Microbiology

Biomedicine - MSc

2018

The MSc Biomedicine is a flexible programme that allows students to pursue diverse interests at the interface of biology and clinical sciences. 

2018

Overview

Based around a core structure of practical training in cutting-edge molecular biosciences –including CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technologies – the course provides an advanced training in the research and transferable skills that are valued by employers.

An impressive range of optional modules in diverse areas of biomedicine – infection, cancer, reproductive technology, neuroscience, ageing, bioinformatics, drug development and biotechnology – allow you to develop your own specific biomedical interests. An extended research project in the summer months allows advanced, independent investigation in an area that relates to your programme of study.

Biomedicine is a particular research strength at the University of Kent, and the curriculum has been designed by world-leading experts within their fields. Connections with the clinical community ensure that you have access to the interface between biological science and medicine, and a true insight into how biomedical research improves patient care and changes lives.  

The programme offers a progression route to PhD level of study for those wishing to pursue a research career, while transferable skills development supports access to careers in clinical trials, public engagement, scientific writing, industrial research, and many other career structures within and outside the laboratory.

As a Biomedicine student you join a vibrant, ambitious and friendly academic community of around 150 postgraduate students, and a School ranked in the top 10 in the UK for research intensity by the Times Higher Education, based on data from the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF).

New Institute for Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine

Biosciences' research excellence will be further enhanced by a new 'Institute of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine' research facility. The new building will be completed in 2020, and will house additional staff and research facilities.

 Kent & Medway Medical School

Kent is moving forward with the Kent & Medway Medical School (KMMS), due to take the first cohort of students in September 2020. The Medical School will be a significant addition to the University, with exciting opportunities for education and research in the School of Biosciences.

About the School of Biosciences

The University of Kent’s School of Biosciences ranks among the most active in biological sciences in the UK. We have recently extended our facilities and completed a major refurbishment of our research laboratories, which now house over 100 academic, research, technical and support staff, of whom more than 120 are postgraduate students.

Research in the School of Biosciences revolves around understanding systems and processes in the living cell. It has a strong molecular focus with leading-edge activities that are synergistic with one another and complementary to the teaching provision. Our expertise in disciplines such as biochemistry, microbiology and biomedical science allows us to exploit technology and develop groundbreaking ideas in the fields of genetics, molecular biology, protein science and biophysics. Fields of enquiry encompass a range of molecular processes from cell division, transcription and translation through to molecular motors, molecular diagnostics and the production of biotherapeutics and bioenergy.

In addition to research degrees, our key research strengths underpin a range of career-focused taught Master’s programmes that address key issues and challenges within the biosciences and pharmaceutical industries and prepare graduates for future employment.

National ratings

Based on the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), the Times Higher Education ranks the School of Biosciences 7th in the UK for research intensity and in the top 20 in the UK for research output.

An impressive 93% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality, with 88% of this judged world-leading or internationally excellent. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development research of international excellence.

Course structure

The MSc in Biomedicine involves studying for 120 credits of taught modules. You undertake a period of advanced training in research, technical and transferable skills with application in the biomedical research area, including an extended practical training in cutting-edge genome editing. You then choose options from a wide selection that includes microbiology, oncology, biotechnology and instrumentation, drug development and reproductive science – allowing you to pursue particular interests within a flexible curriculum. During the summer term and summer vacation, you undertake an extended, 60-credit research project in one of our research groups under the supervision of a member of academic staff.

In addition to producing traditional scientific laboratory reports, you gain experience in a range of scientific writing styles relevant to future employment, such as literature reviews, patent applications, regulatory documents, and patient information suitable for a non-scientific readership.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to  year in response to new curriculum  developments and innovation.  Most  programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and  optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore  other subject areas that interest you.

Stage 1

Compulsory modules may include:

BI830 - Science@work

BI836 - Practical and applied research skills for advanced biologists

Optional modules may include:

BI837 - The molecular and cellular basis of cancer

BI838 - Genomic stability and cancer

BI840 - Cancer therapeutics: from the laboratory to the clinic

BI841 - The science of reproductive medicine

BI842 - The IVF world

BI851 - Advanced molecular processing for biotechnologists and bioengineers

BI852 - Advanced analytical and emerging technologies for biotechnologists and bioengineers

BI853 - Bacterial pathogens

BI856 - Viral pathogens

BI854 - Fungi as human pathogens

BI855 - Advances in Parasitology

BI857 - Cancer research in focus

BI627 - Haematology and Blood Transfusion

BI638 - Bioinformatics and Genomics

BI643 - Neuroscience

BI644 - The Biology of Ageing

Stage 2

Compulsory modules may include:

BI845 - Research Project

Modules may include Credits

Science has a profound influence on professional practice in the private and public sector. This module considers the ways in which different professions interact with science and scientists, and how this influences the work they do. Their interaction with the public will also be discussed. A series of speakers with diverse professional backgrounds (education, industry, government, policy making, the law, the media) will describe their work, the role of science in the profession, and the way in which science influences their actions and interactions with the public and other professions. This will relate to scientific content in a range of scientific contexts, including cancer, reproductive medicine, biotechnology and healthcare. This will be illustrated by case studies presenting challenges and dilemmas concerning the communication of science in the context of different professions and their target audiences.

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The module aims to develop understanding and practical skills in molecular biology, based around interactive workshops, practical sessions and group work . The module will involve practical sessions covering key practical and transferable skills in molecular biology and biotechnology. These will be accompanied by interactive workshops and classes that review the theory of these techniques, and will use case studies to illustrate their impact and importance in both academic and industrial settings. Students will learn skills in experimental design using appropriate case studies that will embed them within the relevant research literature. They will also gain experience of analysis and statistical interpretation of complex experimental data.

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This module will introduce the key mechanisms, processes and factors that underpin cancer development, including oncogenes, tumour suppressor genes, growth factor signalling and angiogenesis. It will review the different types of cancer and their global incidence, comparing this with environmental and cultural risk factors. Inherited predisposition will be covered within the context of specific cancers, and the clinical and pathological manifestation of specific tumours will be explored in lectures and in the practical class associated with the module.

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This module introduces and develops knowledge in the key area of genome maintenance. Students will learn how loss of genomic integrity leads to enhanced cancer incidence, and how biological processes and the environment contribute to genetic instability. The cellular mechanisms that lead to cancer incidence, together with those that protect cells from the onset of carcinogenic processes will be reviewed. This module will also examine the use of DNA damaging agents in cancer therapies, and incorporate practical experience of investigating the cellular responses to DNA damage.

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This module provides students with critical perspectives upon current and emerging cancer therapies, how they are developed, and how they are applied in the clinical setting. The harnessing of scientific knowledge in the treatment of disease requires a complex series of highly regulated studies that must be performed under highly-regulated legal and ethical frameworks. This module reviews the transition from promising cancer therapy to fully realised therapeutic agent, using specific therapies as examples. It will also discuss the emerging potential for personalised medicine based on patient-specific molecular biomarkers.

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The practice of reproductive medicine is underpinned by a scientific basis stretching back hundreds of years. New discoveries are being put into medical practice on a regular basis and reproductive medicine research is well known for its translational element. This module will explore the fundamentals of reproductive medicine, Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Urology, Andrology, Managing abnormal pregnancies and pre-term birth, Infectious diseases affecting reproduction, Sex determination, reproductive endocrinology, cancer and fertility, causes of infertility and Genetics. This module will be science-based, informed and led by the scientific and medical literature and modern discoveries. Specifically:

• What is reproductive medicine? (Darren Griffin)

• Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Urology (Michael Summers)

• The science of Andrology (Sheryl Homa)

• Managing abnormal pregnancy and premature birth (Vimal Vasu)

• Infectious disease and reproductive medicine (Gary Robinson)

• Sex determination (Peter Goodfellow)

• Endocrinology and Reproduction (Michael Sumners)

• Cancer and Reproduction (Bill Gullick/ Dan Lloyd)

• The causes of infertility (Darren Griffin)

• Infertility and Genetics (Darren Griffin)

• Genetics and Pregnancy (Darren Griffin)

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Around 1-2% of all babies in the UK are born by IVF, with varying figures in many other countries. Internationally, reproductive medicine generally, and IVF in particular, is an area in which the UK is world-leading. This module will explore the many aspects of practical IVF (including ICSI, and PGD) and the factors that affect it. A feature of the module will be the presentation of similar issues from different perspectives e.g. that of the clinician, the counsellor and the laboratory manager.

