Explore this course:

    Applications for 2024 entry are now open. Apply now or register your interest to hear about postgraduate study and events at the University of Sheffield.

    2024 start September 


    School of Biosciences, Faculty of Science

    Work alongside students and staff who are at the forefront of research into the full breadth of bioscience.
    Emily working in the lab

    Course description

    Our Biosciences MRes at Sheffield is aimed at those with a strong motivation to pursue a career in research. The course provides you with opportunities to pursue in-depth research and further develop your scientific skills within a world leading, research-focused School of Biosciences. You’ll be embedded within a lab with academics from one of our Research Clusters: 

    • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    • Development, Regeneration and Neurophysiology
    • Molecular Biology: Biochemistry to Disease
    • Molecular and Cellular Biology
    • Plants, Photosynthesis and Soils.  

    Our research spans the full breadth of biology from cells and genes, to human biology to biodiversity and climate change.

    Our world-class research will underpin your training whether you are interested in biotechnology, plant biology, photosynthesis, sustainable agriculture, stem cell biology, disease (cancer, ageing, covid), antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance, cell, human, molecular, population and evolutionary genetics, microbiology, conservation biology, biodiversity, or sustainability.

    Your research experience

    This research-focused course allows you to spend a full academic year embedded in one of our research groups, working alongside our staff, PhD students, and post-doctoral researchers 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.

    In addition to the research, you’ll receive bespoke training in data analysis and visualisation and in science communication. Previous students have conducted lab or fieldwork in our outstanding labs in Sheffield, with UK industrial partners and even abroad.

