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Masters Degrees (Enzymology)

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Biotechnology is defined as the industrial exploitation of living organisms or the exploitation of components derived from these organisms. Read more

MSc Biotechnology

Biotechnology is defined as the industrial exploitation of living organisms or the exploitation of components derived from these organisms.

Programme summary

During the master Biotechnology you learn more about the practical applications of biotechnology, including age-old techniques such as brewing and fermentation, which are still important today. In recent decades, gene modification has revolutionized the biotechnology industry, spawning countless new products and improving established processes. Modern biotechnology has become an applied area of science with a multidisciplinary approach embracing recombinant DNA technology, cellular biology, microbiology, biochemistry, as well as process design and engineering.


Cellular and Molecular Biotechnology
This specialisation focuses on the practical application of cellular and molecular knowledge with the aim of enhancing or improving production in micro-organisms or cell cultures. Possible majors: molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, virology, enzymology and cell biology. The knowledge and skills gained can be applied in food biotechnology, medicine and vaccine development, environmental and bio-based technology.

Process Technology
This specialisation focuses on engineering strategies for developing, enhancing or improving production in fermentation, bioconversion and enzymatic synthesis. Possible majors: bioprocess engineering, food or environmental engineering, applied biotechnology and system and control techniques. The knowledge and skills gained can be applied in food biotechnology, medicine and vaccine development, environmental and bio-based technology.

Marine Biotechnology
This specialisation focuses on the use of newly- discovered organisms from the sea in industrial processes. Applications include production of new medicines, fine chemicals, bio-based products and renewable energy.

Medical Biotechnology
This specialisation focuses on the use of modern biotechnology in the development and production of new vaccines and medicines. Advanced molecular and cellular techniques are used to study diagnostic and production methods for vaccines and medicines. Possible majors: molecular biology, microbiology, virology and cell biology.

Food Biotechnology
This specialisation focuses on the application from biotechnology to food processing. The approach includes microbial and biochemical aspects integrated with process engineering and chemistry. Possible majors: food microbiology, food chemistry and process engineering.

Environmental and Biobased Technology
This specialisation focuses on the design and development of biotechnological processes for solving environmental problems by removing waste products or by producing renewable energy. Possible majors: environmental technology, bioprocess engineering, microbiology and biobased chemical technology.

Your future career

Graduates in biotechnology have excellent career prospects. More than 60 percent begin their careers in research and development. Many of these Master graduates go on to earn their PhD degrees and often achieve management positions within a few years. Approximately 30 percent of our graduates start working for biotechnology companies immediately. Relatively few begin their careers outside the private sector or in a field not directly related to biotechnology. In the Netherlands, some graduates work for multinational companies such as Merck Schering Plough, DSM, Heineken, Unilever and Shell, while others find positions at smaller companies and various universities or research centres such as NKI and TNO.

Alumnus Sina Salim.
In America and Brazil, production of maize and sugar cane for bio ethanol takes up enormous swathes of arable land that could otherwise be used for food production. This leads to the well-known food versus fuel dilemma. An alternative method for producing biodiesel is the use of algae. Currently, too much energy is consumed during the growth and harvesting of algae, but huge efforts are being made to reduce these energy requirements. Sina Salim is trying to develop a cheap and energy efficient harvesting method to ultimately produce biodiesel from algae, a competitor of fossil fuel. Now he is operational scientist at Bioprocess Pilot Facility B.V.

Related programmes:
MSc Molecular Life Sciences
MSc Food Technology
MSc Bioinformatics
MSc Plant Biotechnology
MSc Environmental Sciences.

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The Molecular Life Sciences programme focuses on the molecular aspects of the fields of nutrition, health, nature and the living environment and works in close coordination with colleagues from different disciplines. Read more

MSc Molecular Life Sciences

The Molecular Life Sciences programme focuses on the molecular aspects of the fields of nutrition, health, nature and the living environment and works in close coordination with colleagues from different disciplines.

Programme summary

The Molecular Life Sciences programme focuses on molecules and their properties. It seeks to discover relationships between the physical and chemical properties of molecules, particularly the role of complex molecules in living systems. It is an interdisciplinary programme that combines chemistry, physics and biology. The aim of the programme is to enable students to conduct independent research at the interface of chemistry, biology and physics, or in an applied field such as medicine, the environment, food sciences or (bio) nanotechnology. The programme is tailormade and thesis-oriented, with the thesis being the culmination of the study.


Biological Chemistry
By combining the principles of chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, microbiology, genetics and bioinformatics, this specialisation enables students to contribute new insights to the life sciences. Increasingly complex areas are studied, such as the molecular regulation of growth and cell differentiation, gene control during development and disease, and the transfer of genetic traits. Another important field is enzymology where enzyme mechanisms are studied with the aim of understanding and modifying their properties to make new compounds or biological membranes.

