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Molecular Biotechnology MSc

Start date
1 year
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

£11,340 FT (UK students)
£5,670 PT (UK students)

£29,340 FT (International Students)

More detail


In this video one of our students, Rodhan Patke, speaks about why he chose to study this course and why he chose the University of Birmingham.

Our Molecular Biotechnology MSc provides you with training in the skills and specialised knowledge needed to equip you for a career in molecular biotechnology in industry or academia. The course has been designed in consultation with experts in biotechnology industries.

Practical skills will include sessions on fermentation, molecular biology, functional genetics and genomics, cell biology and protein chemistry, and you will go on to complete a major, supervised laboratory or computer-based research project.

Skills gained

Transferable skills gained via this programme will include written and oral presentation skills, statistics, and the ability to plan and write a grant application or a business plan. Subject-specific skills will include key techniques used in molecular biotechnology, specialist knowledge in theoretical and practical aspects of the subject, including: process engineering, molecular biology, functional genomics, 'omics' technologies, protein expression systems and antibody engineering. Practical skills will include fermentation, molecular biology, immunology, cell biology and protein chemistry.

I am currently studying Molecular Biotechnology, which is a practical, hands-on course that teaches the different techniques used within molecular cell biology. The course focuses on key techniques used in molecular biotechnology, including aspects of process engineering, molecular biology, functional genomics, 'omics' technologies, protein expression systems and antibody engineering. Furthermore, this course provides me with the opportunity to develop my writing and presenting skills which will benefit me greatly in the future. I enjoy the practical sessions that we have in the labs which link with my course material.

Mary Dosumu, MSc Molecular Biotechnology

Why study this course?

Key features of this programme:

  • Focuses on the molecular and cellular aspects of biotechnology
  • Includes material on fermentation, process and downstream engineering, and business aspects
  • A mixture of taught material and lab-based research projects
  • Teaching and research at one of the UK's top Schools of Biosciences

Who is this programme aimed at?

  • Those looking for a future in a biotechnology or an other life sciences related industry
  • Those interested in pursuing a research career in life sciences in industry or academia
  • Those returning from industry to obtain higher qualifications


Modules (all core) are as follows:

  • Introduction to Biotechnology: From Genes to Products
  • Research Techniques in Molecular Biotechnology
  • Practical Applications of Molecular Biotechnology
  • Functional Genomics and Reverse Genetics
  • Funding and Communicating Science
  • Pharmaceuticals and Therapeutic Biologicals from Bench to Market
  • Research Project

Learning and teaching is via lectures, workshops, independent study, laboratory practicals, research and a lab-based project.

Module descriptions for MSc in Molecular Biotechnology

Introduction to Biotechnology: From genes to products

Description: This module will teach the practical skills which you require in your lab projects and in a practical modules, revise some areas which some students traditionally find challenging (handling concepts of concentration and dilution), and look in lectures and discussion sessions at the history, development, and current shape of the worldwide biotechnology industry and the employment opportunities within it.

Research Techniques in Molecular Biotechnology

Description: This module is intended to provide in-depth research training.  Sessions are designed to give you an appreciation of, and enhance your knowledge of, modern techniques in molecular and cellular biology, for all of which the University of Birmingham has world-class facilities.  Members of staff present details of different techniques, with examples including animal cell culture; high throughput DNA sequencing; cell manipulation, transfection & micro-injection; protein expression and purification; microscopy and cell sorting; circular dichroism, fluorescence & absorbance; reporter gene technology; immunodiagnostics; NMR spectroscopy; mass spectrometry; and X-Ray crystallography.  Some sessions will include tours of the laboratories and a chance to work on data generated using the above methods. Workshops tackle open-ended research problems using some of the above methods.

Practical Applications of Molecular Biotechnology

Description: This continuously assessed practical module will focus on techniques used in molecular biotechnology. The first of two major groups of activities will involve preliminary experiments to learn the basic techniques necessary to prepare fermentation experiments designed to produce a difficult recombinant protein. Then students will work in teams of 4 or 5 to complete a fermentation experiment. They will individually write reports of each group of experiments, the second of which must be presented in the form of a paper suitable for submission to a specified journal. The assessments will be based on all four components, the performance in the laboratory, and the quality of the written reports,

Pharmaceuticals and Therapeutic Biologicals from Bench to Market

Description: The module covers the typical “time-line” of drug product development, Key activities, issues and importance of stages in drug product development: drug discovery, developability, pre-clinical studies, formulation, clinical trials, primary and secondary manufacturing, marketing and post marketing activities, Patents and intellectual property, The regulatory and quality environment of the pharmaceutical industry, and quality by design approaches to pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Funding and Communicating Science

Description: In this module you engage in an activity designed to develop your entrepreneurial and business skills in a science context and develop team working skills.  A mini-course is held on writing grants and business plans, after which you work in small groups on a topic of your choice for an application.  A series of presentations and feedback sessions lead to final presentations where each group presents their proposal or business plan to the other students, who have to provide a written critique of the proposal. 

Functional Genomics and Reverse Genetics

Description: This module will explain current methods of exploring and confirming the nature of candidate genes underlying quantitative and major gene traits. It will cover functional genomic and molecular genetic  techniques including forward and reverse genetic approaches, gene cloning, functional analysis of genes via knock-out and knock-in technologies, and techniques for analysing protein function within an organism. We will also cover more general topics relevant to modern functional genomics "in practice”.


Examples of recent project titles offered to MSc Molecular Biotechnology students

  • The role of nuclear envelope in controlling meiotic progression and meiotic recombination in Plant meiosis
  • The progression of meiosis in Brassica oleracea and related polyploids
  • Computational analysis of 3D cell shape change in plants
  • Implementation of the CRISPR‐Cas9 to tag genes in yeast
  • Promoter organization in bacteria
  • Identifying Bacterial species associated with moss spores
  • Development of liquid extraction surface analysis mass spectrometry for the analysis of proteins
  • How does arginine methylation regulate the transcription factor c‐MYC in cancer?
  • Engineering M13 Bacteriophage to produce new nano‐structures
  • Self Cleaning Surfaces: Preventing the Spread of Infection
  • Development and optimization of workflows for acquisition and processing of liquid chromatography‐mass spectrometry metabolomics data
  • Sepsis and other clinical outcomes in burn trauma: applying metabolism to understand sepsis and clinical outcomes
  • How does metabolism differ in different human samples (biofluids and tissues)?
  • Identification and characterization of novel regulators modulating programmed cell death and tissue recovery
  • Control of meiotic recombination in Arabidopsis: role of the chromosome axis
  • Probing the role of pseudo‐enzyme EchA6 in mycolic acid synthesis
  • Investigation of novel genome instability mutation
  • N‐terminal acetylation as a signal for protein degradation in plants
  • Cellular responses and resistance to histone deacetylase inhibitor treatment in Burkitt's Lymphoma
  • Analysis of phospho‐proteomic datasets from human breast cancer cells addicted to FGFR signaling
  • The role of MCL1 in Breast Cancer Cell survival
  • The essential intragenic landscape of Escherichia coli
  • Global assay of every gene in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Generation of mutants involved in nervous system development using CRISPR technology
  • Indentification of novel anti‐tumour agents from marine sediments
  • Investigating the mechanism of protein secretion in E. coli
  • Interaction of the partitioning proteins KorB and IncC with DNA and other protein partners
  • Transcription rate variability and gene regulatory network dynamics
  • Role of novel non‐coding RNAs in shuttling regulatory proteins
  • Probing the structure of the desmoplakin linker domain
  • Probing the structure and function of the Bam complex, the Gram negative bacterial outer membrane protein folding machinery
  • Retrograde lipid transport in E. coli
  • Using novel methods to purify a membrane protein complex
  • Towards a structure for the neurodegeneration protein Cln3
  • Individual‐based modelling of biofilms
  • Transfer of antibiotic resistance carrying plasmids in spatially structured multispecies communities
  • High throughput determination of substrate affinity in a microfluidic device
  • Gene regulation in bacteria
  • Structure:function studies of potential self‐protection proteins in the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus
  • Understanding the pH sensing mechanism of E. coli
  • Understanding the link between genotype and phenotype in laboratory‐evolved strains of stress‐resistant bacteria
  • The behavior of lab‐evolved stress resistant strains of bacteria under fermentation conditions
  • MicroRNA associated metastasis of non‐small cell lung cancers
  • Understanding the antifungal mechanism of acetic acid
  • Mechanisms of 'Division of Labour' in Cryptococcus gattii
  • Cloning and expression of the lectinolysin gene from Streptococcus mitis
  • Histone H2AX role in DNA recombination
  • The role of exonuclease activities in meiotic DNA recombination
  • Effect of topoisomerase II inhibitors on genome stability
  • Expression analysis of alternatively spliced neuronal genes important for synaptic plasticity in bee mushroom bodies, the brain center required for learning and memory.
  • Understanding and manipulating mupirocin and thiomarinol biosynthesis to create novel biologically active molecules
  • Dissecting plasmid host range determinants
  • Regulation of antibiotic production in marine bacteria
  • Investigation into the regulation of Notch signalling through the generation of CRISPR/Cas9‐ mediated TspanC8 knockout T cells
  • Regulation of the 'molecular scissor' ADAM10 by TspanC8 tetraspanins: generation of TspanC8 knockout cell lines by CRISPR/Cas9 technology
  • Regulation of the epithelial cell function by the 'molecular scissor' ADAM10: generation of an ADAM10 knockout epithelial cell line by CRISPR/Cas9
  • Crystallographic structure determination of E. coli nitroreductases.
  • Structural bioinformatics for the reengineering of the mupirocin and thiomarinol antibiotic biosynthesis pathways
  • Sequence and structural comparison of ketosynthase domains from trans‐AT polyketide synthase systems

