The Biology Section is the largest of the four Sections of the Faculty of Science, Charles University in terms of the number of students and employees. Its Vice-Dean is Prof. Petr Horák.
Biology classrooms and laboratories are located in the buildings at Benátská 2 and Viničná 5 and 7. Other laboratories and workplaces are located at the Biotechnology and Biomedicine Centre of the Academy of Sciences and Charles University (BIOCEV) in Vestec near Prague.
The Biology Section consists of the Library of Biological Sciences, Herbarium Collections, Hrdlička Museum of Anthropology, and 11 Departments helmed by their respective Heads:
Anthropology and Human Genetics (Assoc. Prof. Vladimír Sládek);
Botany (Assoc. Prof. Ondřej Koukol);
Cellular Biology (prof. RNDr. Jan Brábek, Ph.D.);
Ecology (doc. RNDr. David Hořák, Ph.D.);
Experimental Plant Biology (Assoc. Prof. Fatima Cvrčková);
Philosophy and History of Sciences (Tomáš Hermann, Ph.D.);
Physiology (Assoc. Prof. Jiří Novotný);
Genetics and Microbiology (Ruth Tachezy, Ph.D.);
Parasitology (doc. Mgr. Vladimír Hampl, Ph.D.);
Teaching and Didactics of Biology (Petr Novotný, Ph.D.);
Zoology (Prof. Ivan Čepička).
Study in the Section
The following study programmes are available in the Biology Section:
Biology: guarantor: Prof. Ivan Čepička, (Czech only);
Ecological and Evolutionary Biology: guarantor: Prof. Jiří Neustupa, (Czech only);
Biology Oriented at Education (combined study of two programmes): guarantor: Jan Mourek, Ph.D., (Czech only);
Biology with a focus on education (full curriculum), guarantor doc. Mgr. Alice Exnerová, Ph.D.;
Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Organisms: guarantor: Assoc. Prof. Jitka Žurmanová, (Czech only);
Bioinformatics: guarantor: Mgr. Marian Novotný, Ph.D. (taught together with MFF), (Czech only).
In addition, the Biology Section is heavily involved in the teaching of the Practical Geobiology programme (Czech only; taught along with the Geology Section).
The fields/programmes of Biology (“BIO”, often also nicknamed “rainbow biology” or “general biology”), Ecological and Evolutionary Biology (EKO-EVO, “green biology”), and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Organisms (“MOBIBO”, “white biology”) operate in a modular system. This means that subjects are divided into several modules, or groups of lectures and exercises with similar topics, with which students are required to achieve the requisite number of credits. Subjects within the modules are elective (not compulsory) and shared across all biology fields/programmes. The individual programmes/fields differ only in the number of credits required for the completion of the modules – as indicated in the following table. A similar structure applies to teaching programmes – for details, see the Karolinka.
There are seven theme modules in total:
1. Cellular and Molecular Biology;
2. Physiology and Anatomy/Morphology;
4. Ecology and Evolution;
5. Other Subjects I;
6. Other Subjects II;
7. Earth and Environment Sciences (applies to Ecological and Evolutionary Biology only).
Within each module, a student must register for and complete subjects with a specific number of credits, which depends on the field of study. The numbers of credits for the individual modules are listed in the following table:
The total compulsory number of credits for modules is the same for all fields and amounts to 150 credits. You will receive 5 credits for the only two required courses, Bachelor's Project I and II, which you take in your final year.
To be admitted to the oral part of the state final exam, you need to obtain the credits for the modules (as per the table above) while collecting a total of 180 credits – which leaves 25 credits for optional subjects, which you choose based on your personal preferences (for example, with regard to your post-bachelor’s field), specifically:
from modules beyond your mandatory minimum of credits;
from Departments in the Biology or other Section within the Faculty;
from other Faculties of Charles University;
from another University or tertiary school in the Czech Republic or abroad.
We recommend the first two options as a source of optional credits.
Because biology students need to complete a minimum number of compulsory subjects, it is vitally important to prepare at least a basic individual curriculum prior to the first round of subject registration.
It is a good idea to have at least a rough plan for the following at the very beginning of your studies:
the subjects that you will complete in each semester;
the requisite relationships between the subjects (pre-requisites, incompatibility, etc.);
the number of credits you will receive and whether this will suffice for completing the modules;
the exams and course credits to complete in each semester of your studies (the optimum is slightly more than 30 credits per semester; it is an advantage to pursue fewer subjects and give yourself more time to write the bachelor’s thesis during the final semester of the third year).