Physical Chemistry
This specialisation uses the most advanced technologies to focus on the chemical and physical properties of molecules and their behaviour in chemical and biochemical processes. The processes in nature are used as models for studying and synthesising new compounds with interesting chemical or physical properties for applications such as LCDs, biosensors or food science. Students can major in the fields of biophysics, organic chemistry or physical chemistry and colloid science.

Biomedical Research
This specialisation equips graduates with key skills in the natural sciences and enables them to use these skills as part of an integrated approach. Many recent breakthroughs in biomedical research have taken place at the interface between chemistry, biology and physics, so it is logical that many of our graduates enter careers in biomedical research. The explicit aim of this specialisation is to prepare students for careers at a medical research institute, academic hospital or a company in the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, students also complete their internships at such locations.

Physical Biology
Students in this specialisation learn to view biomolecules from a physical point of view. They use techniques in biophysics, physical chemistry, microspectroscopy and magnetic resonance (MRI) to contribute to areas such as cell-cell communication, transformation of light into chemical energy, and protein interactions. Students can major in fields such as biochemistry, biophysics, microbiology, molecular biology, plant physiology, physical chemistry and colloid science.

Your future career

By combining the power of chemistry, physics and biology, graduates are able to make a significant contribution to fundamental and/or applied research in fields such as (bio) nanotechnology, biotechnology, environmental research, biomedical research, nutrition and the food sciences. Our graduates enter careers at universities, research institutes and industrial laboratories. The first job for many of our graduates is a four year PhD project at a university or research institute. This is not only an excellent preparation for a research career, but it also prepares you for management positions. Others become science journalists, teachers or consultants in government or industry.

Project Flu Vaccination for bacteria.
Together with his colleagues of the Laboratory of Microbiology, professor John van der Oost unravelled part of the working of the immune systems of bacteria that had been infected by a virus. Theoretically, this knowledge allows for other bacteria to be protected against specific viruses and, thus, may be considered to be a flu vaccination for bacteria. Understanding this process in simple organisms on a molecular level, is the first step in revealing the mechanism of viral infection in the human body. This can be the starting point for a whole new line of medicines.

Related programmes:
MSc Biotechnology
MSc Food Technology
MSc Bioinformatics
MSc Nutrition and Health
MSc Plant Biotechnology
MSc Biology

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Changing demographics and growing demand for food, fuel and agricultural and environmental sustainability are among the key challenges the world faces today. Read more

Programme description

Changing demographics and growing demand for food, fuel and agricultural and environmental sustainability are among the key challenges the world faces today.

In this MSc you will learn research and development skills to enable the creation of new products and services. You will investigate the economic basis for current biotechnology structures and areas of future demand, including the global pharmaceutical industry and carbon sequestration.

You will learn how technology can be applied to solve pressing real-world biological problems and gain the skills and expertise needed for future developments in biotechnology.

Programme structure

This programme consists of two semesters of taught courses followed by a research project or industrial placement, leading to a dissertation.

Compulsory courses:

Economics and Innovation in the Biotechnology Industry
Intelligent Agriculture
Research Project Proposal
MSc Dissertation (Biotechnology).

Option courses:

Bioinformatics Programming & System Management
Drug Discovery
Commercial Aspects of Drug Discovery
Enzymology and Biological Production
Gene Expression and Microbial Regulation
Industry & Entrepreneurship in Biotechnology
Management of R&D and Product Innovation
Molecular Modelling and Database Mining
Social Dimensions of Systems and Synthetic Biology
Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine
Biochemistry A
Principles of Industrial Biotechnology
Environmental Gene Mining and Metagenomics
Vaccines and Molecular Therapies
Programming for the Life Sciences

Research and laboratory work:
There will be a considerable practical element to the programme. You will work in a biotechnology laboratory and learn how experimental technology is designed and operated.

Industrial placement:
Your dissertation can be based on a laboratory-based project or an industrial placement. You can work with employers in the thriving Scottish biotechnology sector in areas such as multiple sclerosis research (Aquila BioMedical), vaccines research (BigDNA) or biorecovery and bioregeneration (Recyclatec).

Career opportunities

The programme will open up a wide variety of career opportunities, ranging from sales and marketing, to research and development, to manufacturing and quality control and assurance.

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This academically challenging and career-developing programme focuses on research and development using biological and chemical principles and systems to create new products, services and industries. Read more

Programme description

This academically challenging and career-developing programme focuses on research and development using biological and chemical principles and systems to create new products, services and industries.

