MSc Plant Science and Biotechnology
In the last 10-15 years the study of plant sciences has been revolutionised by the development of new tools and technologies which have allowed unprecedented progress in the study of plant biology.
These include genomics technologies that are giving access to the secrets of plant genomes, new techniques for studying the regulation of genes and the activity and localisation of proteins. The adoption by the international plant science community of model species such as Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress) and rice has led to a massive expansion in our understanding of plant development and how plants interact with and respond to the environment. This knowledge is increasingly being applied to a diverse range of crop and medicinal plants where it can contribute to development of sustainable solutions to the production of food, raw materials, novel chemicals and fuel.
Our MSc Plant Science and Biotechnology degree provides training in modern molecular aspects of plant science and is suitable either for those who have done a more organism-based plant biology undergraduate degree or those from a non-plant biosciences background who wish to acquire knowledge and expertise in this area. Teaching is delivered by research active academics from the University of Leeds' Centre for Plant Sciences and is often aligned with their areas of expertise.
Graduates have many potential career paths open to them, ranging from academic or industry based research, through work in the area of science policy and government, teaching or working for non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Why choose to study plant sciences at Leeds?
This course offers:
- exciting contemporary topics such as DNA repair, recombination and transgene integration, organelle biogenesis and plant cell walls
- teaching delivered by top researchers, many world-class experts, who bring the latest cutting-edge research to their teaching and therefore, to your learning
- excellent career development opportunities with graduates moving into a wide range of exciting and challenging careers
- training in generic research skills such as scientific writing, graphics and data presentation, bioethics, bioenterprise and intellectual property rights
- opportunities to work on contemporary issues with leading researchers during your research project. Our Centre for Plant Sciences is a dynamic environment for research into plant cell biology, developmental plant biology, plant gene expression, signal transduction, biotechnology, crop science & the development of biosafe crops
- staff links to Africa College; an interdisciplinary University of Leeds initiative focussed on major issues related to the relationship between agriculture, human nutritional health and sustainability drawing on expertise from across the University and in collaboration with national and international partners
- the opportunity to combine theoretical disciplines with ‘hands-on’ practical laboratory skills
- the chance to study in a Faculty ranked 4th in the UK for research in biological sciences by the leading scientific journal ‘Nature’ based on the numbers of staff producing research that was “world leading" or "internationally excellent"
- access to international speakers from around the world through attendance at Faculty research seminar programmes
- opportunities to benefit from our strong employer connections supported by our employer engagement officer, including regular speakers from industry, goverment and scientific organisations.
- a flexible approach to suit individual needs
- excellent preparation for a research degree
- membership of one the main centres for postgraduate teaching in the country, with around 7,800 postgraduate students from all over the UK and another 100 countries
- all the facilities and lifestyle opportunities of a major international university
MSc Plant Science and Biotechnology
Master of Science (MSc)
12 months full-time
|2012 entry requirements||Normally a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, but relevant experience may be taken into account|
|English language requirements||If English is not your first language, please check our minimum English language requirements.|
|Start date||September annually (one intake only)|
|Admissions policy||Download the University taught postgraduate admissions policy|
Postgraduate Taught Admissions
Faculty of Biological Sciences Graduate School
|Plant Science team profiles|
The MSc Plant Science and Biotechnology programme consists of core research training modules designed to equip students with the expertise necessary to work at the cutting-edge of a modern plant science and biotechnology sector, including research planning exercises, methodologies underpinning contemporary bioscience, and an extended practical project providing hands on practical experience in molecular biology techniques. Added to this is an independent research project in an area of plant science and biotechnology which provide substantial subject-specific training. Specialist plant science and biotechnology taught modules make up the rest of the programme.
The programme is full-time and lasts 12 months, with teaching activities broken down into three parts:
- September-December (taught modules including a protein engineering laboratory project)
- January-March (taught modules and research project proposal)
- April-September (independent laboratory-based research project)
Students study a total of 180 credits worth of modules comprising of the following::
- 55 credits of compulsory core research training modules
- 85 credits of a compulsory research project
- 40 credits of taught specialist plant science and biotechnology modules
Research Planning and Scientific Communication
Advanced Biomolecular Technologies
Protein Engineering Laboratory Project
Research Project Proposal and Research Project
Topics in Plant Science
1) DNA recombination and repair mechanisms and their importance for transgene integration and biotechnological applications
2) The biogenesis of mitochondria, chloroplast and peroxisomes
3) The biosynthesis, structure and function of plant cell walls.
Students undertake an extended literature review, a data analysis exercise and research paper critique to underpin their understanding of these topics. These activities are supported via tutorials.
High Throughput Technologies
Is the course mainly practical or theoretical?
