Developmental Biology and Physiology

  • Years2 years
  • ECTS credits120


Objectives and content

The specialization in Developmental Biology and Physiology investigates the formation and function of organisms. Development of a multicellular organism starts from a one cell zygote which undergoes a phase of rapid cell divisions. This is followed by cell migration, cell-cell communication, and reorganization to form an organism with different cell types and organs which perform various physiological processes essential to its life processes.

Developmental Biology and Physiology are at the centre of understanding the evolutionary relationships between organisms and their abilities to adapt to different environments and ecological communities. They are also important disciplines in understanding disease states, both inherited and environmental and in developing core strategies for therapies and/or preventative measures. It is an interdisciplinary research field that requires broad understanding of biology and knowledge in mathematics (bioinformatics), chemistry and molecular biology. Developmental Biology and Physiology is a research field where, in addition to descriptive analyzes, we also use functional experimental approaches to better understand biological processes. By manipulating genes and gene expression (genetic engineering), we can study the roles of specific genes, or sets of interacting genes, in these processes. It is a challenging and very interesting field requiring synthetic thinking and analysis on both temporal and spatial scales. Computational and systems skills are also increasingly used as powerful analytical and synthesis approaches.

Research ranges from studies of developmental biology in urochordates ; evolution and development of the notochord in fish , development of digestion, nutrient absorption and appetite in fish endocrine regulation of growth and energy metabolism in fish, smolting , transformation from freshwater to seawater Atlantic salmon, endocrine regulation of osmoregulation , cellular mechanisms for osmoregulation; molecular mechanisms of light detection, vision and light regulated biological processes ; and fish brain plasticity through development .

Most of the projects will related to salmon, cod, halibut, zebrafish and tunicates.

The aim of the program is to give students a broad knowledge of the field of developmental biology and physiology, an understanding of the structure and function of organisms, research in the field, and a good understanding of current issues in the discipline and its role in society.

The Master's degree will form the student for a wide range of jobs where understanding of complex biological systems, structure and function are important. It will also provide the student with good skills in experimental design, data analysis and interpretation.

What you Learn

Learning Outcomes

The specialization in Developmental Biology and Physiology focuses on how living animal are formed and function, and how they are adapted to their environment - at the molecular, cellular, organ and individual level.


  • Understanding of chemical and molecular processes that take place within and between cells and tissues. The understanding shall be sufficient for you to describe and explain both the processes and their impact on properties , development and evolution of living organisms.
  • Ability to select, develop and apply appropriate methods and experimental design to extend our biological knowledge.
  • Knowledge of how developmental modules and signaling pathways have an important impact on evolutionary adaptation to the environment and the formation of new species.


After completing the master's degree you will:

  • Be able to work independently and creatively in the laboratory.
  • Be familiar with relevant research questions in developmental biology and physiology, and be able to put forward hypotheses and choose, adapt and perform molecular, cellular and physiological experiments to test these hypotheses.
  • Be able to find and read relevant scientific articles and acquire a critical understanding of these
  • understand relevant methodology.
  • Be able to retrieve, analyze and apply new knowledge within the field
  • Be able to analyze, interpret and discuss their own data in an academic and critical manner, in light of data and theories in the field.
  • Be able to communicate scientific topics and research results orally and in writing both for specialists and popular science audiences.
  • Be able to manage and present quantitative data, discuss the precision and accuracy and to use the basic statistical principles

General competence

  • You should be able to analyze key scientific issues in developmental biology and physiology in relation to your own and others' work and community needs.
  • The candidates should be very familiar with the subject's working methods and have obtained training in working independently, and as part of a team, with challenging tasks within the field.
  • After completing the master's program, candidates will be able to work in accordance with scientific principles and have understanding and respect for transparency, accuracy , accountability and the importance of distinguishing between facts and opinions.
  • Be able to present, orally and in writing, research results put into context of existing knowledge, also to non-specialists.
  • Be able to discuss the student's research field in public discussions.

How to Apply



Admission Requirements

In order to qualify for admission to the Master's Programme in Biology, you must fulfill the following criteria:

1) hold a Bachelor's degree in Biology or related field

2) document university courses covering the following:

  • 80 ECTS in Biology, which must cover the following fields: Zoology, Botany, Microbiology, Cell Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Physiology, Evolution and Ecology
  • 20 ECTS in Chemistry, whereof 10 ECTS must include lab work
  • 10 ECTS in Statistics
  • 10 ECTS in Mathematics (excluded in GPA calculation)

3) have obtained a minimum average grade equivalent to ECTS grade C / US grade B for the above-mentioned courses (excluded:10 ECTS in Mathematics)

Use this GPA calculator to check if your average grade compares to a US grade B.

4) document proficiency in the English language, read how here

The main intake is in the autumn. A supplementary intake in the spring is available (only for Nordic citizens and applicants residing in Norway) if not all spots have been filled.

Number of international applicants (EU/EEA/EFTA and non-EU/EEA/EFTA) residing abroad admitted to each specialisation, per intake: max. 2 students.

Follow the guidelines on how to apply depending on which applicant group you belong to:


More information

About the programme

See full study plan


Department of Biological Sciences (BIO)

For more information please contact the study advisor at the Department of Biological Sciences: studie@bio.uib.no