    Potential supervisors

    Development, regeneration and neurophysiology
    • Dr Andrew Lin - Olfaction, memory and synaptic plasticity in Drosophila. In vivo 2-photon imaging of neural activity, behaviour, genetics, gene expression, computational modelling, connectome analysis.
    • Dr Anne-Gaelle Borycki - Role of cell signalling in the control of skeletal muscle stem cell activity during muscle regeneration and ageing.
    • Dr Anton Nikolaev - Description of cancer cells heterogeneity and cells affected by tumours via imaging and AI-assisted analysis. How neural circuits work via studying existing neural circuits in animal models and building them from individual neurons.
    • Dr Emily Noel - Heart development, using zebrafish as a model. We are particularly interested in extracellular matrix, morphogenesis and function of the embryonic heart, and perform lots of live imaging.
    • Dr Freek van Eeden - Importance of cellular signalling pathways in development of the zebrafish embryo (e.g. using CRISPR/Cas9). Study DNA repair as a driver of age-related diseases and ageing by creating and analysing zebrafish mutants in crucial DNA repair genes.
    • Dr Henry Roehl - Identification of the cell types that are required for regeneration. Analysis of the genes that promote or inhibit regeneration.
    • Professor Marysia Placzek - Development of embryonic chick hypothalamus; signals and transcription factors in progenitor and neuronal differentiation.
    • Professor Mikko Juusola - Neurobiology: experiments and theory to decode perception and actions in the nervous systems of flies and other insects, to better understand the brain.
    • Dr Stuart Johnson - Auditory neuroscience, noise-induced hearing loss, age-related hearing loss, hearing loss and dementia.
    • Professor Tanya Whitfield - Development of sensory organs in zebrafish. Analysis of signalling pathways, cell fate choice and epithelial morphogenesis. Analysis of models of human genetic disease in the zebrafish embryo. Genetic, molecular, bioinformatic, imaging and pharmacological approaches are used.
    Ecology and evolutionary biology
    • Dr Alison Wright - The genomic and evolutionary processes underlying sex differences, and the relationship between genotype and complex phenotypes. We integrate bioinformatic tools with data from species across a range of sexual dimorphisms.
    • Professor Andrew Beckerman - Structure, complexity and dynamics of food webs; ecology and evolution of phenotypic plasticity; distribution and abundance of organisms and the diversity and structure of communities; conservation and demography of endangered parrots. Combines mathematical modelling, lab and field experiments.
    • Professor Ben Hatchwell - What kinship information is encoded in the vocalisations used by cooperatively breeding birds? Is social familiarity a reliable cue to kinship in a cooperatively breeding bird?
    • Dr Chris Cooney - Ecology and evolution of animal signalling traits including colouration, song and behaviour. The evolutionary ecology of sexual selection. Origin, evolution and future of biodiversity at a variety of temporal and spatial scales. Combines field experiments and/or computational approaches.
    • Dr Deborah Dawson - eDNA sampling to investigate factors affecting recovery of species of conservation concern (e.g. otters, water voles and salmon), such as barriers to movement, seasonal territories, breeding success and population sizes. Also assessment of diet, habitat, biodiversity, and territories sizes.
    • Professor Dylan Childs - Mathematical and statistical modelling to understand the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of animals and plants, with emphasis on the impact of climate and environmental stressors.
    • Dr Helen Hipperson - Using cutting-edge genomics and bioinformatics tools to investigate interactions in ecological communities.
    • Dr Holly Croft - Plant responses to abiotic stress. Modelling CO2 uptake in agriculture and forests. Remote sensing and earth observation. Solar-induced fluorescence. Ecosystem modelling. Modelling water fluxes using thermal imagery.
    • Dr Karl Evans - Urban ecology, effectiveness of protected areas and other conservation activities and effects on people, human-nature interactions, macroecology.
    • Dr Luke Dunning - How plants rapidly adapt to extreme environments using a combination of whole genome sequencing, comparative analyses and experimental approaches.
    • Dr Mirre Simons - Biology and evolution of ageing. Nutrition and cancer in a fly model.
    • Dr Nicola Nadeau - The genetic and developmental control of butterfly scale structure formation. Genomic approaches to understand biodiversity, speciation and adaptation, with a particular focus on the tropical Heliconius butterflies. Adaptation to temperature and altitude in tropical butterflies.
    • Dr Penelope Watt - Behavioural ecology including; personality traits, the genetic basis of behaviour and the impact of stress on behaviour.
    • Dr Tom Webb - Distribution and dynamics of marine biodiversity at large spatial scales: How does diversity differ through space? What causes diversity to change through time? Combines ecological and environmental data computationally with information on human activities to tackle questions in marine macroecology and conservation.
    Molecular and cellular biology
    • Dr Chun Guo - My research aims to elucidate the fundamental cell biology and signalling pathways involved in protein SUMOylation/deSUMOylation, and their role in cellular stress responses with implications for both health and disease.
    • Dr Daniel Humphreys - Host-pathogen interactions between Salmonella / pathogenic E.coli and mammalian host cells, action of virulence proteins and toxins
    • Dr Elena Rainero - Cell/extracellular matrix interaction; cancer cell metabolism, cell migration and cell invasion.
    • Dr Elizabeth Seward - Our research aims to understand how G protein-coupled receptors modulate exocytosis (used to control secretion of hormones, neurotransmitters and inflammatory mediators) and how this may be exploited in drug development.
    • Dr Hannes Maib - Protein purification and kinetic analysis of lipid kinases, supported lipid bilayers, protein-lipid interactions, cryo-electron microscopy, fluorescence microscopy. Fluorescence and super-resolution microscopy, Membrane contact sites, lipid transfer proteins, phosphoinositide conversion mechanisms, membrane trafficking.
    • Dr Helen Matthews - Actin cytoskeleton in cancer cell division and invasion, mechano-biology and tissue stiffening in pancreatic cancer, molecular effects of cancer therapeutics.
    • Dr Matthew Newton - Genome replication in plasmodium parasites to identify antimalarial drug targets. Single-molecule biophysics, optical-tweezers, atomic force microscopy and structural biology of DNA-protein interactions, DNA topology and supercoiling in DNA damage repair, telomeres, cancer and ageing.
    • Dr Stephen Brown - Drug delivery in cancer. Our research uses genomics and high-throughput screening methods.
    Molecular microbiology
    • Dr Ian Lidbury - Chemical warfare and microbial cell wall hydrolysis underpinning key bacteria-bacteria interactions in soil. The genetic and biochemical basis of polysaccharide and organic phosphorus utilisation in plant flavobacteria, using bacterial genetics and recombinant protein biochemistry.
    • Dr Indrajit Lahiri - Understanding the molecular mechanism of Plasmodium organellar replication.
    • Dr Roy Chaudhuri - Bioinformatic investigation of the evolution of genes identified using TraDIS/Tn-Seq as important for bacterial survival and infection.
    • Professor Simon Foster - Staphylococcus aureus growth, division, action of antibiotic action and resistance.
    • Dr Stephane Mesnage - Microbial competition and inter-kingdom warfare, understanding how soil bacteria survive, kill competitors and feed on the necromass. Bacterial cell envelope composition and dynamics in response to environmental conditions. Alternative therapeutic strategies to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria including bacteriophages and enzybiotics.

