The Medical School,
Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health
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. Core modules cover the fundamentals. You'll choose specialist modules from the pathway that interests you most.
You'll also receive 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.
A high proportion of students from this course progress to study for a PhD, while others go on to work in the industries.
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.
Medical graduates may also be interested in our clinical applications pathway.
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.
This list shows projects that students chose in 2017–2018. To protect intellectual property we haven’t displayed the most recent projects as they are likely to relate to current research in the investigator’s group. We usually generate a surplus of at least 30 per cent of projects. Students are guaranteed one of their top five choices and usually get their first or second choices. These projects are grouped by pathway title but almost all projects were available across more than one pathway.
- Inducing breast cancer immunogenic cell death with Cancer Killing Viruses
- The role of voltage gated sodium channels in the invasiveness and metastatic potential of cancer cells
- Understanding the role of microtubule dynamics in the homeostasis of axonal transport and chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy
- Transcriptomic and cell cycle analysis of THAP8-deficient cells
- Targeting the endogenous cannabinoid system as alternative to medicinal marijuana for the treatment of prostate cancer
- Elucidating the cellular pathways and machinery involved in epithelial polarisation and cancer using advanced imaging techniques
- DNA replication complexes of the 'high cancer risk' human papillomaviruses (HPV) as targets for anti-viral/anti-cancer therapies
- The small heat shock protein [alpha]B-crystallin (HSPB5) as a regulator of fibrosarcoma response to chemotherapy and radiotherapy
- Experimental medicine
- Investigating the effect of inflammation on veratridine response-profiles in primary sensory neurons
- Developing a bi-functional non-antibiotic biodegradable wound dressing for treating chronic ulcers
- Regulation of BPIFA2: an unexplored role in acute kidney disease
- Development of microfabricated smart scaffolds for bone regeneration
- Do neutrophil-derived microvesicles affect lung epithelial cell permeability?
- Modulating cilia in the mucociliary airway epithelium
- Chronic inflammatory disease in obesity: is leptin driven adipocyte-macrophage inflammatory signalling dependent on TRIB3?
- Therapeutic potential of GSK3[beta] inhibition for anxiety and depression
- Investigation of the generation of force by fibroblasts under the influence of therapeutic ultrasound
- Novel strategy for intraneuronal delivery of proteins for treatment of neurological diseases
- Is packaging of vault RNAs into extracellular vesicles dependent on major vault protein?
- Microbes and infection
- The potential of anti-adhesion therapy in a biofilm infection model
- Role of FlrB in the regulation of bacterial motility and colonisation
- Treating Respiratory Syncytial Viral Infection by Targeting Membrane Microdomains
- The regulation of rhinoviral infection of the human airway by APPL1 and APPL2
- Colicin M derivatives as novel antimicrobials against antibiotic resistant Gram-negative bacteria
- Genetic mechanisms
- Identification of neuronal kill factors secreted by stem cell-derived astrocytes from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients
- DNA damage and repair mechanisms in cellular models of TDP-43 mediated neurodegeneration
- Is SENP1-mediated deSUMOylation of XBP1 Required for Autophagy Induction by ER stress for Cell Survival?
- Characterization of miRNAs targeting TRIB1 and their impact on macrophage function, polarization and lipid metabolism
- In silico functional analysis of inherited cancer susceptibility variants on chromosome 2
- How modulating Notch activity in arteries could represent a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of cardiovascular disease
- Serological and imaging biomarkers in the assessment of right ventricular failure in pulmonary arterial hypertension
- Serological and imaging biomarkers in the assessment of right ventricular failure
- TGF[beta] as a driver of cardiac endothelial damage by radiotherapy
- How can we stabilise leaky blood vessels? Establishing a zebrafish model of VEGF-mediated vascular hyperpermeability
- How do we make blood vessels? Characterising the role of planar cell polarity during blood vessel formation using zebrafish models
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.
Apply for this course
If you're interested in the clinical applications pathway, you'll need to apply directly. Find out how to apply on the department page.
We accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies. Find out more on the Medical School's website.
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 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.
1 year full-time. We are unable to offer a part-time or distance learning study option for this course at present.
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.
After successfully completing your course, there are a wide variety of roles you can pursue, including:
- PhD Studentship in Medical Science
- Research work in Pharmaceutical/Biotech Industry
- Laboratory management
- Clinical trials management
- Laboratory Research Assistant
- Clinical Scientist
- Teacher of Science
- Scientific Writer
Most of our graduates go on to careers in research, the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries, academia or hospital-based laboratories. Our graduates have gone on to work for many prestigious institutions throughout the world, including Cambridge Bioscience, Covance and ADC Biotechnology.
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.
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.
English language requirements
Clinical applications pathway:
Overall IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.
All other pathways:
Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.
Fees and funding
For the Clinical pathway use our course fee lookup tool.
The fees below are applicable to the Genetic Mechanisms; Microbes and infection; Experimental Medicine; Cancer and Cardiovascular pathways.
Dr J G Shaw
+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.