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School of Biosciences,
Faculty of Science
This 12-month course has been designed to build on your knowledge and skills from your undergraduate degree, training you in high-level scientific skills, ready for you to make a difference in the biomedicine sector.
Biomedical science is about deepening our understanding of the human body in health and disease, helping to develop treatments that can save and improve lives. Because of the broad nature of the subject, this research-led masters course will expose you to a wide range of both practical and lecture modules spanning cell biology, developmental biology, neuroscience, and stem cell biology. This breadth gives you the flexibility to choose to study the modules that interest you most, mastering key techniques as you specialise in an area aligned to your career goals.
During your practical modules, you’ll receive training in the techniques that are used in biomedical research including the study of model organisms, advanced tissue culture techniques, protein detection methodologies, and microscopy. You’ll learn how to recreate and model human disease in the laboratory in order to study the underlying molecular mechanisms, and how to visualise, in real-time, how embryos develop into fully-formed, complex organisms before using these to study our own development.
Throughout your degree, you may have the opportunity to use our leading facilities to further enhance your training in the analysis of biological systems, from the molecular and cellular level, to tissues and whole organisms. In the School of Biosciences we’re also home to state-of-the-art light microscopy and electron microscopy facilities, a purpose-built zebrafish facility, a fly facility, drug and RNAi screening facilities, and proteomics and single cell omics facilities. You could even be working in our Bateson Centre, where studies of model organisms are enabling researchers to understand human disease pathways.
Your theoretical lecture modules will teach you about topics including the clinical use of stem cells, cancer biology, diseases associated with ion channel mutations, and the development of novel therapeutics. You'll also begin training to gain the transferable skills that every professional scientist needs, such as scientific writing and presentation skills, research ethics, statistical analysis and the use of R, and scientific literature analysis.
The biggest part of the course is the research project. You’ll spend six months embedded within one of our internationally recognised research laboratories, developing your research skills in an area of biomedical science that matches your future career aspirations. We offer a wide range of projects where you could be working in our Wolfson Light Microscopy Facility, investigating the subcellular location of disease proteins, carrying out zebrafish CRISPR knock-outs, or working within our RNAi Screening Facility using pharmaceutical industry automation methods for drug screening. Our research groups have transplanted stem cells to restore hearing in mammals, and offered hope in the search for treatments for motor neuron disease. It’s research like this that you’ll be able to contribute to at Sheffield.
Example past research projects include:
- The effect of therapeutic ultrasound on matrix deposition and organization during skin healing and scarring
- Establishment of an in vitro model for cystic fibrosis using organ on chip technology
- Investigating Human Biology of SARS-CoV-2 Protein ORF7a in Inducing Host Cell Death
Often, research carried out by our MSc students during their MSc research projects forms the basis of publications in peer-reviewed journals. Here’s an example past paper including student authors:
- Walters, K., Sarsenov, R., Too, W.S. et al. Comprehensive functional profiling of long non-coding RNAs through a novel pan-cancer integration approach and modular analysis of their protein-coding gene association networks. BMC Genomics 20, 454 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-019-5850-7
Core modules - you'll study all of the following:
- Ethics and Public Awareness of Science
Those working within public health need to be familiar with secondary data sources that support research, management and practice. This module will consider the main types of secondary data - relating to demography, epidemiology, clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Strengths, uses, interpretation and limitations of secondary data sources will be examined, assessing these with regard to completeness, accuracy, relevance and timeliness. Students will explore these issues in connection with a case study for a specific country. Scenario planning, confidentiality and the use of computers are other key topics that are illustrated and explored within the module.The module will begin with an introduction to the areas in which legislation impinges on biomedical research. We will then proceed to analyse the processes by which such legislation is made including, especially, the ethical bases for such legislation. To do this we will introduce the students to the philosophical bases of ethical thought and get them to analyse existing laws to discover the ethics that underlies these laws. The students will then be asked to discuss the ethics of specific topics in the form of a formal debate. In addition, we examine how society perceives science and how the process of science itself works and how this influences scientists' abilities to present their work to the wider community.15 credits
- Advanced Scientific Skills
This module builds on existing, and further develops, generic scientific skills to equip postgraduate taught students with strong competences in presenting and reporting their research work using written and oral formats, in analysing data and the scientific literature, and in acquiring and extending their critical analysis skills. Teaching will be delivered using a blended approach with a combination of lectures, workshops, tutorials and seminars together with independent study and on-line teaching.15 credits
Taught throughout the academic year, the module will be articulated around three units addressing:
Unit 1) Scientific presentation skills. In this unit, students will explore how to develop their academic (writing and oral) presentation skills. Some of the topics taught may include how to formulate a research question and hypothesis, how to find information, and how to structure a scientific essay or report. Students will learn how to communicate effectively their research to a scientific, as well as lay, audience. Emphasis will be placed on short oral communications and poster preparation and presentation. The learning objectives will be acquired through lectures, workshops, tutorials and independent study.
