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MSc Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

The biotechnological applications of molecular biology underpin major industries in the medical and agricultural sectors. Insights from the study of genetic material are already benefiting the development of new diagnostic tests, therapeutic agents, bioenergy production systems, improved crops and more. The range and value of these developments is rapidly increasing.

This MSc Molecular Biology and Biotechnology course provides training for bioscience graduates to develop confidence and independence in their practical skills and knowledge relevant to careers in this area. Successful graduates will be ready to undertake further study at PhD level or to enter employment in the biotechnology sector. Previous students have secured successful careers Human DNA sequencing and pursuing PhD study.

Meet our students

The project for our laboratory module involved the use of CRISPR/Cas9 mechanism as a gene editing tool which enhanced my skills in molecular cloning and provided a deeper understanding of this mechanism.

Alison Fernandes, MSc Molecular biology and biotechnology


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: Dr Qaiser Sheikh

If you would like to know anything else about this course, contact: mbb-pgt-apply@sheffield.ac.uk | +44 (0)114 222 2750

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

This course is aimed at training of international and home students (from allied biological fields) to develop confidence and independence to become reliable researchers and investigators. Theoretical aspects of biotechnology and molecular biology will be taught in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and the practical training and individual research project will be based in state-of-the-art laboratories in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

Example research projects include:

  • Plant genetic engineering
  • Engineering of proteins of commercial importance for enhanced function
  • Gene function analysis by random mutagenesis

The MSc Molecular Biology and Biotechnology course lasts for one year and includes options of choosing taught modules. The course begins in September and includes nine months of laboratory experience and research, lectures and seminars, essay writing and a dissertation.

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

MSc Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Entry requirements

For this course, we usually ask for a first class or second class BSc honours degree, or equivalent, in a molecular biology related subject (eg, biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology, microbiology). 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.

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 laboratory modules:

Laboratory Techniques in Molecular Bioscience (30 credits)

Dr Qaiser Sheikh

This module is designed to develop and practice core molecular biology and biochemical techniques so that students may progress confidently to the research project. Over a period of three months, students will receive training in CRISPR genome editing technology in addition to other molecular biology techniques including; protein and DNA isolation, SDS PAGE, Western analysis, ion exchange chromatography, protein overexpression, PCR, plasmid construction, restriction mapping and BLAST DNA sequence analysis.

Research Project (60 credits)

Dr Qaiser Sheikh

This module lasts for six months and gives students an opportunity to conduct their own research project. Students will receive extensive training in molecular biology and biotechnology. Examples of possible research projects include:

  • Plant genetic engineering
  • Engineering of proteins of commercial importance for enhanced function
  • Gene function analysis by random mutagenesis

You will communicate your research findings to the scientific community by oral and poster presentations. Students will also complete dissertation and defend their work through viva voce examination.

Core lecture and tutorial modules:

Advanced Research Topics (15 credits)

Dr Phil Mitchell

This course will develop the ability of students to acquire information through the medium of research seminars. It will give insight into the development of scientific ideas, and acquaint students with the most recent developments in selected areas. Students will attend a series of seminars, given as part of the departmental research seminar programme, and will write a brief report on each. They will take part in a journal club, involving studying, presenting and discussing papers from the scientific literature. They will also undertake more extensive research into the scientific literature relevant to a subset of topics. Reporting of this work will include oral presentations in which students will practice modern presentation techniques.

Literature Review (15 credits)

Dr Qaiser Sheikh

This module involves an in-depth survey of the current literature relevant to the student's Laboratory Project. Students will build upon the skills in literature searching and interpretation they have developed in their undergraduate studies, making use of a variety of databases and literature-searching tools.

Cells as Factories (15 credits)

Dr Jim Gilmour

The module will explore the concept of living organisms and enzymes as `factories' with a wide potential for product synthesis and biocatalysis. Areas of biotechnology and the market/product sectors will be discussed using three case studies in algal biofuels, therapeutic proteins and study of engineered enzymes of commercial importance. The principles which underpin biological industrial processes will be examined and developed through these case studies and will include such key elements as organism selection and improvement, process format, optimisation of physiology, biochemistry and environment to achieve maximum productivity, as well as consequences of scale up from laboratory to industrial level.

Choice of three lecture modules:

Advanced Bioprocess Design Project (15 credits)

Dr Robert Falconer (Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering)

This module will cover the design of whole biomanufacturing processes for the manufacture of biotherapeutic proteins. This will include a taught component where process design principles and practice will be learnt plus assistance during the design process where the student will produce a process design and accompanying report.

Advanced Biochemical Engineering (15 credits)

Professor Will Zimmerman (Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering)

This module will extend the use of classical chemical engineering principles of mass balance, energy balance and mass transfer to unit operations used in the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals. This will include fermentation, cell culture reactors, homogenisation, centrifuging, filtration and chromatography. Unit operation specific models will also be applied to predict these operations effectiveness.

The Microbiology of Extreme Environments (15 credits)

Dr Jim Gilmour

This module will discusses about extreme environments, its types and biodiversity as well as importance of extremophiles. The mechanisms used by microorganisms to grow in extreme environments on Earth alongside the industrial applications of extremophiles will be evaluated. During this module a dialogue of results relating to astrobiology (potential survival of microorganisms in space) using planetary probes and landers will also be appraised. Finally, these lectures will explore how proteins from thermophiles, psychrophiles and halophiles have adapted to their extreme environments (at a molecular level), using a number of different examples.

Plant Biotechnology (15 credits)

Dr Stuart Casson

This course covers the production of transgenic plants and how this technology has resulted in genetically engineered crop plants that have improved qualities or produce novel products including vaccines! It introduces modern alternative techniques such as marker assisted plant breeding and genome editing technology that can be used to produce genetically improved non GM crop varieties, as well as detailing some of the grand challenges for the next generation of crop improvement. The release of engineered crops is having a major impact on society raising issues of economic, ethical, moral and ecological importance. An appreciation of these issues will be developed.

The RNA World (15 credits)

Professor Stuart Wilson

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of how RNA is made and used with an emphasis on eukaryotic cells. We will show how mRNAs are made through multiple different processing steps and how the cell couples all these together to ensure efficiency of synthesis and quality control of the product. How mRNAs are moved around in the cell will also be discussed and how this can go wrong in human diseases. We will also introduce other important forms of RNA in the cell such as miRNAs and piRNAs and the biological roles they play in processes such as RNA interference. Embedded within this course will be a series of lectures covering principle techniques used universally for eukaryotic molecular biology research such as CRISPR genome editing and RNA interference. The course will therefore be of interest to anyone considering a future career in molecular biology 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.

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.