Doctoral Studies

Zoology - Field

Brief description of field

These Terms are based on supreme regulations as the University Act, the Study and Examination Rules of Masaryk University and further rules for the creation of study plans, including the credit system. At this level they are issued by the Course Council for the Doctoral Study Programme in Biology, that has been established according to an internal regulation of the Faculty. As there are related biological subjects that also deal with animals, their body parts or life functions, also Doctoral Study Programmes in further, related, courses of study and specializations have been accredited at the Faculty, including the study of animal parasites (see Doctoral Study Programme in Parasitology), the study of aquatic invertebrates (see Doctoral Study Programme in Hydrobiology), animal physiology and immunology (see Doctoral Study Programme in Animal Physiology), as well as the Doctoral Study Programme in Ecology.
Within Zoology individuals, populations, species and higher taxonomic and ecological groups of animals and their function in nature are studied. Methods for the study of animal bodies, for instance morphological, morphometric, caryological and those of molecular biology are applied as well. In contrast to medical, veterinary and further related sciences, Zoology considers all animals to be of equal importance. It differs from paleozoology by its focus on recent (extant) fauna, but it also pays attention to evolution and kin relationships between individual species and higher taxa. It further specializes on taxonomy, evolution, anatomy, ecology, ethology, and the like, always in combination with a narrower field of specialization as protozoology, entomology, malacology, ichthyology, herpetology, ornithology, mammalogy and likewise.

Profile of a typical graduate

An graduate of the Doctoral Study Programme in Zoology is a specialized biologist who has, compared to a graduate of the Masters Study Programme, acquired a higher qualification in the field of the biology of animals. In regard to general knowledge the focus is on evolutionary biology, ecology and phylogenetic systematics, a good knowledge of certain groups of animals and on theoretical as well as practical aspects. Graduates are employed in particular by universities, institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic , zoological gardens, natural history departments of museums, nature conservation agencies, administrations of national parks and protected landscape areas and the like.

Requirements for applicants

A basic precondition for admission to the Doctoral Study Programme in Zoology is a completed study of a biological study course at the masters level (degree of Mgr./MSc., or Ing. from a study course with biological content). The entrance examination as such consists of two parts, a technical one and one of language. In the technical part the applicant’s ability of scientific work, his or her general scope of knowledge in biology and zoology, and his or her own idea of how to tackle the subject of the dissertation are examined. Also broader knowledge, for instance in regard to the zoological system or animal ecology, can be examined. This includes a discussion about a topic within the narrower specialization of the applicant, for instance in entomology, mammalogy or taxonomy. The language part of the examination takes place in form of a conversation about the specialization, achievements of the applicant’s research, his or her professional CV and similar topics. This part is held in English, if not agreed otherwise based on due justification.

Study requirements and completion of studies

The students have to fulfil their obligations at the Department of Botany and Zoology. In case they have an external supervisor or based on their specialization they might also do so at certain institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic located in Brno (Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics). Studying without the student’s permanent presence at one of these institutions is only possible in case of a combined form of study (the student is employed elsewhere and does not receive a grant). In case of a regular (“attendance”) study it is also possible to study partially abroad, for instance under dual supervision. In such a case the thesis can also be defended at the foreign institution, provided the conditions given by the Study and Examination Rules of Masaryk University are met. 

Controlling of the Study and its Due Completion

The supervisor checks on the fulfilment of the student’s obligations as defined by the Individual Study Plan (see below) and prepares at the end of each academic year a written evaluation report within the MU’s Information System. Additional to the fulfilment of all obligations listed in the Individual Study Plan, the student has to document upon completion of his or her studies (before taking the doctoral examination and defending the thesis) at least one active participation in an international scientific symposium with his or her own presentation, oral or poster, in English or another international language accepted at this symposium, always followed up by a discussion. The student must be actively publishing and has to have at least two publications in a journal with an assigned impact factor, being the first author at least of one of these. The due completion of his study is regulated by the University Act and the Study and Examination Rules of Masaryk University.