You will employ elements of the developing field of synthetic biology to bring about significant changes and major innovations that address the challenges of rapidly changing human demographics, resource shortages, energy economy transition and the concomitant growth in demand for more and healthier food, sustainable fuel cycles, and a cleaner environment.

Programme structure

You will learn through a variety of activities, including:

laboratory work
field work
discussion groups and project groups
problem-based learning activities

You will attend problem-based tutorial sessions and one-to-one meetings with your personal tutor or programme director.

You will carry out research at the frontier of knowledge and can make a genuine contribution to the progress of original research. This involves carrying out project work in a research laboratory, reviewing relevant papers, analysing data, writing reports and giving presentations.

Compulsory courses:

Applications of Synthetic Biology
Tools for Synthetic Biology
Social Dimensions of Systems & Synthetic Biology
Environmental Gene Mining & Metagenomics
Research Project Proposal
MSc Project and Dissertation

Option courses:

Bioinformatics Programming & System Management
Biological Physics
Biophysical Chemistry
Commercial Aspects of Drug Discovery
Data Mining & Exploration
Drug Discovery
Economics & Innovation in the Biotechnology Industry
Enzymology & Biological Production
Functional Genomic Technologies
Gene Expression & Microbial Regulation
Industry & Entrepreneurship in the Biotechnology Industry
Information Processing in Biological Cells
Intelligent Agriculture
Introduction to Scientific Programming
Molecular Modelling & Database Mining
Next Generation Genomics
Machine Learning & Pattern Recognition
Practical Skills in Biochemistry
Practical Systems Biology
Principles of Industrial Biotechnology
Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine

Learning outcomes

By the end of the programme you will have gained:

a strong background knowledge in the fields underlying synthetic biology and biotechnology
an understanding of the limitations and public concerns regarding the nascent field of synthetic biology including a thorough examination of the philosophical, legal, ethical and social issues surrounding the area
the ability to approach the technology transfer problem equipped with the skills to analyse the problem in scientific and practical terms
an understanding of how biotechnology relates to real-world biological problems
the ability to conduct practical experimentation in synthetic biology and biotechnology
the ability to think about the future development of research, technology, its implementation and its implications
a broad understanding of research responsibility including the requirement for rigorous and robust testing of theories and the need for honesty and integrity in experimental reporting and reviewing

Career opportunities

You will enhance your career prospects by acquiring current, marketable knowledge and developing advanced analytical and presentational skills, within the social and intellectual sphere of a leading European university.

The School of Biological Sciences offers a research-rich environment in which you can develop as a scientist and entrepreneur.

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Pursuing a research degree at the School of Chemistry could be one of the best experiences of your life. Read more

Research profile

Pursuing a research degree at the School of Chemistry could be one of the best experiences of your life.

In addition to gaining research skills, making friends, meeting eminent researchers and being part of the research community, a research degree will help you to develop invaluable transferable skills which you can apply to academic life or a variety of professions outside of academia.

The Chemistry/Biology Interface

This is a broad area, with particular strengths in the areas of protein structure and function, mechanistic enzymology, proteomics, peptide and protein synthesis, protein folding, recombinant and synthetic DNA methodology, biologically targeted synthesis and the application of high throughput and combinatorial approaches. We also focus on biophysical chemistry, the development and application of physicochemical techniques to biological systems. This includes mass spectrometry, advanced spectroscopy and microscopy, as applied to proteins, enzymes, DNA, membranes and biosensors.

Experimental & Theoretical Chemical Physics

This is the fundamental study of molecular properties and processes. Areas of expertise include probing molecular structure in the gas phase, clusters and nanoparticles, the development and application of physicochemical techniques such as mass spectoscropy to molecular systems and the EaStCHEM surface science group, who study complex molecules on surfaces, probing the structure property-relationships employed in heterogeneous catalysis. A major feature is in Silico Scotland, a world-class research computing facility.


This research area encompasses the synthesis and characterisation of organic and inorganic compounds, including those with application in homogeneous catalysis, nanotechnology, coordination chemistry, ligand design and supramolecular chemistry, asymmetric catalysis, heterocyclic chemistry and the development of synthetic methods and strategies leading to the synthesis of biologically important molecules (including drug discovery). The development of innovative synthetic and characterisation methodologies (particularly in structural chemistry) is a key feature, and we specialise in structural chemistry at extremely high pressures.

Materials Chemistry

The EaStCHEM Materials group is one of the largest in the UK. Areas of strength include the design, synthesis and characterisation of functional (for example magnetic, superconducting and electronic) materials; strongly correlated electronic materials, battery and fuel cell materials and devices, porous solids, fundamental and applied electrochemistry polymer microarray technologies and technique development for materials and nanomaterials analysis.

