About the course
How can biological processes and organisms be used in the development of new technologies? Biotechnology enables us to improve practices in diverse fields including genetics, agriculture, bioremediation, immunology, diagnostics, energy production, and age-assisted living.
Our course provides you with knowledge, understanding and hands-on experience in modern biotechnology, and with practical insights into current commercial applications. It creates access to a broad range of career opportunities in this rapidly growing key technology.
You will learn about and appraise the approaches that can be used to address the challenges facing our planet, including:
- The development of biofuels, pharmaceuticals and crops to support and feed the growing human population
- Industrial, plant and medical biotechnology
- Gene and protein technology
- Synthetic biology
The course has a very high proportion of practical work that provides valuable experience for your career, and in addition to this, our optional module Creating and Growing a New Business Venture challenges you to think creatively. This increases your value to organisations, including small enterprises, which are a growing part of the biotechnology sector.
Your research project is a major component of this course, for which you perform novel laboratory and/or bioinformatic research in one of our academic laboratories, or (subject to approval) carry out research in an industrial or hospital setting.
Two-thirds of our research is rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and you learn from and work alongside our expert staff.
“Essex gave me the perfect platform from which to launch my scientific career. I learnt a wide range of cutting-edge theoretical science and practical skills that have enabled me to pursue a PhD at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.”
Timothy Skyes, MSc Biotechnology, 2013
Our expert staff
As one of the largest schools at our University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high quality teaching. You benefit from our academics’ wide range of expertise and research on important national and international problems using cutting-edge techniques.
The University of Essex has a Women's Network to support female staff and students and was awarded the Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award in November 2013 in recognition of its continuing work to support women in STEM.
Recent investment has provided modern facilities for functional genomics, computational biology, and imaging biological systems. On our course you have the opportunity to:
- Work in an open and friendly department, with shared staff-student social spaces
- Conduct your research alongside leading academics and PhD students in shared labs
- Learn to use state-of-the-art equipment
Our graduates are well placed to find employment in the ever-growing bio-based economy, and postgraduate study is often a requirement for becoming a researcher, scientist, academic journal editor and to work in some public bodies or private companies.
Many of our Masters students progress to study for their PhD, and we offer numerous studentships to support our students in their studies.
We work with our university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.
For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.
Your Research Project is the most substantial piece of work you will complete as part of your degree. A chance to focus on one chosen topic in depth, you develop skills in experimental design, problem solving and the analysis and interpretation of data. You are also expected to effectively articulate your ideas and findings, enhancing vital skills in presentation and communication.
Explore the features and properties of proteins, and examine how they are related to function, as well as their wider role within important biological processes. Getting hands-on, you produce, isolate, purify and characterise proteins with biotechnological potential, as well gaining valuable experience in obtaining and analysing proteomic data.
The development of techniques to manipulate and analyse nucleic acids has revolutionised the study of biology, and provided the key driver for massive expansion in biotechnology. You explore the major tools used in gene technology and gain a practical understanding of how they are used, as well as the molecular techniques that can be used to explore biological questions. Gain an understanding of the impact of gene technology and synthetic biology and explore the applications of genome scale methods for studying gene expression in biotechnology and molecular medicine.
The sequencing of the human genome is one of the biggest achievements of this century. Nowadays, genomics is leading to major advances in biotechnology and molecular medicine, such as enhanced diagnostic tools, better vaccines, improved treatments for disease, and better detection of pollutants. In this module, you gain an understanding of current genomics approaches, including genome sequencing and comparative genomics. You also learn how to study your own genomic data, using state-of-the-art computational resources.
Gain invaluable insight into the functioning of the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical industries, investigate some of the most timely and contentious topics in Biotechnology, and develop transferable professional and research skills to enhance your chances of securing employment in the field.
Acquire critical and transferable skills associated with the creation and growth of new business ventures. You focus on the development process from start up to early stage growth of new ventures, new small businesses spin offs from large firms, and especially innovative, technology-based firms. You study opportunity identification, self-efficacy, ideas generation, bricolage and bootstrapping, developing business models, networking, marketing, and finance.
In recent years, a drive toward sustainable development has led to a green revolution in chemistry. Renewable raw materials, and even waste products, can be worked by microorganisms to create useful products ranging from fuels to food supplements, reducing reliance on non-sustainable, petroleum-based products. In this module you explore the advantages and disadvantages of biological vs traditional chemical processes, learn about the fundamental mechanisms that underpin industrial biotechnology, consider the importance of biological diversity, and gain an understanding of the main applications of biotechnology in industry, focusing on novel technologies.
Today’s global society has 8 billion mouths to feed. So how can we use our knowledge of modern plant science to improve agricultural productivity? From genetically-engineered disease resistance, to using water and nutrients more efficiently, you consider the potential impact and implications of the latest thinking and technology.
How are new drugs and medicines developed? What is rational drug design? This module explores the process of finding new medicines based on the deliberate targeting of enzymes and receptors for the treatment of disease. You will use case studies to look at the some of the particularly interesting and effective biophysical and computer based approaches used by cutting-edge biotechnology companies in the molecular design of new drugs and gain practical experience in aspects of computer-aided design.
- We teach using a combination of lectures, laboratory practicals, tutorials, seminars, fieldwork, independent reading and research projects
- Our modules are assessed by a combination of exams, essays, presentations and written reviews
- Undertake detailed research of the relevant scientific literature
- Carry out novel laboratory and/or bioinformatic research in one of our academic laboratories or (subject to approval) in an industrial or hospital setting
UK entry requirements
We will consider applications with an overall grade of 2:2 and above.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.
There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.
We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
- tour our campus and accommodation
- find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
- meet our students and staff
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.