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.

Meet our students

NHS placement opportunities

Students have the opportunity for clinical work placements in the Sheffield Diagnostic Genetics Service, based in the Sheffield Children’s Hospital, as part of this course.


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 Adam Hodgson

If you would like to know anything else about this course, contact: | +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

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 12 month 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

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


After your degree

Through professional laboratory training and the opportunity to build clinical competence recognised by diagnostic facilities across the UK, MSc Human and Molecular Genetics graduates will be well equipped to pursue a career in healthcare diagnostics, working for healthcare providers such as the NHS, or companies allied to the provision of healthcare such as pharmaceutical companies.

Previous graduates are now working in roles including:

  • NHS Scientist Training Programme in Genomic Counselling, Cancer Genomics and Genomics at various NHS Trusts
  • Research Assistant, Wellcome Trust and Cell Guidance Systems
  • Genetic Technologist at various NHS Foundation Trusts
  • Lab Technician, Lisbon University
  • Biotechnology Specialist, Shusaku Yamamoto
  • Medical Technical Officer, UK NEQAS
  • Diagnostic Scientist, Genesis Genetics

Students have also gone on to PhD training in:

  • Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Bioinformatics

Read our graduate stories

The University's Careers Service runs workshops on CV and application writing, job hunting and preparing for interviews. They offer events where you can meet employers, and opportunities to get work experience while you study. The Careers Service will even continue to support you for three years after you graduate.

Graduate spotlight

Katie Jones 300

Katie Jones
Now: NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) Cancer Genomics, North Bristol NHS Trust

Read Katie's story

Entry requirements

For this course, we usually ask for a 2:1 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 also accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies.

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

Through the MSc, Sarah spent 10 weeks with the pre-karyotyping oncology team at Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust. Since graduating, Sarah has joined the NHS Scientist Training Programme.

Photograph - Sarah French

The opportunities that were available to me during my MSc Human and Molecular Genetics course have allowed me to pursue my desired career path, joining the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) Genomics, but more importantly, continue to positively contribute to the progression of public health care.

Sarah French - READ MORE

Hasan believes that it was the training during his MSc that helped him to secure his current PhD position within the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology here at Sheffield.

Hasan Alnaser

The academic training and the clinical aspect of this course not only helped me to decide what I wanted to do, but helped me to  secure a PhD position in the department, studying the molecular pathways that govern chromosome segregation during cell division.

Hasan Alnaser - READ MORE

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 (30 credits)

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 (60 credits)

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 (30 credits)

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 (15 credits)

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 (15 credits)

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 (15 credits)

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 Reproduction and Fertility (15 credits)

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 (15 credits)

This module will cover in detail how genome sequencing can be used to understand the structure of human populations, to profile microbial diversity and to trace the origins of disease outbreaks. It will also cover how methods such as RNA-seq, ChIP-seq and 4C can be used to investigate the genome-wide transcriptional profile, the chromatin landscape and the three-dimensional structure of the genome. Finally the use of technologies such as mass spectrometry to investigate the complete proteome of a cell will be covered.

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.

The RNA World (15 credits)

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.

Genetic Pathways from Zygote to Organism (15 credits)

Multicellular organisms develop from a single zygote and in the case of humans, culminates in a mature human body consisting of over a trillion cells and around 200 different cells types. This module will examine the developmental mechanisms and genes that regulate pattern formation and cell identity in multicellular eukaryotes. We will focus on the role of key genes in the regulation of different developmental processes and the mechanisms that determine the correct temporal and spatial expression of these genes. We will illustrate these principles using examples from model organisms including Mus Musculus, Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster and Arabidopsis thaliana. These systems have significantly informed our understanding of human disease but also demonstrate the different mechanisms through which cell fate and complexity are controlled.

*Subject to departmental approval.

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.