Accreditation of MBB degrees by the Royal Society of Biology

All of our four-year MBiolSci programmes have received Advanced Accreditation from the Royal Society of Biology. Advanced Degree Accreditation by the Society recognises academic excellence in the biosciences, and highlights degrees that educate the research and development leaders and innovators of the future. The Advanced Accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from the programme meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including gaining a substantial period of research experience. In recognition of the period of practice, a graduate of an Advanced Accredited programme can apply for membership of the Royal Society of Biology at Member (MSB) level after just two years of practice, rather than the usual three years. This will allow these graduates to attain the qualifications of Chartered Biologist or Chartered Scientist one year sooner than graduates from other degree programmes.

Hayley Owen receives a certificate

The Royal Society of Biology, a professional body for bioscientists, announced in March 2012 that the MBiolSci in Biochemistry at Sheffield is one of only four courses in the UK to be accredited in their first round of course accreditations. In February 2015 they announced that all of our MBiolSci degree programmes have received Advanced Accreditation.

The award of the accreditation followed a detailed visit and scrutinisation of the course details. The team particularly welcomed:

The integration of chemistry into the course: Chemistry is not taught as a separate subject, but forms part of many of our core modules.

Our emphasis on practical skills: Throughout the first and second year, students typically have two three-hour practical sessions a week plus a third session that provides a deeper understanding of the practical material. In the third year, students do a research project. The fourth year is almost entirely occupied by a research project.

Training provided in data handling and calculations: Throughout the first two years, analytical sessions give practice in data handling skills. All students study a data handling module in the third year, which gives further practice in calculation, and provides a formal training in experimental design, presentation and analysis of results, and reading the scientific literature.

A stepwise approach to acquiring and assessing practical scientific skills: In the first year, the emphasis is mainly about learning basic knowledge and technical skills, which is also reflected in the way we assess the first year mainly by multiple choice exams. Going into the second and third years, the emphasis changes to gaining an understanding and making connections between different topics, with an increased emphasis in assessments on essays and coursework. In the fourth year, students attend seminars by distinguished external speakers and reflect on them; they write up their research as a detailed literature survey and lab report similar to scientific papers; they participate in a journal club; and they have a viva exam at the end, in very much the same way that PhD students do.

Preparation for PhD study: The fourth year provides training (and assessment) in the skills needed for PhD research, and most of our fourth year graduates go on to do PhDs.

Flexibility to move between the three-year BSc and four-year MBiolSci degree programmes: Students can change their degree programme (both the subject and the length) at any point up to the end of the third year. We encourage this, because students' interests, needs and understanding change as they progress.

Research-led teaching in the Department: All staff in the Department teach, and many are internationally recognised experts in their fields.
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Dr Anderson and David Willetts

At the ceremony in London, David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said "The Society of Biology’s Accreditation Programme will signpost students to the degree courses recognised by industry as providing the essential scientific and practical skills needed for a career in life sciences."

Prof David Hornby, then Head of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, added "We are delighted to be honoured in this way. The accreditation recognises the emphasis of this course on students acquiring practical experience in a research lab, and thus giving our students the best possible opportunity to secure PhD programmes of their choice and high quality positions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector." The photo shows David Willetts presenting the accreditation certificate to Dr Anderson, Director of Studies in MBB.

The Programme has been developed with the support of government, higher education, industry, and the Society of Biology’s member organisations.

Read the full press release

The king of Sharjah receiving the certificate

Degree in Biotechnology from the University of Sharjah

We are delighted to report that the Society of Biology has also accredited the Biotechnology degree from the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates with an International Recognition Certificate. This is the first certificate to be awarded by the Society of Biology for a degree outside the UK. This degree is a pioneering collaboration between MBB and the University of Sharjah. For more details on this story, visit the MBB News site.

The photo comes from the 2012 summer graduation ceremony at the University of Sharjah, at which Prof Mike Fowler presented the Society of Biology's accreditation certificate to the ruler of Sharjah, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi.