Microbiology

Biomedicine - MSc

Undertake cutting-edge research in contemporary biochemistry and gain expertise in areas such as biochemistry, biophysics, structural biology and synthetic biology, industrial biotechnology, cellular architecture and dynamics and infectious diseases.

Overview

Based in a research lab, you’ll undertake research on a project agreed with your Research Supervisor. On a research-focused Master's course, you will take an interactive approach to learning, rather than attending traditional lectures. Seminars, workshops and lab meetings will enable you to gain an in-depth understanding of the field.

Reasons to study Biochemistry at Kent

  • Research in the School of Biosciences focuses on biological processes at the molecular and cellular level and spans the disciplines of biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology and biomedical research.
  • The programme offers a progression route to PhD 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.
  • We offer a wide range of Master’s research projects for you to choose from. Find one to suit you from our projects for September 2022.
  • Our academic staff are leading experts in biochemistry, ensuring you receive the best possible supervision. Find out about the staff who are open to supervising research students, together with their research interests.
  • The School is among the best-funded departments of its kind in the UK, and our well-equipped laboratories provide an excellent environment for both teaching and research.
  • Destinations for our recent graduates include leading pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies within the UK, research institutes in the UK and abroad, and careers in academia.

Entry requirements

Smiling female postgraduate student
You are more than your grades

For 2022, in response to the challenges caused by Covid-19 we will consider applicants either holding or projected a 2:2. This response is part of our flexible approach to admissions whereby we consider each student and their personal circumstances. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Entry requirements

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

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may 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. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

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.

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Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

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.

You take all compulsory modules and then chose 75 credits from the optional modules listed. At least 45 credits should be selected from the Spring term and at least 30 credits should be taken at Level 7.

Compulsory modules currently include

Science has a profound influence on public life. This module considers the ways in which different professional and public groups interact with science and scientists, and how this influences the work that scientists do. It considers the social roles and responsibilities of scientists beyond their own scientific research, the context in which science operates, and the careers that exist for scientists outside of the traditional laboratory environment. In considering specific scientific developments in light of ethics, policy, media and public perception, the module will develop a range of academic skills that support learning in more specialised modules. It also provides transferable skills valued in the science sector, particularly science communication.

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. The module will feature an extended mini-project focused on CRISPR-Cas9-based genome editing - a cutting-edge technology with wide application in the biological sciences – alongside presentation of findings in extended written report format to provide experience of the dissemination platform widely used in biological research.

This module will develop the advanced research skills that are required in modern biological research and transferable across biological research disciplines. This will include the development of skills in bioinformatics, statistical analysis, research publication and peer review through a combination of online exercises, seminars and group work. These skills will be discussed, enhanced and contextualised in tutorials that consider their application of these skills through consideration of literature and case studies drawn from the field of biomedicine.

Optional modules may include

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.

Bioinformatics Data sources & Sequence analysis: Databases and data availability. Using sequence data for analysis – sequence searching methods, multiple sequence alignments, residue conservation, Protein domains and families. 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. Genomics: An introduction to the analysis of genomic data, primarily focussing on the data available from genome sequencing – how it can be used to study genetic variants and compare genomes (i.e. comparative and functional genomics).

The module deals with basic neuroanatomy and molecular and cellular neurobiology, such as transmission of signals within the nervous system and sensory perception. It explores more complex functions of the nervous system, e.g. behavioural and cognitive functions including learning, memory, emotions and appetite control. Throughout the module both the normal nervous system and disorders that arise as a consequence of abnormalities will be covered.

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

Cancer formation and progression; underlying factors, cancer cell heterogeneity, uncontrolled cell division, invasive growth/ metastasis formation. The Molecular Biology of Cancer: (Proto-)Oncogenes, tumour suppressor genes, cell cycle control, cell death. Cancer therapies.

This module covers four areas: Eukaryotic pathogens (parasites) including parasites and pathogenicity, transmission and diversity and investigations on worldwide parasitic outbreaks and their socio-economical effects; Bacterial pathogens, including applications of virulence factors in the treatment and prevention of disease; Viral pathogens, including viruses and Human Disease - transmission and spread, overview of important human virus infections, mechanisms of transmission (Aerosol, Oral-faecal, Sexual etc.), epidemiology - patterns of endemic and epidemic disease; and Human fungal pathogens, including fungi and human disease - overview of major human fungal infections, clinical picture, diagnosis and mechanisms of transmission, epidemiological aspects of fungal infections.

The module aims to develop understanding and analytical skills in virology, based around interactive seminars 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 of experimental data.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

As microbial pathogens pose an increasing threat to human health, it is imperative to improve our fundamental understanding of how these organisms survive during infection and cause disease. This module will cover the molecular pathogenicity of a variety of globally important microbial pathogens, and will provide students with the ability to critically analyse the molecular mechanisms that enable certain key pathogens to cause disease.  Examples may be drawn from bacteria, fungi, viruses and/or eukaryotic parasites.

As COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated, there is an urgent need to improve our understanding of disease outbreaks and how to mitigate their impact upon human health. This module will cover the fundamentals of epidemiology, including the theory and practical approaches to study disease outbreaks. High profile examples will be analysed in terms of their human impact and disease tracking, and aspects of public health strategies and policy will be addressed.

As we face the threat of a post-antimicrobial era, it is of paramount importance that we understand the mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in the context of infection. This module will cover the fundamentals of clinical microbiology, antimicrobials and their targets, mechanisms underpinning antimicrobial resistance, and the host:pathogen interactions that influence antimicrobial efficacy.

As recent outbreaks of infectious diseases have illustrated, it is imperative to develop rapid diagnostics, effective therapeutics and new vaccines to combat emerging infections that are difficult to treat. This module will cover the approaches used in pathogen diagnosis as well as the cutting edge therapeutics available for the treatment of infectious diseases. The module will also focus on the biotechnological aspects of vaccine development.

Recent events have illustrated the importance of ensuring that science is communicated effectively to non-scientific audiences. This module considers best practice in science communication, making use of case studies that illustrate its importance in developing an informed and empowered public, while developing skills in different modes of communication that enhance future employability.

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.

The aim of this module is to give students a basic understanding of molecular and cytogenetic techniques and their applications in the field of clinical diagnosis e.g. for infertility or prenatal diagnosis and biological research. Throughout the course there will be both theoretical and practical elements to the course enabling them to have hands-on experience with molecular cytogenetic tools. Students will be examined on both theoretical and practical elements to assess hands-on skills and understanding of the techniques involved. They will be provided with a lab book in which they should take notes during each of the sessions, the quality of this will also be assessed.

Compulsory modules currently include

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.

Teaching

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

Fees

The 2022/23 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  • Home full-time £9300
  • EU full-time £15900
  • International full-time £21200
  • Home part-time £4650
  • EU part-time £7950
  • International part-time £10600

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

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.

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

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:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

Research

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.

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.

This programme launched in 2018. Based on the training available we expect our graduates to go into roles such as Research Assistants and Technicians, Journal Editors, Patent Attorneys and Clinical Trials coordinators. Graduates are also ideally placed to pursue further postgraduate qualifications.

Help finding a job

The School of Biosciences has a dedicated Placements and Employability Officer and your academic supervisor will be able to advise you and give you access to professionals in their network.

 The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service, which can give you advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

These services are available to you for 3 years after completing your course.

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.  

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