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This academically challenging and career-developing programme focuses on research and development using biological and chemical principles and systems to create new products, services and industries.
You will employ elements of the developing field of synthetic biology to bring about significant changes and major innovations that address the challenges of rapidly changing human demographics, resource shortages, energy economy transition and the concomitant growth in demand for more and healthier food, sustainable fuel cycles, and a cleaner environment.
You will learn through a variety of activities, including:
- laboratory work
- field work
- discussion groups and project groups
- problem-based learning activities
You will attend problem-based tutorial sessions and one-to-one meetings with your personal tutor or programme director.
You will carry out research at the frontier of knowledge and can make a genuine contribution to the progress of original research. This involves carrying out project work in a research laboratory, reviewing relevant papers, analysing data, writing reports and giving presentations.
By the end of the programme you will have gained:
- a strong background knowledge in the fields underlying synthetic biology and biotechnology
- an understanding of the limitations and public concerns regarding the nascent field of synthetic biology including a thorough examination of the philosophical, legal, ethical and social issues surrounding the area
- the ability to approach the technology transfer problem equipped with the skills to analyse the problem in scientific and practical terms
- an understanding of how biotechnology relates to real-world biological problems
- the ability to conduct practical experimentation in synthetic biology and biotechnology
- the ability to think about the future development of research, technology, its implementation and its implications
- a broad understanding of research responsibility including the requirement for rigorous and robust testing of theories and the need for honesty and integrity in experimental reporting and reviewing
You will enhance your career prospects by acquiring current, marketable knowledge and developing advanced analytical and presentational skills, within the social and intellectual sphere of a leading European university.
The School of Biological Sciences offers a research-rich environment in which you can develop as a scientist and entrepreneur.
This programme lasts 12 months and involves two semesters of teaching followed by an individual research project.
The MSc lasts 12 months but a diploma option is also available. The diploma lasts nine months from September to May and includes only the taught courses. To be awarded an MSc you must also complete a dissertation.
The taught courses are worth a total of 120 credit points.
You will take several optional courses run by the School of Biological Sciences and other Schools within the University. These are selected in consultation with the Programme Director.
You must take a series of compulsory courses and complete a research project/dissertation. You will also have a choice of optional courses offered from within related programmes in the School of Biological Sciences.
You will choose these courses in consultation with the Programme Director, according to your interests and prior knowledge, and taking into account your future career aspirations.
Research project or Industrial Placement (MSc)
- Practical Systems Biology
- Research and Development: The Laboratory Foundation Part 1
- Tools for Synthetic Biology
- Applications of Synthetic Biology
- Social Dimensions of Systems and Synthetic Biology
Your research dissertation is worth 60 credits and must be completed by mid-August.
- About the research dissertation
An additional 40 credits should be selected from the list below, ensuring a balance of 60 credits per semester.
You can choose from a wide variety of courses, allowing you to tailor your degree to your future career aspirations.
- Economics and Innovation in the Biotechnology Industry
- Enzymology and Biological Production
- Gene Expression and Microbial Regulation
- Information Processing in Biological Cells
- Intelligent Agriculture
- Molecular Modelling and Database Mining
- Vaccine Development and Clinical Testing
- Commercial Aspects of Drug Discovery
- Drug Discovery
- Research & Development: The Laboratory Foundation Part 2
The period of individual research from May to August resulting in the final dissertation is worth a further 60 credits.
You will undertake a research project and produce a dissertation which will be submitted on an assigned date in mid-August.
From May to August you will undertake a research project and complete a dissertation, provided you have fulfilled the requirements of the taught element of the programme. This exciting opportunity is a vital part of your degree, allowing you to fully grasp the broad potential of your chosen area of study. We aim for research projects to ultimately lead to a peer-reviewed publication.
Your dissertation will be submitted on or before an assigned date in mid-August.
Choosing your research topic
You will choose your research topic in consultation with the Programme Director and, as soon as you arrive in Edinburgh, you are encouraged to establish contacts with laboratories at the University whose research you find particularly interesting.
Research projects can be entirely experimentally or computationally based, but students often try to combine both approaches.
Example dissertation topics include:
- A business plan for dihydroartemisinic acid extraction and cost-effective transformation into artemisinin
- Artificial ecosystem selection of a Bacterial community for growth on and degradation of the liquid by-product from Biochar production
- Examining interactions between seaweed components and digestive enzymes - synergies with pharmaceuticals
- Do cells learn? The role of memory in nutrient-sensing by budding yeast
- A rule-based approach to model integration in synthetic biology
- Expressing Magnetosome Genes in Rhodobacter Sphaeroides