Unit 2) Critical analysis skills. This unit prepares students to develop their ability to analyse and appraise the scientific value of the published and unpublished literature. Workshops and lectures will introduce students to the process of critical appraisal of scientific work.
Unit 3) Statistics and data analysis skills. In this unit, students will learn methods to gather and analyse large datasets. In particular, workshops and lectures will teach students the basics of R coding and statistics for application in biosciences. The unit may also deliver other forms of data analysis relevant to the programme of study. Teaching within this unit will be delivered mainly through on-line material, lectures and workshops. Independent study will be essential to complete the acquisition of skills.
- Critical Analysis of Current Science
This module is designed to develop the student's ability to read and understand the scientific literature relating to their own research area and also enable them to integrate their own work into the wider scientific field. The module consists of the following components; a seminar and seminar analysis programme designed to develop student skills in listening, understanding and appraising scientific research presented by external invited speakers; contribution, preparation and presentation of journal clubs reporting on the literature published in the field of biomedical science. In the latter component, students will be expected to demonstrate critical analysis skills, which will be encouraged through questions and discussions in classes. Each component is assessed through formal examination and oral presentation.15 credits
- Literature Review and Research Proposal
This unit involves an in-depth survey of the current literature relevant to the student's research project. Students will carry out an exhaustive search of the literature relevant to their project using the resources of the University, including appropriate databases and specialist search engines, as well as paper-based resources in the University Library. Based on primary research articles, review articles and textbooks, students will work independently under the supervision of the project supervisor to produce a document reporting on the background literature underpinning their research project. The literature review should demonstrate an ability to comprehend and synthesise the experimental evidence presented in the literature, to critically appraise previous studies and identify gaps in the knowledge, and to describe the experimental design of the research project. To prepare their literature review, students will meet at regular intervals with their supervisors to discuss their progress.15 credits
- Research Project
The module aims to provide students with experience of conducting a research project, and develop analytical and organisational skills required for a career in science. Students undertake a research project which reflects the research activities in the Department/Faculty/University. Projects will be supervised by a member of the academic staff, although students may have additional contact with various staff contributing to their training. Students will gain experience of experimental design, and in execution, collation, interpretation and presentation of scientific data.60 credits
Assessment of the project will be based on a written dissertation, an evaluation of the research skills developed during the tenure of the project, including keeping a lab book, and delivery of an individual poster presentation.
Optional practical modules - you'll choose two from:
- Practical Cell Biology
The practical unit will provide students with experience of practical cell biology. Students will be given the opportunity to establish and optimise ELISA-based assays for fundamental cellular processes, specifically the endocytic pathway. Particular emphasis will be placed on the development, execution and interpretation of experimental protocols as is standard practice in a research laboratory.15 credits
- Practical Developmental Genetics
The practical unit aims to provide students with experience of research techniques in developmental biology. Students will perform experiments designed to reveal molecular and cellular principles underpinning developmental mechanisms. Emphasis will be placed on exploiting classical genetic and molecular resources available in model organisms such as zebrafish, Drosophila melanogaster, and chick for studying gene function in development. Students will gain experience of performing experimental work, data collection and interpretation of results.15 credits
- Physiology and Pharmacology
The unit will provide lectures on traditional receptor theory. Practical classes will give experience of isolated tissue responses and data analysis, interpretation and presentation. Representative techniques employed by the pharmaceutical industry will be used to generate data from in vitro ex vivo and in vivo models. In problem solving sessions students will be shown how to enter and manipulate the data in relevant software in order to determine drug affinities, potency and intrinsic activities. Students will devise a programme for the development of a drug including associated regulatory applications, to be submitted as a dissertation.15 credits
- Neuroscience Techniques
The module is based around teaching students a range of modern neuroscience techniques by trying to answer the overall question: Can the MED cells provide a replacement for primary Dorsal Root Ganglia (DRG)?15 credits
Optional lecture modules - you'll choose two from:
- Stem Cell Biology
This lecture course will provide a thorough grounding in the biology of stem cells and regenerative medicine, with special reference to the molecular and genetic control of cell fate specification and differentiation. Students will also be enouraged to consider the clinical use of stem cells and their derivatives as well as the ethical issues that these raise. As this is a rapidly developing field, strong emphasis will be placed on understanding the current controversies in the literature.15 credits
- Membrane Receptors
To provide an understanding of membrane receptors for extracellular signalling molecules, including their molecular structure and transduction mechanisms, their roles in cell physiology, and their exploitation as targets for therapeutic drugs.15 credits
- Molecular Physiology of Ion Channels in Health and Disease
The module will examine ion channels found in electrically excitable cells, focusing on their physiological role in health and disease. Students will learn about ion channel molecular physiology, and the importance of ion channels in channelopathies, diseases associated with ion channel mutations. Examples of diseases covered will include myotonia, ataxia and long QT syndrome. The emphasis throughout will be to appreciate how experimental research informs our understanding of ion channel physiology, reflecting the University's mission statement to lead teaching by current research.15 credits
- Epithelial Physiology in Health and Disease