The course combines theoretical modules with practical skills training. 100 credits out of the total 180 credits that you study will be practical based modules and therefore the programme will provide you with substantial training in practical methods and technologies currently being used to advance the biological sciences. This is through a 15 credit laboratory-based mini-project and an 85 credit laboratory-based independent research project on a cutting edge topic related to your course options. Our teaching and assessment methods are designed to develop scientists who are able to think independently, solve problems, communicate effectively and demonstrate a high level of practical ability.
Example Research Projects
A selection of project titles offered previously:
- Characterization of a new class of inhibitors of plant growth
- Genetic identification of the target of a novel inhibitor of lipid breakdown in Arabidopsis
- Expression of the Peroxisome targeting receptor PEX7
- Secretion of arabinogalactan-proteins into cell walls of salt-stressed plant cells
- Defining homozygous lines of transgenic, nematode resistant rice
- Cell wall changes induced by the use of agrochemical ‘straw thickeners’
- Effects of constitutive cysteine protease inhibitor (cystatin) expression on drought tolerance in tobacco
Visit the Studying with us pages to find out more about studying in the Faculty of Biological Sciences Undergraduate School.
Please be aware that course details do change from time to time. ...
... If in doubt, please contact us to verify course content and availability. Whilst the University endeavours to ensure that the information on this website is accurate at the date of publication it does not accept liability for any inaccuracies. The University reserves the right to change or cancel its courses or services at any time without liability even after students have registered at the University. The University's contract with its students does not confer third party benefits for the purposes of Contracts (Right of Third Parties) Act 1999.
Fees and Funding
What does it cost?
The cost of a postgraduate degree varies by course; you will get details of your fees with your offer letter.
|UK / EU student fees 2013 - 14|
|MSc Human Disease and Therapy||£7,500|
|MSc Infection and Immunity||£7,500|
|MSc Plant Science and Biotechnology||£7,500|
|International Student fees 2013 - 14|
|MSc Human Disease and Therapy||£16,500|
|MSc Infection and Immunity||£16,500|
|MSc Plant Science and Biotechnology||£16,500|
The academic fee covers tuition and exam costs as well as membership of the students' union. International students will pay a higher fee than UK students as the fees for UK and European Union (EU) students are subsidised by the UK government, but international students can get get financial help from international scholarships. See also Biological Sciences International Scholarships.
The majority of our students are self-funded, or funded by their employer or national government. However, several additional sources provide either fully-funded or part-funded scholarships, both for UK and for overseas applicants. Postgraduate scholarships are available to international, UK and EU students and you may be eligible.
If you are experiencing severe hardship you could get help with your living expenses from the Access to Learning Fund, after you have applied for all other available means of support, but please note that residency conditions do apply.
When to pay
Fees must be paid in full before you can register as a postgraduate student, unless you will be paying for yourself. If you are self-supporting you can pay fees in two instalments, the first payable at registration.
If you are supported by your government, employer, or other sponsor, you should provide a letter from them addressed to the University, confirming that the fees will be paid directly. Sponsors cannot pay by instalments.
The information provided is for general guidance purposes only. The University believes the information provided is accurate at the time of publication. The University cannot accept liability for any inaccuracies.
Excellent career prospects
The strong research element combined with the specialist and generic skills training of the postgraduate Bioscience degrees equips our graduates for a wide range of careers and is internationally recognised.
A substantial proportion of our graduates undertake PhDs either at Leeds or elsewhere, whilst others enter employment in diverse posts ranging from bioscience-related research through to scientific publication, teacher training, health and safety and pharmaceutical market research. Examples of posts held by recent MSc Bioscience graduates include:
- PhD positions in the UK, USA and overseas e.g. at the Max Planck Institute, Germany
- Research post at Harvard School of Public Health, Botswana
- Trainee Cytogeneticist, UK
- Commissioning Editor/Scientific Publishing, UK
- Research Fellow, National Centre for Biological Sciences, India
- Clinical Researcher, Kent and Medway Cancer Network and NHS Trust, UK
- Research Technician, University of Warwickshire/University of Oxford, UK
- Graduate Medical Degree, UK
- Postgraduate Certificate in Education, UK
- Trainee Embryologist, UK
- Research Assistant, Qatar National Research Fund, Qatar
- Sypol, Health and Safety Services, UK
- Research Executive, Adelphi International Research, UK
- Biopharmaceutical Experimental Officer, Covance, UK
PhD in Leeds
The Faculty offers a wide range of postgraduate research opportunities. Browse our online database to find out about our research staff and current research interests and visit our research news bulletin for all the latest research stories.
