a project plan together with your supervisor when you have decided about a project. The plan should be brief, but give a clear description of your specific project (2–3 A4 pages). The plan should contain:
    • Project title
    • Name and e-mail addresses to you and the supervisor
    • Topic (Molecular Biology), time for performing the project, and number of credits
    • Introduction, with a theoretical background to the project 
    • The specific aim(s) of your project
    • Methodology
    • Time plan (rough planning of the project). Remember to include time for writing of the report and preparations for the seminar. A 30 credits project should be about 20 weeks; 45 credits correspond to 30 weeks and 60 credits to 40 weeks (90, 135 or 180 workdays, respectively).
    • Key references (approximately 5-10)
  4. Contact your master's specialisation coordinator latest two weeks before the planned start of the project to get approval of your project and the project plan. NOTE: In case you want to do your project outside of Lund University, you have to get approval and the registration form completed and turned in to the Education office not later than 4 weeks before the start of the project. A preliminary shorter version of the plan is acceptable in advance, but it should be completed not later than by the end of the first week of the project.
  5. Register at the Education Office. You have to be registered before starting your project, otherwise, you will not be covered by insurance. Complete the registration form. The form should have been signed (in this order) by:
    • The study advisor, who checks that you fulfil the requirements
    • Yourself after reading these instructions
    • The supervisor
    • The coordinator for the Master’s programme/specialisation, who will look at the project plan, help you with questions around supervision and examination, and decide who should be the examiner of the project

To the form should be attached:

    • Project plan and time plan
    • CV and LADOK excerpt showing which courses you have taken.
  1. If you are going to work experimentally with research animals (including all vertebrates, octopuses and lampreys) during your degree project you need to complete a specific course including animal research ethics, regulations, care-taking/handling etc. Discuss with your supervisor if you need this course and if so you have to apply to the course about working with laboratory animals (pdf, 220 kB, new tab). Read the instructions and then fill in the application on the web.
  2. An internal supervisor will be appointed if the project is carried out outside of Lund University. The internal supervisor will assist in the supervision of the project and can not be an examiner of the project.

Also remember:

  • Projects to be performed during the summer must be registered before the 15 June.
  • If you will do the project abroad, you must arrange insurances. Tina Ledje at the Education office will help you.

The start

  1. Write a popularised description of the project. It is intended for posting on notice boards under ”Ongoing Master Projects”. This should include your name, title of the project, supervisor, a short summary of the project and a picture of yourself. Download the template for ongoing projects (pptx, 98 kB), insert a photo and then email this to
  2. During the degree project work, you make daily notes in a lab notebook. You will get a notebook at the Education Office. In this book, you document your project and register your activities (see below). You should also note if you take time off (like because of vacation, illness, malfunctioning machines etc), or other significant events. This lab notebook, together with the project plan, may be used in the final examination and grading of your project. You should bring the notebook to the examination. Your notebook may be important for a fair evaluation of the time spent on the project.

During the project

  1. Carefully document your work in the lab notebook. Make careful notes to document experimental designs, technical details of experiments, raw data, calculations, results, conclusions, and such. This will give you practice on how to document your work properly, and the notes will be essential when you write your final report. Further, your notebook will be extremely valuable for the research group that you work in. Therefore, write clearly so that your notes can be understood by others. Typically, this book will be left with your supervisor for future reference to your work and your results. You may make a copy of the notes for yourself.
  2. If something is not working the way you would like it to, like problems with your supervisor, contact your master’s programme/specialisation coordinator or contact person (if one has been appointed) as soon as possible. The earlier we start to discuss a problem the sooner we can solve them.
  3. You should participate in group meetings, seminars, and such that may be arranged in the group or at the department where you are working.
  4. It is advisable to start writing the report as soon as possible. Parts of the introduction and Materials & Methods can be written in parallel with your practical/theoretical work.

At half-time

A half-time checkpoint is done when half the time of the project has passed (after 10, 15, or 20 weeks, depending on whether you do a 30, 45, or 60 credit project, respectively). It is done as a self-evaluation. Download the instructions and form (docx, 61 kB) for this purpose. The form contains a number of questions that you and your supervisor should discuss and answer together. The form should be filled in, signed, and sent to your programme/specialisation coordinator.

When your half-time checkpoint has been approved by the coordinator, the credits (15, 22,5 or 30 credits respectively) will be registered in LADOK.

In exceptional cases, a project can be prolonged (for example from 30 credits to 45 credits). Such extension can only be done at or before the half-time checkpoint. The reasons for the prolongation have to be explained in written form to the examiner, and a new project plan has to be submitted. Prolongation is only approved if the project plan is de facto extended to include additional elements.

The report

  1. The project shall be presented as a scientific report in English. Your report should follow the instructions on how to write manuscripts for a scientific journal. Follow the specific instructions for master's degree projects in Molecular biology (PDF file, opens in a new window) Choose together with your supervisor an appropriate journal as a template. Get the ”Instructions for authors” through the journal’s website and study carefully how articles are written. Your report may deviate from these instructions on some points. For example, the layout should make the report easy to read, but also leave space for notes by opponent and examiner. Tables, figures, and figure legends should be embedded in the text, rather than collected on separate pages at the end like in a manuscript. Your report may be somewhat longer than a regular scientific paper. The goal is to sufficiently well explain chosen strategies, methods, obtained results, and interpretations so that they are understandable for other master's students in Molecular biology. Your report may include some preliminary or incomplete data (but should, in that case, be clearly stated). Finally, the report should not be excessively long. If your report would include data or work that others have contributed to or derive from work outside the time frame of your project, this should be made clear, for example in an Acknowledgement at the end. Follow the PDF instructions carefully, link above.
  2. Plagiarism. You are not allowed to present someone else’s work, such as text, figures, or results, without giving proper reference. This also applies to material you find on the Internet. You may of course refer to the works of others, but you must write about it in your own words and refer to the source of information in a correct way. If you quote someone, that is using someone else’s wording in your text, this must be clearly stated. The same applies if you would like to use someone else’s illustration. If you are unsure, you should discuss with your supervisor. To avoid and prevent cheating and plagiarism, all master theses written at the Department of Biology are sent to ”Ouriginal" (former Urkund, a program that uses internet/databases to scan a report for copied and plagiarised text. Your text is also added to the database, which prevents the contents of your thesis to be plagiarised by another student in the future.
  3. Write a popular science summary of your project, which must be approved by your supervisor before the examination. Read the guidelines for writing the popular science summary (doc, 25 kB). Also, let some of your fellow master students read and give feedback on your popular science summary. The popularised summary shall be included in the report that you hand in to the examiner and opponent so that it can be evaluated together with the report.

