Specialisations - MSc Biobased Sciences

This page contains short descriptions of the courses and the different chair groups within each specialisation.

A - Biomass Production and Carbon Capture

Sea kale

focuses on understanding how we can use our knowledge in plant physiology, genetics and plant biotechnology to produce crops suitable for a Biobased Economy. Several aspects will determine which crops are most suitable for which applications and how you can grow them in the best way.

Different production systems will be discussed, indoors vs outdoor and terrestrial vs aquatic, as well as how crops can improve for different production systems and for biomass quality for a biorefinery.

Courses to choose from

BPE-35306 Microalgae Biotechnology

Micro-algae and cyanobacteria, are an abundant source to tap products that can contribute to human health and well-being. They contain high-value food ingredients, bulk chemicals, lipids and protein. This course focusses on a mathematical description of microalgal growth in photobioreactors to optimize the production.

CSA-21306 Seagriculture: Seaweed Biology and Cultivation

This course deals with the biology, agronomy, physiology and ecology of seaweeds, in order to analyse cultivation, ecophysiology and ecology in marine systems vs. terrestrial systems.

CSA-30306 Advanced Crop Physiology

Molecular biology has made impressive strides in elucidating the molecular regulation of processes in plants, and the challenge is to understand what this means for processes in real crops as this is the level at which farmers act to produce food, forage, fibre, and fuel.

FEM-30806 Resource Dynamics and Sustainable Utilization

This course deals with the extraction of resources from natural ecosystems. Resource usage includes the exploitation of timber, the collection of fruits and resin, the extraction of wood for biomass production, hunting of animals.

FTE-34806 Modelling of Biobased Production Systems

Advanced biobased production systems combine product flows and waste flows from plant and animal production processes with novel bioprocessing technologies. It is often expensive to test these systems in a pilot plant, so mathematical models of the process can be a powerful tool to predict the performance and behaviour of the proposed system solutions.

PBR-30306 Breeding for Stress Tolerance and Quality

In current agriculture, abiotic and biotic stress are the main reasons that yield potential and quality aspects are difficult to realize for many crops. During this course, breeding techniques for resistance against these stresses are addressed to improve the yield and its quality.

PBR-31306 Bioresources

This course deals with recent developments in the agronomy of biomass production, methods for classical and marker-assisted plant breeding, and metabolic engineering of biosynthetic pathways.

PBR-37306 Advanced Bioresources (compulsory)

This course deepens the basis knowledge taught in the Bioresources course. It aims to develop new biomass production systems that are better adapted to a Circular and Biobased Economy, by improving crops and finding new solutions.

PPS-30306 Quantitative Analysis of Land Use Systems (QUALUS)

Problems associated with food security and depletion of natural resources and the need for economically viable and socially acceptable systems, make redesign of the land use system necessary. This course presents an overview of quantitative methods for regional and farm level land use analysis and design.

Thesis directions

Bioprocess Engineering - Microalgal Research

Photosynthetic microorganisms use a direct route to convert inorganic carbon into functional molecules while employing sunlight. Our mission is to develop a commercial and sustainable production chain for food, feed, chemistry and energy from microalgae and cyanobacteria.

Crop Physiology

This chair group aims to contribute to the understanding of how plants function. How do they respond to changes in their sometimes hostile environment? How do they cope with stresses and how do they adapt and interact with other organisms?

Plant Breeding

The research in this chair group focusses on characterisation, conservation and use of genetic material. This means that collections of plants are built; knowledge about instruments for detection, quantification and efficient utilisation of genetic variation is enlarged; and methods that make plant breeding more efficient, like markers, improved identification, selection and transformation are developed.

Plant Production Systems

The vision of Plant Production Systems is to integrate biological knowledge to analyse and design sustainable production systems for crops (including integration with livestock), focused on resource use efficiency and equitable management of natural resources.

Other directions

You can also do thesis research in other topics, like Carbon Capture.

B - Biorefinery and conversion


focuses on the processing steps needed to produce chemicals, biopolymers, feed or renewable energy from biomass. Engineering is fully integrated with process technology, physical-, organic- and biochemistry, product quality and process requirements. All fields play an important role when designing a biorefinery.

Courses to choose from

BCT-32306 Advanced Biorefinery

Biorefinery concerns the technology for sustainable processing of biomass from plants, organisms and biomass available in waste streams into a spectrum of marketable products and energy. This course teaches multiple approaches to design biorefineries and to develop new conversion, extraction and separation concepts by using all components of the biomass. 

BCT-33806 Conversions in Biobased Sciences

We want to use our planet's resources in a sustainable manner and yet we want to keep (or increase) our standard of living. Therefore we need to convert renewable feedstocks, such as biomass, to desired products as efficient as possible. In this course you learn how to tune chemical, biochemical and microbial catalysts in order to prepare desired products based on biomass. 

BPE-35306 Microalgae Biotechnology

Micro-algae and cyanobacteria, are an abundant source to tap products that can contribute to human health and well-being. They contain high-value food ingredients, bulk chemicals, lipids and protein. This course focusses on a mathematical description of microalgal growth in photobioreactors to optimize the production.

BPE-36806 Advanced Separation Process Design

The biobased industry needs people who know how to design a complex industrial-scale separation process, based on economic, environmental and social sustainability criteria. This course teaches you how to make such a design for bulk products and high-value products.

BPE-3AA06 Economy and Management in Biotechnology

The biotechnology companies needs people who take decisions on when and how to make a business of a scientific novelty developed in the lab. This course teaches you how to make such decisions for bulk products and high-value products.

