2021 start

Plant and Microbial Biology

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, Faculty of Science

Research plants and microbes at our Institute for Sustainable Food or spend six months on an industrial placement as part of this research-focussed course.
Plant Sciences student

Course description

Plants and microbes are fundamental to food security, as well as being central to global ecosystems. So at Sheffield we study them from every angle: from the molecular level up to whole organisms, in the context of ecosystems, industry and major global challenges.

Sheffield is home to the Institute for Sustainable Food, where our world-class research expertise spans topics including plant development, plant biotechnology, soil health, genomics, food security, sustainable agriculture, photosynthesis, plant-microbe interactions, plant immunology, and climate change biology, allowing you to examine the effects of past, present and future climates on plants and the wider environment.

It is possible for students with a particular interest in agricultural or horticultural research to complete their MRes project at Enza Zaden in the Netherlands or Rothamsted Research in the UK.

Research experience

This research-focused MRes course allows you to spend 12 months embedded in one of our research groups, working alongside students and staff who are at the forefront of their research field. Throughout your course, you’ll develop your research skills, giving you the opportunity to contribute new knowledge in your chosen area.

Whether you complete your research in the field, the lab or in industry, in the UK or abroad, your masters includes funding for your project. Previous students have conducted fieldwork in locations including Brazil, South Africa and Sweden as well as closer to home in the wonderful Peak District National Park on our doorstep.

After your degree

This MRes degree will train you in the advanced skills in experimental design, data analysis and presentation to become a research leader yourself, ready for an exciting career in industry or the environmental sector, or further study to PhD level.

How to apply

Because of the research-intensive nature of this course, we ask you to include a short supporting statement with your application. This should explain how your interests and experience relate to the plant and microbial biology research we do in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, which particular supervisors or research groups you would be most interested in working with and if you'd like to be considered for an industrial placement at our P3 centre.

Apply now


Core modules

  • Research Project
  • Literature Review 
  • Science Communication for Researchers
  • Scientific Skills and Project Management

The research project accounts for two-thirds of your final grade.


You’ll learn through a mixture of working in a research laboratory or on a field-based research project, tutorials, discussion groups, attendance at seminars, and statistics and other workshops.


Assessment includes, but is not limited to, a project report, literature review, critiques, short reports and essays and oral presentations including a viva.


1 year full-time

Plant and microbial biology student

I completed my research project at Rothamsted Research, one of the oldest agricultural research institutions in the world. The placement  allowed me to gain experience in working in an industrial setting rather than the academic setting I experienced during my undergraduate studies. I have been able to work independently in the laboratory, whilst drawing upon the knowledge of others around me to develop my work.

Emily Shone
MRes Plant and Microbial Biology

Entry requirements

A 2:1 BSc honours degree, or equivalent, in biology or a closely related quantitative subject. In addition, you should be able to demonstrate evidence of aptitude and enthusiasm for research eg an undergraduate research project.

English language requirements

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


Because of the research-intensive nature of this course, we ask you to include a short supporting statement with your application. Please see the course description above for more details.

Apply now


+44 114 222 0123

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