MSc Biomedical Science
Biomedical science is about deepening our understanding of the human body in health and disease, helping to develop treatments that can save and improve lives. This research-led masters course is taught by experts in key areas of modern biology, including cell biology, developmental biology, neuroscience and stem cells.
Over the last twenty years, research in biomedical science has revolutionised our understanding of biological systems. Important discoveries continue to be made here at the University of Sheffield, where researchers are working with partner institutions to apply results from the lab to regenerative treatments for diseases like Parkinson's. Other researchers have transplanted stem cells to restore the hearing in gerbils, and offered hope in the search for treatments for motor neuron disease.
Students have access to outstanding, purpose-built facilities such as our Drosophila and Zebrafish Facilities, where studies of model organisms are helping researchers to identify human disease pathways. We also host state-of-the-art light microscopy and electron microscopy facilities, drug and RNAi screening facilities, and proteomics and single cell omics facilities. This means we can provide training in the analysis of biological systems from the molecular and cellular level to tissues and whole organisms.
Course Director: Dr Anne-Gaelle Borycki
If you have any questions about this course, contact our admissions office: firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 (0)114 222 2319
You can also visit us throughout the year:
Pathway programme for international students
|About the course||
This 12-month course brings together expertise from across Biomedical Science to offer a wide range of practical and lecture modules in cell biology, developmental biology, neuroscience and stem cells. This gives you the flexibility to cover a range of bioscience topics, or specialise, depending on your career goals. Possible topics include developmental genetics, epithelial physiology, tissue engineering and cancer biology – a full list of current modules is given below. You'll also get training in the skills every professional scientist needs, such as research ethics and literature analysis.
The biggest part of your degree will be your research project. You'll be based in one of our world-class research groups, working alongside professional scientists and under the supervision of one of our academic staff. They'll train you to use the specialist equipment that you'll need to complete your project, and provide support to help you design your experiments, analyse your results and present your findings.
Throughout your degree, you'll be taught through lectures, practical sessions and lab placements. The course is designed to build on your undergraduate studies or related work experience so that you can gain the specialist knowledge and practical skills required for a great career in biomedical science, including further study at PhD level.
Discover our research – from cells to organisms in health and disease
Read more about this course on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students:
For this course, we usually ask for a good upper second class (2:1) honours degree, or equivalent, in a biomedical or related subject such as biochemistry, genetics, zoology, cell biology or biochemistry. Applicants with relevant work experience and good academic potential are also encouraged to apply.
We also accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies.
We can also accept equivalent 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.
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:
Core modules – students take all four:
|Literature Review (30 credits)||
Before starting on the laboratory component of their research, project students must undertake an in depth survey of the literature relevant to the project and prepare a research proposal. Students will be required to carry out an exhaustive search of material relevant to their project using the resources of the University, including the web. This will involve primarily private study by the student under the direction of the project supervisor who will meet with the student at regular intervals to ensure satisfactory progress.
|Laboratory Research Project (60 credits)||
The unit aims to provide students with experience of laboratory research and develop their practical and organisational skills required for a career in science. Students undertake a project related to their area of specialization which reflects the research activities in the Department. Projects will run in the laboratories of the research groups and although students will have contact with various staff, each student will have an identified member of staff as their project supervisor. Students will gain experience of experimental design and execution and in the collation, interpretation and presentation of data. Assessment of the project will be based on; a written report, laboratory performance, delivery and defence of an oral presentation, a poster presentation and an oral examination.
|Critical Analysis of Current Science (15 credits)||
This unit is designed to develop the student’s ability to read and understand the scientific literature relating to their own research area and also enable them to integrate their own work into the wider scientific field. The unit consists of three components; a tutorial/seminar programme of up to 16 tutorial sessions designed to develop student skills in reading, understanding and criticising scientific literature; attendance at departmentally organised review lectures covering broad areas of science delivered by internationally recognised scientists; participation in all support sessions provided by the research groups in support of their research programme. Each component would be assessed separately with written reports, some undertaken under formal examination conditions.
|Ethics and Public Awareness of Science (15 credits)||
This unit introduces an outline of the legislative limitations and ethical influences on biomedical science. It will address how these are influenced by public attitudes and explore how these, in turn, are influenced by the scientific community. The unit will contain a factual and objective core, however students will be encouraged to explore, develop and express their own beliefs and value systems.
Practical modules – students choose two:
|Practical Developmental Genetics (15 credits)||
The practical unit aims to provide students with experience of research techniques in developmental biology. Students will perform experiments designed to reveal molecular and cellular principles underpinning developmental mechanisms. Emphasis will be placed on exploiting classical genetic and molecular resources available in model organisms such as zebrafish, Drosophila melanogaster, and chick for studying gene function in development. Students will gain experience of performing experimental work, data collection and interpretation of results.
|Practical Cell Biology (15 credits)||
The practical unit will provide students with experience of practical cell biology. Students will be given the opportunity to establish and optimise ELISA-based assays for the endocytic pathway and the role of the cytoskeleton will be investigated in aspects of the endocytic process using inhibitors and fluorescence microscopy of fixed cells. Particular emphasis will be placed on the development, execution and interpretation of experimental protocols as is standard practice in a research laboratory.
