Doctoral Studies

Botany - Field

Brief description of field

The field of Botany under the Biology doctoral study programme covers taxonomy, biosystematics, ecology, palaeoecology, and plant diversity on the level of species, populations and communities. It includes all systematic groups of lower and higher plants, fungi and cyanobacteria, and interaction between plants and animals. In the area of taxonomy-biosystematics, the main emphasis is on combining modern biosystematics methods such as genetic analyses and multivariate statistics with traditional taxonomical methods. In the ecologically oriented research, preferred topics are large-scale studies of diversity of vegetation and flora, and vegetation dynamics in relation to the abiotic, biotic, and human factors. These studies are based both on field observations or experiments and modern methods of data analysis.

Profile of a typical graduate

Graduates in the field of Botany have mastered the basic working methods of plant taxonomy, biosystematics, ecology or palaeoecology. They understand current discussions in these and related fields. They are able to identify research topics in the field and design adequate research methods. They are able to publish academic articles in international and national journals and present their result at international and national conferences. They are prepared for independent work in academic and research institutions, education, agriculture, forestry, nature conservation, nature history departments of museum and private firms or non-government organizations focusing on nature conservation and environmental protection, both in the Czech Republic and abroad.

Requirements for applicants

The applicant must show knowledge in the broader field of botany and ecology corresponding to the knowledge of the best graduates in the master’s study of Botany in the programme Ecological and Evolutionary Biology. However, previous graduation in this field is not a prerequisite. The applicant must be capable of engaging in expert discussion on the dissertation topic. Besides specialized knowledge, the applicant must show the ability of fluent expert conversation in English. These skills are evaluated during an interview by the doctoral committee. The entrance examination is organized as a presentation of the topic, methods and expected results by the applicant, followed by oral discussion, after which the committee evaluates and assigns points for the applicant’s expertise and abilities for scientific work (0-200 points) and skills in English language (0-100 points). Minimum requirements for successful examination are 120 points for scientific part and 60 points for language part of the entrance examination. Funding of the dissertation project should be secured at the time of entrance examination (e.g. from supervisor’s grants). The candidate does not need to be a citizen of the Czech Republic; in foreign citizens knowledge of the Czech language is not required.

Study requirements and completion of studies

Individual study plan

  • Doctoral study is organized following the Individual Study Plan (ISP), which is updated and specified before each semester by a student together with his/her supervisor. ISP should allow to successfully graduate within standard duration of the study, and during the first four semesters it should optimally allow the student to receive all the necessary credits for (i) exams from advanced courses, (ii) active participation at specialized seminars, (iii) demonstration of good English skills (e.g. lecture at a scientific forum), and (iv) teaching and other duties. During the 5th semester, student optimally registers for the state doctoral exam, and ISPs for the following semesters preferentially include work on doctoral research project and thesis. For students in a combined form of the study, ISPs are prepared correspondingly and may contain alternative duties or tasks such as preparation of special lecture for a seminar, literature search, preparation of materials for lectures or other courses, ad hoc help with organization of summer school(s) or similar activities. Progress and performance according to ISP is evaluated after each semester. If the student does not fulfil the obligations of his/her ISP, the supervisor, doctoral committee or doctoral board can disagree with continuation of student’s studies.
  • ISP includes courses related to the dissertation topic offered by the Department of Botany and Zoology or other departments of the Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, or other high-quality courses in the field offered by other universities or academic institutions. A course especially suited for doctoral students is Selected Topic in Ecology, which is held at the Department of Botany and Zoology every semester, and consists of lectures of external specialists about their research work.
  • All doctoral student attend Botany Seminar (2 hours a week for 8 semesters). Students focusing on plant ecology also attend Geobotanical Seminar and Plant Ecology Lab Meeting (the latter in English), and students focusing on plant taxonomy or biosystematics attend Biosystematics Seminar.
  • Doctoral students assist in under-graduate teaching at the Department of Botany and Zoology (2 hours a week for 6 semesters).

State doctoral exams, required knowledge

The state doctoral exams are composed of the following subjects: Plant Systematics and Evolution, Plant Ecology, Regional Botany, and Methods of Botany. The level of these subjects corresponds to the university courses taught at the Faculty of Science, Masaryk University. The exam also contains discussion on specific topics related to the candidate’s dissertation work. The intent of the exam is not to demonstrate the candidate’s encyclopaedic knowledge, but his/her ability to apply knowledge of botany and ecology in a creative way for solving specific problems.

 Requirements for doctoral thesis

Doctoral thesis contains results of the original research of the PhD student. It is written in English, exceptionally in Czech or Slovak. It may take a form of a series of published, accepted or submitted papers on a single topic, or a form of a larger manuscript. The first form is recommended and preferred by the doctoral committee. The series of papers must contain an introduction that puts individual papers into a common context, presents the basic outline of the topic in the context of existing knowledge, defines the main goals and summarizes the main results of the thesis. A thesis in the form of a manuscript is divided into Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions, References and Appendices. CV and a list of publication of the candidate is included at the end of the thesis (for both forms of the thesis). The thesis can be accepted if it contains, as a minimum requirement, at least three papers or manuscripts, and at least for two of them the candidate is the first author and at least two of them are published or accepted for publication in journals included in the database Web of Science. For papers with multiple authors the candidate declares his/her own contribution. It is also required that before the acceptance of the thesis for defence the candidate reports on some of the results of the thesis in an English-language international conference or workshop.

 Examples of dissertation topics

  • Biosystematic study of a selected taxonomic group of plants
  • Variation in plant genome size: causes and consequences
  • Diversity patterns of vegetation and flora and their environmental controls
  • Macroecological patterns in flora and vegetation
  • Ecology of plant invasions
  • Ecology and palaeoecology of peat bogs
  • Vegetation history
  • Development and testing of new methods of vegetation analysis


Individual study plan

More information in "Study requirements and complation of studies"

List of members of doctoral committee

List of supervisors

Commission for state doctoral exams and defenses

List of current doctoral topics

Department pages

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