Stockholm university logo, link to start page
Gå till denna sida på svenska webben

Master's Programme in Ethology

  • 120 credits

This programme offers you a solid grounding in ethology as well as deeper insight into the latest research in the subject. The evolution, genetics and function of behaviour form the foundation. You will gain skills and experience in research methods and analytical techniques, which open up a wide variety of career possibilities.

Information for admitted students Autumn 2020

Congratulations! You have been admitted at Stockholm University and we hope that you will enjoy your studies with us.

In order to ensure that your studies begin as smoothly as possible we have compiled a short checklist for the beginning of the semester.

Follow the instructions on wether you have to reply to your offer or not.


Checklist for admitted students

  1. Activate your university account

    The first step in being able to register and gain access to all the university's IT services.

  2. Register at your department

    Registration can be done in different ways. Read the instructions from your department below.

  3. Read all the information on this page

    Here you will find what you need to know before your course or programme starts.


Your seat may be withdrawn if you do not register according to the instructions provided by your department.

Information from the department - programmes

Welcome to the Department of Biological Education! We are happy to be part of your student experience and contribute to your future success.

In order to get you off to a good start, we have gathered the important things you need to know here. Read through carefully and if you have any questions, please contact us.


Starting in the autumn term, we will make a partial return to campus-based teaching, to the degree possible. Compulsory teaching will to a large extent be given on campus, adapted according to the guidelines of the Public Health Authority. Parts of the teaching will be given online to reduce the spread of infection. Read more about the teaching at BIG in autumn 2020.


As a new programme student you are called to an introduction week and a compulsory roll call, the week before start of term. Note! As a Master's student you should, well in advance of the roll call, check if you have any conditions on your admission. See "Eligible with condition" below.

Note that the roll call is compulsory and if you do not participate you can loose your place on the programme. If you are unable to attend you must contact the student office latest one hour before the roll call starts.

After the roll call you will be registered on the programme and the autumn courses.

Introduction to Master's programmes

Eligible with conditions

If you did not meet all the eligibility requirements for the course when you applied then you are eligible with conditions. It is stated in your acceptance letter from if you are eligible with conditions. In that case, you cannot be registered as the department must first assess your eligibility.

Conditions for master's programmes are almost always that you need to complete your Bachelor's degree. You must meet the condition before the programme starts and a completed Bachelor's education should be documented in University admissions or Ladok (the Swedish student registry). If you will not meet the conditions in time you should decline your place.

Check the requirements under "Eligibility" here on the course page. As soon as you meet the requirements, send a message to with the following information:

  • Subject line: Terms
  • Your name
  • Which programme you are admitted to

If you have questions about your condition, you can contact the study counsellor.

Read about eligibility

Studying with a disability

If you need special pedagogical support, you can apply for support measurs. You should apply as soon as possible after you have been admitted to take advantage of the best possible support.

Read how to apply for support

Once you have your Nais certificate, contact the study counsellor for a meeting where we will go through the support measured. After the meeting, you should contact the course coordinators for the courses you will attend and inform them that you have been granted support, so that they can prepare well.

Declining your place

If you no longer want your place, it is important that you decline your place so that another applicant can get the place. Please note that you can only decline your place at before the roll call. Declining the place after roll call is counted as having dropped the programme.

Declining your place at

Reserve place

If you have been given a reserve place you may be admitted if someone declines their place. Reserve admission mainly takes place in connection with the roll call. If there is cause for reserve admission then you will receive notice one to two weeks before the roll call.

More information about your studies with us

On our website you will find more information about your studies with us.

Welcome activities

Stockholm University organises a series of welcome activities that stretch over a few weeks at the beginning of each semester. The programme is voluntary (attendance is optional) and includes Arrival Service at the airport and an Orientation Day, see more details about these events below.
Your department may also organise activities for welcoming international students. More information will be provided by your specific department. 

Find your way on campus

Stockholm University's main campus is in the Frescati area, north of the city centre. While most of our departments and offices are located here, there are also campus areas in other parts of the city.

