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MSc/PgDip/PgCert Molecular and Cell Biology

Develop your knowledge of molecular and cell biology in the context of human disease. The course is designed to prepare you for PhD research and also enhance your career prospects in the expanding life sciences sector including government-funded research laboratories or private industry.

Course length 12-24 Month(s)
Location City Campus

Course description

This course is suitable if you

• wish to pursue research into molecular and cell biology or disease mechanisms at PhD level

• want to improve your knowledge and skills to be competitive in the life science jobs market

• are currently employed and seeking to improve your career prospects

Most of your practical work is carried out in our teaching laboratories which contain industry standard equipment for cell culture, quantitative nucleic acid and protein analysis and a sophisticated suite of analytical equipment such as HPLC and gas chromatography. In addition many of our research facilities such as flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and mass spectrometry are used in taught modules and research projects and our tutors are experts in these techniques.

You gain

• a detailed and up-to-date understanding of molecular biology and cell biology

• knowledge of how alterations or defects in cellular processes may lead to disease, such as cellular dysfunction leading to degenerative diseases, cell cycle dys-regulation in cancer, and how mutations result in genetic diseases

• hands-on expertise in the latest techniques including cell culture, flow cytometry, real-time PCR, immuno-histochemistry and recombinant DNA technology

• professional skills to further your career in research or the life science industry

The teaching on the course is split between formal lectures and tutorials, and laboratory-based work. A third of the course is a laboratory-based research project, where students are assigned to a tutor who is an active researcher in the biomedical research centre. Typically, taught modules have a mixture of lectures and tutorials and involve a significant amount of laboratory time. Other modules are tutorial-led with considerable input from the course leader who acts as personal tutor.

Tutors complete research within the Biomolecular Sciences Research Centre into cancer, musculoskeletal diseases, human reproduction, neurological disease, medical microbiology and immunological basis of disease. Their work is regularly published in international peer-reviewed journals, showing that the course is underpinned by relevant quality research.

Entry requirements

2017 entry requirements

You must have one of the following

• a minimum of a 2:2 honours degree in a biological subject or equivalent

• a professional qualification of equal standing to an honours degree, such as MIBiol by examination, FIMLS

• other qualifications such as HND, HNC or unclassified degree in biological subject, plus significant relevant work experience

If English is not your first language you will need an IELTS score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in all skills, or a recognised equivalent. If your level of English language is currently below IELTS 6.0 we recommend you consider an appropriate Sheffield Hallam University Pre-sessional English course which will enable you to achieve the required level of English.

You may also be able to claim credit points which can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete your qualification at Sheffield Hallam. Find out more

Course structure

Full time – September start – typically 12 months

Full time – January start – typically 12 months

Part time – September start – typically 24 months

Part time – January start – typically 24 months

Typical modules may include

Course structure

The masters (MSc) award is achieved by successfully completing 180 credits.

Core modules

Biomedical laboratory techniques (15 credits)
You learn about a wide range of techniques used in the modern laboratory, from processing tissue samples, histology, immunohistochemistry and microscopy to flow cytometry, blotting techniques and mass spectrometry. You also gain experience of a number of these techniques within the laboratory setting.

Cell biology (15 credits)
This module gives you an advanced knowledge of cellular organisation and cellular mechanisms in both health and disease. You also learn about cellular interactions including cell signalling, signal transduction, cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions.
Cellular and molecular basis of disease (15 credits)

This module provides you with an understanding of the major cellular and molecular changes which are the underlying cause of a variety of diseases. The exact role of these changes in a number of specific diseases is illustrated, including altered cellular signaling pathways leading to disease processes, and immune-mediated disease.

Molecular biology (15 credits)
This module examines the structure, production and transfer of genetic information. It provides the basis for study of the application of the most recent developments in the detection and treatment of genetic diseases. You study how naturally occurring and novel proteins can be produced from cloned DNA in various types of host cells. You learn about the design and applications of genetically modified organisms.

Professional development (15 credits)
This module aims to extend your professional skills and improve your career prospects. It involves sessions on essential practical skills and problem solving, communication of scientific information and IT skills. Assessment includes a personal and professional development portfolio plus reflective self-evaluation of your progress on the course.

Research methods and statistics (15 credits)
You develop the skills needed to formulate, carry out and report on a research or development project. These skills include creativity or invention as well as more formal skills such as application of knowledge and searching the literature. Statistical analysis of experimental results also forms an important part of this module.

Research project (60 credits)
During this module you work with an individual tutor to design and carry out a research project. This includes a critical review of the literature, considerable laboratory work, analysis of data and an appreciation of the meaning and application of your work.


Two from
Applied biomedical techniques (15 credits)
The aim of this module is to develop laboratory competence in a number of chosen techniques which may include • flow cytometry • RNA extraction • cDNA synthesis • real time PCR and quantitative analysis • SDS gels and western blotting • ELISA and activity assays.

Cellular and molecular basis of cancer (15 credits)
This module provides you with the understanding of the major cellular and molecular changes that occur during cancer development, and how cancer-specific genetic changes may be exploited by novel cancer therapies.

Molecular biotechnology (15 credits)
The aim of this module is to explore the use, manipulation and application of biological molecules in areas such as health, industry, clinical medicine and the promotion of health and wellness in the community. It concentrates on developing an in depth knowledge of mechanisms by which biological systems can be manipulated at the DNA, protein and cellular level. Knowledge of current key examples of use of biotechnology in these areas will be investigated.

The postgraduate certificate (PgCert) is achieved by successfully completing 60 credits.
The postgraduate diploma (PgDip) is achieved by successfully completing 120 credits.

Assessment Assessment methods include written examinations and coursework including
  • problem-solving exercises
  • case studies
  • reports from practical work.
Research project assessment includes a written report and viva voce.


As a graduate you can find work in the expanding area of life sciences or enter a career in research. You can find careers in areas such as • medical research in universities hospital laboratories or research institutes • private industry.

The course also provides the skills and knowledge for those wishing to do research at PhD level.


Home / EU student

Please note tuition fees may increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation. More information can be found in the ‘Tuition Fee Increases’ section of our Fees Regulations (PDF, 2.10 MB)

2016/17 academic year

Full-time – typically £6,300

Part-time – typically £2,100 a stage for PgCert, PgDip and MSc stages

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are available across the majority of subject areas.

2017/18 academic year

Full-time – typically £6,400

Part-time – typically £2,135 a stage for PgCert, PgDip and MSc stages

International student

2016/17 academic year

Typically £12,500 for the course

2017/18 academic year

Typically £13,250 for the course

Additional course costs

This link allows you to view estimated costs associated with the main activities on specific courses. These are estimates and, as such, are only an indication of additional course costs. Actual costs can vary greatly depending on the choices you make during your course.

Additional costs information

International and European entry qualifications

If you are an International or non-UK European student, you can find out more about the country specific qualifications we accept on our international qualifications page.

How to apply

Complete the application form available at www.shu.ac.uk/study/form

Any offer of a place to study is subject to your acceptance of the University’s Terms and Conditions and student Regulations.

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