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 biofuels. 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.
This course will provide you with the skills you need to start an exciting career in the bioprocess industries, or continue research in the area of bioprocessing or industrial biotechnology.
Academics working at Birmingham have strong links with industry, through collaborative projects, so allow students to make contact with companies. Graduates from the MSc programme have gone on to careers in biochemical engineering world-wide, in large and small companies working in diverse areas.
There are also guest lectures from academics working at other institutions.
You will gain practical experience of working with industrially applicable systems, from fermentation at laboratory scale to 100 litre pilot scale, in the Biochemical Engineering laboratories. Theory learned in lectures will be applied in practical terms. In addition, theoretical aspects will be applied in design case studies in a number of modules.
All MSc students complete a summer research project, working on a piece of individual, novel research within one of the research groups in the school. These projects provide an ideal experience of life as a researcher, from design of experimental work, practical generation of data, analysis and communication of findings. Many students find this experience very useful in choosing the next steps in their career.
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 refurbished facility includes state-of-the-art computer-controlled bioreactors, downstream processing equipment and analytical instruments
In the autumn and spring semesters, the programme comprises lecture and problem based modules assessed by a mixture of examinations and coursework. The programme commences with introductory modules. These are designed to build a strong interdisciplinary knowledge base. The fundamentals of process engineering are introduced to graduates with first degrees in non-chemical engineering subjects. Chemical engineering graduates are instructed in bioscience topics.
Building on this strong foundation, subsequent core modules cover fermentation and cellculture technologies, downstream processing (bioseparation), bioreaction engineering, bioprocess design and monitoring and modern
high-throughput genomic methodologies.
Students also spend a week in a newly refurbished pilot plant, using state-of-the-art fermentation, downstream processing and analytical facilities. A wide range of optional modules is available for you to gain specific knowledge relating to food and/or pharmaceutical product development. Safety, regulatory and quality issues applicable across the relevant industries are also considered. You may also choose to study business and management modules. You will have the freedom to pick and choose modules from each theme if they wish, providing timetabling allows this.
In the summer semester (June to September), each student on the MSc programme will then undertake an individual project in a research area of their choice within one of the School’s internationally recognized research groups.