Biological and Environmental Sciences

Biology is the science of living nature. It describes and examines the appearance of all living things and their complex interaction. Environmental science, on the other hand, deals with the effects of human influences on the environment.

The field of study at a glance

The biological sciences deal with the processes or structures of living things. How does the human body work? How does the behavior of different animal species differ from each other? And how are plants structured? Biologists, for example, address these and many other questions. You observe, document, create mathematical models and hypotheses and experiment in order to gain insights from the processes and phenomena of nature. Environmental scientists work in a more interdisciplinary manner, for example by observing and investigating human-caused pressures on the natural cycle.

This field of study is closely linked to the other natural sciences. For example, biochemistry, biophysics, biomathematics and bioinformatics have emerged from common border areas. Life sciences can also be found as a basic science in other study programs, e.g. in medicine, pharmacy, agricultural sciences or nutritional science.

Course offered

In principle, there are four major areas of study related to biology:

  • Classical biology explores the development, blueprint and biochemical processes of living things - from microorganisms (microbiology) to plants (botany) and animals (zoology) to people (anthropology). A possible specialization is, for example, marine biology.
  • The biological sciences include several subjects and disciplines: They combine biological content with knowledge from other scientific disciplines to describe processes and natural laws that affect all living things. These include cell biology, biophysics, biochemistry, pharmacy and nutritional sciences or evolutionary biology, which looks at the origin and development of all living things.
  • Environmental sciences, also known as “life sciences”, take a holistic look at different ecosystems. This is specifically about the effects of human actions on nature and how damage can be avoided or remedied. The “Environmental Technology” field of study finds technical solutions for this.
  • Bioengineering combines biology with engineering. These include bionics, which develops technical solutions based on models found in nature, biomechanics, which examines the musculoskeletal systems of living beings according to the laws of mechanics, and biotechnology, which aims to make living organisms usable through technical measures - for example through genetic engineering. Thanks to their high application relevance, these areas are of great importance for industry or medicine.

Contents of the course

The biological bachelor's degree includes modules such as cell and molecular biology, botany and botanical systematics, zoology, biochemical and biophysical principles, neurobiology, microbiology, cell biology, genetics, biodiversity of the animal and plant world, ecology, evolution and systematics of animals and plants, morphology, Developmental biology, behavioral biology, physiology and biochemistry of plants. Particularly in the interdisciplinary courses, the basic scientific principles are taught in the subjects of mathematics, physics and chemistry, as well as in engineering or computer science.

Depending on the university, the master's program offers specializations such as molecular biology/cell biology, biochemistry/biophysics, bioinformatics, biotechnology, biodiversity/ecology, parasitology/virology, physiology, neurobiology and developmental biology as well as environmental sciences.

Admission criteria & application for study

Around two thirds of bachelor's degree programs in biology have local admission restrictions. Some universities use the dialogue-oriented service process (DoSV) of the Foundation for University Admissions to allocate their limited study places.

Career opportunities after graduation

Biologists without a teaching qualification (for teaching qualifications see “Teacher training in the federal states”) predominantly find employment at universities and research institutions. You also work in the pharmaceutical industry (e.g. as a pharmaceutical consultant or for the clinical testing of drugs), in the chemical and food industry, in medical technology, in the brewing industry, for service providers in the area of documentation and research, and for authorities that deal with the environment - and health protection laws. They can also find work at media companies as well as in training and further education.