Biochemical Engineering concerns the use of biological organisms or processes by manufacturing industries. It is a multidisciplinary subject, requiring the integration of engineering and bioscience knowledge to design and implement processes used to manufacture a wide range of products; from novel therapeutics such as monoclonal antibodies for treating cancer, vaccines and hormones, to new environmentally-friendly fuels such as bio-hydrogen. It is also essential in many other fields, such as the safe manufacture of food and drink and the removal of toxic compounds from the environment.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in biochemical engineering, biotechnology or bioprocessing, then this programme will provide you with the basic knowledge and skills required. It covers aspects of modern bioprocessing and biochemical engineering, including the design and operation of advanced production plant and processes, the application of post-genomic high-throughput techniques, the production and purification of biopharmaceuticals, and cutting-edge tissue replacement therapies.
The MSc is a 12-month full-time advanced course, comprising lectures, laboratory work, short experimental projects and a research project. You will take an introductory module, four core modules, and then choose 50 credits of optional themed modules. The course can also be taken on a part-time basis. The Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) lasts for 8 months from the end of September until June.
For the first eight months you have lectures, tutorials and laboratory work. Topics include:
Fermentation and cell culture
Process monitoring and control
Systems and synthetic biology approaches
Biopharmaceutical development and manufacture
The programme is strongly design-orientated and you complete a full process plant design exercise. You also have practical experience of working in the newly-refurbished pilot plant of the Biochemical Engineering building. From June to September you gain research training on your own project attached to one of the teams working in the bioprocessing research section.
Entry level graduates initially follow special conversion-course lectures in either process engineering or biological science topics, depending on their first degree. Students may attend both modules if they wish, but will only be examined on one.
Process engineering fundamentals
This module introduces students from a non-chemical engineering background to the fundamental aspects of process engineering. The ideas and skills developed during the module are essential for anyone planning to work in the process industries. The module starts with material and energy balances and then looks at fluid flow, heat and mass transfer and reactor design. The mathematical skills required for this and subsequent modules will be developed through tutorials.
Bioscience for Engineers
If you have not studied biological science during your first degree then this module is for you. Topics include: biochemistry, cell structure and characterisation, bioenergetics, fundamental molecular biology, cell signalling, histology and physiology. This module will also address the practical application of aseptic techniques and other methods for the handling, manipulation and containment of biological material. Many of the areas and concepts covered in this module will be developed further in subsequent modules.
Bioreaction Engineering – 10 credits
This module deals with the engineering science of bioreactor design; of the development of design tools which can be used to select and size equipment to carry out specific bioreaction tasks. Kinetic and engineering models are discussed along with mixing, flow and shear within bioreactions. Instrumentation and control strategies are also covered.
Cell Factories – 20 credits
This module defines and explains the principles of the large scale industrial production of a range of bioactive molecules by fermentation and cell culture. The first part of the module discusses the basis for the choice of production system (insect, animal, bacterial, yeast and fungal cell) for the bioactive molecule of choice. The second part of the module concentrates on the interaction of the organism with the process environment, and understanding and modelling the scale-up of industrial processes. The final part of the module is practical, with laboratory scale and pilot scale bacterial fermentations.
Bioseparations – 20 credits
This two-week module introduces students to the theories and principles of general downstream processing, the choice of recombinant protein hosts, cell disruption strategies, aggregation, fractional precipitation, centrifugation and centrifuges, conventional filtration and membrane separations. The topics discussed in the first week will be further developed in the second week.
Modern genome-based bioscience – 10 credits
In this module you will learn how systems and synthetic biology are impacting on Chemical and Biochemical Engineering in the 21st Century. Topics include the “omics” - genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics, important tools in modern molecular and systems biology, computational modelling and systems integration.
Optional themed modules – choice of 50 credits (MSc & Diploma)
Modules from different themes can be combined within timetabling constraints. All modules are offered subject to sufficient enrolled students. All module descriptions are provisional and subject to minor change.
Pharmaceutical Technology Theme
Plant design and manufacturing principles in (bio) pharmaceutical production – 10 credits
This module provides students with an understanding of the engineering and operational issues involved in the manufacture of new chemical and biological products for the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. Topics include the design and layout of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, principles of quality assurance (QA), good manufacturing practice (GMP), quality control (QC) and validation. Cleaning (CIP), sterilisation methods, aseptic processing and containment are also discussed. Part of the module is delivered by external speakers from industry.