|Neuroscience Techniques (15 credits)||
This module aims to introduce students to a range of laboratory techniques. Students are given the principles of tissue culture, basic sterile technique and the aseptic preparation of buffers and media. Reference is made to the special requirements of neural cell culture. They will also gain experience of cell culture together with training in aspects of cryostat and paraffin section preparation. Class practical sessions utilise student-prepared sections and cells to perform standard histochemical and immunohistochemical procedures, and different methods for tract tracing within nervous system tissue. Images derived from the practicals are analysed using computer based image processing techniques.
|Physiology and Pharmacology (15 credits)||
The unit will provide lectures on traditional receptor theory and practical classes giving experience of isolated tissue responses and data analysis, interpretation and presentation. Common techniques employed by the pharmaceutical industry will be used to generate data from isolated living tissues. In problem-solving sessions students will be shown how to enter and manipulate the data in relevant software in order to determine drug affinities, potency and intrinsic activities. Group discussions will bring together all the class data to allow conclusions to be made about the receptor populations being studied.
Numbers of participants may be restricted on practical modules in order to maintain an effective laboratory learning experience.
Lecture modules – students choose two:
|Sensory Neuroscience (15 credits)||
This module covers the adult function and functional development of auditory, visual and whisker systems, including sensory transduction, signal selectivity and information coding. It will focus primarily on the periphery but will include representation of information in central pathways, with attention to animal models including mammals, fish and flies. The aims will be to show how physiological and developmental mechanisms combine to create the exquisite structural and functional tuning of sensory systems to the external world and how complex sensory information is encoded in the nervous system. Special attention will be given to comparative analysis of auditory and visual systems.
|Modelling Human Disease and Dysfunction (15 credits)||
This unit aims to provide students with an understanding of the way that post-genomic developmental biology is impacting on our ability to understand, and treat, human disease. Students will be introduced to some of the major experimental systems and approaches that are pertinent to disease modelling. These include genetically-tractable animal model systems, in vitro cellular systems, including stem cells, and bioinformatics. The principles involved in establishing how these systems can be exploited to develop new strategies for regeneration, and the prevention of degeneration, will be explored. Lectures will be interspersed with critical evaluations of primary research papers, so that students gain experience of analysing experimental work, data presentation and interpretation of results.
|Developmental Neurobiology (15 credits)||
This course examines the mechanisms that underlie development of the nervous system during embryogenesis. Examples will be described from a variety of model organisms to introduce key steps in the establishment of the CNS and PNS, steps that include neural induction, neural patterning, early segregation of CNS and PNS, the establishment and refinement of connectivity in the nervous system. Recent research from teachers of this course, and from both the classical and current literature is used to analyse and evaluate theories and mechanisms of establishment of the functional nervous system.
|Cancer Biology (15 credits)||
The unit will provide a description and explanation of the characteristics of tumour cells and their relationship to the tissues of origin; genetic and environmental factors in the origins of tumours; cell culture models and animal models; carcinogenesis as a multi-step process, including the concept of stem cells, (cell proliferation and cell differentiation, metastasis and tumour-host interactions; oncogenes, tumour suppressor genes and oncogenic viruses; the relationships between tumour biology and developmental biology; tumour immunology; examples of particular tumours will be used to illustrate the foregoing topics.
|Epithelial Physiology in Health and Disease (15 credits)||
The aim of this course is to provide an understanding of the strategies used by epithelia to effect transport of ions and water, and to explore the pathophysiological states associated with a number of inherited diseases, such as cystic fibrosis. Teaching will consist of conventional lectures together with problem solving exercises. The module initially considers the general properties of epithelia, before focusing on the molecular basis of epithelial transport in health and disease. The emphasis throughout will be to appreciate how experimental research informs our understanding of these issues, reflecting the University’s mission statement to lead teaching by current research.
|Stem Cell Biology (15 credits)||
This lecture course will provide a thorough grounding in the biology of stem cells and regenerative medicine, with special reference to the molecular and genetic control of cell fate specification and differentiation. Students will also be encouraged to consider the clinical use of stem cells and their derivatives as well as the ethical issues that these raise. As this is a rapidly developing field, strong emphasis will be placed on understanding the current controversies in the literature.
|Principles of Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering (15 credits)||
The aim of this unit is to equip students with knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of tissue engineering. It will also develop their ability to evaluate current and potential tissue engineering applications, and to make suggestions for novel approaches.
|Molecular Physiology of Ion Channels in Health and Disease (15 credits)||
The aim of this module is to provide an understanding of ion channel physiology and pathophysiology in a variety of electrically excitable cells such as muscle and the nervous system, and to give an appreciation of the methodologies used in modern ion channel research.
|Membrane Receptors (15 credits)||
The aim of this module is to provide an understanding of membrane receptors for extracellular signalling molecules, including their molecular structure and transduction mechanisms, their roles in cell physiology, and their exploitation as targets for therapeutic drugs.
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.
Some optional practical and lecture modules share the curriculum with final year undergraduates.
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.