The examination

  1. The examination committee consists of:
    • Examiner. The programme/specialisation coordinator will act as an examiner or appoint another senior professor from a relevant discipline in the Department of Biology.
    • External reviewer, or the external opponent. This person could come from another department, or from a different discipline within the Department of Biology. The External reviewer is appointed by the examiner.
    • Supervisor, who will take part in the discussion, but not in the decision (exactly like at a PhD dissertation). If the supervisor cannot attend the meeting of the committee (e.g. for external projects), he/she shall provide a written evaluation of the project or discuss directly with the examiner on the telephone.
  2. Date, time for the seminar shall be decided by the examiner.
  3. Submission of the thesis. The thesis should be submitted at least one week before the seminar. You should submit your final and complete thesis including the popular summary. The submission is done by sending the complete thesis to the examiner via the URKUND system using the email address: (i.e., 
    NOTE! You must also send the report directly to the opponent at least one week before the seminar.
  4. Announcing the seminar. You should communicate date, time, and venue for the seminar, together with the title page of the report and names of opponent and examiner to who will assist in advertising the seminar to other students and faculty members.
  5. Seminar. At the examination, you will give a presentation (about 20–30 min). After your presentation, the examination committee will ask you questions and discuss your report and project, and thereafter the audience will be invited to ask questions. Finally, the examination committee has an internal discussion before the examiner decides about the grading of the project. A specific form is used for reporting the grading (pdf, 528 kB). The examiner is responsible for reporting the grade to the Education office (where it will be registered in LADOK).
  6. Grades. According to a decision by the Faculty of Science at LU (Dnr N 2008/549), there are two general criteria to reach the grade “Pass with distinction” (väl godkänd):
    • “The student undertaking the degree project shall have demonstrated a good ability to independently complete a research task. This includes demonstrating creative skills with regard to formulating a problem, solving a problem and drawing conclusions, as well as the ability to place his or her results in a wider subject context, for example, a research problem area or a relevant area of application. The written and oral presentations of the degree project shall be of high quality.”
    • “The total amount of time taken to complete the project must not have exceeded the timetable by more than 20 per cent.”

Thus, in order to have the possibility of obtaining the highest degree (pass with distinction/väl godkänd) a degree project cannot exceed the stipulated time with more than 20% (for example about 18 working days for a 30 credits project). Further criteria for grading, as applied in the Department of Biology (pdf, 132 kB, new tab). If the degree project does not fulfil the requirements for “Pass” (Godkänd), the student will be given instructions about how to improve the work to reach the grade “Pass”.

After the examination

  1. Make the last corrections and adjustments of the written report. You will be given the possibility (and are expected) to incorporate the changes suggested by the examination committee into the final version of your report. 
  2. Hand in the final version of your report to the Education Office. First, make sure that the examiner approves the final version of the report. The report and the popular science summary should then be handed in both as a pdf and a Word file to Jóhanna B. Jónsdóttir ( within two weeks after the examination. Your report, or at least the abstract and title, will be published at Lund University’s Master’s thesis database (LUP Student Papers), Check at It should be noted that reports in this database are publicly available, which should be taken into account if some parts of your work should remain confidential. If you publish the whole report, this will be regarded as a publication and you can not publish the work in other outlets, like scientific journals. Therefore, discuss with your supervisor if you should publish only the abstract or the whole thesis at LUP Student Papers.
  3. Please also complete the master’s evaluation form. You will get the web address from the Education Office to the evaluation in an email.
  4. Apply for your degree certificate. You need to apply for your degree certificate at the Degree office. You apply for your certificate online through the Student Portal. Log in to the Student portal with your student ID and follow the instructions on the LADOK folder. You apply for the degree “Master (120 credits)” in “Molecular Biology” (major subject) with specialisation in “…” (if applicable). Contact Tina Ledje if you have questions. It may take up to three months for the Degree office to award the certificate.

Programme coordinators:

Main Coordinator

Claes von Wachenfeldt
046-222 34 56, Room B-A223, Biology Building

Specialisation in Medical Biology

Bodil Sjögreen
046-222 93 48, Room B-B205, Biology Building

Lars Råberg
046-222 37 66, Room B-B207, Biology building

Specialisation in Microbiology

Fredric Carlsson
046-222 41 97, Room B-A315, Biology Building

Klas Flärdh
046-222 84 85, Room B-A222a, Biology Building

Specialisation in Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology 

Marita Cohn
046-222 72 56, Room B-A107A, Biology Building

Olivier Van Aken
046-2229413, Room B-A330, Biology Building

Molecular biology, general and One-year Master’s (Magister)

Wolfgang Knecht
046-222 77 85, Room B-A128, Biology Building

David O'Carroll
046-222 95 87, Room B-C108, Biology building

Torbjörn Säll
046-222 78 58, Room B-A334, Biology Building