A career as a scientist in reproductive medicine (e.g. clinical embryologist) is a popular path. Although the proposed module does not aim to address the specific goal of training prospective clinical embryologists in how to perform their operational tasks (such training is provided in-house in a highly regulated clinical environment and leads to a vocational qualification), this module will give students a realistic expectation of the likelihood of them excelling in, and enjoying this popular career path. This module will thus explore the basics of lab technique and good practice, pipette making, egg collection and in-vitro maturation, sperm assessment, insemination, ICSI, embryo grading, assisted hatching, spreading and preimplantation diagnosis. For obvious reasons embryos from non-human model species (e.g. mouse, bovine, pig) will be used. Specifically:

• Referral categories for IVF (Laurence Shaw)

• The IVF laboratory (Alan Thornhill)

• IVF and ICSI (Alan Thornhill)

• Preimplantation Diagnosis and Screening

• Careers in reproductive medicine (Darren Griffin, Alan Thornhill)

• Practical course (Darren Griffin, Alan Thornhill)

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This module describes the anatomy, physiology, pathology, and therapy of the blood and blood forming tissues, including the bone marrow. It covers a wide range of disorders including haematological malignancies, infection with blood-borne parasites that cause malaria, and inappropriate clotting activities such as deep vein thrombosis.

Haematology:

An introduction to haematology: module outline, aims and objectives.

Haemopoiesis and the bone marrow.

The red cell: structure and function.

Inherited abnormalities of red cells.

Anaemias – acquired and inherited.

White blood cells in health and disease.

An introduction to haematological malignancies.

Bleeding disorders and their laboratory investigation.

Thrombophilia.

Blood borne parasites.

Blood transfusion:

The ABO and Rhesus blood group systems

Other blood group systems.

Blood banking techniques.

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A. Bioinformatics Data sources & Sequence analysis:

Databases and data availability. Using sequence data for analysis – sequence searching methods, multiple sequence alignments, residue conservation, Phylogenetics, Protein domains and families (e.g. Pfam, Interpro).

B. Protein Bioinformatics Methods

Protein structure and function prediction. Prediction of binding sites/interfaces with small ligands and with other proteins. Bioinformatics analyses using protein data.

C. Genomics

An introduction to DNA analysis methods moving onto omics approaches, primarily focussing on the data available from DNA sequencing – how it can be used to compare genomes (comparative and functional genomics). Metagenomics and transcriptomics will also be covered.

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The module is divided into three roughly equal sized units, each dealing with a specific aspect of neurobiology. Throughout, both the normal system and diseases and disorders that arise as a consequence of abnormalities will be covered.

Unit 1: Development of the Nervous System

Looks at how the complex and intricately wired nervous system develops from a simple sheet of neuroepithelial cells by addressing the cellular and molecular basis of:

1. Neurulation (formation of the brain and spinal cord)

2. Nerve cell proliferation (Neurogenesis)

3. Differentiation and survival of nerve cells

4. Axon growth and guidance

5. Synapse formation (Synaptogenesis)

Unit 2: Signalling at the Synapse

Considers the molecules and mechanisms involved in transmission of signals between nerve cells:

1. Neurotransmitters and neuromodulators

2. Molecular mechanisms of transmitter release

3. Neurotransmitter receptors and transporters

Unit 3: The Brain and Behaviour

Explores how the nervous system controls a variety of behaviours including:

1. Learning and memory

2. Sleep and dreaming

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The module overviews the importance of studying ageing, the organisms and methods used to do so. It considers how organisms age, together with providing a detailed understanding of the processes and molecular mechanisms that govern ageing.

Introduction

1. Importance and principles of ageing research

2. Why do organisms age and theories of ageing: e.g. Damage theory, telomeres, genetics and trade off theories.

3. How ageing and lifespan is measured.

4. Overview of processes and pathways controlling ageing.

Methods in ageing research

1. Model Organisms: Benefits and problems associated with studying ageing in model organisms, including: yeast, worms, flies, mice, primates.

