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Plant diversity and evolution - a global perspective

The course provides advanced knowledge of the diversity of terrestrial plants, their structure and evolution from a comparative phylogenetic perspective. You will face extant land plant diversity by hands-on studies of living material. You will become an expert in describing plants as well as identifying their proper position in the land plant phylogeny.

A coastal view, land and sea, over Gialova in Greece.
Photo: Jan-Niklas Nuppenau

The basis for the practical studies is the large and diverse collections of living material in our green houses, but we also use plants from the nearby Bergius Botanic Garden. This diversity is not only expressed in morphology and phylogenetic position; our plants also represent a vast span of global geographic distributions and climate zones. Even though modern systematics is based on molecular data there are also fossil taxa with important stories to tell, especially in the light of tree thinking. Ongoing systematic research at our department is presented by the researchers themselves, and this is also done by colleagues at the Bergius Botanic Gardens and the Swedish Museum of Natural History. Mediterranean vegetation and flora are studied through a one-week field trip that most often goes to Greece. Your individual project is shaped like a proper research venture, and it will take you into the world of molecules by means of utilising DNA sequences that you have produced yourself from scratch starting with a plant you have collected. The end-product in your project is presented orally but also in the shape of a shortish scientific paper. The course is a perfect step if you want to continue your studies with a degree project, preferably in plant systematics, but it is useful also within other biology disciplines.

  • Course structure

    Teaching format

    The education comprises lectures most often mirrored by studies of the corresponding plants after lunch (in a laboratory). There are also presentations about ongoing research, a few study visits, a week long excursion, and an individual project (c. 3 weeks). Everything except lectures and the excursion is compulsory.

    Learning outcomes

    A list of the learning outcomes can be found in the syllabus. Please find the link to the syllabus on the right side of this page.


    Measurement of knowledge takes place through written examination.


    Gitte Petersen


  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    Blamey et al.: Wild flowers of the Mediterranean 2:nd edition. A & C Black Publishers 2004. ISBN: 9780713670158.

    Simpson, GM: Plant systematics. 3:rd edition. Elsevier 2019. ISBN: 9780128126288.

  • Contact

    Student office
    Study counsellor (advanced level)