• Why study Evolution?

    Evolution, broadly defined as a gradual development that may lead to a more advanced or complex form, is the most widely applicable scientific concept to understand processes at all scales, from the formation of earth to human societies. In particular Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution based on heritable variation and selection is now being applied to many disciplines. Modern evolutionary thinking can thus provide a unifying theoretical framework to understand and address urgent problems of humankind, such as climate change, bioinvasions or disease epidemiology.

    The increasing relevance of cultural evolution and human influences on biological evolution, including its biomedical implications, also demand a consideration of evolutionary theory itself. However, evolutionary research and teaching do not yet bridge the gap between disciplines. For example, the humanities could benefit from fruitful feedback from the life sciences, while the life sciences could benefit from the humanities to deepen our understanding of the different meanings of evolution. Importantly, such collaborations also have great potential to advance evolutionary theories.

  • About the MGSE

    The Münster Graduate School of Evolution (MGSE) is an institutionalized, interdisciplinary association of researchers of the WWU, bridging the faculties of geosciences, biology, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. Combining the already existing strength in evolutionary research at the WWU, the MGSE provides an interdisciplinary network of excellent scientists working on diverse topics in evolution.

    The MGSE provides a structured study program for doctoral students of the different faculties in the general field of evolution. The program, as well as a specific mentoring system ensure interdisciplinary networking, while the work in the projects is performed at the highest interdisciplinary level. The doctoral students of the MGSE address a broad range of questions, from the evolution of earth to the evolution of evolutionary theory.


    Since its founding in 2011, the MGSE has aimed to sustainably improve the curricula of the disciplines involved. It has demonstrated that hat doctoral training in a multi-disciplinary research landscape can be structured based on a unifying conceptual framework. Thereby, the MGSE serves as a role model or a novel approach to doctoral training.

    The MGSE is headed by its founding member Prof. Dr. Joachim Kurtz.

    Download the MGSE flyer

  • What does the MGSE curriculum involve?

    The curriculum is structured into three periods, to gradually prepare the students for their future career:

    • In phase 1, cross-disciplinary training will enable the doctoral students to gain insight into the MGSE research areas and to convey basic knowledge within the different disciplines. Students can choose from a range of multidisciplinary elements, such as journal clubs, lectures, and courses specifically designed for the MGSE as well as from the established master programs within the different faculties.
    • In phase 2, scientific communication skills will be trained, e.g., through conference contributions, publication of papers, or a research stay abroad. Supported by postdocs, PIs, or ETT-Fellows, the students may also establish interdisciplinary topic groups, e.g. to deal with a specific methodological problem, to facilitate a specific synthesis, or to prepare a scientific event.
    • In phase 3, the focus will be on qualifications that will be tailored to the individual students’ career plans. The tailored education consists of three main tracks: (1) academia track, (2) industry track, and (3) society track.

    For more detailed information please download the MGSE curriculum.

    MGSE Curriculum
  • What are the benefits of graduating within the MGSE?

    The MGSE offers the opportunity to get in touch with excellent research in the fields of biology, medicine, geosciences, mathematics, and philosophy. Furthermore, doctoral students will benefit from diverse curricular and extra curricular activities, facilitating scientific and personal exchange.
    Graduating within the interdisciplinary framework of the MGSE in the stimulating environment of the University of Münster will provide doctoral students with the necessary skills for acquiring and applying knowledge in a multidisciplinary world.

  • How to apply?

    Students starting their doctoral studies in the research areas of the MGSE at the University of Münster can be suggested for admission to the MGSE by one of the Principal investigators. If you are interested in the program of the MGSE, please feel free to contact the PI, in whose research group you would like to start your PhD to ask about open positions.


"The Münster Graduate School of Evolution is more than an educative environment, it is a place where ideas and knowledge can circulate freely. There are many activities that encourage us to share our scientific interests and climb over the limits of our field. The workshops demonstrate that young creative minds in the right environment with an experienced Think Tank can be the source of new and unexpected scientific relevant results with encouraging perspectives."

Diana Ferro (MGSE alumna 2016)