About the course
Molecular medicine is transforming the way we understand and treat human diseases, from cancers to neurodegenerative disorders. Combining contemporary medical studies with biochemistry and molecular biology, this rapidly advancing area creates a bridge between the subjects, and draws on other fields such as physics, chemistry, biology and medicine.
This course examines how normal cellular processes are affected by disease. You gain an understanding of the core foundations of molecular medicine, studying the topics most relevant to the real world, and how this science may be used in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases.
You learn about and appraise the approaches that can be used to address global health problems, including cancer as well as genetic and infectious diseases. The foundations that support investigations of molecular disease mechanisms and the search for new diagnostic tools and treatments will be laid, as you explore topics including:
- Gene and protein technology.
- Synthetic biology
This course has a very high proportion of practical and bioinformatic work that provides valuable experience for your career. This includes our optional module Creating and Growing a New Business Venture, which challenges you to think creatively and increases your value to organisations, including small enterprises, which are a growing part of the biopharmaceutical sector.
Your research project is a major component of your course, in 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.
“The Department of Biological Sciences were brilliantly informative, supportive and organised. I was able to spend a lot of time in the laboratory, both during practical classes and whilst on placement at Cancer Research UK. As a direct result of this placement I was able to secure my current position as a Research Assistant at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.”
Marisa Di Monaco, MSc Molecular Medicine 2015
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 academics and PhD students in shared labs
- Learn to use state-of-the-art research facilities, from protein purification, to cell culture and imaging, to molecular modelling
Contribute to a growing industry and gain the skills and knowledge to pursue a career in biomedical research and industry, or continue your studies further in postgraduate science and medical degrees.
Advances in molecular medicine will continue to drive growth of new services and products in health care, biomedical and pharmaceutical organisations and companies, and our graduates are well placed to take advantage of employment opportunities in the life science, biotech and pharmaceutical industries and hospitals.
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.
Get industry-ready. You are encouraged to think critically about the wider implications of molecular medicine, and gain an understanding of some of the key factors to be considered when translating a biological idea into a marketable technology. You explore some of the most relevant and contentious topics in Molecular Medicine, and develop a range of of transferable professional and research skills. Both of these activities are designed to effectively equip you for a successful career in Molecular Medicine.
Molecular medicine, underpinned by developments in biotechnology, has had a major impact on human diseases of socio-economic importance. Molecular medicine is concerned with the elucidation of disease mechanisms including genetically inherited diseases. This module aims to help you gain an understanding of how basic gene and protein-based technologies are applied in biomedical research and human medicine, with particular emphasis on relevance to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. Explore the molecular basis of various disease types and biotechnological applications in diagnostics and development of new therapeutics. Discover likely future biotechnological developments in the post-genomic era.
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.
Medical microbiology is the study of the ways in which microbes, including bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites, affect our health. The aim of this module is to develop your understanding of the theory and principles of Medical Microbiology and its' role in health and human disease. You will focus on the main human body systems and their microbial infections, exploring how microbes enter and cause infections in humans, how they spread and how they can be eradicated. You will also explore current diagnostic procedures and analyse the need for new techniques.
The study of human genetics is one of the fastest moving areas of scientific research today. Get to know some important emerging themes from the human genome sequence into the emerging fields of epigenetics and non-coding RNAs. You examine variations in genome sequence and structure in human populations, and consider the evidence for selection in human populations. Consider the evolution of the X chromosome and its regulation by the process of X-inactivation. You also investigate the significance of imprinting and epigenetics in human disease.
The aim of this module is to provide you with current knowledge and understanding of cancer. We will discuss general aspects of cancer biology (cancer statistics and risk factors, origins and multistage nature of cancer, metastasis and angiogenesis). The identification and isolation of oncogenes and tumour suppressors and the mechanism of action of their products will be analysed. We will explore cancer molecular biology and signalling pathways in cancer. We will discuss cell cycle and apoptosis and their role in the maintenance of normal cell populations and in the emergence of cancer. The principles of some of the current approaches in cancer therapy will be discussed.
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.
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.
How does the immune system know when to trigger a response, and how are immune responses regulated? You’ll examine the immune process at a molecular level and also developmental aspects of immunity and it will assist you in understanding current developments in the field. You’ll look at the way cellular and molecular components of the immune system are integrated to provide immunorecognition in health and disease. Explore how landmark concepts in immunology evolved from hypothesis to experimental discovery, and consider the ways in which clinical immunotherapy approaches allow scientists to manipulate the immune system.
The module describes the fundamental principles of cell signalling and communication in the context of development, health, biological stress, and disease. You explore the biochemistry of signal transduction, control, integration, and signal processing as implemented by biological systems, and consider the newly developed tools of post-genomic biology.
This module examines the link between protein structure and function and its connection to dementia and disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. When the folded structure of a protein is altered, perhaps as a consequence of folding inefficiency, environmental stress, genetic mutation, and/or infection, it can cause a loss of the normal protein function, toxic gain of function, or dominant negative effects. You will study the key processes involved in protein folding and misfolding and explore how they are involved in disease, as well as the therapeutic strategies being developed to address them.
- We teach using a combination of lectures, laboratory practicals, tutorials, seminars, fieldwork, independent reading and research projects
- Teaching is based in our laboratories and in the field
- Our modules are assessed by a combination of exams, essays, verbal/visual presentations and written reviews
- Each student is assigned a supervisor to provide guidance on their research project
- Carry out novel laboratory and/or bioinformatic research in one of our academic laboratories or (subject to approval) in an industrial or hospital setting
- During the latter stages of your project, you compile a detailed report (in scientific paper format) including a literature review
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.