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Standard fees apply - This programme is in Fee Band 3a for International Students.

2024/25 Fees

  • Code: 8349: UK students £11,340 Full-time
  • Code: 8621: £5,670 FT Part-time
  • Code: 8349: International students £29,340 Full-time only

Learn more about fees and funding

Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

Scholarships and studentships

Birmingham Masters Scholarship

We are offering over 200 awards of £2,000 to support the brightest and best applicants wishing to undertake Masters study at the University during 2024-2025.

Find out more and apply now  

Postgraduate Progression Award

Our Postgraduate Progression Awards offer final year undergraduates at the University of Birmingham a fee discount of £1,500 for postgraduate taught study.

Find out more and apply now  

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. 

Find out about scholarships for intenational students.

How To Apply

International students requiring visas

1 July 2024 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2024 made after this date; a new application will need to be made for September 2025.

UK students

31 August 2024 is the application deadline for UK students. We are not able to consider applications for 2024 made after this date; a new application will need to be made for September 2025.

Applications for 2024 entry are now open.

Making your application

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

This programme is designed for UK and international graduates who have an appropriate Life Sciences background, with a suitable degree in the Biological Sciences, Biochemistry or Biomedical Sciences. Graduates should have a minimum of a lower second class Honours degree (or the equivalent from outside the UK) in a Biosciences subject, ideally including some molecular biology (including gene cloning) and some genetics as part of their first degree.

Learn more about entry requirements.

International Requirements

International Students

English language requirements

Standard English language requirements apply (IELTS: 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in any band)

  • IELTS 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any band
  • TOEFL: 80 overall with no less than 19 in Reading, 19 in Listening, 21 in Speaking and 19 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: Academic 64 with no less than 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 169, with no less than 162 in any component

The MSc Molecular Biotechnology will provide you with the skills and specialised knowledge required for a career in biotechnology, molecular biotechnology or molecular biology research and development in an industry setting or any other modern biosciences research lab.

Overall our aim is to equip you with a theoretical and practical background needed to apply your knowledge to biotechnology problems. We focus on key techniques used in molecular biotechnology, including aspects of process engineering, molecular biology, functional genomics, 'omics' technologies, protein expression systems and antibody engineering.

Practical skills will include sessions on fermentation, molecular biology, immunology, cell biology and protein chemistry, and you will go on to complete a major, supervised laboratory or computer-based research project. The course provides the opportunity to develop your writing and presenting skills and you will also study relevant numerical methods, and learn how to plan and write a grant application or a business plan.

Assessment Methods

  • Project reports and project talks, oral presentations, extended essays, written reports, practical reports
  • Class tests on data-handling and data interpretation
  • Written grant application or business plan

What can I do with an MSc in Molecular Biotechnology?

Graduates from this programme will be well-placed for future careers in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, biomedical and other science-based industries, many of which are undergoing a period of rapid international growth.

The programme was designed in consultation with a senior scientist in a global pharmaceutical company, and includes relevant applied elements such as modules on product development and business plans, in addition to those covering the scientific aspects of the subject.

More information about graduate careers.


While many graduates will go on to employment in biotechnology companies, you will also be employable in other life sciences industries or able to go on to further study and research.

Dr Eugenio Sanchez-Moran, Programme Leader for MSc Molecular Biotechnology: 
"Our society needs to adjust to the increasing challenges ahead as a consequence of increasing population and pollution, of climate change, of new health care constraints and the reduction of food security. Biotechnology has driven applied sciences in industrial, pharmaceutical and agriculture accomplishments of the last century, and it will lead the pathway to the changes needed to adapt and develop our prospects as a Global Society. Our aim is to produce graduates with the precise practical skills and scientific knowledge to allow them to be key players in the next biotechnology revolutions."

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