Molecular and Cellular Basis of Human Disease

MSc Molecular and Cellular Basis of Human Disease

BatesonWhole genome sequencing has created exciting new opportunities for studying the molecular and cellular basis of human disease. Researchers at the University of Sheffield are building on this as experts in the use of animal models for therapeutic studies and basic research into disease mechanisms.

We're home to the internationally renowned Bateson Centre, one of the world's first lifecourse biology centres. Here, researchers combine developmental and stem cell biology with translational biomedicine to offer hope in the search for treatments for illnesses such as motor neuron disease. These scientists also work closely with our Centre for Membrane Interactions and Dynamics where cell biologists collaborate with physical scientists, computational biologists and clinicians to develop improved disease therapies.

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.

Find out more about Biomedical Science research at the University of Sheffield


To apply for this course, complete the University of Sheffield's postgraduate online application form.

Online application form

You can find more information about the application process on the University's postgraduate webpages.

How to apply: applying essentials


Course Director: Professor Steve Winder

If you have any questions about this course, contact our admissions office: | +44 (0)114 222 2319

You can also visit us throughout the year:
Postgraduate open days, visit afternoons and online chats

Pathway programme for international students
Don't meet our entry requirements? Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering

About the course

The enhanced analytical, research and trouble-shooting skills attributed to the MSc course are easily transferable to any chosen career.

Akuila Maliqi, MSc Molecular and Cellular Basis of Human Disease  READ MORE

This 12-month course has been built around our expertise in molecular and cellular biology to offer specialist practical and lecture modules on the mechanisms behind human disease. Possible topics include developmental genetics, epithelial physiology 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 working alongside professional scientists, and under the supervision of one of our academic staff. You'll be based either here in Biomedical Science or in a related department at the University of Sheffield, depending on your project. 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.

The Bateson Centre

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.

Example projects include:

  • Are skeletal muscle stem cells impaired in the Duchenne muscular dystrophy mdx mouse model?
  • Identification of Rac1-mediated mechanisms to accelerate skin healing
  • The impact of the stress hormone cortisol on seizure susceptibility in a new Zebrafish genetic model of epilepsy

Read more about this course on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students:

MSc Molecular and Cellular Basis of Human Disease

Entry requirements

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.

Prospective international students: Your country

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.

Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering

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.

  • International English Language Testing Service (IELTS): Overall grade of 6.5 with 6.0 in each component

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.

English language requirements

The English Language Teaching Centre offers English language courses for students who are preparing to study at the University of Sheffield.

English Language Teaching Centre

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.

Funding your postgraduate course

UK/EU scholarships

100+ scholarships image

We're offering 100+ scholarships worth £10,000 each for home students starting a taught postgraduate course in 2019 that can be used towards fees or living expenses.

Find out more

International scholarships

International scholarships image

We're offering 100 International Postgraduate Taught Merit Scholarships, each worth 25% of the original tuition fee for a postgraduate taught programme starting in September 2019.

Find out more

Alumni rewards

Alumni rewards

If you’ve previously graduated from the University and intend to pursue further studies with us then you may be eligible to receive a 10% discount on your tuition fees.

Find out more

Up-to-date fees can be found on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students:

Tuition fees

Current modules

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 take both:

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.

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.

Lecture modules – students choose two

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.

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.

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.