MSc Practical Entomology
Entomology is increasingly at the forefront of addressing global challenges such as food security and disease transmission. By using insects as model organisms across science we can make discoveries that impact society for the better.
The MSc Practical Entomology course focuses on equipping you with in-depth and hands-on experience of the specialist entomological techniques and practices that underpin the study of insects. These include the collection, preservation, setting, archiving, monitoring, imaging and dissecting, setting you up for a career in insect-related research, policy and beyond.
In the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, our research entomologists are among the best in the world. They have experience in the field and in the lab and are the people who will train you in the practical skills needed to be an effective scientist working with insects.
The course is designed to suit all skill levels: whether you’re keen to start exploring your passion for entomology, or you’d like to further your existing skills and knowledge in entomological practice.
Course Director: Professor Mike Siva-Jothy
If you would like to know more about this course, contact:
You can also visit us throughout the year:
Pathway programme for international students
|About the course||
This 12-month course is designed to provide you with in-depth training in the core skills underpinning any scientific study of insects. You’ll learn how to produce museum-quality levels of sample preparation, material and archiving and how to establish and maintain insect cultures to be able to apply your skills to your entomological interests. Topics that you’ll cover include Taxonomy and Archiving, Husbandry, and Anatomy and Imaging. A full list of modules can be found below.
The biggest part of the course is the individual research project. Here you’ll spend 3 months conducting independent research with the opportunity to work with specialists at the Natural History Museum. You’ll also spend a week in a research station in Portugal undertaking experiments on insect-pollinator systems to cement your learning.
This course is designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge to approach insect-related research or policy issues within a range of public, private, and third sector organisations. To do this, you’ll learn through hands-on practical classes, individual projects, field courses, lectures, seminars and tutorials.
Read more about this course on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students:
For this course, we usually ask for at least a 2:2 BSc honours degree, or equivalent, in biological sciences or another relevant science subject. Applicants with professional experience may also be considered following interview.
We can also accept qualifications from other countries. You can find out which qualifications we accept from your country on the University's webpages for international students.
International pathway programmes
If you are an international student who does not meet our entry requirements, the University of Sheffield International College offers a Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering programme. This programme is designed to develop your academic level in your chosen subject, introduce you to the study skills that will be vital to success and help with language if you need it.
Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at the University of Sheffield.
English Language Requirements
If you have not already studied in a country where English is the majority language, it is likely that you will need to have an English language qualification. We usually ask for:
You can find out whether you need to have an english language qualification, and which other English language qualifications we accept, on the University's webpages for international students.
The English Language Teaching Centre offers English language courses for students who are preparing to study at the University of Sheffield.
|Funding and scholarships||
Funding is available, depending on your fee status, where you live and the course you plan to study. You could also qualify for a repayable postgraduate masters loan to help fund your studies.
Up-to-date fees can be found on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students:
|Taxonomy and Archiving (30 credits)||
This module will provide students with practical techniques and approaches to collecting, identifying, preserving, setting and archiving insect specimens. The emphasis will be on students generating individual collections that span the full taxonomic diversity of insects (and hence the full practical range of techniques used by entomologists). This will be linked to in-depth lectures and workshops that develop understanding and awareness of the taxon-specific issues. There will be a core emphasis on producing museum-quality levels of sample preparation, material and archiving. Students will be required to produce a museum-quality collection of insects set and pinned in the appropriate taxon-specific format with appropriate labelling.
|Husbandry (15 credits)||
This module provides students with practical experience of a range of husbandry techniques that cover the major laboratory-rearing protocols for insects. This will include standard laboratory models (Drosophila, Periplaneta and Tenebrio) as well as a model haematophagous insect (Cimex), and a range of herbivorous insects (e.g. Heliconius, aphids). The module will deal with issues such as nutrient, thermal and humidity regimes, monitoring, assessing and dealing with pathogens, and sourcing and preparing food. The module will be linked with practical tutorials aimed at delivering training and problem-solving. The emphasis will be on establishing, and maintaining insect cultures that produce samples of consistent high quality suitable for data collection. Students will be required to generate a population of insects of target size, age, condition and sex for a temporally constrained experiment protocol.
|Anatomy and Imaging (30 credits)||
This module will examine insect structure from the level of construction, through internal anatomy, tissue structure, cells and sub-cellular organisation. As well as examining insect tissues it will also highlight the relationships between structures and consider symbionts and pathogens. It will train students in a range of techniques from dissection through the preparation of living samples for microscopical analysis, through to fixation and the examination of material for light and electron microscopy. Students will prepare a portfolio of qualitative data from the material they have processed and imaged.
|Field Course (15 credits)||
This one-week field course will focus on conducting insect behavioural techniques to conduct field experiments on insect-pollinator systems in a research station south of Lisbon, Portugal. Students will design, plan and execute a field study on insect behaviour, analyse the data from the study and communicate the results.
|Scientific Skills and Project Management (30 credits)||
This module provides training in the skills and approaches necessary to design, manage, conduct, analyse and present research in whole organism biology and environmental science. Generic skills involve designing and planning an effective and reproducible study, making best use of available resources; collecting and managing data to address study aims; and communicating results orally and in writing to different audiences. The module also covers advanced principles of experimental design, data interpretation, and graphical presentation, introduced in the statistical computing environment using a series of workshops and student-centred learning assignments to develop skills and proficiency.
|Individual Research Project (60 credits)||
This module gives students the opportunity to develop to a high level skills relevant to a career in environmental research or management. Based on their interests and career aspirations, students will conduct either a laboratory of field-based research project, or a desk-based literature review and dissertation, with potential to work with an external organisation. Common elements include the independent planning and production of an original piece of research, under the guidance of an academic supervisor. The project write-up is targeted to a specific audience – either a scientific research or review paper, or a report aimed at a specific sector.
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.
We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in a student’s home department, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.