The aim of this course is to provide an understanding of the strategies used by epithelia to effect transport of ions and water, and to explore the pathophysiological states associated with a number of inherited diseases, such as cystic fibrosis. Teaching will consist of conventional lectures together with problem solving exercises. The module initially considers the general properties of epithelia, before focusing on the molecular basis of epithelial transport in health and disease. The emphasis throughout will be to appreciate how experimental research informs our understanding of these issues, reflecting the University's mission statement to lead teaching by current research15 credits
- Neurodevelopment and Behaviour
This course examines the mechanisms that underlie development of the nervous system during embryogenesis. Examples will be described from a variety of model organisms to introduce key steps in the establishment of the CNS and PNS, steps that include neural induction, neural patterning, early segregation of CNS and PNS, the establishment and refinement of connectivity in the nervous system. Recent research from teachers of this course, and from both the classical and current literature is used to analyse and evaluate theories and mechanisms of establishment of the functional nervous system.15 credits
- Modelling Human Disease and Dysfunction
The module will provide students with an understanding of how post-genomic biology impacts on our ability to understand, and treat, chronic diseases of the body. Students will be introduced to major experimental systems and approaches that are pertinent to disease modelling. These include genetically-tractable animal model and in vitro cellular systems (including stem cells). We will explore the principles involved in how these systems are exploited to develop new strategies for intervention, including new therapeutics. Critical evaluation of research papers will allow students to gain experience of analysing experimental work, data presentation and interpretation of results.15 credits
- Cancer Biology
The unit will provide a description of the nature of genomic complexity as revealed using next generation sequencing technology. It will explore cancer genotypes and phenotypes in the context of 8 essential characteristics that are common to all cancers, and which collectively dictate malignant growth. These characteristics are : self-sufficiency in growth signals, insensitivity to growth-inhibitory signals, evasion of programmed cell death, limitless replicative potential, sustained angiogenesis, tissue invasion/metastasis, avoidance of immune destruction, and de-regulated cellular energetics. It will discuss how genome instability arises, and together with tumour-promoting inflammation, how these enable the emergence of all other cancer characteristics. It will utilize this conceptual framework to discuss recent and future developments in cancer therapeutics. A brief review of fundamental principles in genetics and molecular cell biology will be given. Nevertheless, students should have a basic understanding of genetics, molecular biology and cell biology.15 credits
- Sensory Neuroscience
This module covers the adult function and functional development of the auditory system, including sensory transduction and information processing. It will focus primarily on the periphery but will include representation of information in central pathways, with attention to mammalian animal models. The aims will be to show how physiological and developmental mechanisms combine to create the exquisite structural and functional tuning of the auditory system to the external world and how complex sensory information is encoded in the nervous system.15 credits
- Principles of Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering
This unit will provide students with an overview of the multidisciplinary concepts underpinning tissue engineering. Through detailed examples of tissue engineering strategies for replacing specific organs and tissues, students will be introduced to the key steps of the tissue engineering process from bench to bedside. The course will present topical research in tissue engineering and enable students to critically assess the current limitations and potential applications of tissue engineering for medical applications, drug discovery and food manufacturing.The unit will provide an overview of the central topics of tissue engineering, including cell sourcing for tissue engineering, biomaterial properties and design, and cell-material interactions. Particular emphasis will be given to the recent cutting-edge examples of applying tissue engineering to restore function of various organ systems.15 credits
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.
1 year full-time
Throughout your degree, you’ll be taught through lectures, practical sessions, lab placements, tutorials, seminars and online teaching. In small group teaching classes you’ll discuss, debate and present on scientific and ethical topics.
Assessment is by formal examinations, coursework assignments, debates, poster presentations and a dissertation.
This course is designed to train you for a wide range of exciting careers within biomedicine, or further study to PhD level.
Graduates will be equipped with the specialist knowledge and transferable skills to pursue careers within:
- Universities worldwide, conducting vital research in order to make discoveries that can be translated into novel therapies
- Industry, such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, toxicology or healthcare manufacturing in roles including Laboratory Scientist, Grant Manager and Research Technician
- The NHS, as Laboratory Scientists or Genetic Technologists.
If you choose to continue your research training, you’ll be ready to pursue a PhD in areas such as cancer biology, sensory neuroscience, infection and immunity, genomics, stem cells, developmental biology, cell biology or regenerative medicine.
The School of Biosciences brings together more than 100 years of teaching and research expertise across the breadth of biology.
It's home to over 120 lecturers who are actively involved in research at the cutting edge of their field, sharing their knowledge with more than 1,500 undergraduate and 300 postgraduate students.
Our expertise spans the breadth and depth of bioscience, including molecular and cell biology, genetics, development, human physiology and pharmacology through to evolution, ecology, biodiversity conservation and sustainability. This makes us one of the broadest and largest groupings of the discipline and allows us to train the next generation of biologists in the latest research techniques and discoveries.
Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in a biomedical-related subject.
We also accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies.
Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Fees and funding
You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.
+44 114 222 2341
Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.