You'll work in close collaboration with research-active scientists on problems of real significance. You will access considerable research expertise and specialist facilities on campus.
You can then choose optional modules to focus on your interests. Some of the most popular options are listed below.
Molecular Plant Pathology
Covers the molecular techniques being used to develop an understanding of plant/pathogen interactions. You will consider the molecular biology of plant pathogens, how these cause disease, and the mechanisms used by plants to defend themselves against such pathogens. You will spend around three hours per week in lectures studying this module.
Biotechnology in Animal Physiology
Building on the principles of animal development from earlier modules, you will be introduced to the world of the biotechnology industry, the techniques involved, and to the opportunities offered by this growing sector. You’ll learn about the genetic and epigenetic basis of gene regulation, and how this knowledge is used for developing new disease treatments and for improving livestock production and animal welfare.
Applied Bioethics 1: Animals, Biotechnology and Society
Animal-human interactions raise some prominent ethical issues. In this module, you’ll examine the ethical dimensions concerning animal agriculture, modern biotechnologies and research in the biosciences, in relation to both humans and non-human species. You’ll learn about the ethical frameworks used to analyse specific dilemmas raised by the human use of animals. Using specific animal and biotechnology case studies, you’ll interpret the main ethical theories and principles and apply them to the case studies to inform professional decision-making. You’ll have a mix of lectures and seminars to explore these concepts.
Advanced Developmental Biology
You will consider the molecular mechanisms underlying stem cell function during embryogenesis and adulthood. This will involve studies of regeneration and repair of tissues and pluripotency. You will have one two-hour lecture per week in this module.
Examines the mechanisms through which eukaryotic genes are expressed and regulated, with emphasis placed on recent research on transcriptional control in yeast and post-transcriptional control in eukaryotes. Studying this module will include having three hours of lectures per week.
Basic Introduction to Omic Technologies
Over the past few years major developments have been made regarding the study of genomes. Sequencing programmes now mean that the complete DNA sequence is now known for many species. Such information is revealing the high degree of similarity and conservation between different species and organisms, revolutionising the way in which gene function analysis is carried out. This module will provide a basic overview of recent research in the field of post-genomic technologies known as “omics” with emphasis on genomics, proteomics and metabolomics. Case studies will show how different approaches have been used to study genomes and how such developments are influencing the way genetic analysis and biotechnological improvement can be made. You will study by hands-on experience with problem-based lab and computer training sessions.
Computer Modelling in Science: Applications
Modern biological and environmental science includes the study of complex systems and large data sets, including imaging data. This necessitates the use of computer models and analyses in order to understand these systems. This module contains an introduction to computer programming and modelling techniques that are used in the biological and environmental sciences. Specifically, it contains: (i) Development, simulation and analysis for models in space and time, using the Python language, with applications in the biological and environmental sciences; (ii) Analysis of long term behaviour of models in two or more dimensions; (iii) Methods for fitting models to experimental and environmental data; (iv) analysis of image data. The module will focus on relevant applications in environmental and biological science, e.g. chemical, radioactive and biological pollution, crop development and pathogens and microbiology. The module will use the Python programming language throughout and be assessed by a patchwork assessment consisting of write-ups of assignments from during the semester.
Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology
This module will enable you to comprehend the opportunities that protein engineering provides in applied microbiology and to appreciate some of the practical limitations associated with technology. You’ll gain a detailed understanding of prokaryotic protein expression and examples of its application to biotechnology. Practical classes and seminars will provide an insight into the necessary constraints and practicalities of experimental design and execution. The major coursework assignment introduces you to the rigour required for writing scientific papers.
Genetic Improvement of Crop Plants
The genetic improvement of crop plants is critical to address issues of food security for a growing world population and in the face of a changing climate. It is also the key to tackling environmental degradation and to meeting the increasing strict regulations on agricultural pollution which are coming into force in many Western countries. While these issues are not identical, they are linked and efficient plant breeding can be part of the solution to both. In this module, you’ll develop an understanding of crop genetic improvement through lectures, case and literature studies, research plan presentations, external expert seminars and practical exposure to crop breeding and molecular techniques. You’ll examine how modern and technological approaches can enhance crop breeding programmes and be able to assess the limitations of these approaches. The emphasis is on the application of biotechnology to conventional breeding, but you’ll also learn about genetic modification in the genetic improvement of crops. You’ll cover temperate and tropical, annual and perennial, and in-breeding and out-breeding crops.
