Biotechnology Research - MSc

2025/26 Full-time Postgraduate course

Award:

Master of Science

Faculty:

Faculty of Life and Health Sciences

School:

School of Biomedical Sciences

Campus:

Coleraine campus

Start date:

September 2025

Overview

Training in biotechnology research with a strong emphasis on development of advanced practical skills.

Summary

Biotechnology is the application of biology to solve problems and develop novel products, such as therapeutic protein drugs, that enhance human health and society. The purpose of the course is to provide advanced education in biotechnology-related research methods. The main objective of the course is to improve the pool of knowledge and technological skills available to support biotechnology-based industry and research nationally and internationally. In the third semester, students will have the opportunity to undertake their own independent full time research project within one of the research groups in the internationally renowned Biomedical Sciences Research Institute (BMSRI) at Ulster. The BMSRI research covers biomedicine from the molecular to the whole human including disease development, prevention, diagnosis and therapy. https://www.ulster.ac.uk/research/topic/biomedical-sciences/about

The course is primarily designed for those who wish to develop their career in the biosciences, with particular emphasis on biotechnology research and including either academia or bio-pharmaceutical and bio-industries.

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course

About

The MSc in Biotechnology Research programme comprises three academic semesters in duration.

In both semester 1 and 2, students will complete a 30 credit module and two 15 credit modules.

In semester 3, a full-time research project worth 60 credit points will be undertaken within one of the research groups in the internationally renowned Biomedical Sciences Research Institute (BMSRI) at Ulster. The BMSRI research covers biomedicine from the molecular to the whole human, including disease development, prevention, diagnosis, and therapy. https://www.ulster.ac.uk/research/topic/biomedical-sciences/about

This programme is designed to provide contemporary knowledge and training in fundamental and advanced research tools in biotechnology and bioprocessing. Students will also study specialist areas of biotechnology where the application of such methods for the development of commercially significant biological products can be demonstrated. This includes the emerging and disruptive fields of Synthetic Biology and Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine that are poised to shape global economies in the near future, as well as empowering innovative businesses. In addition, students will also study professional practice where they have the opportunity to consider and reflect on entrepreneurship, commercialisation, intellectual property and regulatory considerations, thus supporting graduates moving into industry-based careers, but also relevant to those interested in academia.

Attendance

Full-time on campus - three semesters.

Start dates

  • September 2025

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Learning and Teaching Methods: Lectures, seminars, laboratory sessions, group-work, module assignments, problem-based learning, and private study.

Assessment Methods: Coursework will assess outcomes and facilitate learning and the integration of knowledge. Structured coursework will include open and closed-book class tests, case studies, literature-based assignments, a research project dissertation, supervisor’s report, plus other formative coursework as appropriate.

Attendance and Independent Study

The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

  • Attendance and Independent Study

    As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

    Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses typically 15 or 30 credit modules.

    The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

    Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.

  • Assessment

    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes.  You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • Calculation of the Final Award

    The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

    Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

    All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study.

    In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise.  The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff.  This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Coleraine campus

Accommodation

A laid-back campus at the heart of a global tourist attraction.

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Sports Facilities

Our Campus in Coleraine boasts a variety of indoor and outdoor facilities that are open all year round to students and members of the public.

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Student Wellbeing

At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.

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Modules

Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Research Methods for the Biotechnologist

Year: 1

This core module will provide an overview of fundamental methodologies used by biotechnologists, including gene cloning and protein expression, tissue culture and antibody technologies, alongside descriptive statistics for data science. Students will study these methods in the context of biotechnology applications, and will examine bioprocessing and the importance of inter-and multidisciplinary research in the production, recovery, formulation and storage of biotechnology products. A key aspect of this module will be molecular biology practicals where students will learn recombinant DNA methods, thus linking taught theory to practice.

