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Master’s degree programme in

Life Sciences

Master of Science in Life Sciences with specialisations in   Food and Beverage Innovation   Pharmaceutical Biotechnology   Chemistry for the Life Sciences   Natural Resource Sciences

Zurich Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts

The Master of Science (MSc) in Life Sciences addresses technical, technological, scientific and social questions in the areas of health, nutrition and the environment. The consecutive Master’s degree programme builds on the Bachelor’s study programme and provides the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge and experience in a specialist area.

Master’s degree programme in Life Sciences Partners


The Zurich University of Applied Sciences and Arts ZFH (ZHAW in Wädenswil), the University of Applied Sciences Berne BFH (School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences SHL in Zollikofen), University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland FHNW (School of Life Sciences in Muttenz) and the University of Life Sciences Western Switzerland HES-SO (campuses in Fribourg, Lullier, Changins, Sion) cooperate on the Entrepreneurial Skills (A-Modules) and Advanced Life Science Skills (T-Modules) modules (see table). They each offer a unique Master’s degree programme in Life Sciences. The Master’s programme opens up attractive new employment opportunities for graduates.

The ZHAW in Wädenswil offers four specialisations: –– Food and Beverage Innovation –– Pharmaceutical Biotechnology –– Chemistry for the Life Sciences –– Natural Resource Sciences

Study programme Both the Entrepreneurial Skills (A-Modules) and the Advanced Life Science Skills (T-Modules) modules are run in English as a joint venture between the universities participating. This partnership enables Master’s students to take part in interdisciplinary exchanges and to extend their network of contacts. –– Entrepreneurial Skills: each module as a seminar week in Spiez –– Advanced Life Science Skills: each module on a whole day (Thursdays and Fridays) in Berne –– Specialisation Skills: Mondays to Wednesdays in the corresponding Institutes in Wädenswil –– Master’s Thesis: in a research group of the corresponding institute in Wädenswil or externally in a company

Scope and structure The study programme is worth 90 credits* and usually takes three semesters on a ­ full-time basis; part-time studies take longer depending on the individual student. The study programme is divided into four parts: –– Entrepreneurial Skills –– Advanced Life Science Skills –– Specialisation Skills –– Master’s Thesis Details of the programme structure are given in the table.

Learning concept The learning concept of the Master’s degree programme combines independent learning (supervised or individual) with contact lessons (lectures, seminars). Modern teaching and learning methods are supported by a common e-learning platform (, which enables students to prepare individually and network online. The individually acquired theory is discussed and extended in contact lessons. “Research-based learning” is of particular importance as students come closer to their Master’s thesis. Teaching in Wädenswil will take place in English and German. Scripts

may be partly in English, depending on the specialisation. However, good knowledge of German and English (level C1) is necessary.

Competences The development of methodological and personal competence is given high priority in the Master’s study programme. Social competences are also emphasised, as well as subject and general competences. This enhancement of competences takes place within a particular area of specialisation as students’ theoretical and scientific understanding increases. After completion of the study programme, graduates are able to bridge the gap between abstraction and application, and have the ability to produce scientific papers successfully as well as lead complex projects professionally.

Title Graduates of the Master’s degree programme at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences are awarded the internationally recognised title ‘Master of Science ZFH in Life Sciences’. The title is supplemented on their degree certificate with their specialisation to guarantee that graduates’ profiles are easily recognisable in the employment market.

Specialisation Food and Beverage Innovation The changing patterns of consumer behaviour and social changes of our time demand increasingly innovative solutions in food and beverage production involving novel raw materials and technologies. Health aspects and lifestyle considerations influence consumers’ buying decisions. Goals of the study programme This specialisation is designed as further education for graduates with a Bachelor’s degree in the food and beverage area or other related fields. The Master’s programme Food and Beverage Innovation focuses on research-based knowledge using a systemic approach to product development. Building on the process of innovation, students learn to incorporate socio-cultural and nutritional aspects together with challenges from supply chain management, into the development of new products and processes, and thus to take the entire value chain into consideration. Competences and fields of activity Master’s graduates who have specialised in Food and Beverage Innovation are able to analyse product-specific and processspecific, analytical, economic and political connections well beyond the limits of their particular discipline and to develop integrative solutions. They have excellent career prospects in the various fields of the food and beverage industry and related areas, as well as in public authorities, universities, and in national and international organisations.

