Anyone, who enjoys yogurt or a good beer, knows what microorganisms can achieve. The smallest living organisms have been used for centuries to produce foodstuffs. One of the tasks of biotechnology is to turn them into more efficient microbial factories in the future.The metabolism of microorganisms, for example, is increasingly used to acquire energy from biomass or in the production of tailor-made enzymes or other molecules. On the other hand, targeted disruption of the cell metabolism or the suppresion of propagation can contribute to successfully fighting dangerous microorganisms.As the interface of biology, chemistry, bioinformatics, and chemical engineering, biotechnology offers an interdisciplinary research platform, which makes microorganisms predictable and able to be used in a controlled matter for certain purposes. The skills that budding biotechnologists acquire at RWTH are likewise diverse. The spectrum ranges from microbiology to genetics to biochemical engineering.In support of this intensive, fundamental training, only a few specialization opportunities are offered during Bachelor's studies. During subsequent Master's studies, students select one of four classical specializations in biotechnology.

  • The term white biotechnology refers to biotechnology used in industry. It focuses on the technical acquisition of tailor-made products from cellular metabolism and the industrial increase of the yield of modern bioreactors.
  • Red biotechnology aims for medical application. It strives to produce therapeutic proteins, tailor-made enzymes, reagents, pharmaceuticals, and vaccines. Furthermore, it develops new strategies to fight illnesses, which can disrupt metabolism or the propagation of pathogens.
  • In green biotechnology focus is placed on plants and plant biomass. Its objective, for example, is plant resistance, yield increase, and the production of microbial-supported processes for obtaining energy from biomass and using byproducts.
  • Biochemical engineers develops innovative biotechnological production processes, partially in collaboration with mechanical engineers. Their spectrum of work ranges from decomposition of biogenic raw materials to simulation and reactor technology to tailor-made products.

Programme Structure

The course of study offers many institute internships and first-class lab training. Exernal internships or final papers at companies or partner research institutions, such as the Fraunhofer institutes or Forshungszentrum Jülich, offer important experiences in application.

Biological Modules Biotechnological Modules Mathematic, Chemical, and Physical Modules
1 Cellular Biology, Biochemistry Fundamentals of Biotechnology Inorganic Chemistry (including internship), Mathematics
2 Microbiology, Genetics, Quantitative Biology   Organic Chemistry (including internship), Physics
3 Bioinformatics, Bioanalytics, Microbiological Internship Molecular Biotechnology, Enzyme Technology, Computational Biotechnology Physical Chemistry, Physical Internship
4 Physiology of Microorganisms Process Engineering, Bioreactor Technology, and Math Tutorial Physical-Chemical Internship
5 Immunology I Reaction Engineering and Math Tutorial, Immunology, Interdisciplinary Block Internship, Biotechnology/Bio-process Engineering  
Economic fundamentals and presentation of results, additional qualifications

Molecular Biotechnology Block Internship, Project-Oriented Methodology Practical, Bachelor's Thesis, Bachelor's Colloquium


Programs Abroad

Research institutions worldwide work on biological questions of global importance. Thus, participation in partnership programs with international universities or research institutes is an irreplacable experience for students during their studies. The Department of Biology offers study and internship opportunities around the world. In the EU mobility program ERASMUS+ alone it maintains partnerships with 32 renowned European universities. Other partnerships make study or internship periods possible in North America, South America, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries and Australia.

Students profit not only from the Faculty's own study abroad programs but also from the University's strategic partnerships with international universities. For example, while completing their final project or paper they can complete a brief stay at one of the IDEA League universities. The UROP Abroad program, the only one of its kind in Germany, offers the possibility to participate in research projects at international universities as a Bachelor student.

Entry Requirement

  • Abitur or equivalent HZB
  • Proficiency in German      

Career Prospects

Interest in biotech-products remains uninterrupted and will only grow in the future. As an application-oriented science, biotechnology offers diverse entry-level opportunities for graduates.The first option is, of course, scientific research. However, the industrial application of biotechnological processes offers a breadth of fields of activitiy.In the medical and pharmaceutical industry biotechnologists support the development of medications, vaccines, and diagnostic methods. Many biotechnological service providers work in agriculture. They are devoted to the optimization of fodder or breeding stress-resistant crops. In the energy sector the trend is moving towards the more sustainable use of existing resources. Here, specialists are needed for energy production from biomass. Last but not least, the chemical industry is interested in biotechnological expertise as biocatalytic processes are increasingly being implemented.

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