Chelsea Brain (MSc Bioscience 2010) secured a position as a Doctoral Student Researcher with Newcastle University and Scottish Bioenergy, a university spin-out company in Newcastle. This allows her to not only use her bioscience skills, but also to be involved on the business side of things too.
Careers support and personal development
University of Leeds Careers Centre
The University of Leeds has its own specialist careers centre to help students. In 2007 around 450 employers and over 13,000 students took part in the Career Centre's varied programme of events. The Centre can help students to:
- plan what to do after university
- attend careers fairs and employer presentations
- write a CV
- improve job applications
- look for work experience
- find vacancies
Alumni Mentoring Network
Registered students have access to our Alumni Mentoring network. Networking is one of the most effective ways to find out more about different career opportunities. In an increasingly competitive employment market it is vital to be well-informed and there really is no substitute for talking to people who have first hand experience of the work that interests you. Leeds Alumni Mentoring Network gives students the chance to make contact with Leeds alumni (graduates) to explore career options, gain tips on entry into specific careers and receive supportive advice on developing your career plans. Find out more about our alumni.
Leeds for Life
Our Leeds for Life scheme helps all students to recognise and develop the qualities they are gaining from the whole of their University of Leeds experience - both from their course and the huge range of co-curricular opportunities on offer. We want Leeds students to go out into the world and make a difference, in whatever field they choose. We believe that the research-led education at Leeds gives our students the confidence and skills to do just that.
All Masters students are assigned a personal tutor, whom they meet in timetabled individual meetings to discuss their progress and personal development .
- Search jobs in science, research, academic & related employment in the UK & abroad.
- Useful information for graduates covering a wide range of sectors and occupations.
- Information and profiles on jobs in the UK and overseas.
Developing your employability skills
We work closely with a variety of employers to ensure that our students and graduates are well-equipped to successfully compete in the global bioscience and wider employment markets, as well as academia.
We offer our students various opportunities:
- Industrial projects
- Industry-relevant courses
- Industrial advisers and speakers
- Networking opportunities
Who we work with
We have a proactive Industrial Advisory Board who give up their time to advise us on what they look for in graduates and on employability related skills within our programmes.
We collaborate with a range of different organisations in the public and commercial sectors. Our commercial collaborators include larger multinational organisations to smaller to medium sized enterprises, and University of Leeds spin-out companies.
Many of these are represented on our Industrial Advisory Board.
We work with...
- Ernst and Young
- The Food and Environment Research Agency
- The Health Protection Agency
- Thermofisher Scientific
- Hays Life Sciences
- European Bioinformatics Institute
- Smaller University spin-out companies, such as Lumora
Some of our partners also offer MSc research projects in their organisations. Students completing projects in industry are able to gain valuable work experience, develop their commercial awareness and build their network of contacts.
Employers advise on and input directly into our MSc Bioscience course content, ensuring our courses are relevant to industry as well as academia. This gives our students the knowledge, skills, qualities and experiences employers tell us they are looking for.
Industrial advisers and speakers
Graduate employers also advise and teach on MSc modules either by joining our Industrial Advisory Board and/or delivering one-off lectures, workshops and practical demonstrations. Employers also contribute 'real world' case studies, work-based learning examples and problems. As a result, students are able to relate their learning to the wider context of the bioscience industry. Employers also provide valuable career development advice to students.
Example employer lectures...
Employers meet with students on campus at dedicated networking events. Visiting employers often advise about job vacancies and the types of new recruits that their organisation is looking for. They also provide insider tips on the skills, knowledge and competences required to enter their respective careers/organisations.
The annual bioscience careers fair
Representatives from multi-national bioscience employers attend our bioscience careers fair, including Croda, GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever. University careers advisors also provide students with one-to-one advice on topics such as improving their CVs and securing future job interviews. This gives students the opportunity to practice their networking skills and learn about future career avenues that might be open to them.
We arrange industrial worksite and research institute visits, to help our students find out how their knowledge and skills can be practically transferred into the wider world of work. Students use these opportunities to build their own networks and learn more about future career avenues that are open to them. MSc Bioinformatics & Genomics students have the opportunity to visit the European Bioinformatics Institute to find out about the research work that goes on there and in Europe, and about potential PhD and job opportunities in their field in the future.
Faculty research news:
Step up to Masters
The Step up to Masters website is designed to help you Step Up to your time as a Masters student, so that you can make the most of all the opportunities offered at the University of Leeds, Faculty of Biological Sciences. It is designed to prepare you for living in Leeds but more importantly for studying at this higher level. You will find it packed with useful information.
Biotechnology research and innovation across the University of Leeds
- Africa College Partnership: major issues related to the relationship between agriculture, human nutritional health and sustainability
- "Impact" magazine online for biotechnology news
- Find out how University of Leeds researchers are looking at the big challenges facing society