Specialisation Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

Specialisation Chemistry for the Life Sciences

Specialisation Natural Resource Sciences

The interaction of biology and industrial processes, together with knowledge of the relevant basic principles of pharmaceutical quality management, are constantly gaining in importance. The manufacture and analysis of biologically active molecules is booming, which includes the majority of newly approved pharmaceutical agents.

In applications for the life sciences, knowledge and skills from chemistry, biochemistry, analytical technologies, materials technology and nanotechnology as well as sustainable, green chemistry are closely intertwined. Specialists with corresponding interdisciplinary competences, and the ability to implement them, are in demand.

To ensure that natural resources remain available for future generations in sufficient quantity and quality, new trails need to be blazed. Innovative and practical solutions for responsible use of natural resources are becoming increasingly important whenever the needs of nature and society overlap. There is an urgent need for highly qualified specialists who bring a holistic, systemic perspective to their work.

Goals of the study programme The study programme is designed as further education for graduates with a Bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutics, chemistry or biotechnology. The core of the specialisation in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology is the production and diagnostics of biologically active molecules using biotechnological methods. Examples of such molecules are monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, growth factors and structural proteins such as collagens. The programme includes the entire process from the molecular biological design of a biological production system through the cultivation process to the formulation of a biologically manufactured drug. Competences and fields of activity Master’s graduates who have specialised in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology are in great demand. Large global players in the pharmaceutical industry are increasing their production capacity in Switzerland as well as in other countries. In addition, numerous start-up companies concentrating on new active agents have a growing need for specialists and managers who are able to take responsibility for the manufacture and analysis of these products.

Goals of the study programme This programme is designed as further education for graduates with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Biological Chemistry, Biotechnology, Materials Sciences or related disciplines. Master’s students consolidate and expand their existing specialist skills in modern methods for the presentation of small and large active molecules and in processes for structuring and functionalising surfaces. Familiarity with the latest analytical techniques is also vital for a deeper understanding of connections between structure and effect. Sustainable (energy and resource efficient) (bio-)chemical processes gain more and more importance. The goal of the Master’s programme is to produce highly qualified life science chemists. Examples of current fields of activity and applied research are active surfaces for diagnostics and screening, development of state-of-the-art analytical technologies for medical diagnostics, optical biosensors, environmental analytics and agronomy, functional nanofibres, biomaterials, biocompatible materials and surfaces, tissue engineering, wound pads, drug delivery, peptides and bioconjugates, protein technology, process analytics (PAT) and bioanalytics. Competences and fields of activity Graduates find employment not only in traditional fields such as the chemical and pharmaceutical industries and food and biotechnology companies, but also in medicine, nutrition, ecological and environmental areas, energy research, product development, production and quality control in the fields of regenerative medicine, speciality chemistry, manufacture of vaccines and active agents, functional materials, diagnostics, sensors, and nanotechnology. These fields are expanding rapidly in Switzerland as well as globally.

Goals of the study programme When examining human and environmental systems, not only scientific knowledge, but insights from the humanities and social sciences are needed. In order to ensure that students in this broad field of professional activity acquire the most appropriate qualification for their interests and abilities, a specific area of study proposed by the institute is chosen, e.g. biocontrol, biodiversity, soil ecology/contaminated sites, renewable energies and energy efficiency, roof greening, geography of food, green and health, landscape and regional development, nature and recreation, national parks and protected areas, culture and nature related tourism, ecological engineering, or wildlife management. Students are supported by a personal tutor throughout their studies and take part in the Institute’s current research projects. Competences and fields of activity Graduates who have specialised in Natural Resource Sciences are able to detect problematic aspects of present situations as well as recognise and holistically analyse future developments. On this basis they develop appropriate, innovative and practical solution strategies. The study programme caters for future specialists and decisionmakers in the private sector, public administration, NGOs as well as education and research.

