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MSc/PgDip/PgCert Pharmacology and Biotechnology

Gain the knowledge and skills needed to develop your professional or academic career in pharmacology and biotechnology. You learn key skills needed to work on developing new treatments for diseases.

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

Course description

This course increases your knowledge and skills in pharmacology and biotechnology to increase your competitiveness in the job market or complete research at PhD level. If you are already employed, this course can help you to further your career prospects.

The course is delivered by internationally recognised academics who are involved in biotechnology and pharmacology research. Research projects include studying the manipulation of proteins and their application to Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, ion channels and the development of novel drugs from natural products.

You learn in detail how drugs act at the molecular and cellular level and then how biotechnological techniques are used to produce new drugs. Examples include developing new and effective treatments for diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis.

You also gain experience of the latest techniques used by the pharmaceutical industry to produce and study the effects of novel drugs.

The course gives you
• up-to-date knowledge of cellular and molecular pathology of various human diseases
• the basis of therapeutic rationales for treating diseases and their development
• an advanced understanding of recombinant DNA technology and how it is used to produce drugs
• experience of the latest practical techniques, such as cell culture, quantitative PCR analysis, cloning, western blotting, and analytical techniques such as HPLC and mass spectrometry
• the transferable and research skills to enable you to continue developing your knowledge and improve your employment potential.

Entry requirements

2017 entry requirements

Normally one of the following

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

• a professional qualification of equivalent standing to the above, for example MIBiol by examination, FIMLS

• other qualifications such as an HND, HNC or unclassified degree in a 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

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.

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

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.

Fundamentals of pharmacology (15 credits)
This module is designed to advance your knowledge of the fundamental principles of pharmacology, such as the drug-receptor association theory, cellular mechanisms of drug action and molecular aspects of drug interactions. It also comprises applied aspects of pharmacology, including measurements of drug absorption, distribution, elimination and pharmacokinetics.

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.

Biotechnology (15 credits)
The aim of this module is to explore the use, manipulation and application of biological molecules in areas such as health, agriculture, industry, clinical medicine, the environment and promotion of health and wellness in the community. It will concentrate 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.

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.

New approaches to pharmacology (15 credits)
This module provides you with an understanding of the pharmacological properties of drugs used to treat specific human diseases, and how chemical or biological mediators affect organ(s) or system(s) in the human body. Few examples will be delivered emphasising the principles of the mode of action of drugs/biodrugs, so that they can be applied to other organs/systems.

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 existing knowledge and searching the literature. Statistical analysis of experimental results and database searches also form 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.

Optional modules

One 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. In particular, the module will focus on genetic changes that occur within Tumour Suppressor Genes and Oncogenes, how they drive tumour progression and how these cancer-specific mutations can be targeted therapeutically.

Pharmaceutical drug development (15 credits)
The aims of the module are to provide the learners with an understanding of the discovery and development of pharmaceutical drugs together with knowledge of how they are formulated into dosage forms suitable for administration as medicines.

Human genomics and proteomics (15 credits)
This module will introduce you to recent technologies that enable large-scale investigation of the human genome, transcriptome and proteome. The vast amounts of data generated by these technologies require bioinformatics skills to makes sense of the results. You learn bioinformatic approaches for analysing these data and how to critically evaluate research in this area. You find out how genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics are being used to diagnose and better understand human disease.

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

Assessment Assessment is mostly by written examination and coursework including problem solving exercises, case studies and input from practical laboratory work. Research project assessment includes a written report and viva voce.


The course improves your career prospects in areas of • biomedical sciences • medical research in universities and hospitals • the pharmaceutical industry • biotechnology companies • government research agencies.

You also develop the skills to carry out research to PhD level in pharmacology and biotechnology.

Recent MSc Pharmacology and Biotechnology graduates jobs include • project specialist at PAREXEL • quality assurance documentation assistant at Vifor Pharma • PhD at the University of Manchester • clinical research associate at AstraZeneca • workplace services analyst at Deloitte India (Offices of the US) • regulatory compliance specialist for Selerant • senior product executive at PlasmaGen BioSciences.


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

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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