NEW - Plant Biology for Sustainable Production

Published: 20 June 2018

Plant products are of great importance, not only as food and animal feed but as building materials, fibres and pharmaceutical drugs. This means that knowledge about how plants work, their genetics and interaction with the environment is essential for durable plant production and sustainable development. The programme is intended for students who wish to deepen their knowledge in plant biology. We welcome applications from both national and international students.

Have you ever thought about the basis of our food production, and how are we going to feed the projected population of 9.8 billion in 2050? Or how are we going to end the era of plastics and create a circular biobased economy where nothing goes to waste. Plants harbour many of the solutions to our pressing societal problems, but to fully exploit their potential we need a better understanding of how plants function, how plants respond to stress and how yield is determined. Modern biology provides tools which allow us to investigate the molecular machinery responsible for biomass accumulation and crop yield in ever increasing detail. This coupled with new monitoring techniques at field scale allows integration of molecular biology with field ecosystem responses.

This new MSc programme is designed to educate the next generation of plant biologists adept at developing plant based solutions to multiscale problems in agriculture and forestry. The courses are taught by internationally renowned experts in plant biology, crop and tree breeding, and sustainable agriculture and forestry. The program utilises competence on three campuses of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences located in Alnarp, Ultuna and Umeå. All teaching is in English and during the first year all lectures are streamed live allowing you to follow the courses from any of the three campuses.

During the second year you can choose to specialise in either plant breeding and protection, abiotic and biotic interactions of plants or forest biotechnology. Or you may decide to focus directly on genetic and molecular plant biology following the fourth study track from the beginning. We are looking for bright, enthusiastic and creative minds with a background in biology. Sounds interesting? Get in touch and apply!

UN's sustainable development goals in the education

SLU's educations creates knowledge which contributes to the goals for sustainable development, both in Sweden and internationally. 


The objective of the programme is for students to gain specialised knowledge of plant biology, particularly for sustainable production in agriculture, horticulture and forestry. Plant biology is a central field within biology and covers many different aspects of the life of plants. Plant products are for example of great importance as food, feed, building materials, fibres and pharmaceutical drugs. This means that the knowledge of how plants function, their genetics and interaction with the environment is necessary for sustainable crop production and by extension for sustainable development.

Students who complete the programme are awarded a Master’s (120 credits) degree which can be used for third-cycle studies as well as for work in the industry or in public authorities, with a focus on sustainable solutions for our future society. The programme starts with introductory courses where students obtain basic knowledge of plant biology and molecular genetics as a foundation for other courses. As the programme targets students with different backgrounds, it is important that everyone acquires the basic knowledge that is needed. The introduction also covers general skills such as referencing and sustainable development.

In three courses during the first year, the students gain deepened knowledge of subjects that are of importance to sustainable crop production, providing a progression in the subject. The elective specialisation courses give students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge in an area of plant biology of their choice, e.g. plant protection and plant breeding to handle climate change, plants’ interaction with their surroundings and how they are affected by abiotic and biotic factors, or forestry and how biotechnology and breeding can be used to produce renewable biomaterials from forests. The programme is taught in English.

The programme has four specialisation tracks, described below.

The specialisations 1-3 are coordinated during the first academic year, and students take basic courses that give a solid foundation in plant biology for continued studies during year 2, as well as providing training in general competences. The students can take these courses in Alnarp, Umeå or Uppsala.

In year 2, students choose one of the specialisations:

  • - Forest Biotechnology (in Umeå)
  • - Plant Protection and Breeding for Mitigating Climate Change (in Alnarp)
  • - Abiotic and Biotic Interactions of Cultivated Plants (in Uppsala)

The specialisations build on the world-leading competence at SLU and supplement one another.

The fourth specialisation, Genetic and Molecular Plant Biology, is a cooperation between SLU, Uppsala University and Stockholm University. The specialisation starts with three basic courses, where each of the three universities is responsible for one course. This means that students take these courses in Uppsala (campuses of SLU and Uppsala University) and Stockholm. The specialisation Genetic and Molecular Plant Biology cannot be combined with the other specialisations.

The students are expected to acquire knowledge of important research, development and methods with respect to plants used for sustainable crop production and thereby be able to work independently with related questions in agriculture and forestry, horticulture, industry, biotechnology and the environment. The skills acquired on the programme include demonstrating the ability to independently, critically and creatively identify and formulate issues that concern the life processes of plants. All qualitative targets are covered during the year 1 basic courses as well as the independent project.


Upon completion of the programme, the degree of Master of Science (120 credits) with a major in biology is awarded. Other general qualifications may be awarded, provided that the requirements are fulfilled. More information can be found in SLU’s degree regulations.

Students who fulfil the qualification requirements for a degree will be issued a degree certificate upon request. The degree certificate will specify the qualification as Degree of Master of Science (120 credits) with a Major in Biology (masterexamen med huvudområdet biologi).

The applicant must further have a level of English equivalent to upper secondary school English. An applicant with a first-cycle qualification from SLU comprising 120 credits, or a first-cycle degree from another Swedish university comprising 180 credits, automatically fulfils this requirement. The equivalent qualification may also be obtained in other ways, for more information see

Specific requirements apply for admission to the individual courses included in the programme. 



The teaching on this programme is strongly geared towards preparing students for research, and all specialisations on the programme have links to strong research environments. It may also lead to professions in several land-based sectors, especially the specialisations in forest biotechnology and plant protection and plant breeding.

Qualification Awarded

Degree of Master (120 credits) with a major in Biology.

Programme scope: 2 years, 120 credits

Specialisation: Erasmus Mundus Plant Biology
Next start: Uppsala, 3 Sep 2018
Number of admission places: 15
Scholarships: Scholarships are available for a number of students at the Erasmus Mundus Specialisation,

Specialisation: Genetics and molecular plant biology
Next start: Uppsala, 3 Sep 2018
Number of admission places: 15

Specialisation: Cultivated plant's abiotic and biotic interactions
Next start: Uppsala 3 Sep 2018
Number of admission places: 15

Specialisation: Forest biotechnology
Next start: Umeå 3 Sep 2018
Number of admission places: 15

Specialisation: Plant protection and plant breeding
Next start: Alnarp 3 Sep 2018
Number of admission places: 15

Application deadline: 15 Jan 2018

Application period: Oct 2017 - 15 Jan 2018 at, for the Erasmus mundus specialisation, students must also apply between 1 Nov 2017 - 31 Jan 2018 at  

Tuition fee for non-EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens:
First instalment:  67 500 SEK 
Total programme: 270 000 SEK


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