Systematics, Evolution, Paleontology (SEP)

The MS program focuses on the description and analysis of the products of biological evolution, at all scales of space and time.

Building on the specific missions and strengths of Sorbonne University and the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, specialists from both institutions have created a synergy to offer excellent teaching in the European context.

The MS program is one of the only graduate programs in systematics and a leader in paleontology. It offers excellent training to students wishing to acquire expertise in the field of systematics and its methods, paleontology, identification of taxa, at the origin of biological diversity, management of natural heritage and/or computer science, applied to biodiversity.

Systematics, Evolution, Paleontology (SEP)


The objective of the program is to provide graduates of the Master's program with a solid foundation of fundamental skills in modern concepts and methods in the sciences of evolution, systematics and (paleo)biodiversity.

The MS program has a strong disciplinary component related to the description and analysis of biodiversity.

The originality and richness of the theoretical and methodological content provides a unique expertise, but one that can be valued in various professional environments that call for scientific methodology, communication and teamwork.



The SEP program is jointly managed by Sorbonne University and the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (MNHN). Most of the teaching is shared. The teaching and teacher-researchers of the two institutions make equal contributions to the teaching on offer.

Semester 1

Students take the following courses:

  • Statistics and data analysis (3 ECTS)
  • Major Environmental Issues (3 ECTS)
  • Geographic Information Systems (3 ECTS)
  • English (3 ECTS)

In addition, there are two basic training courses:

  • Fundamentals of Biodiversity Ecology Evolution (9 ECTS) shared with the SEP and EPET courses
  • Taxonomy Phylogeny (9 ECTS)

Semester 2

Students take the following courses:

  • Orientation and Professional Placement (3 ECTS)
  • Environmental Law (3 ECTS)
  • Methodology (3 ECTS)
  • Modeling (3 ECTS)
  • Internship (6 ECTS)

The students follow the 12 remaining ECTS among the following panel of UE, of 6 ECTS each, shared with the MNHN :

  • Tree and Wood (6 ECTS)
  • Design, representation, analysis and object-based programming (6 ECTS)
  • Adaptation and phylogeny (Banyuls)(6 ECTS)
  • Comparative Anatomy (Osteology of Vertebrates)(3 ECTS)
  • Paleontological archives(6 ECTS)
  • Databases (3 ECTS)
  • Scientific drawings (3 ECTS)
  • Methods of discrimination and taxonomic identification (3 ECTS)
  • The Origin of Species (3 ECTS)
  • Paleontology
  • From field to analysis in paleontology (3 ECTS)
  • Paleoclimatology (3 ECTS, shared with STePE)

Semester 3

The specialty offers 5 sub-courses:

  • Systematics and Evolution
  • History of biodiversity and Paleontology
  • International course Biodiversity and Tropical Plant Environments (BEVT)
  • Erasmus Mundus TROPIMUNDO International Course
  • Computer science applied to biodiversity

Semester 4

Semester 4 is dedicated to the research internship which can take place in a laboratory of Sorbonne University, MNHN, or another French university, a laboratory in a European country, the Research and Development department of a company or a consulting firm.


Target audience and prerequisites

Holders of a bachelor's degree in biology or geosciences, bi-disciplinarians, who are motivated by the biology of current and fossil organisms, the study of evolution, biodiversity and  theoretical biology.

Each application is evaluated by at least three members of the teaching staff and the selection of candidates is made in consultation between SU and MNHN. The selection of candidates is based on the quality of their academic records, the clarity of their professional projects and their motivations for the study of systematics, evolution and/or paleontology.



Academic research (researchers / teacher-researchers):

  • Depending on the year, 25 to 80% of students go on to complete a thesis in France or abroad and train for careers as researchers, teacher-researchers, teachers, and research engineers, mainly in the public sector (universities, museums, CNRS, INRA, IRD).

Non-Academic Professions:

  • Engineer in the public service, research departments or local authorities: Environmental project management, Floristic and faunistic expertise, Agroforestry.
  • Museology. Heritage collections: paleontological heritage manager, collection manager.
  • Communications and media: science advisor and mediator, science journalist, science animator.
  • R&D project manager in the public sector, private sector and non-profit organizations.
  • Research support functions.



Responsible for the course




Nadia FOKA

Campus Pierre et Marie Curie
Département de SDUEE
Tour 46-00, 1er étage

Case courrier 210
4, place Jussieu
75005 Paris