Developmental Biology, Physiology and Nutrition

  • Years2 Years
  • ECTS credits120

Main content


Objectives and content

Developmental Biology, Physiology and Nutrition is a specialisation in the Master's Programme in Biology.

Developmental biology, physiology and nutrition 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, nutrient uptake essential to its life processes.

Developmental biology, physiology and nutrition are at the core of understanding the evolutionary relationships between organisms and their abilities to adapt to different environments and ecological communities. Knowledge of development and physiological processes is central to understanding how living animals function and are adapted to their living environment at the molecular, cellular, organ and individual level. Nutrition is central to understanding the need for nutrients through development and how hormones and metabolites regulate genes and proteins in the body to maintain growth and development. Such knowledge is important, for example, in the mapping and understanding of fish farming conditions and negative environmental effects (climate, pollution and disease).

The field of study is interdisciplinary and requires broad biological understanding, as well as knowledge in chemistry and molecular biology, including bioinformatics. In the study programme, one will connect insight into anatomical structure, cellular function, and physiology and nutrition, with knowledge of the structure of the genome's function and molecular mechanisms.

The field uses, in addition to descriptive analyses, also functional experimental approaches to better understand biological processes. By manipulating genes and gene expression (genetic engineering) in model organisms, one 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, effects of nutrient on developing processes; smoltification, 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, physiology and nutrition, 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

A candidate who has completed their qualifications should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The candidate:

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


The candidate:

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

General competence

The candidate:

  • can analyze key scientific issues in developmental biology, physiology or nutrition in relation to their own and others' work and community needs.
  • has detailed knowledge of the subject's working methods and has obtained training in working independently, and as part of a team, with challenging tasks within the field.
  • can work in accordance with scientific principles and has understanding and respect for transparency, accuracy, accountability and the importance of distinguishing between facts and opinions.
  • can present, orally and in writing, research results put into context of existing knowledge, also to non-specialists.
  • can discuss their research field in public discussions.

How to Apply


Autumn (main admission) & Spring (supplementary admission if not all spots are filled)

Admission Requirements

In order to apply for the Master Programme in Biology, you need a bachelor degree in biology or related field. You must hold a minimum of:

  • 60 ECTS in biology
  • 7,5 ECTS in chemistry that must include lab work
  • 7,5 ECTS in statistics
  • 7,5 ECTS in mathematics

Bachelor degrees from UiB that qualify:

  • Bachelor's degree in Biology,
  • Bachelor's degree in Sustainable Aquaculture,
  • Bachelor's degree in Environment and Resources (Natural Sciences specialisation, Biology track)

Bachelor degrees that qualify:

Other bachelor degrees may qualify, if they include the required subjects listed above

You also need to document:

More information

About the programme

See full study plan