September 2020 start
MSc

Molecular Medicine

The Medical School, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health

This flexible course gives you the chance to choose specialist modules from the pathway that interests you most. You'll carry out a five-month research project, which gives you invaluable laboratory experience. Our graduates go on to PhD study or work in related industries.
Group of three postgraduate students in the medical scool using medical equipment

Course description

Lead academic: Dr Martin Nicklin

This flexible course focuses on the molecular and genetic factors of human diseases. Understanding those factors is crucial to the development of therapies. We'll bring you up to date with the latest technical and scientific advances in biomedical science and therapeutic design, and we'll show you how to use the latest technology to answer research questions for yourself. The course is aimed at both animal or human biology graduates and clinical graduates.

Course structure and modules

The course begins with six core modules that are appropriate to all specialities. These core modules cover the fundamentals.

You'll then choose from one of five specialist pathways. Students decide on their pathway before the optional parts of the course begin in February. You only need to decide 10 weeks into the course when you choose your project, which will also be associated with a particular pathway.

You'll choose specialist modules from the pathway that interests you most.

Explore core modules for MSc Molecular Medicine

Your research project

We also give you practical lab training to prepare you for your research project. The project is five months of invaluable laboratory experience: planning, carrying out, recording and reporting your own research.

How we teach

We use speakers from the pharmaceutical industry to put our teaching into a commercial context. Practising clinical colleagues from the Medical School also contribute to this course.

The taught part of the course provides you with an understanding of the background and scientific methods that are used to investigate human diseases. We emphasise how experiments and experimental programmes are designed and interpreted. We aim to present the most recent scientific developments in each subject area, and we keep our course up to date to reflect changes in the emphasis of biomedical science.

Careers

Over 600 students have graduated from this course, from 55 different countries.

Most of our graduates go on to careers in research, the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries, academia or hospital-based laboratories.

This course is also excellent preparation for a PhD in the UK or elsewhere. Many of our graduates go on to PhDs, sometimes after periods working in science.

Recent graduate destinations

Intercalation

We accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies. Find out more on the Medical School's website.

Apply now

If you're interested in the clinical applications pathway, you'll need to apply directly. Find out how to apply on the department page.

You can choose from six optional pathways:

Genetic Mechanisms pathway
  • Modelling Protein Interactions
  • Gene Networks: Models and Functions
Microbes and infection pathway
  • Virulence Mechanisms of Viruses, Fungi and Protozoa
  • Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogenicity
  • Characterisation of Bacterial Virulence Determinants
Experimental Medicine pathway
  • Molecular and Cellular Basis of Disease
  • Model Systems in Research
  • Novel Therapies
Cancer pathway
  • Molecular Basis of Tumourigenesis and Metastasis
  • Molecular Techniques in Cancer Research
  • Molecular Approaches to Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
Cardiovascular pathway
  • Vascular Cell Biology
  • Experimental Models of Vascular Disease
  • Vascular Disease Therapy and Clinical Practice
Clinical applications pathway (apply directly)

Available only to medical graduates.

This pathway allows you to observe how the latest advances in molecular medicine have been translated into clinical practice in the NHS. You'll have the opportunity to work with research active clinicians in the University Teaching Hospital.

You will be recruited to a specialist clinical team and pursue the taught programme related to the clinical attachment. You will then work with a clinical team for 20 weeks, either for a clinical research project or for clinical observations.

You'll need to apply directly to this pathway.

Clinical pathway modules and how to apply

Teaching

Your modules are taught intensively over a two-week period, generally starting on a Wednesday, which gives you the weekend to catch up.

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, tutorials, laboratory demonstrations, computer practicals and student presentations.

Semesters and holidays

This MSc is an intensive programme, which means it doesn't follow the standard University semester dates and main holidays. We don't have a break during the Easter holiday and you'll be expected to write the literature over the winter holiday.

There are two scheduled breaks: between December and January, and between August and September.

You'll need to make sure that any breaks you intend to take don't disrupt your research project (check with your research project supervisor).

Assessment

Assessment is continuous. Most modules are assessed by written assignments and coursework, although there are some written exams. Two modules are assessed by verbal presentations.

