The common part consists of some research methods and some academic skills training. Each student is to choose one or more research method courses. There are courses related to Biochemistry, Physical Chemistry, Microbiology, Biophysics, Organic Chemistry, Systems Biology and Molecular Biology. Most courses are only 3 credits, but the latter two are midget theses of 12 credits.
For an overview of the research methods and course codes you can go to the study handbook
In the end of your first year you finalise your academic skills. Part of it consist of small courses about a variety of skills like scientific writing and presentation skills. The modular skills training teaches skills that are necessary for graduates to function in jobs at MSc level. In consultation with the MSc study advisor an assessment is made on which skills (competences) are already mastered and which are necessary to develop (more). Based on this, you (the student) selects a number of modules to a total of 3 credit points. Usually you make benefit of them already during your thesis and internship.
For an overview of the modular skills training see the study handbook.
A larger part of the academic skills is the course YMC 60809 Academic Consultancy Training. Teams of 4 to 7 students are assigned a project. You work in a multi-disciplinary group of people on a concrete problem from industry or from the academia. The focus is not primarily on the scientific challenges, but more on the chemistry in the group, the group processes, the planning and management of the project and financial and logistic issues. The ultimate purpose is that you learn how to deploy your set of competences to achieve goals set by a taskmaster. Needless to say these are competences you will need at many, many occasions after graduation, no matter what your career will be.
For an overview of the Academic Consultancy Training training see the study handbook.
Dutch students can become a full registered teacher in Chemistry ('eerstegraadsbevoegdheid Scheikunde'). After permission from your study adviser, Dutch students may choose Didactic Skills and Teaching as a profession instead of the Academic Skills Training. Apart from that they do an internship at a secondary school instead of research institute or industry.
What you do during your thesis work, basically, is research. You use your acquired knowledge, skills and attitude to work in a research group on topics that are in the frontier of science. The purpose of the research itself is to bring science a step further. For you, there is more to gain. You will bring your scientific competences to a much higher level. You will be able to use specific advanced equipment and software, to operate in a research group, comprehend the topics of your fellow researchers, report about your work by writing a thesis and by giving a oral presentation, and to do this all in a honest and ethical way.
As mentioned earlier, an internship basically is a thesis you do outside of Wageningen. In most cases students do their internship outside the Netherlands. The goals to be achieved are the same as for the thesis. A big difference is that you have the opportunity to learn from earlier mistakes and practice your competences in a different environment. Most students do their thesis at a different university (Cambridge, UK, for instance), at an institute (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, USA, for example), but it is also possible to do your internship in industry (Unilever, Port Sunlight, UK, for instance). It strikes us every time that our colleague investigators are so enthousiastic about our students.
Apart from the common courses and the specialization courses, you have the option to make a free selection of other courses. And there is more to choose. Your specialisation, the duration of your thesis or internship, the courses you take, etc. If you come to study Molecular Life Sciences the first thing you do is to have a conversation with a study advisor. In this conversation you explain exactly what you did and what you want to achieve. This leads to a general study plan. What courses you take first, aiming at what type of thesis, that sort of things. In this way you develop, in consultation with your study advisor, your own tailor made study programme.