    Plants, photosynthesis and soils

    • Professor Andrew Fleming - Improving crop water-use efficiency via engineering leaf structure at the cellular and whole organ level using techniques of molecular and cell biology, microscopy and physiology.
    • Professor Gareth Phoenix - Impacts of climate change on carbon and nutrient cycling, biodiversity, and the consequences for ecosystem feedback to climate, particularly in Arctic, northern boreal and upland ecosystems.
    • Dr Holly Croft - Plant responses to abiotic stress. Modelling CO2 uptake in agriculture and forests. Remote sensing and earth observation. Solar-induced fluorescence. Ecosystem modelling. Modelling water fluxes using thermal imagery.
    • Dr Ian Lidbury - Understanding bacterial recruitment driven by root exudation of polysaccharides and the remineralisation of organic phosphorus using metaomics and high-resolution fluorescence microscopy.
    • Professor Julie Gray - Creating stress-tolerant crops to mitigate the effects of climate change. Using genetic manipulation and gene editing to create plants with altered stomatal characteristics which are more stress-tolerant or water-use efficient.
    • Professor Jurriaan Ton - The perception and signalling of chemical plant vaccines. Epigenetic basis of immune memory in Arabidopsis. Functional relationship between root exudates and disease-suppressive soil microbes.
    • Professor Katie Field - Evolution, diversity and ecophysiology of plant-fungal symbioses (mycorrhizas) and responses to global change; applications in sustainable agriculture.
    • Dr Lisa Smith - Plant reproduction and development, genetics and molecular biology: cell-to-cell signalling, cell wall changes, cell division, environmental responses.
    • Dr Luke Dunning - How plants rapidly adapt to extreme environments using a combination of whole genome sequencing, comparative analyses and experimental approaches.
    • Professor Matt Johnson - Structure, function and regulation of Photosynthesis in plants, algae and cyanobacteria. Plant physiology, biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology approaches to understanding regulation of light harvesting and electron transport processes.
    • Dr Saima Shahid - Parasitic plant-host plant interactions, host/parasitic plant adaptation, parasite resistance and defence signalling. Plant genetics, genomics and epigenetics. Small RNA mediated gene regulation and chromatin modifications in plant-plant communication.
    • Professor Stephen Rolfe - Plant-microbe and plant-environment interactions: Plant responses to biotic stresses including novel methods for presymptomatic detection of disease. Protective microbiomes. The biology of clubroot disease.
    • Dr Stuart Casson - Investigating plant responses to abiotic signals (e.g. light, CO2) using molecular genetic tools.
    • Professor Tim Daniell - Improving sustainability of agriculture. Plant interaction with soil communities including mycorrhiza and impacts on soil nitrogen cycling. Linking soil function and community dynamics.


    We accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies. Find out more on the School of Medicine and Population Health website.


    A selection of modules is available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core modules:

    Literature Review

    The literature review requires the student to write a critical review of a biological topic of choice. The literature review will involve extensive reading of original research papers, reviews and books together with information extracted from other media. The student will be required to critically analyse hypotheses in the field and critically analyse the quality of the evidence used to support them. Where controversies exist the student should be prepared to indicate which side has the stronger case. The literature review should also identify gaps in our current knowledge and understanding and make suggestions for the future developments in the field.

