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Why choose the School of Life Sciences

Our Life Sciences Liaison Board draws in professionals from across the industry including Glaxo Smith Kline, Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and Cellmark Forensics

Our academics are involved in real-world research, leading the way in areas such as COVID-19 testing technology, autoimmune disease, obesity, cancer pathways and global food security

We work with leading employers including Glaxo Smith Kline, Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, Nelson’s Natural Healthcare and Cellmark

About the course

This two-year course gives you an advanced understanding of molecular biology computational biology and microbiology alongside teaching you valuable IT skills in data analytics that you can apply to solving real-world problems.

Modern biotechnology is a hugely complex subject drawing from a range of scientific fields. On this course you learn the latest new technologies in key areas; gain insights into how they are used in the global biotechnology industry; and discover how microbes can be used on an industrial scale to benefit humankind.

You also hone your research skills with a laboratory-based project in one of five taught areas: molecular biology; computational biology; applied microbiology; analytical biology; and biomaterials.

The data analytics units are designed for non-computing graduates looking to apply IT in their work. They cover a wide range of topics including programming; databases; security; project management; and computer networking.

Why choose this course?

  • Study the latest developments in applied microbiology and computational biology in high-quality broad-based classes taught by dedicated staff with research experience in specialist subject areas
  • Explore the latest technologies in molecular biology and the industrial processes that are used to exploit microbes for specific products and applications
  • Develop the ability to use information from relevant sources and independently and critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship
  • Through the data analytics element of the course be able to apply IT tools and techniques to theoretical and methodological approaches developing solutions to complex real-world problems
  • Gain the ability to use assured accurate and fluent language to present your work and learn to develop graphs and images that clearly illustrate complex points
  • Benefit from a wide knowledge base and the key transferable skills that will give you the opportunity to take your career to new heights in the biotechnology and allied industries

What will you study?

Analytical Methods

Analytical methods underpin biotechnology since without measurement there can be little knowledge or understanding. This unit will provide you with a perspective on the use of analytical methods within the disciplines of Biotechnology. It will equip you with the necessary knowledge and techniques to incorporate analytical methods practise into Biotechnology application.

  •  The unit aims to address fundamental concepts of metrology in a biotechnology context.
  • To consider the range of strategies for separation, detection and measurement of components in complex mixtures.  
  • Subject knowledge and understanding are complemented with the development of skills in the objective and critical interpretation of information sources together with effective communication of information and ideas.

Applied Microbiology

The field of microbiology has from the outset been motivated by its application. Even before such organisms were isolated and understood, their products were exploited by industries, such as food, agriculture and medicine. Today, microorganisms continue to provide us with a range of novel products and applications in diverse biotechnology contexts.

The unit aims to equip you with the knowledge required to underpin studies in applied microbiology. Consider examples of how microorganisms have been applied to meet the needs of diverse industries. Analyse and evaluate how microorganisms may be modified to enhance their utility in applications. To reflect on the potential of microorganisms to meet the needs of society and deliver economic and health benefits. To equip you with the practical skills required to manipulate microorganisms, and appropriately manage health and safety considerations related to such activity. Enable you to appraise scientific literature and discussions related to applied microbiology and to prepare you to confidently contribute to these developments.

Sound understanding of applied microbiology and good practical skills in related areas are critically important attributes that will enable you to seek employment and/or continue further studies and research to contribute to biotechnology innovations for sustainable development.

Molecular Biology

Advances in molecular biology are central to the development of biotechnology.  In this unit you will learn how the synthesis and manipulation of recombinant DNA has led to this revolution in industrial scale biological science. Emphasis will be given to the methodological basis of these techniques and their historical development. The relationship to recombinant protein synthesis, as well as the development of new genetically modified organisms, will be discussed. The role of genetically modified prokaryotes and eukaryotes will be studied and the production of economically important strains and livestock will provide a focus for discussion.

The aims of this unit are to:

  • Introduce the concepts and principles of molecular biology and explore its applications for use in biotechnology.
  • Present the basis of methods that underpin recombinant DNA synthesis and analysis.
  • Describe the basis upon which gene expression can be  manipulated in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
  • Explore the potentials of directed mutagenesis in cDNA and its application to protein engineering.
  • Introduce and evaluate the use of nucleic acids as therapeutic agents.
  • Present the spectrum of diagnostic methods that are based on DNA analysis.
  • Explore the creation and analysis of clonal, transgenic, knock-out and knock-in animals.


  • To introduce the concepts and principles related to the development and application of biomaterials to the treatment of human disease and injury.
  • Overview the biological mechanisms and the clinical problems associated with immunological rejection.
  • Critically evaluate the key mechanisms involved in degradation of biomaterials in vivo.
  • Gain a detailed understanding of the clinical application of biomaterials.
  • Understand the health issues associated with insertion and removal of implants and devices.
  • Compare and contrast the issues associated with development of artificial organs, plastic surgery and bone reconstructions.