2. Systems approaches to studying ageing: e.g. high throughput DNA/RNA sequencing, high throughput proteomics and, metabolomics. Pros and cons of these methods, what we have learned from them?

Signalling pathways that control ageing

1. Insulin signalling pathway and Target of Rapamycin (ToR) pathway.

2. Organisation of pathways and the molecules involved, how they were discovered to be implicated in lifespan and ageing, ways of modelling and studying their molecular detail in animals e.g. genetic/ epistasis analysis.

3. The processes downstream of these pathways that allow them to control lifespan/ageing e.g. stress resistance, autophagy, reduced translation, enhanced immunity etc.

4. Cross-talk between pathways.

5. Dietary restriction, lifespan and ageing.

6. How dietary restriction works in different organisms, what signalling pathways and processes it affects.

Diseases of ageing

1. What these are e.g. Alzheimer's, Huntington's.

2. Overview of 'normal ageing' associated processes e.g. muscle weakening.

3. How they can be studied in model organisms and the importance of ageing research for treating these disorders.

Ethics of ageing research

1. Pros and cons of studying ageing with a goal of extending human lifespan e.g. insurance, health system, social, psychological implications.

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This module will consider key areas of biotechnology and bioengineering including an introduction to drug discovery and design, systems biology and synthetic biology, gene expression and the engineering of cells to modulate cellular processes, the mechanics of cells from an engineering perspective, industrial biotechnology (specifically biofuels and small molecule systems biology), protein and vaccine based drugs, regenerative medicine and bionanomaterials. This will be delivered through workshops and seminars by specialists within the CMP and involve a number of course work assignments that will consider the most current research and thinking in these areas. This will be complemented by two three day practical's, one on mammalian cell engineering and the other on synthetic biology.

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This module will consider key areas of analytical technologies used for the analysis of proteins, small molecules and cells. This will include mass spectrometry techniques (GC-MS, ESI-MS, MALDI-ToF MS), crystallography and NMR, spectroscopy (UV-vis, IR, Raman, fluorescence, ESR), chromatography, DNA and RNA sequencing, bioinformatics, microscopy (AFM, EM), electrophoresis, (qRT)-PCR, 'omics' approachs, glycosylation profiling, cell based assays, simple fermentation control and measurements. Industrial case studies will be covered to demonstrate how different techniques and approaches are integrated in a commercial environment. Students will also be expected to design and implement a protocol aim at recovering and characterising a protein molecule from mammalian cell culture within set constraints and parameters. There will also be a visit to an industrial analytical laboratory to demonstrate such technologies in the work place. This will be delivered through workshops and seminars by specialists within the CMP and involve a number of course work assignments that will consider the most current research and thinking in these areas. This will be complemented by a one week practical where the students are asked to design a process to purify and characterise a molecule and then use this to setup a crystallisation screen.

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The module aims to develop an in depth understanding of bacterial pathogens, based around lectures and interactive workshops. Key topics include Gram-negative pathogens (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Pseudomonas), Gram-positive pathogens (e.g. Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus anthracis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis), current and emerging virulence traits (e.g. adhesion, invasiveness, enhanced spread, toxin production, antimicrobial drug resistance). The module will involve a rotation of seminars covering key theoretical concepts, mechanistic insights into host:pathogen interactions, and discussion of practical approaches to combat the spread of bacterial infections. These will be accompanied by interactive workshops wherein students will analyse, present and discuss the relevant research literature. In addition, a computer workshop will provide bioinformatics training for the analysis of genomic traits pertaining to bacterial virulence. The students will gain experience in scientific design, literature analysis, scientific communication and the analysis and interpretation of complex experimental data.

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The module aims to develop an in depth understanding of fungal pathogens, based around lectures and interactive workshops. Key topics include severe, recurrent and chronic fungal diseases (such as cryptococcal meningitis, candidiasis and chronic pulmonary aspergillosis).and molecular mechanisms underlying resistance to anti-fungal drugs. The module will involve a rotation of seminars covering key theoretical concepts, mechanistic insights into host:pathogen interactions, and discussion of practical approaches to combat the spread of fungal infections. These will be accompanied by interactive workshops wherein students will analyse, present and discuss the relevant research literature. The students will gain experience in scientific design, literature analysis, scientific communication and the analysis and interpretation of complex experimental data.