Training and support

Students attend regular research talks, visiting speaker symposia, an annual residential meeting in the Scottish Highlands, and lecture courses on specialised techniques and safety. Students are encouraged to participate in transferable skills and computing courses, public awareness of science activities, undergraduate teaching and to represent the School at national and international conferences.


Our facilities are among the best in the world, offering an outstanding range of capabilities. You’ll be working in recently refurbished laboratories that meet the highest possible standards, packed with state-of-the-art equipment for both analysis and synthesis.

For NMR in the solution and solid state, we have 10 spectrometers at field strengths from 200-800 MHz; mass spectrometry utilises EI, ESI, APCI, MALDI and FAB instrumentation, including LC and GC interfaces. New combinatorial chemistry laboratories, equipped with a modern fermentation unit, are available. We have excellent facilities for the synthesis and characterisation of bio-molecules, including advanced mass spectrometry and NMR stopped-flow spectrometers, EPR, HPLC, FPLC, AA.

World-class facilities are available for small molecule and macromolecular X-ray diffraction, utilising both single crystal and powder methods. Application of diffraction methods at high pressures is a particular strength, and we enjoy strong links to central facilities for neutron, muon and synchrotron science in the UK and further afield. We are one of the world's leading centres for gas-phase electron diffraction.

Also available are instruments for magnetic and electronic characterisation of materials (SQUID), electron microscopy (SEM, TEM), force-probe microscopy, high-resolution FTRaman and FT-IR, XPS and thermal analysis. We have also recently installed a new 1,000- tonne pressure chamber, to be used for the synthesis of materials at high pressures and temperatures. Fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy instruments are available within the COSMIC Centre. Dedicated computational infrastructure is available, and we benefit from close links with the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre.

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The Master of Science by Research degree in Biomedical Sciences is a 12-month, research only degree, in which the candidate will undertake a supervised research project in the broad area of Biomedical Sciences, in the School of Biology, University of St Andrews. Read more
The Master of Science by Research degree in Biomedical Sciences is a 12-month, research only degree, in which the candidate will undertake a supervised research project in the broad area of Biomedical Sciences, in the School of Biology, University of St Andrews.
The candidate will be based in the interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC), based at the North Haugh Science Campus, St Andrews. The BSRC comprises research groups undertaking highly innovative, multi-disciplinary research in eleven broad areas of biomedical research, employing state-of-the-art techniques to address key questions at the leading edge of the biomedical and biological sciences.

There are eleven research themes running through the BSRC: Biophysics; Chemical Biology; Chemistry; Enzymology; Microbiology; Molecular Biology; Molecular Medicine; Parasitology; Structural Biology; Translational Biology; Virology. These interdisciplinary approaches bring together molecular biologists, chemists, computer scientists, geneticists, bioinformaticians and clinicians to challenge and further our understanding of disease, in terms of basic biological function through to medical intervention. Further details about the BSRC can be found here: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/bsrc/.

Candidates may approach potential supervisors in the BSRC directly (https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/research/phd-study/phd-study-supervisors/phd-study-bsrc-supervisors/) or via advertised projects listed here (https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/research/mscres/). We strongly recommend that potential candidates make contact with a potential supervisor before applying.
The School of Biology provides a unique and supportive environment for scholarship, amid a beautiful setting for university life. We are a highly research active School, with a diverse and vigorous post-graduate community. The School comprises a large number of research groups organised into three interdisciplinary Research Centres: the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI), the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC) and the Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD). Together these centres encompass the full spectrum of research in biological sciences, spanning investigations on the properties and behaviour of individual molecules through to planetary environmental dynamics. Our postgraduate students enjoy a supportive and welcoming environment, including the student-led ‘Bionet’ society that provides a wide range of networking and social opportunities.

Progression and Assessment

Students in the MSc(Res) program will be assigned an Internal Examiner (IE) and Post-Graduate Tutor by the School. There will be a progress review meeting at three months to monitor and evaluate student progression, convened by the IE, with the student and Tutor in attendance.

In addition to the project-specific training that you will receive during your degree, Msc(Res) students will also have access to a wide range of training in transferable skills through the award-winning University of St Andrews GradSkills program, run by our Professional Development Unit CAPOD. Specific post-graduate programs run within the School of Biology may also offer additional training, for instance in statistical, bioinformatics or molecular techniques.
The degree requires submission and examination of a dissertation at the end of the one-year program. This thesis will consist of up to 30,000 words. The thesis will be evaluated by the IE and an External Examiner appointed at time of submission. Evaluation will be based on the written submission and there is no requirement for a viva voce examination.


For details of post-graduate tuition fees relevant to our research degrees including the MSc(Res), please visit:


Please apply via the University’s Post-Graduate Application portal: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/pgr/home.htm

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