A higher degree by research involves training in research methods and a laboratory based high level scientific investigation. The nature of the work and the time it takes to finish the research means a research degree is demanding and needs great commitment.
Your research takes place with the Biomolecular Sciences Research Centre (BMRC). The BMRC has been established for over 15 years. We have over 40 postgraduate students enrolled on MPhil/PhD programmes, as well as a number of postdoctoral research assistants. This provides an active and stimulating research environment.
Whilst studying, postgraduate students are encouraged and supported to present their latest research findings at national and international conferences as part of the BMRC. You must present your results in a thesis, explain the methods used in your research and defend them in a viva voce examination.
To get an MPhil you must critically investigate and evaluate an approved topic and display an understanding of suitable research methods.
BMRC staff work in collaboration with UK and international scientists as well as clinical colleagues at a number of UK hospitals.
We have a broad range of facilities including
In the 2008 RAE Assessment, the BMRC was submitted under Unit of Assessment 12 - Allied Health Professions and Studies - which included 21 staff from BMRC and eight from the Centre for Health and Social Care. 65 per cent of the research in the joint submission was considered to be internationally recognised. When measured by the quality of its research and weighted by the number of staff submitted in this unit of assessment, Sheffield Hallam University was rated 16th out of the 42 post-92 universities who submitted (figure obtained from Research Professional). In terms of the publications submitted for consideration by the RAE panel, 75 per cent of these were of an international standard.
Evidence of the growth in research activity in the BMRC between RAE 2001 and RAE 2008 is the doubling of the number of staff returned in 2008 compared with 2001 and a three-fold increase in income. We currently have six postdoctoral researchers and 40 PhD students in BMRC, with 30 successful PhD awards being made during the period 2008-13.
Split MPhil option for international students
A split MPhil is a research degree programme for international students wishing to study from their home country university. You register for a Sheffield Hallam University MPhil degree and spend some time studying in Sheffield but are substantially based in your home country.
The balance of study between Sheffield Hallam and the overseas university is agreed between you and your supervisors, depending on the needs of your research programme, but will not exceed three months per annum in UK.
The benefits for students studying on the split scheme include
When you begin your research, we allocate you a director of studies and a supervisor. Regular meetings between you and your supervisors are scheduled, with targets set for written and oral presentation of research progress.
The research courses include:
University student induction
We designed this to give you the information you need to successfully begin your research at the University.
Research methods module
This module develops generic research skills including:
You have to attend relevant seminars from the Bioscience Forum series.
Thesis followed by viva voce examination.
Research degrees are a vital qualification for most academic careers, and for professional specialisation and development in an existing or planned career.
In recent years the study of plant sciences has been revolutionised by the development of new tools and technologies which have allowed unprecedented progress in the study of plant biology – knowledge which is being applied to develop sustainable solutions to some of the major challenges of the 21st century.
This course will give you specialist training in the modern molecular aspects of plant science. A large part of your teaching will be delivered by academics from the University’s Centre for Plant Sciences (CPS) linked to the latest research in their areas of expertise.
You’ll explore the wide ranges of approaches used in biomolecular sciences as applied to plant science. This will cover theory and practice of recombinant DNA and protein production, bioimaging using our confocal microscope suite, practical bioinformatics and theories behind ‘omic technologies.
You’ll also learn how to design a programme of research and write a research proposal, read and critically analyse scientific papers in plant science and biotechnology and present the findings. A highlight of the course is your individual 80 credit practical research project.
The course is 100% coursework assessed (although some modules have small in course tests). Our teaching and assessment methods are 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).
You’ll study in a faculty ranked 6th in the UK for its research impact in the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014).
You’ll study in a stimulating environment which houses extensive facilities developed to support and enhance our faculty’s pioneering research. As well as Faculty operated facilities, the CPS laboratories are well equipped for general plant research. There is also a plant growth unit, including tissue culture suites with culture rooms, growth rooms and flow cabinets alongside transgenic glass-houses to meet a range of growth requirements.
On this course you’ll gain an overview of a range of modern techniques and methodologies that underpin contemporary biomolecular plant sciences.
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 module on plant biotechnology will address current topics such as the engineering of plants, development of stress-tolerant crop varieties and techniques for gene expression and gene silencing through reading discussion and critical analysis of recent research papers.
You’ll learn from the research of international experts in DNA recombination and repair mechanisms and their importance for transgene integration and biotechnological applications; plant nutrition and intracellular communication; and the biosynthesis, structure and function of plant cell walls.
You’ll also explore the wide range of approaches used in bio-imaging and their relative advantages and disadvantages for analysing protein and cellular function. Bioinformatics and high throughput omic technologies are crucial to plant science research and you will take modules introducing you to these disciplines.
In the final part of the course you'll work on an independent laboratory-based research project related to your course options. You’ll receive extensive 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 have access to the very best learning resources and academic support during your studies. We’ve been awarded a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF, 2017), demonstrating our commitment to delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for our students.
Your learning will be heavily influenced by the University’s world-class research as well as our strong links with highly qualified professionals from industry, non-governmental organisations and charities.
You’ll experience a wide range of teaching methods including formal lectures, interactive workshops, problem-solving, practical classes and demonstrations.
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.
We use a variety of assessment methods: multiple-choice testing, practical work, data handling and problem solving exercises, group work, discussion groups (face-to-face and online), computer-based simulation, essays, posters and oral presentations.
The strong research element of the Plant Science and Biotechmology MSc, along with the specialist and generic skills you 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 courses.
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:
Industrial research placements
Some of our partners offer MSc research projects in their organisations, allowing students to develop their commercial awareness and build their network of contacts.