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The module aims to develop an in depth understanding of eukaryotic pathogens, based around lectures and interactive workshops. Key topics include: Introduction to parasitology (parasitism as a strategy), Evolution and taxonomy of parasitic protozoa, Cell structures and functions, Molecular biology of parasitic protozoa, The unique biochemistry of parasitic protozoa, Apicomplexa (Plasmodium, Toxoplasma, Babesia, Cryptosporidium), Parasitic Excavates (Trypanosoma, Leishmania, Naegleria, Trichomonas), Overview of medically important helminths, Host-parasite-vector immune interactions. The module will involve a rotation of seminars covering key theoretical concepts, mechanistic insights into host: pathogen interactions, and discussion of practical approaches to combat the spread of parasitic infections. These will be accompanied by interactive workshops wherein students will analyse, present and discuss the relevant research literature. In addition, a laboratory workshop will provide training for the identification of medically important parasites using microscopy and molecular biology techniques. The students will gain experience in scientific design, literature analysis, scientific communication and the analysis and interpretation of complex experimental data.

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The module aims to develop understanding and analytical skills in virology, based around seminars and interactive workshops. The initial stages of the module will involve an intensive rotation of seminars covering key practical and transferable skills in virology and molecular biology. These will be accompanied by interactive workshops wherein students will analyse, present and discuss the relevant research literature. The students will gain experience in scientific design, literature analysis, scientific communication and the analysis and statistical interpretation of complex experimental data.

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The module aims to develop understanding and analytical skills in order to fully embed students within the culture of cancer research. Based around seminars and interactive workshops, the initial stages of the module will involve an intensive rotation of seminars covering recent key developments in the field of cancer, delivered by experts, accompanied by critical evaluation and analysis of research articles exploring these research themes. Students will analyse, present and discuss the relevant research literature. They will gain experience in scientific design, literature analysis, scientific communication and the analysis and statistical interpretation of complex experimental data. The later stages will focus on the students' own extended research project and will involve the preparation of a research proposal.

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Students will undertake an independent research project that will be designed by the student, in consultation with an academic supervisor, to address specific research questions. Students will be trained in key techniques relating to the project, and will work independently under the supervisor's guidance to design and execute experiments that will address the questions formulated earlier. The students will spend approximately 14 weeks in the laboratory and with then write up their findings in the style of a scientific report for publication in a high impact factor scientific journal. They will present a poster and an oral presentation in research symposia arranged by the School.

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment involves a mixture of practical classes, innovative continuous assessment to gain maximum transferable and professional skills, and examinations, depending on the optional modules selected.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • provide an excellent quality of postgraduate-level education in the field of biomedicine
  • promote engagement with research into biomedicine and inspire students to pursue scientific careers inside or outside of the laboratory
  • provide a research-led, inspiring learning environment
  • provide a regional postgraduate progression route for the advanced study of biomedical science
  • provide a flexible programme that allows a range of specialisms within biomedical science
  • develop subject-specific and transferable skills to maximise employment prospects 
  • promote an understanding of the impact of scientific research on society and the role for scientists in a range of professions.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain a knowledge and understanding of:

  • principles, application and the critical context of key techniques in modern molecular bioscience and its application to biomedicine
  • the mechanisms by which scientific knowledge and research is disseminated to different stakeholders eg media, policymakers and public
  • research ethics and academic integrity, and the application of related principles and procedures in an advanced biological research context.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual skills:

  • Research skills: how to formulate original research questions and hypotheses to address current scientific issues
  • Analytical skills: scholarly interpretation of data, marshalling information from published sources, critical evaluation of own research and that of others
  • Information technology: use of appropriate technology to retrieve, analyse and present scientific information
  • Statistical evaluation: the use of appropriate statistical analysis methods in handling and critically interpreting scientific data

Subject-specific skills

You gain the following subject-specific skills:

