MSc Human and Molecular Genetics

MSc Human and Molecular Genetics

Following the sequencing of the Human Genome and emerging ideas of personalised medicine becoming a tangible goal, this MSc is a great starting point for students considering a career in medical genetics, or any branch of molecular biology research. This MSc will provide an excellent training in practical molecular biology techniques for biology graduates who have had limited laboratory experience during their first degree, providing you with excellent research and clinical training to support your future career in molecular bioscience.

Applying

How to apply: applying essentials

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

Step 1: create an account

Step 2: complete the application form and select the course you wish to apply to

Postgraduate online application form

Contact

Course Director: Dr Adam Hodgson

If you would like to know anything else about this course, contact Linda Harris.

T: +44 (0)114 222 2750
E: linda.harris@sheffield.ac.uk

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

About the course

If you are fascinated by medical genetics and you are keen to get hands on experience, but your undergraduate BSc degree provided limited practical experience, then this course is for you.

The course is particularly suited to candidates who are especially interested in human genetics and how human genetic diseases are diagnosed clinically at the chromosome and DNA levels.

The course will provide you with an understanding of what causes genome instability and genetic change and an opportunity to put your expertise into practice. The Medical Genetics Laboratory Project is designed to integrate and apply this knowledge to the diagnosis and prognosis of human genetic diseases and cancer.

Meet our students

Students

Bethaney Green

This MSc has helped me secure a place on the NHS Scientist Training Programme for genetics by making me stand out during the application process and at interview. The research project has provided me with knowledge, skills and confidence that will see me through my training post at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital and beyond.

BEthaney Green, NHS Trainee Healthcare Scientist (Genetics), Sheffield Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

READ BETHANEY'S BLOG

Hasan Alnaser

The clinical and academic training aspects of this course helped me to decide what I wanted to do. The course opened my eyes to the type of research that really interested me. The laboratory experiences gave me the necessary skills and helped me to secure a research PhD with Professor Alastair Goldman.

Hasan Alnaser, PhD Research Scientist (Molecular Genetics), The University of Sheffield Medical School (Oncology)

READ HASAN'S BLOG

Read more about this course on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students:
MSc Human and Molecular Genetics

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


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:

  • International English Language Testing Service (IELTS): Overall grade of 7 with 6 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

Fees and funding

Up-to-date fees and funding opportunities can be found on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students. These may include scholarships for home and international students and a 10% discount for University of Sheffield graduates.

Postgraduate taught course fees and funding

Current modules

Courses are made up of core modules, that all students study which are spent in the lab, in seminars, and tutorials, and three additional lecture modules.

Core modules

Laboratory Techniques in Molecular Bioscience

This module is designed to develop and practice core genetic 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

This module lasts six months and gives students an opportunity to conduct a medical genetics research project. As part of this module, students will receive extensive training in human chromosome analysis, human cell line culture and maintenance, microscopy and data analysis. You will communicate your research findings to the scientific community by oral and poster presentations. Students will also complete a dissertation and defend their work through viva voce examination.

Literature Review

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.

Advanced Research Topics

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.

Lecture modules – you will take three modules from the following list*

Genome Stability and Genetic Change 

The course examines in detail the mechanisms that generate genetic variation and maintain genome integrity. There is a strong emphasis on eukaryotes. Underlying mechanisms of genetic recombination, mismatch repair, excision repair and mutagenesis will be discussed. Wherever possible, experimental detail is included to illustrate how conclusions on gene function and interactions are determined.

The Genetics of Human Disease

This module will address the ways in which genetic factors influence our lifetime health. Single disorders are individually rare, but collectively common, affecting as much as 5% of newborn and young children. Common diseases such as cancers, diabetes, heart disease and psychiatric disorders are familial, and twin and other family studies suggest they have a high heritability.

The module will focus on the methodology used to identify the genetic factors involved; that is, whole exome sequencing to identify the causative mutation in single gene disorders, and Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) to identify the risk alleles underlying the susceptibility to common diseases. The rapid advance in the understanding genetic basis of disease has led to the increasing importance of the genetic diagnostic laboratory in the NHS. The scientific tests used in the genetic diagnostic laboratory and the real-life ethical and social issues that arise during genetic counselling will be addressed.

Human Fertility and Reproduction

This module will address the processes underlying fertility: that is, the hormone cycle underlying female egg production, gametogenesis, fertilisation, preimplantation development and implantation. The module will then consider reasons for infertility, assisted conception, cryopreservation of gametes and embryos, and cloning and stem cells. Chromosomal abnormalities that are inherited or arise during gametogenesis limit fertility. The nature of these abnormalities and the ways these arise from mistakes in meiosis and the consequences for fertility will be covered in detail.

Genomic Science

This lecture based course examines in detail the mechanisms that generate genetic variation and maintain genome integrity. There is a strong emphasis on eukaryotes. Underlying mechanisms of genetic recombination, mismatch repair, excision repair and mutagenesis will all be discussed. Wherever possible, experimental detail is included to illustrate how conclusions on gene function and interactions are determined.

Stem Cell Biology

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.

The RNA World

This module will analyse the vital roles that RNA plays in the life of a cell and how RNA is increasingly used as a tool to understand biology. The course will cover the following 'cutting edge' research topics: RNA interference, CRISPR Genome Editing, non-coding RNAs, together with the latest work on well known RNA based activities. These include transcription, RNA splicing, RNA stability, RNA export and translation and how all these processes are coupled in the cell to ensure efficient, quality-controlled gene expression. The module aims to present the latest innovations and discoveries in the RNA world and their application.

*Subject to departmental approval.

The modules listed above are examples from the current academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course.

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.