2020 applicants
School of Life Sciences

Masters study

Gloved hands with a bottle of liquid in a lab

Passionate about science

Our multi-disciplinary environment enables us to offer a wide range of modular, interdisciplinary taught postgraduate courses which provide targeted training in specialist areas of biological sciences.

In addition to our taught postgraduate courses you can also choose to study for a Masters by Dissertation (MSD) which is a research-based postgraduate degree.

Our academic staff have expertise in biophysics, biochemistry, cell, molecular biology, molecular medicine, environmental microbiology, photosynthesis, plant productivity, ecology and environmental science. 


Explore our Masters courses
Why choose us?
  • Learn in a friendly and supportive atmosphere and benefit from a research-led education, taught by experts in their field.
  • Two-thirds of our research was rated as being of 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' quality in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014).
  • We offer scholarships and bursaries to talented postgraduates, ranging from research council studentships and University of Essex scholarships to awards funded by charities and other external organisations.

COVID-19 and Teaching in Life Sciences

Will COVID-19 change the way my course is taught?

Our School is teaching through blended learning. Blended learning brings together the best of both worlds, with a mixture of online lectures, which will be timetabled but accessible to you 24/7, complemented by other online learning activities such as live Q&A sessions.

However many of our modules already involve small group teaching, including seminars, workshops, and computer or lab-based practicals. These will continue as before, with social distancing in place as advised by the government and Public Health England. Lab-based work in particular is essential for a life sciences degree, and you will have access to labs for classes and research.  

One of the key outcomes of your MSc degree is your research project, which is supervised by one of our academics. Meeting your supervisor, and on-going supervision for your project, can be carried out in person or via Zoom.

What will this mean for my learning experience?

We know that your Masters degree is a significant time investment for you. Many of our postgraduate students return to studies because they need a Master of Science degree to progress their career, particularly in specialist areas of research. 

We have worked hard to ensure that your Masters degree will still teach you the high quality skills you need to succeed, with teaching led by the same expert staff.

By moving to blended learning we are building greater flexibility and inclusivity in to your learning experience. Providing content online means that you can carry out some studying from home, while small group face-to-face teaching means you will still be able to ask questions and receive support from our expert staff. 

Across the wider university, more support will also be offered online from our professional services departments. Teams such as Student Development, and Careers, will be hosting webinars throughout the year, and Essex Library Services are providing access to e-resources, including academic papers you may need for your research.

What happens if the situation changes before I start or during my time at Essex?

We recognise that some students may have difficulty travelling to campus in time to start the academic year. If for any reason you are unable to travel to campus to start the academic year, all teaching will be available virtually. This means that you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to.

If you are taking the MSc Tropical Marine Biology then you will to be on campus for the Spring Term, in order to receive practical teaching before starting field projects in the summer term.

Addtionally if you are an overseas student and you aren't able to join us on Campus in the autumn, then you will need to be aware of some immigration changes taking place in January 2021.

All of our modules are designed to support you to continue learning and still be able to access one-to-one consultation and guidance that you would normally get from the lecturers on your course, if further outbreaks of infection occur during the year. This means you can join us in full confidence that you can continue and complete your programme of study.

There is lots of helpful information about starting at Essex in our guide for applicants should you have any questions, feel uncertain about something in particular, or, would like up to date information on specific topics if your situation changes. 

What will my broader student experience in the Department and on campus be like?

We will continue to bring our School together when possible next year by holding a range of online and face-to-face events on campus, with appropriate physical distancing measures in place to keep you safe. The Biological Society and Marine Conservation Society will also be holding events.

We have been working in partnership with our Students’ Union to ensure that you can enjoy our clubs, societies, activities and services. We have built in flexibility to enable you to access support and activities, and to shape your experience around your life.

To learn more about the range of events Essex will be hosting, please visit our events calendar. To stay up to date with the very latest guidance on how to visit your campus, view our coming onto campus guide.

How will the University support me during this time?

The health and wellbeing of our students is our priority, and this has been one of the focuses to ensure students can start on campus – safely – in October.

This means we are constantly monitoring advice from the UK Government, Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the World Health Organisation.

To protect our community on campus once the academic year starts again in October, we will be looking to introduce the following measures:

  • Enhanced cleaning and sterilising regimes
  • Social distancing in line with international guidance
  • Signage and floor markings in key locations to help you move around our campuses safely

We’re asking you to wear face coverings in all public campus areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain or in specifically designated locations. We’ll be supporting you by giving two washable face coverings to all students.

There is a number of support systems available to you whilst you are at Essex, for whenever you need them and for however long you wish to use them.

These include: 

The University also runs a variety of online events throughout the year including at-home yoga and mindfulness sessions.

To find out more about the network of support you will benefit from during your time at Essex, please visit the Student Directory.

Within our department you will be assigned an Academic Tutor, who will be your key contact point throughout your time with us. If you are concerned about your academic progress, or are worried about managing your deadlines, then you can always talk to them. We also have a dedicated team of professional services colleagues in our department office, who will be on-hand to support you and answer any questions you may have.

So, why study with us?

Our postgraduate community

Our courses are demanding and enjoyable, with a multi-disciplinary environment that enables targeted training in specialist areas of biological science. Staff and students work closely with each other, while the open door policy that operates in our laboratory facilities and common room allows you to collaborate and seek advice easily.

Leading research

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), two-thirds of our research was rated as being of 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' quality. We receive funding for research from the UK government, medical charities and the European Union (EU).

Our strong focus on research means you are taught by some of the best academics in your chosen subject. They are passionate about what they do and are driven to help you succeed.

Preparing for your future

We aim to ensure that you are ready to pursue your chosen career when you leave us. Support is available from our Student Development service to help you to develop throughout your educational experience and as you move into the next stage of your life and career. We work to make sure you have the skills employers are looking for, like practical knowledge of working in a laboratory or the ability to collate and analyse data.

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Stay with us

We'll give you a loyalty discount of up to 33% on the tuition fee for your first year of postgraduate study at Essex, if you're one of our graduates, studied abroad with us, or have a spouse or partner studying here as a full-time international student paying overseas fees.

Get your Essex loyalty discount