(Full time) 2023 start
Plant Science and Biotechnology MSc
Develop your expertise in molecular plant science and its application
Would you like to understand the fundamental biological mechanisms essential to the development of sustainable solutions to the greatest challenges of the 21st century including food, energy, and materials? Recent years have seen unprecedented progress in the study of plant biology, with new tools and technologies available, this is your chance to make an impact in the field.
On this course, you’ll study the theory behind the many modern techniques and methodologies that underpin contemporary biomolecular plant sciences. Methodologies such as molecular biology methods, genomics, proteomics and structural biology. Take advantage of our excellent research facilities and put your learning into practice with an individual research project.
You will develop the theoretical and practical skills required for a successful career in the field of plant science. Modules will cover diverse topics such as Research Planning and Communication, Advanced Biomolecular Technologies, Practical Bioinformatics and a Protein Engineering Mini lab project. You will also undertake modules in Sustainable Crop production and Crop Science and Biotechnology alongside your individual research project.
This course assumes a sound foundation in the molecular and cellular basis of life (e.g. knowledge of cell structure, function of proteins and organelles, DNA replication and gene expression).
- A large part of your teaching will be delivered by expert academics from the University’s Centre for Plant Sciences (CPS)
- You’ll receive dedicated training in the modern molecular aspects of plant science and its application to plant biotechnology.
- Specialist topics will include developmental genetics of both model and crop systems, plant cell biology, and responses to both biotic and abiotic stress.
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This is a full time 12 month MSc programme which is assessed entirely through coursework.
You will undertake a Practical Bioinformatics module introducing you to relevant tools and approaches. Bioinformatics is crucial to plant science research and here you will gain hands on experience of bioinformatics methods for exploring and evaluating sequence information.
You will also study Research Planning and Communication, developing your transferable skills essential for scientific research such as reading and understanding research papers, literature searching, writing a literature review, writing a grant proposal for a programme of research. A double weight module on Sustainable Crop Production will examine drivers for change in food and agricultural systems, UK and global food security and climate adaptation.
Your Advanced Biomolecular technologies module will provide you with the theoretical background to a variety of cutting edge techniques and develop skills in data analysis and interpretation. You’ll also apply your knowledge to an extended practical investigation in the form of a laboratory-based mini-project, involving practical training in a range of modern molecular biology and protein engineering techniques such as gene cloning, PCR, mutagenesis, protein expression, protein purification and analysis.
A second double weight module on Crop Science and Biotechnology will explore future crops, advanced plant breeding techniques and new techniques for genome engineering underpinning sustainable crop production.
In the final part of your course you'll choose and undertake an independent research project on a specific topic in plant science. Building on your theoretical and practical knowledge from your other modules, you’ll receive extensive specialist training in experimental design, the practical use of advanced techniques and technologies, data analysis and interpretation, and will be assigned a research project supervisor who will support and guide you through your project.
You’ll study in a stimulating environment which houses extensive facilities developed to support and enhance your research.
As well as Faculty operated state of the art facilities the CPS laboratories are well equipped for plant research. There is also a recently refurbished plant growth suite, including tissue culture suites with controlled environment rooms, growth rooms and flow cabinets alongside transgenic glass-houses to meet a range of growth requirements.
The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.
Practical Bioinformatics (15 credits) - In this module you will gain an overview of the practical problems that bioinformatic tools can be used to solve in academic and industrial biological research. You will use these tools to work on a defined research problem as part of a team and to describe the investigation and results in written and verbal form.
Research Planning and Scientific Communication (15 credits) - In this module you will learn how to plan and structure research from an individual experiment to a program of work. Furthermore, the module seeks to train you in communicating scientific research in different formats including; literature review, scientific research papers and oral presentations.
Advanced Biomolecular Technologies (15 credits) - In this module you will learn about a range of techniques and technologies which are applicable to the modern biosciences. Exercises will develop data analysis and problem solving skills, and expose you to current research trends in the biosciences and to leading researchers in the field.
Protein Engineering Laboratory Project (15 credits) - In this module you will receive practical skills training in a range of modern biological experimental techniques principally based around molecular biology. In addition you will receive training in maintaining laboratory records and in writing your results in the format of a scientific research paper.
Crop Science and Plant Biotechnology (30 credits) - In this module you will learn about the cutting edge tool and techniques that are currently and prospectively being used to generate ‘future crops’, including speed breeding, genomic prediction, high throughput genotyping, quantitative genetics, genome sequencing and genome engineering. The module features a combination of seminars, tutorials and practicals.
MSc Research Project (60 credits) - An individual research project in a topic in Plant Science and/or Plant Biotechnology.
Global Challenges in Sustainable Agriculture (15 credits) - In this module, you will learn about past, current and future challenges for current and future food production. This will include understanding the major drivers for change in food and agricultural systems, UK and global food security, and strategies for increased sustainability, resilience and climate adaptation agriculture. You will work in small groups to produce a science communication output for a relevant non-scientific audience, developing teamwork and leadership skills. This module features a combination of lectures and seminars.
Crop Production in a Changing Environment (15 credits) - In this module, you will learn about past, current and future challenges for current and future food production. This will include understanding the major drivers for change in food and agricultural systems, UK and global food security, and strategies for increased sustainability, resilience and climate adaptation agriculture. The module features a combination of lectures and fieldwork.