We also recommend considering whether you are actually capable of passing the required number of exams along with any field trips and practices you may register for – these often take place during the examination period (especially field exercises during the summer semester). Given that a limited number of exam dates can be expected in September.
By planning ahead, you will prevent situations such as:
not having enough credits to progress to the next year of study;
not being able to register for a subject because you have not completed a pre-requisite;
needing to complete subjects in modules well in excess of the required 180 credits;
uneven distribution of exams in the summer and winter semesters, which can make your studies difficult.
When choosing subjects, you can draw inspiration from the recommended curricula, which you can find in the Blue Karolinka. Both the Blue (biology) and global versions of the Karolinka suggest the recommended year for each subject. When planning your studies, you can also obtain advice from study advisors (see Who to See for Which Issue; Czech only) and/or guarantors of the various post-bachelor’s fields and programmes. You can also receive priceless advice from your peers in higher years of study who you can contact via e-mail addresses provided in open SIS profiles or via various Facebook groups. A table that will count the credits in the various modules will help you construct your curriculum.
You may have to change your curriculum over time (e.g., if you fail an exam, there are changes in your favourite field…). Thus, when changing your curriculum, we recommend that you make sure you achieve the required number of credits in your modules once you complete your curriculum so that you can take the state final exam.
The modular system offers students the following advantages:
You have a relatively large amount of freedom in choosing your subjects. The only compulsory subjects are Bachelor Projects I and II; everything else can be freely combined with minor restrictions (minimum credits per module; requisite relationships). It is up to you in which year of study you will complete your selected subjects.
You can tailor your schedule so that you can balance your studies with commuting, part-time jobs, and leisure time.
It is possible to specialise at the very beginning of your studies (for students with talent or interest in a specific field) or, by conversely, “try out” all the fields if you do not yet want to pursue a narrow specialisation.
However, the modules also have the following disadvantages:
Difficult planning of studies: every student “builds” their own curriculum and has to be actively interested in their subjects and studying as a whole; it is all in their hands. Correspondingly, a great deal of freedom brings a great deal of responsibility.
The system involves hundreds of biology students from various years and fields of study. As a result, they meet in lectures randomly depending on what everybody has selected for the semester. Because there is no tangible “class” or “circle”, it may be more difficult to form friendships with peers. For this reason, for the sake of socialisation (but not only this) within your year of study, we strongly recommend that you take part in the “bio freshmen’s stay” and regularly attend classes, field exercises and trips, seasonal courses, and other events organised by the Department of Physical Education, Faculty associations, and student members of the Academic Senate.
Writing a bachelor’s thesis and defending it – the first part of the state final examination – is a mandatory part of your studies. During the final year of study, students register for the subjects Bachelor Project I and Bachelor Project II. These are the only two compulsory subjects in the entire bachelor’s programme (all the module subjects are elective). Bachelor Project I is a seminar organised across the Section that is designed to instruct you on how to choose a topic and write a bachelor’s thesis. Bachelor Project II involves the actual writing of the bachelor’s thesis at the Department under the guidance of a supervisor (see Final Thesis Supervisor and Topic). Even though you can only complete the two subjects in the third year of study, we recommend choosing your supervisor and your thesis topic earlier – you can start as early as in the first year.
The second part of the state final exam is an oral examination that takes the form of a combined exam in one group of topics analogous to a bachelor’s study module. General biology students can choose from modules 1 to 4, “white” biologists take exams in module 1 only, and “green” biologists take exams in modules 3 or 4.
Writing bachelor’s theses and taking bachelor’s exams in the Biology Section is governed by internal rules based on applicable regulations, which are annually approved by the Section’s Scientific Council. The rules encompass the requirements for taking bachelor’s exams and provide important information on choosing and registering thesis topics, scope, and concept specification, including the mandatory requirements for any bachelor’s thesis. You will also learn the rules for defending bachelor’s theses and be given insights into the organisation and course of state bachelor’s exams (oral part).
Look for current information about bachelor’s exams on the bachelor studies website. Because customary practices for writing bachelor’s theses may differ between departments, you should also consult your Department in good time.
Unlike teacher’s fields of study in biology, non-teacher fields do not include compulsory physical education in the curricula. Physical education can, however, be registered on a voluntary basis and you can choose from a wide range of sports and activities. You can find more information on the Department of Physical Education website and in the chapter Physical Education.
The Biology Section is also home to the student associations Arachne Association (Czech only), Biozvěst correspondence course (Czech only), and Fluorescent Night (Czech only), which focus on popularising biology among high school students. You can also join various amateur theatre troupes, the Erasmus club, and other associations that operate across the Faculty.