About the Department

Building and Facilities

The Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology is located at Firth Court, one of the original University buildings dating from 1905. Firth Court’s ivy-clad walls and formal quadrangle are situated next to Weston Park and the Mappin Museum. The building stands at the heart of the University campus, adjacent to the Union of Students and the Library, five minutes from the Goodwin Sports Centre, and 15 minutes from the city centre.

On entering the Department the traditional exterior gives way to 50 modern research and teaching laboratories located on four floors; tutorial and seminar rooms; and a lecture theatre. Our laboratories house state-of-the-art facilities and advanced instrumentation in areas such as structural biology, electron and light microscopy, spectroscopy, genomics and cell biology. These facilities provide exciting opportunities to maximise the interactions between the diverse disciplines of structural, molecular and cellular biology.


The Department maintains a significant programme of research-led undergraduate teaching, with approximately 180 students per year enrolled across a wide range of degree courses. With greater than 85% of our students moving on to either higher degrees or to subject-related employment in industry, our degree programmes deliver a significant number of highly qualified individuals to the UK science base.

Our MSc courses are designed to meet the growing demand for skilled, multi-disciplinary bioscientists, and we equip our students for roles in the NHS and other organisations around the world. It is a busy department, with 80 academic staff and research staff, and around 90 PhD students working in a lively research setting.

A strong research pedigree

The impressive research profile of the Department reflects a long-standing tradition of excellence. Our first Professor of Biochemistry was Sir Hans Krebs, who went on to win a Nobel Prize in 1953 for his work on the metabolic pathway that now bears his name. Sir Hans is one of five Nobel Prize-winners who have either studied or worked at the University of Sheffield. From its early emphasis on metabolism, research in the Department has progressively developed to cover most aspects of molecular biology. Indeed, one of the Department’s greatest strengths is its diversity, and the ability for undergraduates to choose their pathway.

The research interests of staff include antibiotic resistance, pathogenicity, genome stability, DNA/RNA function, plant development, structure and function of biomolecules, to name but a few. This diversity gives breadth to our degree courses, and provides a meaningful interdisciplinary approach to many research topics. The development of the Department is a continuing process, and as the field of molecular biology moves forward, new staff appointments are being made in order to provide expertise in emerging fields. We are proud of our outstanding reputation for excellence as exemplified by the REF2014, in which Sheffield came joint 5th in Biological Sciences (out of 44 submissions to UoA 5) and 1st in Allied health Professions/Biomedical Science (out of 94 submissions to UoA 3).

Firth Court [Left] the Department's research facilities occupy most of the Firth Court building, seen here from the South-East, looking towards Broomhill and Crookes where many students live. Completed in 1905, the traditional redbrick exterior gives little hint of the state-of-the-art facilities within

Entrance to Firth Court [Right] the main entrance to the Department is in the South Wing of Firth Court. Assistance may be obtained from the Porters' Lodge (to the left inside the entrance) or the Departmental General Office (Room C102, to the right inside the entrance)