Bioimaging (15 credits) - Here you will be provided with an introduction to the wide range of approaches used in Bioimaging in addition to their relative advantages and disadvantages for analysing protein and cellular function. This will include imaging single molecules in the electron microscope and using fluorescence microscopy to determine the localisation of proteins in fixed cells. Your module will consist of lectures, seminars and practical demonstrations with the chance to gain hands-on experience.
Learning and teaching
You’ll experience a wide range of teaching methods including formal lectures, interactive workshops, seminars and tutorials, problem-solving, practical classes and demonstrations. A significant component of the course is delivered via small group sessions.
Through your research project and specialist plant science modules, you’ll receive substantial subject-specific training. Our teaching and assessment methods are designed to develop you into a scientist who is able to think independently, solve problems, communicate effectively and demonstrate a high level of practical ability.
The course is designed to develop your independent thinking, problem-solving, communication skills and practical ability, making you attractive to employers or providing an excellent foundation for further study (eg, PhD).
On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.
The course is 100% coursework assessed. There are a range of assessments in different formats for example practical work, data handling and problem solving exercises, group work, literature reviews, research paper critiques, posters and oral presentations. Your individual research project is written up in research paper format.
These assessment types all develop skills relevant to a future career in academia as well as a variety of careers in public and commercial science.
Applying, fees and funding
Applicants should normally have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 2:1 in a subject that has covered the cellular and molecular basis of life such as: Genetics, Microbiology, Biochemistry.
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.
Improve your English
International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.
This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks).
We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. You could study a part-time online course starting in January, or a full-time course in summer. Find out more about online pre-sessionals.
You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.
How to apply
Documents and information you’ll need
completed online application form (for Taught Postgraduate Study)
transcript of degree examination marks achieved to date
copy of final degree certificate (if completed)
evidence of English language qualification (non-native English speakers only)
copy of passport (if you’re an overseas student)
completed supporting statement:
To help us assess your application, please write a supporting statement. As a guideline, we would expect this statement to be 1-2 pages in length. In your statement please:
Provide a brief synopsis of any courses/modules you have studies that have covered the cellular and molecular basis of life. Please make reference to your academic transcript, as this information is not always apparent from the course titles.
Provide details of any previous or current research experience (e.g. undergraduate project, vacation placements, fieldwork, internships). Describe clearly the aim of the work, your part in it, how long the project lasted and whether this research was carried out individually or in a group. Also mention specific techniques you have used. Again, please ensure that you make reference to the cellular and molecular aspects.
Outline the reasons why you wish to study this particular Masters programme. Explain how the skills and experiences you have outlined above are relevant to your programme of choice and the career you intend to pursue.
Find out more about how to apply.
The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.
we process your application
we inform you of our decision
if we make you an offer, you respond by accepting, declining or deferring.
Taught postgraduate confirmation
Taught postgraduate applicants are required to submit their results for consideration as soon as possible. Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK are recommended to submit their results no later than 31 July, although they will still be considered if submitted after this date.
It is standard procedure to interview applicants, prior to making a decision on their application, for MRes Neuroscience, MSc Biopharmaceutical Development (Industrial) and MSc Sport and Exercise Medicine. Interviews do not form part of the standard admissions process for other programmes in the Faculty of Biological Sciences.
Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.
University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2023
- UK: £12,750 (total)
- International: £28,000 (total)
Read more about paying fees and charges.
For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.
Additional cost information
There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.
Scholarships and financial support
If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more at Masters funding overview.
Scholarships for Faculty of Biological Sciences students
The Faculty of Biological Sciences offers a number of Masters scholarships to support and reward students from the UK and around the world. Don’t miss out on available support, visit our dedicated faculty scholarship page to check your eligibility.
Government-backed loan = Up to £11,222. Find out more.
Alumni bursary = If you are a former student of the University of Leeds you may be eligible for a 10% alumni tuition fee bursary.
You can also search our postgraduate scholarships database or you can also find information on MoneySavingExpert.
The strong research element of this course, along with the specialist and generic skills you’ll develop, mean you’ll graduate equipped for a wide range of careers.
Our graduates work in a diverse range of areas, ranging from bioscience-related research through to scientific publication, teacher training, health and safety and pharmaceutical market research.
Links with industry
We have a proactive Industrial Advisory Board who advise us on what they look for in graduates and on employability-related skills within our programmes.
We collaborate with a wide range of organisations in the public and commercial sectors. Many of these are represented on our Industrial Advisory Board. They include:
- Labcorp (formally Covance)
- European Bioinformatics Institute
- Astra Zeneca
- Gowling WLG LL
- Barnsley Hospital (NHS)
Professional and career development
We take personal and career development very seriously. We have a proactive Industrial Advisory Board who advises us on what they look for in graduates and on employability related skills within our courses.
Our dedicated employability and professional development officer ensures that you are aware of events and opportunities to increase your employability. In addition, our Masters career development programme will support you to:
- explore career options and career planning
- understand the PhD application process and optimise PhD application
- learn how to use LinkedIn and other social media for effective networking and career opportunities
- practice interviews for both job and PhD applications
You’ll also have access to seminars and presentations from industry professionals (including our alumni) at faculty led career events. We also have regular research seminars presented by leading academics from around the world on their specialist subjects.
Some recent graduate destinations:
- Research Technician Phytoform labs
- Enzymology and Protein Engineering Associate, Exact Labs, Oxford
- Microbiology Technical officer in the NHS
- Research Assistant ICRISAT, Hyderabad India
A substantial proportion of our graduates each year undertake further study at Leeds or elsewhere. Recent graduates have gone on to PhD study in the UK, Europe, US, Canada and Australia.
We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. Thats one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.
The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.