Doctoral Dissertation

The subject of the dissertation and its objectives have to be specified to the date of the admission  procedure, are part of the student’s Individual Study Plan and is subject to approval by the Course Council.  An integral part of the study plan is, in general during the first year, the preparation of propositions (theses) of the dissertation and a short presentation at a specialized technical seminar informing about the topic of the dissertation. At least once in the course of his or her study the student presents the results obtained during work on his or her thesis at the common seminars of the Dept. of Botany and Zoology. The supervisor is fully responsible for the funding of research connected to the subject of the doctoral dissertation.
The dissertation has to be an original work created during the doctoral study under technical guidance of the supervisor. It can follow up on results of the student’ previous studies, these, however, have to be clearly pointed out, for instance by references. Upon submittance of the dissertation, at least some part of the results obtained during the doctoral study has had to be published or accepted for print in a technical journal with impact factor (at least in the phase “accepted”, in total two publications with IF, see above) and the scientific community has had to be informed about obtained results (active presentation at a symposium, see above). The dissertation has to be written in Czech, Slovak or English. Its standard outline is introduction, methodical part, results, discussion, conclusions, and references. An English abstract has to be submitted as well. There is no defined extent, what counts is the high technical level and formal lay-out of high quality. According to paragraph 30/2 of the Study and Examination Rules the submitted dissertation can also consist of a collection of published papers, supplemented by an unifying and detailed annotation to form a comprehensive thesis (thus publications do not have to be re-written into manuscripts). In case of results obtained by team-work, the dissertation has to include (according to paragraph 30/4 b-c) a specification of the student’s share. A hardback binding that can not be taken apart is prescribed. The dissertation is submitted in at least three copies and also in electronic form in the MU’s Information System. In addition the student submits 20 copies of an Author’s Summary (following dissertation contents), which follows in brief the outline of the dissertation and also includes a list of all publications and a professional CV of the student. Usually the dissertation is assessed by three reviewers that hold at least a Ph.D. or an equivalent degree (CSc., Dr.).

Content and Scope of the State (National) Doctoral Examination

The State (national) Doctoral Examination (SDE) takes into account the student’s field of study and subject of dissertation, but the members of the SDE Commission can ask questions on any connected branch. Additional to knowledge connected to the doctoral student’s own research work, the examination focuses both on the broader field, e.g. Zoology (invertebrate or vertebrate) or Ecology (general and special), and on the specialization within the field (e.g. Entomology, Ichthyology, Ornithology, Ethology). The aim is less to check on detailed knowledge learned by heart, but to assess the student’s wider overview of the field, his or her ability of independent work in the field and his or her interest in the latest information.

Individual study plan

The Individual Study Plan specifies the order of study subjects in regard to time and content, the form of study and how these have to be completed. In setting up and complying with the study plan the students acts in cooperation with his or her supervisor. The Individual Study Plan of a student of the Doctoral Study Programme has priority above the schedule of the academic year. Additionally to work on his or her doctoral thesis the student has to pass through several areas of study (see below). The Individual Study Plan shall include:
1. Subjects widening and deepening the understanding of the broader scientific field in excess to the master study programme. The doctoral student enrolls in these subjects according to the recommendations of his or her supervisor. These courses are taken in the first two semesters, in each of them one subject from this group should be studied.
2. Subjects deepening the understanding in the area of specialization. The doctoral student enrolls in these subjects according to his or her own interest, however, always having consulted this with his or her supervisor. Only subjects that the student did not go through in his or her earlier studies are eligible. These can be either offered by the Faculty or by other institutions accredited to teach Doctoral Study Programmes, including such institutions abroad. Such courses are taken in the first to sixth semester, as a general rule one subject from this group per semester.
3. Subjects prooving the student’s language skills. The students prooves his or her ability of active communication in the given technical field by passing an examination in a foreign language (in general English) or in another appropriate way, for instance by giving a talk (in general in English) at an international symposium (see below).
4. Specialized technical seminars. In the first to sixth semester the student attends technical seminars as advised by the supervisor. The supervisor may instruct on attendance in seminars also in further semesters. In justified cases, for instance in case of a combined study or of foreign students, the supervisor may suggest an alternative form of this activity.
5. Preparation of and assistance in teaching in the bachelor and master study programmes. The student participates in preparing and conducting practical courses in the laboratory and in the field in cooperation with the responsible teacher. The minimum scope of this engagement is two lessons per week in the course of the first to sixth semester or a corresponding total time in case of laboratory or field courses taught in blocks.

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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