  • Experimental skills: how to design experiments to address specific research questions and hypotheses
  • Practical skills: key techniques in modern molecular biology and their application in molecular bioscience to solve research problems
  • Data handling: how to record experimental procedures and data appropriately using good laboratory practice
  • Presentation of scientific research: how to write research articles in an appropriate scholarly style in keeping with high-impact-factor scientific journals, and posters and oral presentation for conferences and symposia
  • Science writing: how to present scientific information to scientific and non-scientific audiences
  • Careers: a recognition of career opportunities for scientists outside of the laboratory
  • Principles and procedures for health and safety in the laboratory research environment

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • Communication: ability to organise information clearly, present information in oral and written form, adapt presentation for different audiences
  • Reflection: make use of constructive informal feedback from staff and peers and assess own progress to enhance performance and personal skills
  • Self-motivation and independence: time and workload management in order to meet personal targets and imposed deadlines
  • Team work: the ability to work both independently and as part of a research group using peer support, diplomacy and collective responsibility

Careers

A postgraduate degree in the School of Biosciences is designed to equip our graduates with transferable skills that are highly valued in the workplace. Our research-led ethos ensures that students explore the frontiers of scientific knowledge, and the intensive practical components provide rigorous training in cutting-edge technical skills.

Destinations for our graduates include the leading pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies within the UK and leading research institutes both at home and abroad.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The School is well equipped, with excellent general research laboratories, together with a range of specialised research resources including facilities for growing micro-organisms of all kinds, extensive laboratories for animal cell culture and monoclonal antibody production, and an imaging suite providing high-resolution laser confocal and electron microscopy. Additionally, the macromolecular analysis facility provides resources for protein and mass spectrometry, CD and fluorescence spectroscopy, surface plasmon resonance, and HPLC and FPLC systems for all aspects of biochemical and microbiological research. Notably, the School has a new state-of-the-art Bruker Avance III four-channel 600 MHz NMR spectrometer equipped with a QCI cryoprobe, obtained via an equipment research award from the Wellcome Trust.

Support

Students on taught programmes are assigned a personal academic tutor to provide additional support. Throughout the course, you experience the research culture of the School by attending research seminars and careers guidance sessions, and also have opportunities to participate in our vibrant outreach programme within the local community. In addition to taught modules, an in-depth research project takes place during the summer under the guidance of members of academic staff. These projects benefit from our outstanding research environment and first-class facilities.

An active school

The School of Biosciences runs regular seminars at which external guest speakers or staff talk about recent research. In addition, the department runs FIREBio (Forum for Innovation, Research and Enterprise in Biosciences), an informal meeting for staff, postdoctoral students and postgraduates involving short presentations and discussions. Postgraduates can use the opportunity to present unpublished research findings and discuss them in a supportive environment.

Worldwide partnerships

Staff in the School of Biosciences not only collaborate extensively with other universities in the UK (Cambridge, Cardiff, King’s College London, University College London, Newcastle, Oxford, Sussex, York, Manchester, Durham and Sheffield), but also have a wide-ranging network across the world with institutes including: the Boston Biomedical Research Institute; University of Hanover; Monash University Melbourne; Harvard; University of California, Davis; Université Claude Bernard – Lyon 1; Goethe-Universität Frankfurt; University of Queensland, Australia; University of Utah; Texas A&M University; and Braunschweig University of Technology. We also collaborate with organisations such as the Marie Curie Research Institute, Cancer Research UK, National Institute for Medical Research, MRC London, GlaxoSmithKline and the European Union Framework 5 CYTONET.

The School currently receives funding from: BBSRC; Biochemical Society; British Heart Foundation; E B Charitable Hutchinson Trust; the EC; EPSRC; Kent Cancer Trust; The Leverhulme Trust; National Institutes of Health (USA); Nuffield Foundation; Royal Society; Wellcome Trust. It also receives funding on specific projects from a number of industrial organisations and collaborators.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Nature Chemical Biology; Journal of Biological Chemistry; Cell; Molecular Cell; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA; PLOS One; and Journal of Cell Science.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in a Biosciences related discipline.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Research in the School of Biosciences is focused primarily on essential biological processes at the molecular and cellular level, encompassing the disciplines of biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology and biomedical research.

The School is consistently highly ranked among biological science Schools in the UK and houses a dynamic research community with five major research themes:

  • industrial biotechnology
  • infection and drug resistance
  • cancer and age-related diseases
  • cellular architecture and dynamics
  • reproduction, evolution and genomics.