Find your way on campus

Read more

New student

During your studies

Student unions

For new international students

Pre-departure information

New in Sweden

You will study how animals communicate and solve conflicts, the social structure of animal communities, pair formation and reproduction in animals, and how competition and co-operation can develop. How behaviour develops during the life of the individual and how learning and experience influence patterns of behaviour is discussed. Moreover, the genetic background, evolution (both at the micro- and macroevolutionary scale) and function of behaviour are discussed. Knowledge of ethology is important in many fields of biology. These fields include ecology, evolutionary biology, neurobiology and conservation biology. Ethology also has applications outside of the scientific sphere. For instance, one important application for ethology concerns the requirements of ethical treatment of animals and animal well-being.

Reasons to choose a Master in Ethology

  • Broad education in Ethology suitable for diverse carrers involving animal behaviour
  • Excellent opportunities for practical studies in the laboratory and at Tovetorp research station
  • Flexible programme allows you to create your own direction based on your interests
  • Programme overview

    The compulsory courses within the Master’s programme in Ethology will give you a strong foundation in ethology, including mate choice, animal cognition and human behaviour.

    The elective and optional courses create flexibility in the programme allowing you to adapt your studies to your chosen career path. You are required to choose at least 22.5 credits of the elective courses listed below (updated each year). You can also include at least 15 credits of optional courses, these are any course that is not compulsory or elective and can be in other subjects or taken at another university.

    During the compulsory independent project, the degree project, you will apply the knowledge and skills you have developed, in conducting a scientific study within ethology.

    Year 1

    Compulsory courses

    Mate choice

    Biological Statistics II

    Animal Cognition

    Human Behaviour: Biology and Culture

    Elective courses

    Ecological and evolutionary responses to climatic variation

    Interactions in Ecological Communities

    Molecular Ecology

    Baltic Sea Ecosystem: Applications, Modeling and Management

    Year 2

    Compulsory courses

    Degree project in Ethology
    (instructions apply for all degree projects at the department)

    Elective courses

    Biodiversity: Patterns and Processes

    Biological Statistics III

    Evolutionary Ecology

    Paleoecology, genetics and human prehistory

    Science in Biological Research and Investigation

    Systematic Zoology (swe)

    Traineeship in Biology

    Advanced Research Traineeship

    Independent project

    Degree projects, which are 30, 45 or 60 credits, are carried out within ongoing research projects at the Department of Zoology, within the current broad research themes within Ethology: adaptive colouration, animal personality, brain evolution, cognition, collective behaviour, foraging decisions, sexual selection, and social behaviour. It is also possible to conduct the degree project externally, at a research institute, organisation or company.

    Recent degree projects

    • Levelling the field: Applying the open field test in situ on voles in the Swedish mountain range
    • Investigating traits affecting dominance in domestic fowl: The role of comb size, aggression and age
    • The effect of brain size on associative learning and behavioural flexibility in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata)
  • How to apply

    The Master's programme in Ethology is only open for application in the first round, with deadline for applications in mid-January.

    The programme requires a solid background, e.g., a major, in biology as well as a basic understanding in ethology/animal behaviour. 

    Selection process

    Additional eligibility criteria

    Applicants that meet the eligibility requirements are ranked based on their merit rating. Only students with the highest merit ratings are selected for our programmes. The merit rating is based on the following four selection criteria, with equal weight:

    • relevance of previous studies in relation to the programme
    • grades of academic courses
    • motivation letter
    • research ideas

    Required supporting documentation

    To submit your motivation letter and research ideas you must use our cover letter form.

    Cover letter/Motivation letter
    The form is only available when applications are open.

    Recommendation letters and CVs are not concidered.

  • Career opportunities

    A Master's degree in Ethology opens up a diverse range of career opportunities. Completion of the Master’s program gives you eligibility for PhD studies.

    Beyond being an important academic subject ethology is highly relevant in careers where an understanding of animal behaviour is important, including animal parks and zoos, animal husbandry and within animal welfare and environmental agencies.

  • Contact