    15 credits
    Science Communication for Researchers

    This module provides training in the skills and approaches necessary to effectively communicate science. The module has three main components:
    1. An intensive science communication workshop focusing on interactions with the print and broadcast media;
    2. A poster presentation, where students design and produce a poster to communicate their research project to a target audience (e.g. general public,
    research audience);
    3. A formal oral presentation, where students present their research results to their peers.

    15 credits
    Scientific Skills and Project Management

    The aim of this module is to provide students with advanced training in the use of statistical methods and computers to visualise and analyse biological data which is necessary to pursue a research career in whole organism biology. Advanced principles of programming for data analysis, data interpretation and statistical analysis, and graphical presentation are stressed. The course is based on the statistical programming language R and the Integrated Development Environment RStudio. The course is comprised of eight introductory sessions delivered in Semester 1, and then a choice of two out of six specialist modules selected to support student-specific requirements in research. Semester 1 content is delivered as a mix of online recorded videos (watch this), a set of readings (read this) and a practical exercise (do this). This is supported by a weekly live mini-review lecture and Q andamp; A, and a help session. Semester 2 content is delivered live via three to four 3-hour practical computing sessions (1 specialist module/week, 3-4 sessions per week).

    30 credits
    Research Project

    This module allows students to develop skills relevant to a career in biological research. It will consist of a laboratory, field-based or computational research project where each student will work under the supervision of a member of academic staff. The student will formulate the hypotheses and questions to be addressed and plan and carry out experiments to test these hypotheses. The project will be written up in the form of a scientific paper and the student will keep a notebook of the research.

    120 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.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    1 academic year full-time


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

    Your extended research project will span both semesters of the academic year where you’ll be working alongside academic experts and professional scientists This will give you first-hand experience of designing your own experiments, analysing results and culminating in you presenting your findings to colleagues.


    Most assessment is through coursework. Your assessment includes, but is not limited to, a project report, literature review, poster presentations, oral presentations, written grant proposals and online statistics exams.

    Your career

    The immersive nature of your MRes course will equip you with the breadth of research experience and range of specialist skills to prepare you for a career as a leader in bioscience.

    Our students go on to work in top 100 organisations around the world, government organisations and a variety of charities and NGOs. Many continue their postgraduate studies with a PhD. Whatever your career plans are, you will be supported by our Skills and Employability team to prepare you for the next stage of your career.

    By choosing the School of Biosciences for your postgraduate study you'll join our global alumni network, where 93% of our biosciences graduates are employed in life sciences or related fields across the globe. Explore our interactive map of graduate destinations:


    School of Biosciences

    Firth Court quad

    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. 

    We carry out world-leading research to address the most important global challenges such as food security, disease, health and medicine, ageing, energy, and the biodiversity and climate crises.

    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.

    Entry requirements

    Minimum 2:1 BSc honours degree in biology or a closely related quantitative subject.

    In addition, you should be able to demonstrate evidence of aptitude and enthusiasm for research, for example, through an undergraduate research project.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

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

    How to apply

    Because of the research-intensive nature of this course, we ask you to include a short supporting statement of 500 to 700 words along with your formal application. This additional supporting statement should:

    • Explain why you want to do a research-intensive masters degree and how this fits with your career plans.
    • Include which of the five research clusters you would be most interested in working in and why. If you have already been in contact with a prospective supervisor, please let us know. Note that not all academics/research labs within a cluster are available to host projects each year, and that Emeritus staff do not host projects.

    Please submit your application by 15 August if you require a student visa and by 31 August if you do not require a visa.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Fees and funding


    The cost of all core fieldwork and practical project work is included in your tuition fees, this includes travel and accommodation for any one day field trips and compulsory field courses as well as obligatory safety equipment. Necessary vaccinations and visas required for travel, as well as travel to field sites for research project work, may incur additional costs.


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

    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 2341

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    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.