Plant Science and Biotechnology

Study mode:Full-time Languages: English Duration:12 months
Local:$ 11.7k / 1 Academic year(s) Foreign:$ 24.5k / 1 Academic year(s)  
StudyQA ranking:2249

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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).

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
  • access to first-class teaching and research facilities
  • 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
  • outstanding personal development opportunities including our distinctive Leeds for Life scheme
  • 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

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

Compulsory Modules

  • Research Planning and Scientific Communication
  • Advanced Biomolecular Technologies
  • Protein Engineering Laboratory Project
  • Practical Bioinformatics
  • Research Project Proposal and Research Project
  • Topics in Plant Science
  • Plant Biotechnology
  • Bioimaging
  • 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
Normally a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, but relevant experience may be taken into account English Language Requirements IELTS band: 6.5 TOEFL iBT® test: 92 IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.
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