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Master Biotechnology

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  • Entry requirements
    In order to successfully complete a postgraduate course, applicants are usually expected to have (or be about to attain) at least a second class honours degree in a related scientific subject from a recognised institution of higher education. If you do not have these academic qualifications, you could still be offered a place on this course if you can show evidence of the potential to succeed based on professional and/or related experiences. If your first language is not English, you must satisfy our English language requirements by providing us with evidence of a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, TOEFL score of 575 (paper-based) or 232 (computer-based).
  • Academic Title
    MSc / PGDip Biotechnology
  • Course description
     MSc / PGDip

    Biotechnology is the commercial exploitation of knowledge about living organisms and their components. The biotechnology sector is frequently fast-moving, often exploiting research from the frontiers of science, and thus requires very imaginative and capable industrial biotechnologists and academic researchers. This course is intended for those who have a life science background and wish to develop their interest and skills to enter the commercial sector and/or biotechnology research.

    In the School of Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University, we undertake internationally renowned biotechnology research in areas such as monoclonal antibody applications and baculovirus expression systems. Some of this research has been spun off into new biotechnology companies or licensed for use by existing companies. We also have close links with the Oxfordshire Bioscience Network and local biotechnology industry.

    In this course you will learn and develop the skills and techniques underpinning biotechnology such as molecular biology, gene regulation and expression, protein and antibody technology, drug discovery and product development, cell culture and business for bioscientists. The MSc award requires that you undertake a research project in an area of biotechnology that interests you.
    Course content

    Biotechnology is a master’s course designed to develop skilled bio-scientists to meet the challenges and requirements of research and product development in the global bioscience sector. You will achieve an MSc degree on successful completion of all the course modules including the Research Project. A Postgraduate Diploma will be awarded for completion of course modules without the Research Project. The course is also offered on a part-time pro rata basis and we encourage applications from professionals from academia and industry who wish to upgrade their qualifications.

    Teaching focuses on the molecular biotechnologies that enable the study of living cells. You will develop the techniques underpinning biotechnology such as molecular biology to an advanced level. You will gain expertise in gene regulation and expression and protein expression and learn to grow and exploit different cell types, eg bacteria, insect, plant and animal. Because the entire genomes of many model organisms have been sequenced, you will learn about bioinformatics and systems biology, two very new and exciting types of biological research that, for example, enable imaging gene arrays to study large subsets of expressed genes at one time.

    Finally, an important module of the course will teach you about research methods and career development. The importance of this cannot be overstressed - we will teach you to be biotechnologists but recognise that you will need to take your skills to prospective employers once you graduate. You will learn how to organise and communicate your research to prospective employers and funding agencies. In Semester 1 you will choose a research project that suits your interests and needs. Research projects are based around applied questions and can utilise combinations of the techniques presented throughout the course. Oxfordshire has a number of laboratories with different research specialisations, both in the academic institutions and in industrial settings, willing to host these projects.

    MSc students are required to complete 180 M-level credits, ie all the following modules. PGDip students are required to complete 120 M-level credits, ie all modules excluding the Research Project and PGCert students are required to complete 60 M-level credits.

    Business for the Biosciences (20 M credits) This module is designed to equip scientists with the management, finance and business knowledge and skills which, combined with an understanding of the bioscience business sector, are required to operate professionally within the sector, to take informed decisions and actions, and to develop a business plan. We examine the skills needed to launch a spin-off company.

    Molecular Biology (20 M credits) This model will develop the core skills needed for molecular biology as it focuses on recombinant DNA technology. The history, principles and development of molecular biology techniques will be studied with discussion of variations and applications.

    Product Development and Biotechnology (20 M credits) The development of the biological systems that are vital to biotechnology, and their key features, will be discussed. Drug discovery and product development, including modern screening methods, structure function prediction, and the application of nanobiotechnology, will be examined. The regulation of drug development, including clinical trials, preclinical studies and ethics, will also be studied.

    Career Development and Research Skills (20 M credits) consists of seminars from industrialists on careers in biotechnology. Topics covered include research skills, management, presentation and communication, business and enterprise, and grant-writing strategies. For evaluation you will write and present a mock grant proposal in an attempt to secure funding for a biotechnology-based project.

    Genome Science (20 M credits) This module develops an understanding of genome science, or genomics, and studies the structure, content and evolution of genomes. The genomes and genome projects of model representative organisms from the mammals, fungi, insects, bacteria and viruses are studied and their unique features explored. The experimental techniques and evidence that have contributed to our developing understanding of genomes will be emphasised.

    Topics in Biotechnology (20 M credits) is a series of blocks of lectures and seminars in specialist areas of biotechnology delivered by leading researchers in these areas which include molecular microbiology and virology, vaccine development, and monoclonal antibody technology.

    Research Project (60 M credits) You will design a research project to explore a new question in biotechnology utilising the skills developed during this course. Tutors will help you plan the project so that it is both practical and topical. There are several labs in Oxford that are able to host this type of research project. Generally, the research you undertake will reflect the area of research in the lab you work with. Potential projects are in animal, plant, environmental and microbial biotechnology. You will develop a research plan and write a literature review in Semester 1 and conduct practical research over Semester 2 and the summer. The evaluation is based on a thesis-style write-up and oral presentation of your research.
    Teaching, learning and assessment

    Biotechnology is a modular master's course, in which different subject areas relating to biotechnology are taught and assessed separately. It is organised on a module-credit basis, with each 20 M-level credit module representing approximately 200 hours of student input. This includes approximately 36 hours of staff contact, normally time-tabled through three-hour teaching blocks over the 12-week semester.

    Teaching and learning methods reflect the wide variety of topics associated with biotechnology. Methods include lectures, directed reading, workshops, seminars, practical exercises, laboratory sessions and project work. Assessments are via assignments, presentations and written reports. Course tutors are from Oxford Brookes University, with industrialists and researchers delivering specialist seminars.


    The course is taught by experts from the School, and visiting academic researchers and industrialists will give lectures and seminars in their specialist areas.

    The School includes lecturers who undertake world-class research in biotechnology, microbiology, and cell and molecular biology using a wide variety of modern methods. The Oxford area in general has a vast array of biotechnology researchers and companies, many of whom contribute to the course as lecturers and by providing support. In addition the School has close links with the Oxfordshire Bioscience Network and local biotechnology industry.
    Career prospects

    Due to the rapidly growing global biotechnology sector and the thriving local biotechnology industry, career prospects are plentiful. Graduates of this MSc can pursue a variety of career paths. Qualified biotechnology experts are required both by the biotechnology industry and in research laboratories (academic, medical and industrial). The MSc could enable you to, for example, continue academic research as a PhD student, work in a university, or to work in research, development and sales for a biotechnology company.

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