Sex, Flowers and Biotechnology
The processes of floral development and reproduction are some of the most critical stages occurring during plant growth and development. They are fundamental for plant breeding, crop productivity and horticulture. The significance of plant reproduction is particularly pertinent to issues of food security and the future development of high yielding crops. In this module, you’ll focus on recent developments that have been made in the understanding of floral development, reproduction and seed production, including the current goals, methods and achievements in the genetic engineering of crop and horticultural plants. With an emphasis on reproductive biology or fruit production, you’ll learn how such processes can be manipulated for commercial exploitation and to facilitate crop improvement. Through a mix of lectures and seminars, you’ll gain a detailed knowledge on the developmental and molecular processes associated with flowering, seed production and fruit development.
Current Issues in Crop Science
In this integrative module you’ll consider the future options and possible strategies for maintaining or increasing crop production in the UK and world agriculture. You’ll learn about the latest trends and developments within crop science, and the philosophical, ethical and policy issues associated with them. The topics covered will vary to reflect the most recent issues, but have included: the future of genetically modified crops, impact of crop production on biodiversity and prospects for organic crop production. Using your subject knowledge and research skills, you’ll be in a position to critically analyse the advantages and disadvantages of developments in crop science, both for the module and in your future career.
This module commences with a review of microbial fermentation, including beer, cheese, yoghurt, meat and single-cell protein production, as well as sewage treatment. The underlying principles of microbial fermentation will be discussed, in addition to specific examples which will be examined in depth. From this basic knowledge the problems of microbial contamination and spoilage of the finished product will be analysed. You’ll spend four hours in lectures and have a four hour practical each week to study for this module.
Plant Cell Signalling
How does a plant know when it is being attacked? In this module you’ll learn about plant signalling molecules and the ways in which these signals are integrated to ensure appropriate responses to environmental conditions or plant pathogen attack. You’ll gain a detailed knowledge of how plants use intercellular and intracellular signalling strategies to provide information about their environment, with particular emphasis on the use of molecular genetics in enabling us to determine the nature of the signals and the cross-talk that takes place between them. You’ll have lectures and demonstrations, as well as laboratory sessions to gain practical experience of the techniques for studying plant hormone signalling.
Plant Disease Control
Discusses applied aspects of plant disease control, comprising transmission, epidemiology, detection and diagnosis, and control options. You will cover control strategies based on application of fungicides, biological control, deployment of disease resistant varieties and biotechnological approaches. You will also consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches. This module consists of a four-hour lecture once per week.
Virology and Cellular Microbiology
The module will provide an in depth induction into the relationship of bacterial and viral pathogens and their hosts. Including understanding the underlying molecular basis of the adaptive response of bacteria to various environments and the mechanisms by which bacteria and viruses subvert cellular machinery. You’ll have a four hour weekly lecture to cover material for this module.
This module provides training in environmental biotechnology, with particular emphasis on the interaction between microorganisms and the environment. The main topics covered will be wastewater treatment, bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants, microbes as indicators of risk factors in the environment, microbes in agriculture (biocontrol and biofertilisers) and the role of microorganisms in bioenergy production.
This module will examine the concept of metabolic control at the gene, cell and tissue level with particular reference to the role of nutrients in regulating this process. Selected processes by which nutrients and hormones act via receptors and their signal transduction pathways to regulate tissue growth and metabolism will be described along with the mechanisms by which nutrients can act directly on the processes controlling gene expression. You’ll have a mix of lectures and practical sessions for this module.
Molecular Evolution: Constructing the Tree of Life
During this module you will examine the ways in which DNA and protein sequences are used to investigate evolutionary relationships among organisms. You will study topics including the techniques of sequence comparison and the construction of evolutionary trees.
Technology Entrepreneurship in Practice
This module aims to provide you with the skills, knowledge and practical experience required to respond to the challenges involved in managing, commercialising and marketing technological innovation and new business development.