Each area is led by a senior professor and underpinned by excellent research facilities. The School-led development of the Industrial Biotechnology Centre (IBC), with staff from the four other schools in the Faculty of Sciences, facilitates and encourages interdisciplinary projects. The School has a strong commitment to translational research, impact and industrial application with a substantial portfolio of enterprise activity and expertise.

Associated centres

Kent Fungal Group

The Kent Fungal Group (KFG) brings together a number of research groups in the School of Biosciences that primarily use yeasts or other fungi as ‘model systems’ for their research. One strength of the KFG is the range of model fungi being exploited for both fundamental and medical/translational research. These include Bakers’ yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and Fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe) and yeasts associated with human disease, specifically Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans.

In addition to studying key cellular processes in the fungal cell such as protein synthesis, amyloids and cell division, members of the KFG are also using yeast to explore the molecular basis of human diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as ageing. The KFG not only provides support for both fundamental and medical/translational fungal research, but also provides an excellent training environment for young fungal researchers.

Industrial Biotechnology Centre

The School houses one of the University’s flagship research centres – the Industrial Biotechnology Centre (IBC). Here, staff from Biosciences, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Computing and Engineering combine their expertise into a pioneering interdisciplinary biosciences programme at Kent, in order to unlock the secrets of some of the essential life processes. These approaches are leading to a more integrated understanding of biology in health and disease. In the Centre, ideas and technology embodied in different disciplines are being employed in some of the remaining challenges in bioscience. With such an approach, new discoveries and creative ideas are generated through the formation of new collaborative teams. In this environment, the Centre is broadening and enriching the training of students and staff in science and technology.

The Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Reproduction (CISoR)

The centre comprises several like-minded academics dedicated to the study of reproduction in all its forms. Drawing on a range of academic disciplines, CISoR's core philosophy is that the study of this fascinating field will advance further through a multidisciplinary approach. Impactful, excellent research forms the basis of CISoR’s activities including scientific advance, new products and processes, contribution to public policy, and public engagement.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Professor David Brown: Professor of Structural Biology

The elucidation and role of protein structure and function in molecular processes, in  particular those with a potential for therapeutic intervention through drug design.

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Dr Alessia Buscaino: Lecturer in Fungal Epigenetics

Genetics and epigenetics of repetitive DNA domains.

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Dr Peter Ellis: Lecturer in Molecular Biology and Reproduction

Reproductive functions in models of infertility, genes on the mouse Y chromosome and their roles in spermatogenesis and in genome evolution.

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Professor M.D. Garrett: Professor of Cancer Therapeutics

Research is focussed on cell signalling and cell division, and how these cellular processes can be targeted for the treatment of cancer.

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Professor Michael Geeves: Professor of Physical Biochemistry

How the mechanochemistry of the myosin motor domain is tuned to produce widely differing activities and how the motor activity is regulated.

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Dr Ben Goult: Lecturer in Biochemistry

Research Interests

  • Cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion complexes, FERM domains
  • Structural Biology: NMR Spectroscopy, X-Ray Crystallography and Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS)
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Dr Campbell Gourlay: Senior Lecturer in Cell Biology

Investigating the role that the actin cytoskeleton and its regulation plays in cell homeostasis and mitochondrial function, with emphasis on the mechanisms of ageing and apoptosis.

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Professor Darren Griffin: Professor of Genetics

The cytogenetic basis of male infertility, in particular the role of genetic recombination and changes in genome organisation; chromosomes in early human development and the application for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis; comparative genomics and genome evolution in avian species.

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Dr N.M. Kad: Lecturer in Molecular Biophysics

Key research areas are:

  • DNA repair
  • Single Molecule Biophysics
  • Muscle Contractility
  • Amyloid disease and inhibition
  • Molecular Motors
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Dr Peter Klappa: Reader in Biochemistry

Protein folding and the role molecular chaperones and folding catalysts play in this process; the structure, function and specificity of peptidyl prolyl isomerases (protein-folding catalysts that contain thioredoxin-like domains) and peptidyl proly cistrans isomerases.