Industrial Biotechnology

Year: 1

Industrial biotechnology is a key pillar to innovation, and an enabler of sustainable and competitive circular bioeconomies. This module will equip students with a comprehensive and critical understanding of the underlying principles, technologies, and applications of bioprocessing and biotechnology research methods across various industrial sectors. It will also address key societal issues in the field, including regulations and global challenges. Laboratory classes will enable bioreactor technology theory and methodology to be linked to practical application for production of a commercially useful bacterial product.

Advanced Research Methods for the Biotechnologist

Year: 1

This core module will build on Fundamental Research Methods for the Biotechnologist, and enable students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the underlying principles of advanced, technically challenging research methods in biotechnology. This will include topics such as gene editing (e,g., CRISPR) and gene therapy, advanced cell culture models, transgenics and 'omic' and nano-biotechnologies. As before, students will study these methods in the context of biotechnology applications and will also consider the important societal impact of some of these approaches. This module will also provide students with laboratory experience and skills in CRISPR gene editing, again linking taught theory to practice.

Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine

Year: 1

This module will provide students with a critical understanding of stem cell biology and tissue regeneration/ engineering research methods in the context of biotechnology and biomedicine. Students will examine current progress and challenges in the development of stem cell therapies for human disease, and explore the societal implications of conducting stem cell research, including government regulations/ legislation related to good practice when working with stem cells and human tissue. The module will enable students to appreciate how research methodologies studied on the course, such as cell culture and molecular biology techniques (e.g., gene editing), are applied in the context of stem cell research and innovation. Students will also gain skills related to critical evaluation of the scientific literature related to stem cell advances.

Synthetic Biology

Year: 1

This module will introduce students to the rapidly evolving and exciting interdisciplinary field of synthetic biology which aims to reprogram cellular and/or molecular systems at the genetic level for novel biological outputs of use to human society. Students will cover foundational concepts and the core engineering principles of standardization, modularity and abstraction for rapid prototyping of designs for biotechnological innovation. They will be able to examine how key biotechnology research technologies studied in other modules underpin this emerging field, and critically evaluate the potential impact of synthetic biology on society. Students will also gain computational skills by designing in silico genetic circuits.

Professional Practice

Year: 1

This module will facilitate personal development and a deeper understanding of professional practice in the growing and evolving global biotechnology sector. Students will study health and safety, regulatory issues, as well as entrepreneurship and the process of commercialisation of a novel bioproduct. They will also develop a range of personal skills and attributes that will enhance their employability as bioscience professionals.

Biotechnology Research Project

Year: 1

This 60 credit module will serve as an enriching opportunity for students to actively participate in the scientific discovery process by carrying out a selected biotechnology-related research project under the guidance of an academic member of staff. Through this immersive experience, students will develop essential skills in critical analysis of the scientific literature, experimental design, data analysis and interpretation, and scientific communication, thus laying the groundwork for progression to a career in biotechnology research.

Standard entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must have gained:

(a) second class honours degree or better in Biology/Biomedical Sciences/Biochemistry/Biotechnology/Microbiology from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, or from a recognised national awarding body, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard;

or an equivalent standard (minimum 50%)

(b) provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent);

(c) In exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability

None

Careers & opportunities

Career options

This course aims to prepare students for employment in specific bioscience sectors and to equip them for continuing personal, professional and intellectual development throughout their careers.

On completion of this course, students will have gained experience of advanced laboratory techniques, problem-solving and research design in a range of biotechnology areas, and will be well prepared to work in research positions or to proceed on to do a higher research degree in a related area.

Work placement / study abroad

No placement possible, as this is one-year full time postgraduate course taught on campus

Apply

Start dates

  • September 2025

Fees and funding

2025/26 Fees

Postgraduate fees are subject to annual review, 2025/26 fees will be announced in due course.

See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2024/25 entry.

Scholarships, awards and prizes

Ulster Alumni get 10% discount in fees.

Overseas-tuition Fee paying students will get £2000 discount.

Additional mandatory costs

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.

Contact

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.


For more information visit

Disclaimer

  1. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  1. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  1. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
  1. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.