Entrepreneurial Skills (A-Modules) 12 credits*

Advanced Life Science Skills (T-Modules) 18 credits*

Specialisation Skills (V-Modules) 20 – 30 credits*

Master Thesis 30 – 40 credits*

Students select 3 of the 5 modules, worth 4 credits each:

Students select 6 of the 14 modules, worth 3 credits each:

Students select 1 of the 4 specialisations and corresponding modules:

–– Quality Excellence

Food and Beverage Innovation (20 credits) –– Innovation –– Product and Process Design –– Supply Chain Management –– Global Food Policy

Students write their Master’s thesis on a topic related to their chosen specialisation. The knowledge gained and competences acquired are demonstrated and tested in the context of an exemplary, explicit problem situation.

–– Innovation and Know­ledge Management –– Leadership –– Business Management –– Communication and Market –– Society and ­Politics

–– Nutrition and Nutritionrelated Chronic Diseases –– Applied Statistics –– Data Management and Visualisation –– Biodiversity –– Cellular and Molecular Physiology –– Natural Substances –– Sustainable Development in Natural Resource Management –– Materials Science –– Polymers & Applications –– Modeling of Complex Systems –– Sustainable Sourcing, Processing and Tracing of Food –– Management of R&D Projects –– Life Cycle Assessment For the specialisation Natural Resource Sciences there is also the option of taking modules from other study programmes. More information can be found on the website.

Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (20 credits) –– Biodesign: Ways to Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) –– Bioprocessing and Bioanalytics –– Downstream and Safety –– Drug Formulation and Biological Test Systems Chemistry for the Life Sciences (20 credits) –– Small Active Molecules –– Big Active Molecules – Recombinant Protein Technology –– Biomaterials and Functional Surfaces –– Green Chemistry –– Analytical Technologies Natural Resource Sciences (30 credits) –– Tutorial 1: Project Initiation –– Tutorial 2: Project Implementation –– Tutorial 3: Project Evaluation –– Plenum 1: Case Studies in Biostatistics –– Plenum 2: Knowledge Visualisation –– Plenum 3: Environmental Ethics, Environmental Mediation and Participative Processes

*Credits referring to European Credit Transfer System (ECTS); standardised European evaluation system for study achievements, based on the Bologna Reform. Students’ workload is expressed in credits: one credit corresponds to approx. 25 – 30 hours of work.

Studying at the ZHAW in Wädenswil The Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) is part of the Zurich Association of Universities of Applied Sciences. The School of Life Sciences and Facility Management is located in Wädenswil on the left side of the Lake of Zurich. Its unique location in natural surroundings provides a stimulating atmosphere. About 1400 students, are currently enrolled on one of the five Bachelor’s degree programmes: Biotechnology, Chemistry, Food and Beverage Innovation, Natural Resource Sciences and Facility Management. In respect of gender, student numbers are well balanced. Due to the manageable numbers, students are able to receive individual supervision and support from lecturers and assistants. In addition to the university’s study programmes, a wide variety of cultural and sports activities provide relaxation and recreation opportunities.


Entry requirements

Bachelor’s degree holders from universities of applied sciences must have a final ECTS grade A or B. Holders of pre-Bachelor’s diplomas from a Swiss or foreign university of applied sciences or higher technical college (HTL) need an average mark of at least 5.0 (Swiss grading system).

Graduates with former FH (university of applied sciences) diploma (predecessor of the Bachelor’s degree) with at least 2 years professional experience and /or postgraduate studies in the corresponding field may transfer credits after consultation with the program director. Holders of Swiss university or federal polytechnic (ETH) Bachelor’s degrees are admitted to the Master’s study programme at a university of applied sciences after completion of a period of work experience. Persons with equivalent prior education and professional experience are considered on an individual basis.

Contact ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences Life Sciences and Facility Management Registrar’s Office Grüental, Postbox, CH-8820 Wädenswil Tel. +41 58 934 59 61 Fax +41 58 934 50 01 E-Mail 

More information /master

The consecutive Master’s degree programme begins in both the autumn and spring semesters. The application deadline for studies starting in autumn is 30 April; for studies starting in spring the deadline is 31 October.

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Building on the Bachelor’s degree programme, the Master’s study programme provides the opportunity to specialise in a chosen area. Admission is therefore open to holders of a degree in one of the relevant specialist areas.

Master of Science in Life Sciences