Computational And Systems Biology

This unit will provide you with a perspective on the use of computational biology within Biotechnology. It will equip you with the necessary knowledge and techniques to incorporate computational biology practise into your future research.


To equip you with an understanding of problems associated with biological data.
To develop a detailed understanding of protein structure and function.
To demonstrate via the techniques of Systems Biology that cellular pathways can be treated as network systems.
To show how computational methods can be used in the formulation and analysis of high-throughput experiments.
To gain expertise in the use of computer software packages commonly used in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology.
To gain expertise in selective reading of the objective and critical interpretation of information resources and in the written presentation of a hypothesis and the underlying evidence.

Personal Professional Development

This unit aims to help you to gain the full benefit of your extended Master’s programme by supporting you in preparing for employment and career progression. You should develop realistic awareness of the challenges and opportunities that exist within the employment market place and how to successfully present yourself and navigate your future career.

Scheduled coaching and reflection will support you in realising your ambitions. Participants have an equal partnership and control. You set and own the goals and shape your development.

It provides you with key tools of research and learning at the overarching / meta level in terms of skills and behaviours including those of self-knowledge, reflective practice, working collaboratively, enhanced problem solving and building a personal brand.

Through Executive Coaching and Action Learning Sets, Your Professional Future allows you to tailor your own development through whatever routes are appropriate and anchors these achievements in reflective practice.

The unit aims and objectives are captured specifically in the reflective professional development plan the students develop by the end of this unit.

Data Modelling, Management And Governance

Managing data is an area of crucial importance in any field. Its application facilitates the rational decision making process that is the basis for successful operations within any environment. To this extent, the purpose of this unit is to discuss how data should be managed during its lifecycle through a mixture of relevant topics. This includes development tools and basic techniques for data capture, modelling, storing and retrieval to serve as the mechanisms for making effective and efficient use of available data.  The approach will be based on exploring basic applied principles and practices to enable students to develop an information system as a solution to a problem for a particular field of application. These are fully informed from practices employed in small to middle and, middle to large sized companies.

The primary aim of the unit is:

  • To advance students by applying a range of both theoretical and practical issues involved in data modelling and management techniques in order to develop appropriate relational database systems for managing data within a chosen field of interest.


Therefore, the objectives involved are as follows:

  • To review the underlying theory of databases including data modelling and management techniques
  • To critically appreciate and exploit available methods and techniques used for data modelling and management purposes
  • To develop the student’s awareness of and ability to select and apply appropriate tools and techniques for building relevant database systems
  • To effectively demonstrate good practice in database development by using industry standard software
  • Develop problem solving skills in being able to select the best possible e-Governance solution for a given "real-world" context
  • To critically review the role of XML (Extensible Markup Language) schemas and ontologies in facilitating data governance
  • To enable students to gain an up-to-date knowledge by applying data modelling and management tools in their chosen field of application

Computer Networks And Security

This unit introduces core computer networking and information security concepts to those who need a foundation in the subjects. It is relevant for a wide range of career pathways - from business and risk management, software development, to cyber and data security and sciences.

Learners will be shown the fundamentals of how computer networks operate and the essential principles of cybersecurity. 


Developing Independent Research

In this unit you will learn what goes into a research proposal and application, the rudiments of good research design at masters level and beyond. 

The unit examines the processes of authentication, verification, dissemination of knowledge through scholarly publishing. You will learn about contemporary debates over access and peer review, impact evaluation (citations, H-index, etc), revenue models and research funding.

Completion of this unit will support your ability to critically evaluate research data and to present your conclusions to a professional standard.

Biotechnology Research Project

Independent research is a critical part of any master’s degree and the part that most students find the most satisfying as it is an opportunity to undertake an extended period of personal research and present it in a professional format.

How will you be assessed?

Assessment is undertaken in all units of the course to check that you have met the threshold standards expected of all students. Most units have two summative assessment points and you will be provided with feedback that is designed to show you where you are meeting/exceeding the standards and where/how you can/should make further improvement.The final assessment in most of the taught units is a formal written examination. Elsewhere a range of assessment methods are used. These include not only scientific laboratory reports but others that develop a range of transferable skills including research proposals and poster/oral presentations. These are is designed to build upon and extend what is expected of students with an undergraduate degree.


This course will support you to seek a career in the biotechnology industries; pharmaceutical and food companies; academic institutions; health-related industries including the NHS; and other public-sector organisations.

Entry Requirements

2.2 honours degree or equivalent in a related subject area

Entry Requirements

2.2 honours degree or equivalent in a related subject area2.2 honours degree or equivalent in a related subject area

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