From bench to market: the development of pharmaceutical drug products – 10 credits
From the latest technologies used in drug discovery through to post market surveillance activities – this module looks at the stages involved in the multimillion pound process of drug product development. You will learn about drug discovery in the post genomic era, preclinical studies, clinical trials, pre-formulation and formulation activities, manufacturing considerations and regulatory procedures.
Design and development of drug delivery systems – 10 credits
Drugs are rarely administered to patients solely as chemical or biological substances – instead, they are first formulated into dosage forms or drug delivery systems. This module examines a range of available methods and technologies for the delivery of chemical and macromolecular drugs (peptides, proteins and nucleic acids) and concentrates on the scientific and engineering principles underpinning their design.
New for 2010 - Food Engineering Theme
Food flavour – 10 credits
This module discusses food flavour in terms of flavour production and release, the roles of flavour, the physics of the mouth, the physical chemistry of the mouth and the ways in which food processing impacts on flavour.
Developing food structure through thermal processing – 10 credits
This module aims to develop the skills of students to analyse the thermal processes found in the food industry from first principles and to explain how these processes operate and how they can be designed and controlled. Novel ways of carrying out thermal processes are also discussed in the light of the quality and safety required of practical food processes.
Hygienic food processing – 10 credits
This module outlines the engineering and scientific principles which control the hygiene of process plant, and thus have to be considered in the design of such plant. The module presents both microbiological and engineering material to demonstrate how both the engineering design of equipment and the way it is operated affect the microbiological contamination of the plant.
New for 2010 - Hydrogen Energy Theme
Electrochemistry and electrochemical engineering – 10 credits
This module discusses the theories and applications of electrochemistry and is divided into two parts. The first part covers the principles of electrochemistry including electron-transfer kinetics, cell voltages and electroanalytical techniques. The second part focuses on battery technology, fuel cells, electroysis and electroplating.
Materials for hydrogen and fuel cell technology – 10 credits
The aim of the module is to provide an insight into the critical role materials science plays in a range of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. An overview of materials in the hydrogen energy economy acts as an introduction, followed by discussion of methods of hydrogen production and storage, PEM and solid oxide fuel cells. The design of integrated hydrogen and fuel cell energy systems is then discussed.
Energy policy and case studies – 20 credits
A historical overview of the development of global energy policy over the last 50 years leads into the recent legislative instruments aimed at reducing inefficient use of resources. Case studies and visiting speakers introduce examples of energy efficiency in action. Formal teaching about past and current legislation are interleaved with short blocks of case study material from practising energy engineers aimed at preparing students for entry into the energy sector.
New for 2010 - Business Studies Theme
Marketing and total quality management – 10 credits
The module provides a comprehensive introduction to the concepts of consumer behaviour, marketing and market planning and research and concepts of total quality management in engineering companies.
Business methods, economics and strategy – 10 credits
The module is divided into three sections: 1) human relations; 2) economics; and 3) strategic analysis. Examples of topics discussed include: theory of the firm; managing change and conflict in the workplace; communication and methods of communication analysis; economic models; and strategic decision making.
Effective project management – 10 credits
This module introduces project management and covers economic project appraisal, resource management, safety awareness, project planning and critical path analysis. There are exercises on critical path analysis, time management and team working.
Process engineering design project – 20 credits
Graduates work together as small teams, designing integrated process plant and equipment for the manufacture of biological products. This module draws together many of the themes developed during the programme and allows the application of engineering, biological and design principles introduced in the other modules.
Summer research project (MSc only) – 60 credits
The Centre for Biochemical Engineering is one of the major international research institutes in Europe. Our interdisciplinary summer projects fully exploit links within this and with other schools, and also with industry, offering opportunities to join teams of high calibre research staff. The project consolidates course work and intensive research experience in an exciting way, providing a route to technological publications, and rounding off the year of study in a satisfying way.
The lecture courses are supplemented with tutorials, seminars and experimental work. Industrial visits and talks by speakers from industrial and service organisations are also included in the course programme.
The Biochemical Engineering building houses a pilot plant with large-scale fermentation and downstream processing equipment. The newly-refurbished facility includes state-of-the-art computer-controlled bioreactors, downstream processing equipment and analytical instruments.