ETE-30306 Biological Processes for Resource Recovery

The subject of this course is the exploration of microbiological opportunities to recover resources within Environmental Technology, thereby closing material cycles with minimal losses. Thermodynamic, microbiological and biotechnological unified principles are used to assess the viability of those opportunities for application in practice.

ETE-35306 Environmental Electrochemical Engineering

Current societal transitions, including the change from fossil fuel-driven towards renewable based processes, require innovative (electrified) technologies for (drinking) water treatment and resource recovery. This course will cover the fundamental aspects of electrochemical engineering. Furthermore, the course captures innovative and state-of-the-art electrochemical processes for water treatment, energy storage, resource recovery. 

ORC-30306 Applied Biocatalysis

The purpose of this course is to get insight in the possibilities and the problems concerning  the application of biocatalysts for the preparation of chemicals and (bio)pharmaceuticals. This includes enzyme immobilization, chemical routes, downstream processing, enzyme kinetics and economics.

Thesis directions

Biobased Chemistry and Technology

The main focus of this group is to develop and define measures to reduce industrial energy consumption on a global scale, to fully exploit available and as yet undiscovered cheap resources of agricultural (waste) streams, and to decrease CO2 emissions and pollution. This is done by enlarging knowledge on efficient and sustainable (catalytic) conversion processes, products and chains.

Bioprocess Engineering

Bioprocess engineering focuses on design of biotechnological processes for production of pharmaceuticals, healthy food ingredients, bulk chemicals and biofuels. These bio-based products should be produced in a sustainable and economical way.

Environmental Technology

In this chair group innovative environmental technologies and concepts based on processes from nature, to recover and reuse essential components and maintain and create a viable environment are developed and evaluated.

Organic Chemistry

The focus of this chair group is directed towards the study of organic reactivity at the forefront of 21st century chemistry, specifically at the overlap of nanotechnology, chemical biology, and organic synthesis.

C - Biobased and Circular Economy

Circular economy

focuses on economic aspects to enable the transition from a petrochemical to a biobased economy. This includes resource management, logistics, closing of energy, water and nutrient cycles, policy, biobased business and sustainability analysis methods.


AEP-32806 Life Science Economics and Policies

Life Science Economics and Policies will be discussed in this course. This includes the whole value chain from R&D, over application, processing, retailing and final demand and how the value chain and the rents and their distribution along the chain are affected by policies.

BMO-31306 Advanced Business Research (ABR)

Advanced Business Research (ABR) aims at learning how to set up a business research project. The management & organisation issue can be on strategy, operations, supply chains, human resources, innovation, or entrepreneurship.

BMO-33806 Entrepreneurship in the Circular Economy

In this course we develop a critical and interdisciplinary evaluation of sustainable solutions to product design, business and systems. In doing so, we move from a product design to a system thinking approach, discussing how to transition into a circular economy.

BMO-34806 Biobased and Circular Business

This course is focused on the business and societal views on biobased and circular economy; strategic niche management and transitions; multi-stakeholder management; new business development, and managing circular cycles; alliances, bio-refineries and business model development; and, feasibility assessment of biobased products.

ENR-31306 Economics and Management of Natural Resources

This course deals with the efficient and sustainable use of natural resources. The key question is how intensely a resource should be exploited, considering the typical properties of the resource, possible externalities, and future generations.

ETE-34306 Energy, Water and Nutrient Cycles in the Built Environment

This course focuses on the positive impact, concepts and methodologies of a circular approach: closing resource (energy, water and nutrient) cycles in accordance with sustainability principles by applying various and suitable technologies and sustainability concepts to achieve this in practice.

MAT-20306 Advanced Statistics

This course focuses on statistical hypothesis, choosing appropriate models, analysing data, interpreting results and forming relevant conclusions.

ORL-32306 Biobased Logistics

Biobased Logistics (BBL) is a disciplinary course in the field of Operations Research and Management. The course aims to provide a good understanding of the biobased supply chain focusing on decision problems related to the logistical structure of the chain as a whole. The students are trained to recognize problems, conceptualize solutions and develop quantitative models to support decision making in the biobased supply chain. 

ORL-32806 Sustainability Analysis

In this course, you learn how to systematically and quantitatively evaluate sustainability, and how to optimise and redesign sustainable supply chains, both for existing supply chains as well as for novel, re-designed, or circular supply chains.

Thesis directions

Business Management and Organisation           

The Business Management & Organisation Group (BMO) focuses on the strategy and organisation of the firm, as embedded in the value chain and influenced by the broader network of public and private stakeholders. The BMO staff particularly focuses on the sustainability oriented innovation and entrepreneurial processes.

Operations Research and Logistics

Our research projects focus on decision making in the domain of agrifood and biobased supply chain. Central in these projects is the increasing complexity and uncertainty, as well as the specific characteristics of our domain. Our work supports organisations in
achieving robust performance, including the trade-offs between costs, service, quality and sustainability.

Environmental Economics and Natural Resources

The research of the Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Group (ENR) addresses three core research domains within environmental and resource economics: natural resources, pollution, and climate change.

Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy

The Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy Group performs research, and teaches across a wide range of aspects related to the contribution of the bio-economy and the agricultural sector in particular to sustainable development.

Urban Systems Engineering

In this research theme we aim to develop and assess current and novel technologies to guarantee safe resource recovery from waste and wastewater in the circular economy.

Development Economics (only internship)

The research of the Development Economics Group focuses on the nature of institutions, drivers of institutional change, and implications of institutional change for poverty alleviation and sustainable economic development.