Your research project is assessed by a thesis, possibly with a viva.

Duration

1 year full-time. We are unable to offer a part-time or distancy learning study option for this course at present.

Our expertise

The University of Sheffield is ranked number one in the UK for the world-leading quality of our biomedical research and in the top ten for combined world-leading and internationally excellent research outputs in clinical medicine.

The impactful, high-quality research that we undertake influences how we teach across all of our postgraduate courses. In many areas, our research activity spans the spectrum from basic science up to practical clinical applications. We pride ourselves on collaboration between  clinicians and non-clinicians, and many of our courses include teaching from practising clinicians as well as research-active academics.

Why study molecular medicine with us?

Learn about the latest developments

Molecular biology has proved to be a rich source of new therapeutic agents in the last three decades. Recombinant proteins continue to be developed as successful drugs that principally target extracellular proteins such as cytokines and cell-surface receptors. Protein drugs are almost always injected. Bioinformatic data can now be used to identify new intracellular target proteins and investigate the networks of interactions that the target proteins participate in. It is becoming increasingly possible to model the surfaces of target proteins and use this information to model the interaction of low molecular weight, orally available drugs and even design drugs from scratch.

The completed Human Genome Project revolutionised the ways that we can consider human diseases. Single gene defects that cause rare genetic disorders took man-centuries to discover only 20 years ago. Now, because of next generation sequencing (NGS), single, novel gene defects can sometimes be identified in individual patients with only man-weeks of effort.

It will soon be economically plausible to sequence all of an individual's genes in the clinic. Common diseases, though, are not caused by single gene defects. Many clearly involve the interaction of many susceptibility genes with the environment.

An important part of the environment is the microbiome, the collective of microorganisms that inhabit an individual human. These organisms have strong interactions, many beneficial, with the immune system of the host and are fundamental to the understanding of common inflammatory diseases. It is now relatively simply to determine the composition of a microbiome, again by NGS.

Changes that do not alter DNA sequence, known as epigenetic changes, can modulate the activity of genes too. Genes can be regulated by micro-RNA transcripts. All of these changes can increasingly be analysed by dedicated NGS methods that will be used in clinics of the future to investigate common diseases and to identify the multiple defects that drive individual patients' cancers.

Our course aims to give you insights into all of these new developments and training in how to be a modern biomedical researcher.

A recent external examiner report praised the quality of this course:

This course provides an excellent training in a wide area of biomedical sciences. This explicitly includes soft skills such as critical thinking and processing of information that equips its graduates with the tools for successful careers in both academic and non-academic environments.

Image of two postgraduate medical students using a microscope

The medical school where my department is based is one of the best in UK. This combined with the guest lecturers from the best academics and researchers in their respective fields made University of Sheffield my best choice for pursuing my master’s degree.

My understanding of the molecular mechanisms of various diseases and disorders combined with the knowledge of emerging technologies in medicine would enable me to improve the understanding of various disease which would help in development of novel therapies in the field of medicine.

Amanpreet Kaur Bains
MSc Molecular Medicine

Entry requirements

A 2:1 degree with a substantial element of human or animal biology. Medical students can intercalate after completion of three years of their medical degree. We also welcome medical graduates and graduates in other scientific subjects such as biotechnology.

The UK government has announced a two-year post-study work visa for international students.

English language requirements

Clinical applications pathway:

You will need an IELTS score of 7.0 including a score of 7.0 in the listening component.

All other pathways:

Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

Entry requirements for international students

Fees and funding

For the Clinical pathway use our course fee lookup tool.

The fees above are applicable to the Genetic Mechanisms; Microbes and infection; Experimental Medicine; Cancer and Cardiovascular pathways.

Financial information for postgraduate taught courses

Apply

You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

Apply now

If you're interested in the clinical applications pathway, you'll need to apply directly. Find out how to apply on the department page.

More information

The Medical School

Interested in the student perspective?

You can email our current students about their experiences of postgraduate study at Sheffield and our graduates are often available during open days.

Contact

Dr J G Shaw

iicd-pgt-enquiries@sheffield.ac.uk

+44 114 215 9553

The course information set out here may change before you begin, particularly if you are applying significantly in advance of the start date.