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Dr Dan Lloyd: Reader in Pharmacology

Cellular responses to DNA damage, with particular emphasis on the repair of DNA damage in human cells induced by environmental and clinical agents; novel radiopharmaceuticals used in the imaging treatment of cancer.

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Professor Martin Michaelis: Professor of Cell Biology

The investigation of anti-cancer drugs in chemoresistant cancer cells; the influence of chemoresistance development on cancer cell biology.

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Dr Dan Mulvihill: Reader in Cell and Molecular Biology

The characterisation of myosins from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, which have been implicated in diverse roles in its life cycle; characterising enzymatic properties of these myosins and correlating these with established in vivo assays.

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Dr Peter Nicholls: Senior Lecturer in Cell and Molecular Biology

Engineered antibody as new radiopharmaceuticals for the treatment of AML; yeast and mammalian systems for the expression of clinically relevant recombinant proteins.

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Dr Pauline Phelan: Senior Lecturer in Cell Biology

Gap junctions in nervous and immune systems; assembly, regulation and functions of innexin-based junctions.

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Professor Colin Robinson: Professor in Biotechnology

Mechanisms of protein transport across biological membranes; the twin-arginine translocation (Tat) system in bacteria and chloroplasts; protein sorting in cyanobacteria.

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Dr Gary Robinson: Senior Lecturer in Microbial Technology

The use of micro-organisms for biotransformations and bioremediation; microbial communication in host-pathogen interactions.

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Dr Jeremy Rossman: Lecturer in Virology

The role of morphology on the influenza virus lifecycle and pathogenesis.

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Dr Mark Shepherd: Lecturer in Microbial Biochemistry

Biosynthesis of haem; the structure/function of bacterial globin proteins; resistance mechanisms of bacterial pathogens to nitric oxide; disulphide folding; the use of haem precursors and derivatives as novel antimicrobials.

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Professor Mark Smales: Professor of Mammalian Cell Biotechnology

Protein and cell biotechnology; animal cell engineering; proteomics and protein bioprocessing.

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Dr A. Tsaousis: Lecturer in Molecular and Evolutionary Parasitology

Understanding the role and evolution of mitochondria in eukaryotic parasites.

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Professor Mick Tuite: Professor of Molecular Biology

The mechanism and control of translation in yeast; yeast prion proteins; molecular chaperones.

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Dr J.M.A. Tullet: Lecturer

Current, key research topics include;

  • Understanding the roles of transcription factors in the regulation of ageing.
  • Deciphering the relationship between diet and lifespan.
  • Examining the role of energy balance in regulating lifespan.
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Dr Tobias von der Haar: Senior Lecturer in Systems Biology

How the protein synthesis apparatus is regulated in cells and how it can achieve synthesis of exactly the right proteome for the right occasion.

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Professor Martin Warren: Professor of Biochemistry

Metabolic and genetic engineering; protein structure and function; biosynthesis of natural products including vitamins, cofactors and prosthetic groups.

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Dr Mark Wass: Lecturer in Computational Biology

The use of structural bioinformatics tools to analyse genetic variation and the functional effects that they may have in disease.

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Dr Richard Williamson: Senior Lecturer in Protein Biochemistry

The structure and function of proteins that play key biological roles within the body or that are known to be important in human disease; protein folding.

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Dr Wei-Feng Xue: Senior Lecturer in Chemical Biology

Investigation of the structure, the assembly mechanism, the biological and disease-associated properties, and the physiochemical properties of forms of protein known as amyloid.

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Dr Martin Carden: Lecturer in Cell and Molecular Biology

The composition and function of the chaperonin CCT inside cells, especially as related to cytoskeletal organisation; cell cycle control; avoiding pathological protein aggregation.

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Dr Tim Fenton: Lecturer in Molecular Biosciences

Wet lab and computational approaches, focusing on human papillomavirus (HPV)-driven carcinogenesis as a paradigm for understanding tumour development.

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Dr Christopher Mulligan: Lecturer in Molecular Biosciences

The molecular mechanisms of transport proteins; how they recognise compounds, how they harness an energy source to pump compounds across the membrane, and how they move during transport.

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Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Biomedicine - MSc at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7300 £18400
Part-time £3650 £9200

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: