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Masters Degrees (Genetic Disease)

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Genetic counsellors work in a multidisciplinary team with clinical geneticists, nurses, social workers, dietitians, communicating complex genetic information to individuals and families to facilitate decision making. Read more

Genetic counsellors work in a multidisciplinary team with clinical geneticists, nurses, social workers, dietitians, communicating complex genetic information to individuals and families to facilitate decision making. Genetic counsellors are employed in clinical genetics units and work in many areas including: cancer genetics, predictive testing, paediatric genetics, prenatal genetics, adult genetics. Genetic counsellors increasingly are involved in qualitative and quantitative clinical genetic research.

The Master of Genetic Counselling constitutes the professional qualification for entry into employment as an associate genetic counsellor, and for Board Eligible certification, awarded through the Board of Censors in Genetic Counselling (Human Genetics Society of Australasia).

The 2 year Master of Genetic Counselling is designed to build and increase skills and breadth in clinical practice and research, utilising the expertise of tutors who are clinicians, genetic counsellors, scientists, people with a disability and community members. The Masters is taught within the Victorian Clinical Genetics Services at the Royal Childrens Hospital Parkville Victoria. Students are encouraged to attend educational activities within Genetic Health including seminars, clinic meetings and journal club.

The Graduate Diploma is an exit point after 1 year of study in the Masters.

Internationally, genetic counselling is taught within a 2 year clinical Masters. The Masters program aims to increase research and employment opportunities for graduates through developing reciprocity with other countries. With well established links to overseas training programs there are international opportunities for students, through an active exchange program for clinical placements and research collaborations. Past graduates are employed throughout the world -including in Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand. It is expected that graduates of the Melbourne Masters will be eligible to register to practise as genetic counsellors in the UK and Canada, further increasing employment opportunities.

The Master of Genetic Counselling will fulfil the requirements for certification and employment as a genetic counsellor in Australia and reciprocity with training overseas. The program teaches counselling skills, research skills and clinical genetics knowledge in small interactive student groups. Problem Based Learning is one mode of teaching in the genetics tutorials. This mode of teaching facilitates independent learning which equips the student to continue to develop professionally throughout their career. Students will complete a minor thesis with supervision, and have extensive counselling skills practice in varied clinical genetics and community settings. Assessment tasks mirror the skills needed in genetic counselling practice and for professional certification by the HGSA(Part 2)

Teaching staff are primarily practicing genetic counsellors, scientists and clinicians within the clinical genetics service.

Research and Evaluation Skills:

  • Understand the ethics committee process and develop an ethics proposal;
  • Undertake a critical literature review relevant to a particular topic of research;
  • Develop original research arising from clinical practice;
  • Present findings from an original research project at a professional forum;
  • Understand the principles of qualitative research, including research design and process in an ethical framework OR
  • Understand biostatistical concepts and methods and their application in the assessment and management of health conditions OR
  • Develop an understanding of the nature and purposes of health program evaluation.

Critical Reflection and Cognition Skills:

  • Develop counselling skills through application of models of practice, in supervised clinical placements;
  • Critically evaluate different models of practice through theory, observation and participation in genetic counselling interviews;
  • Respect differences in cultural, religious and socioeconomic beliefs in clients, through developing a critical understanding of difference through the literature and personal contact with clients;
  • Develop self-awareness through reflection and active participation in the process of supervision.

Communication Skills:

  • Analyse the genetic counselling process and the impact on families from a cultural, ethical and psychosocial perspective;
  • Understand and critically analyse the process of transference and countertransference in an interview;
  • Critically analyse the process of communication.

Ethical Skills:

  • Understand the ethical principles that guide and inform genetic counselling practice;
  • Consider personal, cultural and moral values which may impact on the individual practice of genetic counselling;
  • Recognise the ethical challenges that may confront clients;
  • Understand and identify the potential for ethical challenges in emerging genetic technologies;
  • Identify possible challenges to facilitating informed consent and maintaining patient confidentiality.

Genetics Knowledge:

  • Understand the principles of inheritance;
  • Understand chromosomal disorders and the genetic basis of disease;
  • Understand clinical genetic risk assessments for patients and families;
  • Elicit and document a family history and family pedigree, convey genetic information and discuss risk;
  • Understand the normal stages of human embryo development and have an awareness of how this can be disrupted;
  • Understand the role of genetics as the underlying cause of various disorders of the human body;
  • Understand the role of genetics in cancer;
  • Have an appreciation for the range of molecular, cytogenetic and biochemical laboratory tests utilised in clinical genetic practice;
  • Understand the genetic testing approach taken for specific genetic disorders;
  • Understand the treatment approach taken for specific genetic disorders;
  • Understand the issues relating to population based screening;
  • Understand the role of prenatal screening and testing in pregnancy management and care, and the options available when fetal abnormality is detected;
  • Understand the organisational and economic aspects of health care in Australia;
  • Understand the role of the genetic counsellor in the context of the multidisciplinary approach to clinical genetic health care;
  • Understand the principles of the legal and professional duties and the responsibilities of genetic counsellors as health professionals and members of a health care team.


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The Genetics of Human Disease MSc aims to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of molecular genetics, quantitative and statistical genetics and human disease and how this can be applied to improve healthcare through the development and application of diagnostic tests and therapeutic agents. Read more

The Genetics of Human Disease MSc aims to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of molecular genetics, quantitative and statistical genetics and human disease and how this can be applied to improve healthcare through the development and application of diagnostic tests and therapeutic agents.

About this degree

The programme provides a thorough grounding in modern approaches to the understanding of the genetics of disease alongside the cutting-edge research methods and techniques used to advance our understanding of development of disease. Core modules provide a broad coverage of the genetics of disease, research skills and social aspects, whilst specialised streams in Inherited Diseases, Pharmacogenetics and Computational Genomics, in which students can qualify, and the research project allow more in-depth analysis in areas of genetics.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four core modules (60 credits) and two specialist modules (30 credits) and a research project culminating in a dissertation (90 credits).

A Postgraduate Diploma consisting of six modules (four core modules in term one and two modules within the selected stream in term two) is offered, full-time nine months.

A Postgraduate Certificate consisting of four core modules in term one (60 credits) is offered, full-time three months.

Core modules

  • Advanced Human Genetics: Research Principles
  • Understanding Bioinformatics Resources and their Applications
  • Human Genetics: Core Skills
  • Basic Statistics for Medical Sciences

Specialist modules

In term two you will take specialist modules depending on the specialist stream you select: Inherited Disease (A); Pharmacogenetics (B); Computational Genomics (C). 

  • Applications in Human Genetics (A)
  • Either Genetics of Cardiovascular Disease or Genetics of Neurological Disease (A)
  • Clinical Applications of Pharmacogenetic Tests (B)
  • Anti-Cancer Personalised Medicine or Pharmacogenomics, adverse drug reactions and biomarkers (B)
  • Applications in Human Genetics (C)
  • Statistics for Interpreting Genetic Data (C)

Dissertation/report

Students undertake an original research project investigating topical questions in genetics and genetics of human disease which culminates in a dissertation of 12,000 to 14,000 words and an oral presentation.

Teaching and learning

Students develop their knowledge and understanding of genetics of human diseases through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, presentations and journal clubs. Taught modules are assessed by unseen written examination and/or, written reports, oral presentations and coursework. The research project is assessed by the dissertation and oral presentation. 

Further information on modules and degree structure available on the UCL Genetics Institute website.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Genetics of Human Disease MSc

Careers

Advanced training in genetic techniques including bioinformatic and statistical approaches positions graduates well for PhD studentships in laboratories using genetic techniques to examine diseases such as heart disease, cancer and neurological disorders. Another large group will seek research jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, or jobs related to genetics in healthcare organisations.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Laboratory Specialist, King Abdullah Medical Complex
  • Non-Clinical Research Associate, University of Oxford
  • Trainee Geneticist, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • PhD in Cardiovascular Science, UCL
  • Genomic Research Technician, Genome Centre

Employability

The MSc in Genetics of Human Disease facilitates acquisition of knowledge and skills relevant to a career in research in many different biomedical disciplines. About half of our graduates enter a research career by undertaking and completing PhDs and working as research associates/scientists in academia. Some of our graduates go on to jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, while others enter careers with clinical genetic diagnosis services, particularly in molecular genetics, in healthcare organisations and hospitals around the world. Those graduates with a prior medical training often utilise their new skills as clinical geneticists.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL is in a unique position to offer both the basic science and application of modern genetics to improve human health. The programme is a cross-faculty initiative with teaching from across the School of Life and Medical Sciences (SLMS) at UCL.

Students will be based at the UCL Genetics Institute (UGI), a world-leading centre which develops and applies biostatistical and bioinformatic approaches to human and population genetics. Opportunities to conduct laboratory or computational-based research projects are available in the laboratories of world-leading geneticists affiliated to the UGI.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Division of Biosciences

82% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.



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We invite postgraduate research proposals in a number of disease areas that impact significantly on patient care. We focus on exploring the mechanisms of disease, understanding the ways disease impacts patients’ lives, utilising new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques and developing new treatments. Read more

We invite postgraduate research proposals in a number of disease areas that impact significantly on patient care. We focus on exploring the mechanisms of disease, understanding the ways disease impacts patients’ lives, utilising new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques and developing new treatments.

As a student you will be registered with a University research institute, for many this is the Institute for Cellular Medicine (ICM). You will be supported in your studies through a structured programme of supervision and training via our Faculty of Medical Sciences Graduate School.

We undertake the following areas of research and offer MPhil, PhD and MD supervision in:

Applied immunobiology (including organ and haematogenous stem cell transplantation)

Newcastle hosts one of the most comprehensive organ transplant programmes in the world. This clinical expertise has developed in parallel with the applied immunobiology and transplantation research group. We are investigating aspects of the immunology of autoimmune diseases and cancer therapy, in addition to transplant rejection. We have themes to understand the interplay of the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses by a variety of pathways, and how these can be manipulated for therapeutic purposes. Further research theme focusses on primary immunodeficiency diseases.

Dermatology

There is strong emphasis on the integration of clinical investigation with basic science. Our research include:

  • cell signalling in normal and diseased skin including mechanotransduction and response to ultraviolet radiation
  • dermatopharmacology including mechanisms of psoriatic plaque resolution in response to therapy
  • stem cell biology and gene therapy
  • regulation of apoptosis/autophagy
  • non-melanoma skin cancer/melanoma biology and therapy.

We also research the effects of UVR on the skin including mitochondrial DNA damage as a UV biomarker.

Diabetes

This area emphasises on translational research, linking clinical- and laboratory-based science. Key research include:

  • mechanisms of insulin action and glucose homeostasis
  • insulin secretion and pancreatic beta-cell function
  • diabetic complications
  • stem cell therapies
  • genetics and epidemiology of diabetes.

Diagnostic and therapeutic technologies

Focus is on applied research and aims to underpin future clinical applications. Technology-oriented and demand-driven research is conducted which relates directly to health priority areas such as:

  • bacterial infection
  • chronic liver failure
  • cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.

This research is sustained through extensive internal and external collaborations with leading UK and European academic and industrial groups, and has the ultimate goal of deploying next-generation diagnostic and therapeutic systems in the hospital and health-care environment.

Kidney disease

There is a number of research programmes into the genetics, immunology and physiology of kidney disease and kidney transplantation. We maintain close links between basic scientists and clinicians with many translational programmes of work, from the laboratory to first-in-man and phase III clinical trials. Specific areas:

  • haemolytic uraemic syndrome
  • renal inflammation and fibrosis
  • the immunology of transplant rejection
  • tubular disease
  • cystic kidney disease.

The liver

We have particular interests in:

  • primary biliary cirrhosis (epidemiology, immunobiology and genetics)
  • alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • fibrosis
  • the genetics of other autoimmune and viral liver diseases

Magnetic Resonance (MR), spectroscopy and imaging in clinical research

Novel non-invasive methodologies using magnetic resonance are developed and applied to clinical research. Our research falls into two categories:

  • MR physics projects involve development and testing of new MR techniques that make quantitative measurements of physiological properties using a safe, repeatable MR scan.
  • Clinical research projects involve the application of these novel biomarkers to investigation of human health and disease.

Our studies cover a broad range of topics (including diabetes, dementia, neuroscience, hepatology, cardiovascular, neuromuscular disease, metabolism, and respiratory research projects), but have a common theme of MR technical development and its application to clinical research.

Musculoskeletal disease (including auto-immune arthritis)

We focus on connective tissue diseases in three, overlapping research programmes. These programmes aim to understand:

  • what causes the destruction of joints (cell signalling, injury and repair)
  • how cells in the joints respond when tissue is lost (cellular interactions)
  • whether we can alter the immune system and ‘switch off’ auto-immune disease (targeted therapies and diagnostics)

This research theme links with other local, national and international centres of excellence and has close integration of basic and clinical researchers and hosts the only immunotherapy centre in the UK.

Pharmacogenomics (including complex disease genetics)

Genetic approaches to the individualisation of drug therapy, including anticoagulants and anti-cancer drugs, and in the genetics of diverse non-Mendelian diseases, from diabetes to periodontal disease, are a focus. A wide range of knowledge and experience in both genetics and clinical sciences is utilised, with access to high-throughput genotyping platforms.

Reproductive and vascular biology

Our scientists and clinicians use in situ cellular technologies and large-scale gene expression profiling to study the normal and pathophysiological remodelling of vascular and uteroplacental tissues. Novel approaches to cellular interactions have been developed using a unique human tissue resource. Our research themes include:

  • the regulation of trophoblast and uNk cells
  • transcriptional and post-translational features of uterine function
  • cardiac and vascular remodelling in pregnancy

We also have preclinical molecular biology projects in breast cancer research.

Respiratory disease

We conduct a broad range of research activities into acute and chronic lung diseases. As well as scientific studies into disease mechanisms, there is particular interest in translational medicine approaches to lung disease, studying human lung tissue and cells to explore potential for new treatments. Our current areas of research include:

  • acute lung injury - lung infections
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • fibrotic disease of the lung, both before and after lung transplantation.

Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics

Our research projects are concerned with the harmful effects of chemicals, including prescribed drugs, and finding ways to prevent and minimise these effects. We are attempting to measure the effects of fairly small amounts of chemicals, to provide ways of giving early warning of the start of harmful effects. We also study the adverse side-effects of medicines, including how conditions such as liver disease and heart disease can develop in people taking medicines for completely different medical conditions. Our current interests include: environmental chemicals and organophosphate pesticides, warfarin, psychiatric drugs and anti-cancer drugs.

Pharmacy

Our new School of Pharmacy has scientists and clinicians working together on all aspects of pharmaceutical sciences and clinical pharmacy.



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The increasing impact of genetics in healthcare and the development of newer sophisticated technologies requires contributions from research scientists, clinical laboratory scientists and clinicians to investigate the causes of, and therefore permit optimal management for, diseases for which alterations in the genome, either at the DNA sequence level or epigenetic level, play a significant role. Read more
The increasing impact of genetics in healthcare and the development of newer sophisticated technologies requires contributions from research scientists, clinical laboratory scientists and clinicians to investigate the causes of, and therefore permit optimal management for, diseases for which alterations in the genome, either at the DNA sequence level or epigenetic level, play a significant role. Collaboration between staff from the University of Glasgow and the NHS West of Scotland Genetics Service enables the MSc in Medical Genetics and Genomics to provide a state-of-the-art view of the application of modern genetic and genomic technologies in medical genetics research and diagnostics, and in delivery of a high quality genetics service to patients, as well as in design of targeted therapies.

Why this programme

◾This is a fully up-to-date Medical Genetics degree delivered by dedicated, multi-award-winning teaching and clinical staff of the University, with considerable input from hospital-based Regional Genetics Service clinicians and clinical scientists.
◾The full spectrum of genetic services is represented, from patient and family counselling to diagnostic testing of individuals and screening of entire populations for genetic conditions: eg the NHS prenatal and newborn screening programmes.
◾The MSc Medical Genetics Course is based on the south side of the River Clyde in the brand new (2015) purpose built Teaching & Learning Centre, at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospitals (we are located 4 miles from the main University Campus). The Centre also houses state of the art educational resources, including a purpose built teaching laboratory, computing facilities and a well equipped library. The West of Scotland Genetic Services are also based here at the Queen Elizabeth Campus allowing students to learn directly from NHS staff about the latest developments to this service.
◾The Medical Genetics MSc Teaching Staff have won the 2014 UK-wide Prospects Postgraduate Awards for the category of Best Postgraduate Teaching Team (Science, Technology & Engineering). These awards recognise and reward excellence and good practice in postgraduate education.
◾The close collaboration between university and hospital staff ensures that the Medical Genetics MSc provides a completely up-to-date representation of the practice of medical genetics and you will have the opportunity to observe during clinics and visit the diagnostic laboratories at the new Southern General Hospital laboratory medicine building.
◾The Medical Genetics degree explores the effects of mutations and variants as well as the current techniques used in NHS genetics laboratory diagnostics and recent developments in diagnostics (including microarray analysis and the use of massively parallel [“next-generation”] sequencing).
◾New developments in medical genetics are incorporated into the lectures and interactive teaching sessions very soon after they are presented at international meetings or published, and you will gain hands-on experience and guidance in using software and online resources for genetic diagnosis and for the evaluation of pathogenesis of DNA sequence variants.
◾You will develop your skills in problem solving, experimental design, evaluation and interpretation of experimental data, literature searches, scientific writing, oral presentations, poster presentations and team working.
◾This MSc programme will lay the academic foundations on which some students may build in pursuing research at PhD level in genetics or related areas of biomedical science or by moving into related careers in diagnostic services.
◾The widely used textbook “Essential Medical Genetics” is co-authored by a member of the core teaching team, Professor Edward Tobias.
◾For doctors: The Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians’ Training Board (JRCPTB) in the UK recognises the MSc in Medical Genetics and Genomics (which was established in 1984) as counting for six months of the higher specialist training in Clinical Genetics.
◾The Medical Council of Hong Kong recognises the MSc in Medical Genetics and Genomics from University of Glasgow in it's list of Quotable Qualifications.

Programme structure

Genetic Disease: from the Laboratory to the Clinic

This course is designed in collaboration with the West of Scotland Regional Genetics Service to give students a working knowledge of the principles and practice of Medical Genetics and Genomics which will allow them to evaluate, choose and interpret appropriate genetic investigations for individuals and families with genetic disease. The link from genotype to phenotype, will be explored, with consideration of how this knowledge might contribute to new therapeutic approaches.

Case Investigations in Medical Genetics and Genomics

Students will work in groups to investigate complex clinical case scenarios: decide appropriate testing, analyse results from genetic tests, reach diagnoses where appropriate and, with reference to the literature, generate a concise and critical group report.

Clinical Genomics

Students will take this course OR Omic Technologies for Biomedical Sciences OR Frontiers in Cancer Science.

This course will provide an overview of the clinical applications of genomic approaches to human disorders, particularly in relation to clinical genetics, discussion the methods and capabilities of the new technologies. Tuition and hands-on experience in data analysis will be provided, including the interpretation of next generation sequencing reports.

Omic technologies for the Biomedical Sciences: from Genomics to Metabolomics

Students will take this course OR Clinical Genomics OR Frontiers in Cancer Science.

Visit the website for further information

Career prospects

Research: About half of our graduates enter a research career and most of these graduates undertake and complete PhDs; the MSc in Medical Genetics and Genomics facilitates acquisition of skills relevant to a career in research in many different bio-molecular disciplines.

Diagnostics: Some of our graduates enter careers with clinical genetic diagnostic services, particularly in molecular genetics and cytogenetics.

Clinical genetics: Those of our graduates with a prior medical / nursing training often utilise their new skills in careers as clinical geneticists or genetic counsellors.

Other: Although the focus of teaching is on using the available technologies for the purpose of genetic diagnostics, many of these technologies are used in diverse areas of biomedical science research and in forensic DNA analysis. Some of our numerous graduates, who are now employed in many countries around the world, have entered careers in industry, scientific publishing, education and medicine.

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The MSc in Genetic and Genomic Counselling is designed to give students a working knowledge of the principles and practice of Genetic Counselling which will qualify them to practice as Genetic and Genomic Counsellors. Read more
The MSc in Genetic and Genomic Counselling is designed to give students a working knowledge of the principles and practice of Genetic Counselling which will qualify them to practice as Genetic and Genomic Counsellors. The programme will be delivered by University of Glasgow staff in collaboration with NHS staff from the West of Scotland Genetics Service, so that a current perspective on both laboratory diagnostics and clinical services will be obtained. This programme is accredited by the UK Genetic Counsellor Registration Board.

Why this programme

-◾Teaching is based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), which includes adult services, children’s services and maternity services, as well as one of the largest diagnostic laboratories in Europe, and a new, purpose-built teaching and learning facility. The close collaboration between University and NHS staff ensures that the MSc in Genetic and Genomic Counselling provides a completely up-to-date representation of genetic services.
◾Counselling and psychology theoretical and research-focused courses are delivered by University staff trained in psychology, providing a firm foundation for the subsequent acquisition of knowledge and skills in genetic counselling facilitated by GCRB-registered Genetic Counsellors.
◾The University of Glasgow Medical Genetics Teaching Staff won the 2014 UK-wide Prospects Postgraduate Awards for the category of Best Postgraduate Teaching Team (Science, Technology & Engineering), to recognise and reward excellence and good practice; they were also finalists in the 2013 awards and are finalists in the category of "Outstanding support for students" in The Herald Higher Education Awards for Scotland in association with UWS 2016.
◾You will develop your skills in problem solving, evaluation and interpretation of diagnostic data, communication of the results of genome testing to patients, literature searches, scientific writing, oral presentations, poster presentations and team working.
◾The widely used textbook “Essential Medical Genetics” is co-authored by a member of the core teaching team, Professor Edward Tobias.

Programme structure

Component courses are as follows:

Genetic Disease in Clinical Practice

This course is designed in collaboration with the West of Scotland Genetics Service to give students a working knowledge of the principles and practice of Clinical Genetics which will allow them to evaluate, choose and interpret appropriate genetic investigations for individuals and families with genetic disease, and explore the links between genotype and phenotype.

Case Investigations in Medical Genetics

Students will work in groups to investigate complex clinical case scenarios: decide appropriate testing, analyse results from genetic tests, reach diagnoses where appropriate and, with reference to the literature, generate a concise and critical group report.

Distress or disorder: reactions to a medical diagnosis

Note: this 10 credit course may be taken by visiting students, for example as professional development.

This course outlines the process of psychosocial adjustment to a diagnosis or test result allowing participants to establish if and when a distress reaction develops into an adjustment disorder. The implications of diagnosis are explored and evidence considered allowing informed decisions about appropriate referrals to other agencies.

Patient empowerment: supporting decisions relating to new diagnoses

Note: this 10 credit course may be taken by visiting students, for example as professional development.

This course reflects on evidence and experience to explore the psychological and social impact of a diagnosis, or illness, and provides strategies to support resilience and coping in patients. Factors related to lived experience, personal beliefs and values, culture, adjustment processes, decision-making, misconceptions, secrecy and guilt are considered to equip participants in the promotion of patient-centred care.

Effective listening and communication skills

Note: this 10 credit course may be taken by visiting students, for example as professional development.

With a focus on experiential learning and student led study, this course outlines the role of counselling skills to facilitate adjustment and to allow an individual to come to terms with change in a safe way to minimise impact. The focus will be on the theory supporting counselling, developing key listening and communication skills and on establishing reflective practice.

Genetic counselling in clinical practice

This course is designed in collaboration with the West of Scotland Clinical Service, and will be delivered by NHS staff, to provide students with in depth understanding of the practical skills required in genetic counselling. The course will facilitate development of appropriate critical understanding, reflective practice and skills in relation to genetic counselling for providing accurate complex genetic information for patients and their families.

Social science research methods

The research methods course will focus on developing students’ research skills primarily in questionnaire-based qualitative and quantitative observational research methods and students will be introduced to ethics procedures for the college of MVLS.

Community placements 1 & 2

These placements, for 16 days and 20 days respectively, will each take place in one or more care settings for individuals with complex needs (adults or children or both) to enable students to gain insight into effects of complex needs on affected individuals and on their family.

Genetic counselling placement 1 & 2

These placements, for eight weeks and six weeks respectively, in different genetics centres will allow students to observe clinical practice in a variety of contexts, and to undertake relevant tasks under supervision within a clinical team that is delivering a genetic service, to enable the student to develop their own skills as a future genetic counsellor. Following each placement students will discuss and share experiences, facilitated by one of the NHS lead team and a counselling supervisor, to further develop their ability to deal with practical and emotional challenges in genetic counselling.

Clinical genomics

This course will provide an overview of the clinical applications of genomic approaches to human disorders, particularly in relation to clinical genetics, discussing the methods and capabilities of the new technologies. Tuition and hands-on experience in data analysis will be provided, including the interpretation of next generation sequencing reports.

Career prospects

The programme aims to provide students with skills to work as Genetic Counsellors. This programme is accredited by the Genetic Counsellor Registration Board (GCRB) producing graduates who are eligible for entry as a ‘trainee genetic counsellor’.

Read less
The increasing impact of genetics in healthcare and the development of newer sophisticated technologies requires close collaboration between research scientists, clinical laboratory scientists and clinicians to deliver a high quality service to patients. Read more

The increasing impact of genetics in healthcare and the development of newer sophisticated technologies requires close collaboration between research scientists, clinical laboratory scientists and clinicians to deliver a high quality service to patients. The Clinical Genetics MSc has a specific focus on delivery of the clinical service to patients including risk analysis and application of modern genetic and genomic technologies in medical genetics research and in diagnostics and population screening.

Why This Programme

  • This is a fully up-to-date Clinical Genetics degree delivered by dedicated, multi-award-winning teaching and clinical staff of the University, with considerable input from hospital-based Regional Genetics Service clinicians and clinical scientists.
  • The full spectrum of genetic services is represented, from patient and family counselling to diagnostic testing of individuals and screening of entire populations for genetic conditions: eg the NHS prenatal and newborn screening programmes.
  • The Clinical Genetics MSc Teaching Staff won the 2014 UK-wide Prospects Postgraduate Awards for the category of Best Postgraduate Teaching Team (Science, Technology & Engineering). These awards recognise and reward excellence and good practice in postgraduate education. 
  • The close collaboration between university and hospital staff ensures that the Clinical Genetics MSc provides a completely up-to-date representation of the practice of medical genetics and you will have the opportunity to observe during clinics at the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital laboratory medicine building.
  • The Clinical Genetics degree explores the effects of mutations and variants as well as the theoretically basis of current techniques used in NHS genetics laboratory diagnostics and recent developments in diagnostics (including microarray analysis and the use of massively parallel [“next-generation”] sequencing).
  • New developments in genetics are incorporated into the lectures and interactive teaching sessions very soon after they are presented at international meetings or published, and you will gain hands-on experience and guidance in using software and online resources for genetic diagnosis and for the evaluation of pathogenesis of DNA sequence variants.
  • You will develop your skills in problem solving, evaluation and interpretation of genetic data, literature searches, scientific writing, oral presentations, poster presentations and team working.
  • This MSc programme will lay the academic foundations on which some students with prior MBChB or MBBS may build in pursuing careers in Clinical Genetics.
  • The widely used textbook “Essential Medical Genetics” is co-authored by a member of the core teaching team, Professor Edward Tobias.
  • For doctors: The Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians’ Training Board (JRCPTB) in the UK recognises the MSc in Clinical Genetics (which was established in 1984) as counting for six months of the higher specialist training in Clinical Genetics.

Programme Structure

Genetic Disease and Clinical Practice

This course is designed in collaboration with the West of Scotland Regional Genetics Service to give students a working knowledge of the principles and practice of Clinical Genetics and Genomics which will allow them to evaluate, choose and interpret appropriate genetic investigations for individuals and families with genetic disease. The link from genotype to phenotype, will be explored, with consideration of how this knowledge might contribute to new therapeutic approaches.

Distress or Disorder: Reactions to a medical diagnosis

This course outlines the process of psychosocial adjustment to a diagnosis or test result allowing participants to establish if and when a distress reaction develops into an adjustment disorder. The implications of diagnosis are explored and evidence considered allowing informed decisions about appropriate referrals to other agencies.

Patient Empowerment: Supporting decisions relating to new diagnoses

This course reflects on evidence and experience to explore the psychological and social impact of a diagnosis, or illness, and provides strategies to support resilience and coping in patients. Factors related to lived experience, personal beliefs and values, culture, adjustment processes, decision-making, misconceptions, secrecy and guilt are considered to equip participants in the promotion of patient-centred care.

Effective listening and communication skills

With a focus on experiential learning and student led study, this course outlines the role of counselling skills to facilitate adjustment and to allow an individual to come to terms with change in a safe way to minimise impact. The focus will be on the theory supporting counselling, developing key listening and communication skills and on establishing reflective practice.

Case Investigations in Medical Genetics and Genomics

Students will work in groups to investigate complex clinical case scenarios: decide appropriate testing, analyse results from genetic tests, reach diagnoses where appropriate and, with reference to the literature, generate a concise and critical group report.

Clinical Genomics

This course will provide an overview of the clinical applications of genomic approaches to human disorders, particularly in relation to clinical genetics, discussion the methods and capabilities of the new technologies. Tuition and hands-on experience in data analysis will be provided, including the interpretation of next generation sequencing reports.

Disease Screening in Populations

This course will cover the rationale for, and requirements of, population screening programmes to detect individuals at high risk of particular conditions, who can then be offered diagnostic investigations. Students will work in groups to investigate and report on, a screening programme of their choice from any country.

Dissertation

The course will provide students with the opportunity to carry out an independent investigative project in the field of Medical Genetics and Genomics.

Teaching and Learning Methods

A variety of methods are used, including problem-based learning, case-based learning, lectures and tutorials. These are supplemented by a wide range of course-specific electronic resources for additional learning and self-assessment. As a result, you will develop a wide range of skills relevant to careers in clinical genetics. These skills include team-working and data interpretation. You will use the primary scientific literature as an information resource, although textbooks such as our own Essential Medical Genetics will also be useful. You will have the options of: attending genetic counselling clinics and gaining hands-on experience and guidance in using software and online resources for genetic diagnosis and for the evaluation of pathogenicity of DNA sequence variants.

Career Prospects

This programme would be beneficial for anyone with a previous MBChB or similar degree, and would facilitate a career as a Clinical Geneticist.



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The need to develop new strategies to combat diseases remains a major global challenge. This degree aims to enhance your employability and prepare you to tackle this challenge. Read more

The need to develop new strategies to combat diseases remains a major global challenge. This degree aims to enhance your employability and prepare you to tackle this challenge.

We’ll give you advanced training in the mechanisms underpinning a spectrum of infectious and non-infectious diseases, including viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, cancer, neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease and chromosomal abnormalities. You’ll also explore current and emerging diagnostic and treatment strategies.

You’ll learn about the latest molecular, genetic and cellular approaches being used to understand, diagnose and treat human disease, including traditional methods such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and novel methods involving genome and proteome analysis.

You’ll also have the opportunity to investigate the role of the immune system in the response to infection and disease, covering topics such as innate and adaptive immunity, allergy and immune evasion.

If you choose to study at Leeds, you’ll join a faculty ranked 6th in the UK for its research impact in the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), and you’ll graduate with the solid base of scientific knowledge and specialist skills highly valued by employers.

Course content

On this course you’ll gain an overview of a range of modern techniques and methodologies that underpin contemporary biomolecular sciences. You’ll investigate five topic areas: molecular biology, structural biology, cell imaging and flow cytometry, high throughput techniques and transgenic organisms.

You’ll also apply your knowledge to an extended practical investigation in the form of a laboratory-based 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.

To help you to develop and specialise, you’ll get substantial subject-specific training through an independent research project in an area of infection, immunity or human disease.

You’ll also take specialist taught modules covering topics such as infectious and non-infectious disease, advanced immunology, medical diagnostics and treatment of infectious diseases and cancer.

If you have previous experience of immunology, you could opt to investigate the structure, regulation and development of the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, or explore aspects of human toxicology. These could include the actions of toxicants on the cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems, kidneys, liver and lungs, genetic toxicology and chemical carcinogenesis, and the effects of chemicals on fetal development.

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.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Compulsory modules

  • Advanced Immunology 10 credits
  • Infectious & Non-infectious Diseases 10 credits
  • Practical Bioinformatics 10 credits
  • Medical Diagnostics 10 credits
  • MSc Bioscience Research Project Proposal 5 credits
  • Treatment of Infectious Disease and Cancer 10 credits
  • Research Planning and Scientific Communication 10 credits
  • Advanced Biomolecular Technologies 20 credits
  • Protein Engineering Laboratory Project 15 credits
  • Bioscience MSc Research Project 80 credits

For more information on typical modules, read Infection, Immunity and Human Disease MSc in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

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 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.

Assessment

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.

Career opportunities

The strong research element of the Infection, Immunity and Human Disease 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 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:

  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Ernst and Young
  • The Food and Environment Research Agency
  • The Health Protection Agency
  • MedImmune
  • Thermofisher Scientific
  • Hays Life Sciences
  • European Bioinformatics Institute
  • Smaller University spin-out companies, such as Lumora

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.

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.


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Medical Life Sciences is an English-taught two-year Master’s programme in molecular disease research and bridges the gap between the sciences and medical studies. Read more
Medical Life Sciences is an English-taught two-year Master’s programme in molecular disease research and bridges the gap between the sciences and medical studies. You will get to know clinical research from scratch; you will learn how to investigate diseases/disease mechanisms both in ancient and contemporary populations, how to translate research results into prevention, diagnosis and therapies of diseases.
From the basics of medical science to lab experiments for the Master’s thesis, individual scientific training takes first priority. Experimental work in state-of-the-art research labs is essential in Medical Life Sciences; clinical internships, data analysis, lectures, seminars and electives complement the Medical Life Sciences curriculum.
Evolutionary biology will train you in thinking from cause to consequence. Molecular paleopathology and ancient DNA research tell you a lot about disease through human history. These insights help to fight disease today, which is why evolutionary medicine is becoming a cutting-edge research field. Whether you want to focus on ancient populations and paleopathology or on specific disease indications nowadays, here you get the tools and skills to do both.
To lay the foundation for working in medical research, Medical Life Sciences includes courses on clinical manifestations of diseases, molecular pathology and immunology. Hands-on courses in molecular biology, bioinformatics, clinical cell biology, medical statistics, and human genetics broaden your knowledge and make the interfaces between medicine and the sciences visible. You will learn how to acquire knowledge, verify and use it.. That biomedicine has many facets to discover is the great thing that keeps students fascinated and well-equipped for finding a job in academia or the industry.

Focus Areas

From the second semester, you additionally specialise in one of the following focus areas:

INFLAMMATION takes you deep into the molecular mechanisms of chronic inflammatory diseases, the causal network between inflammatory processes and disease, genetics and environment. New research results for prevention, diagnosis and therapy will be presented and discussed. An internship in specialised clinics helps to see how “bed to bench side”, i.e. translational medicine, works.

EVOLUTIONARY MEDICINE looks at how interrelations between humans and their environment have led to current disease susceptibility. Why do we suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity? Is our lifestyle making us sick? Why are certain genetic variants maintained in populations despite their disease risk? Evolutionary medicine focuses on bridging the gap between evolutionary biology and medicine by considering the evolutionary origins of common diseases to help find new biomedical approaches for preventing and treating them.

ONCOLOGY delves deep into molecular research on malignant diseases, the interplay of genetics and environment, cell biology of tumours, and many other aspects. You will achieve a better understanding of unresolved problems and opportunities of current research approaches.

LONGEVITY focuses on molecular mechanisms that seem to counteract the detrimental effect of ageing. The disease resilience and metabolic stability of extraordinarily fit people well over 90 years of age are of special interest. This research is complemented by experiments on model organisms. You will also look at the molecular pathways of ageing, and which role genes and the environment play. How the intricate web of counteracting effects triggering ageing and/or longevity works stands as the central focus of this area.

Scientists and clinicians will make you familiar with these topics in lectures and seminars. You will discuss different research approaches, perspectives and the latest developments in medical research. Lab practicals in state-of-the-art research labs, a lab project, and the experimental Master's thesis will provide ample opportunity to be involved in real-time research projects.

Electives

To widen your perspective, you choose one of three electives designed to complement the focus areas. The schedules are designed so that you can take part in more than one elective if places are available. Tracing Disease through Time looks at disease etiology by analysing biomolecules, diets and pathogens in archaeological specimens. You may opt for Epidemiology to immerse yourself in epidemiological approaches with special emphasis on cardiovascular diseases, one of the greatest health threats in modern societies. Another option is Molecular Imaging, which gives you insight into the world of high-tech imaging in medical research.

Additional electives such as Neurology, Tissue Engineering or Epithelial Barrier Functions and Soft Skills courses such as Project Management, Career Orientation and English Scientific Writing are integrated into the curriculum.

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The Institute of Genetic Medicine brings together a strong team with an interest in clinical and developmental genetics. Our research focuses on the causes of genetic disease at the molecular and cellular level and its treatment. Read more
The Institute of Genetic Medicine brings together a strong team with an interest in clinical and developmental genetics. Our research focuses on the causes of genetic disease at the molecular and cellular level and its treatment. Research areas include: genetic medicine, developmental genetics, neuromuscular and neurological genetics, mitochondrial genetics and cardiovascular genetics.

As a research postgraduate in the Institute of Genetic Medicine you will be a member of our thriving research community. The Institute is located in Newcastle’s Life Science Centre. You will work alongside a number of research, clinical and educational organisations, including the Northern Genetics Service.

We offer supervision for MPhil in the following research areas:

Cancer genetics and genome instability

Our research includes:
-A major clinical trial for chemoprevention of colon cancer
-Genetic analyses of neuroblastoma susceptibility
-Research into Wilms Tumour (a childhood kidney cancer)
-Studies on cell cycle regulation and genome instability

Cardiovascular genetics and development

We use techniques of high-throughput genetic analyses to identify mechanisms where genetic variability between individuals contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. We also use mouse, zebrafish and stem cell models to understand the ways in which particular gene families' genetic and environmental factors are involved in the normal and abnormal development of the heart and blood vessels.

Complex disease and quantitative genetics

We work on large-scale studies into the genetic basis of common diseases with complex genetic causes, for example autoimmune disease, complex cardiovascular traits and renal disorders. We are also developing novel statistical methods and tools for analysing this genetic data.

Developmental genetics

We study genes known (or suspected to be) involved in malformations found in newborn babies. These include genes involved in normal and abnormal development of the face, brain, heart, muscle and kidney system. Our research includes the use of knockout mice and zebrafish as laboratory models.

Gene expression and regulation in normal development and disease

We research how gene expression is controlled during development and misregulated in diseases, including the roles of transcription factors, RNA binding proteins and the signalling pathways that control these. We conduct studies of early human brain development, including gene expression analysis, primary cell culture models, and 3D visualisation and modelling.

Genetics of neurological disorders

Our research includes:
-The identification of genes that in isolation can cause neurological disorders
-Molecular mechanisms and treatment of neurometabolic disease
-Complex genetics of common neurological disorders including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease
-The genetics of epilepsy

Kidney genetics and development

Kidney research focuses on:
-Atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aHUS)
-Vesicoureteric reflux (VUR)
-Cystic renal disease
-Nephrolithiasis to study renal genetics

The discovery that aHUS is a disease of complement dysregulation has led to a specific interest in complement genetics.

Mitochondrial disease

Our research includes:
-Investigation of the role of mitochondria in human disease
-Nuclear-mitochondrial interactions in disease
-The inheritance of mitochondrial DNA heteroplasmy
-Mitochondrial function in stem cells

Neuromuscular genetics

The Neuromuscular Research Group has a series of basic research programmes looking at the function of novel muscle proteins and their roles in pathogenesis. Recently developed translational research programmes are seeking therapeutic targets for various muscle diseases.

Stem cell biology

We research human embryonic stem (ES) cells, germline stem cells and somatic stem cells. ES cell research is aimed at understanding stem cell pluripotency, self-renewal, survival and epigenetic control of differentiation and development. This includes the functional analysis of genes involved in germline stem cell proliferation and differentiation. Somatic stem cell projects include programmes on umbilical cord blood stem cells, haematopoietic progenitors, and limbal stem cells.

Pharmacy

Our new School of Pharmacy has scientists and clinicians working together on all aspects of pharmaceutical sciences and clinical pharmacy.

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The science of human genetics has been transformed in the past decade. Following the sequencing of the entire human genome, a wealth of resources is now available to researchers aiming to identify the genetic variants that influence human health. Read more
The science of human genetics has been transformed in the past decade. Following the sequencing of the entire human genome, a wealth of resources is now available to researchers aiming to identify the genetic variants that influence human health. These findings will shed light on the underlying molecular pathology of many diseases that are poorly understood at present, eventually paving the way for novel treatment and prevention strategies. The speed at which these discoveries are being made is accelerating, and it is likely that molecular genetics will soon underpin much of modern medicine.

Career Pathways:
The MSc in Human Molecular Genetics programme is designed to prepare you for a genetics research career, either in human gene function and genetic disease, or molecular approaches to diagnosis and health care biotechnology. It provides a broad grounding in Human Genetics, with emphasis on molecular aspects, to give a solid basis for subsequent academic or industrial research, or for entry to NHS Genetics training. Approximately 40% of our students go on to do a PhD, 40% become research assistants/associates, while others go on to jobs in industry or further studies (bioinformatics/computing medicine). One or two students every year enter the NHS in clinical genetics training posts.

Programme Structure:
You will study the fundamentals of human and molecular genetics, models of inheritance for rare and common/ complex polygenic diseases, cytogenetics, analytical methods in human genetics and genomics, animal models and transgenesis, gene therapy, epigenetics, cancer genetics and an introduction to clinical genetics and genetic counselling services.

There are four weeks of intensive laboratory practical sessions, as well as computer science practicals applied to problems in genetics, genomics and bioinformatics, regular research seminars on site, student seminar and journal presentations, study group activities and a six-month full-time research project in the summer.

The programme is based on an average 20 hours contact time per week. This will vary between 15 hours in most weeks and approximately 40 hours during intensive practicals and projects. Private study time is included within the schedule: you are expected to contribute an additional 10-15 hours private study per week to the course. We do not recommend you try to support yourself by taking a part-time employment whilst studying as your work may suffer.

Assessment:
There are 3 x 3-hour written papers in late February, coursework assessments (poster presentation, analytical methods in genetics, oral presentation), a project report and a viva examination in September.

Programme Location:
The programme is primarily based at Hammersmith Campus in West London although some teaching modules are held at St Mary's Campus and the Northwick Park Campus.

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There is a separate entry on admission to the P.Grad.Dip. in Molecular Medicine. Read more
There is a separate entry on admission to the P.Grad.Dip. in Molecular Medicine.

This course aims to give participants an indepth understanding of the emerging field of molecular medicine which draws together developments in molecular and cellular biology to describe disease processes at a functional level - that of molecular interactions.

The course aims to provide students with an understanding of the molecular basis of human disease and its implications for the practice of clinical medicine and research in the life sciences. The course will ensure that students from all disciplines have the skills necessary to conduct research and critically evaluate the scientific and medical literature.

The course includes lectures on cellular biology and molecular genetics as they apply generally to normal cell and tissue function and to disease processes. Modules on molecular signalling and therapeutics, bioinformatics and ethical-legal aspects of the discipline are included, as well as literature reviews, laboratory practicals and a laboratory project.

The course is available in a one-year, full-time and a two-year, part-time format. It consists of lectures on cellular biology and molecular genetics as they apply generally to normal cell and tissue function and more specifically to disease processes such as cancer, immune dysfunction, and diseases with an inherited component. The course content includes molecular signalling and therapeutics, molecular and population genetics, nanoscience, and high content cell analysis. There is a core, 'Research Skills' module which encompasses bioinformatics and ethical-legal aspects of the emerging discipline, literature reviews, and laboratory practicals in basic molecular and cellular techniques. Candidates will complete a laboratory project of three months (full-time) or six months (part-time) duration. Candidates must also complete the taught module, Molecular Mechanisms of Human Disease I. This course provides the applicant with state-of-the-art information and critical analysis of: The human genome at a molecular level, the integration of molecular and cellular biology in relation to human diseases; the molecular basis of human genetic disease; the molecular interactions between microbiological pathogens and the human host; the technology currently employed in researching molecular medicine; the molecular basis of common human inflammatory diseases and malignancies; the utilisation of knowledge on the molecular basis of human disease in planning and design of novel therapies, using pharmacological agents or gene therapy; the ethical and legal aspects of molecular medicine as it impinges on clinical practice. You will also gain a working appreciation of molecular and cellular biology at the practical level and development of the ability to perform independent research with the ability to apply bioinformatic and computational techniques in medical and biological research, and information retrieval. The student is examined on the basis of a submitted critical literature review essay, a written examination, assessment of laboratory practicals and the writing of a dissertation based on a research project. Candidates from health science (medical, dental, veterinary), biological science and other science disciplines (e.g. chemical or pharmacy), are invited to apply.

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Molecular Biology with Biotechnology (MSc). This taught MSc course in the School of Biological Sciences provides intensive training in this important area of Biology and is designed both for fresh graduates and for those wishing to develop and extend their expertise in this area. Read more
Molecular Biology with Biotechnology (MSc)

This taught MSc course in the School of Biological Sciences provides intensive training in this important area of Biology and is designed both for fresh graduates and for those wishing to develop and extend their expertise in this area. The course has a strong practical emphasis and will provide the advanced theoretical and practical background necessary for employment in the Biotechnology industry, as well as equipping students with the knowledge required to pursue advanced studies in this area.
Course structure

The course consists of a taught component and a Research project. During the taught phase of the degree, you will take modules in Marine Biotechnology, Molecular and Medical Laboratory Techniques, Techniques of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology; Systems Biology; Plant Biotechnology, Environmental Biotechnology and Medical Biotechnology.

Topics covered in these modules will include Agrobacterium Ti plasmid based plant transformation vectors and the development of transgenic crops; the use and interpretation of microarrays and proteome systems; the development of transgenic fish and the diagnosis of fish diseases using molecular markers; bioremediation, biomining and the use of bacteria to degrade novel organic pollutants; stem cell technologies and the diagnosis of genetic disease using single nucleotide polymorphisms. image of students in the labDuring this part of the course, you will also take part in intensive laboratory exercises designed to introduce you to essential techniques in molecular biology and biotechnology including nucleic acid and protein extraction, PCR and QTL analysis, northern, southern and western blotting etc. In addition, most of the taught theory modules will have an associated practical component. The Research project will take place during the summer and will be conducted under the direct supervision of one of the staff involved in teaching the course. Students will be able to choose their Research project from a wide range of topics which will be related to the taught material.

Career options

The 21st century post genomics era offers a wide range of job opportunities in the agricultural, medical, pharmaceutical, aquaculture, forensics and environmental science areas. The rapidly developing economies of China and India in particular have recognised the enormous opportunities offered by Biotechnology. Job openings in sales and marketing with companies who have a science base are also common. Some graduates will also choose to extend their knowledge base by undertaking PhD programmes in relevant areas.

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Research profile. The MRC Human Genetics Unit discovers how changes in our DNA impact our lives. We combine the latest computational and experimental technologies to investigate how our genomes work to control the function of molecules, cells and tissues in people and populations. Read more

Research profile

The MRC Human Genetics Unit discovers how changes in our DNA impact our lives.

We combine the latest computational and experimental technologies to investigate how our genomes work to control the function of molecules, cells and tissues in people and populations. For more than half a century our research has been dedicated to understanding human genetic disease.

Today we continue to apply our clinical and scientific expertise, harnessing the power of complex data, to improve health, and the lives of patients and their families. As well as delivering outstanding research, the institute creates a vibrant scientific community and a friendly research environment rich in both scientific and social opportunities.

Our PhD and MSc programmes harness strengths in different research disciplines (genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry and cell biology) tied to our scientific themes (disease mechanisms, biomedical genomics and genome regulation). Our programmes also provides a strong focus on computational biology, and state of the art imaging as part of the Edinburgh Super-Resolution Imaging Consortium. Over 30 principal investigators based in the MRC HGU contribute to these cross-disciplinary programmes spanning fundamental to clinical research.

The MRC Human Genetics unit offers 3 and 4 year PhD projects, please visit our programme website for current opportunities, and further details.

Entry requirements are described below and different PhD projects have different funding restrictions. To apply for any of our PhD programmes please select one of the buttons and dates to the right (For 4 year programmes, please select “3-year”).



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The practice of medicine, especially in the disciplines of Pathology and Genetics is increasingly reliant on Genomic technology. Read more

The practice of medicine, especially in the disciplines of Pathology and Genetics is increasingly reliant on Genomic technology. The aim of this programme is to increase the knowledge and capability of scientific and clinical staff using genetic data in their daily work allowing them to engage confidently with the scientific concepts of Molecular Pathology and Genomic Medicine, and to use their skills to improve patient care. The programme could also provide a foundation for those students interested in developing a clinical academic career.

The University of Edinburgh is at the forefront of Genomic Technology. To adequately realise the potential of these technologies in a diagnostic setting this programme will cover the scientific underpinning and clinical application of genomic technology to enable clinicians and scientists to provide maximum benefit to patients.

The programme will provide a structured environment for students wishing to develop cutting edge knowledge and practical skills in Clinical Genomics and Molecular Pathology. The programme structure is designed around three central themes: scientific foundation, diagnostics, and patient management and treatment.

Programme structure

The PG Cert is comprised of four compulsory courses, totalling 60 credits.

Students will learn via a mixture of guided online activities, in-person tutorials, and in course four, an extended project. In addition to structured learning, students are expected to conduct independent study and read around the subject area.

Students will develop their critical analysis skills through evaluation of primary research articles and reviews. Students will learn how to perform variant analysis and next generation sequencing data analysis using relevant bioinformatics tools. Students can also expect to develop the communication skills required for interacting with the major stakeholders of genomic information: clinical scientists, doctors and patients.

Teaching is performed by a variety of staff who are leaders in their field, as well as experienced educators. The core teaching team is comprised of staff from the NHS Lothian Clinical Genetics Service and Pathology departments. Additional teaching is performed by clinical and scientific staff from across Edinburgh University and the UK. In addition, the programme has a dedicated teaching teaching fellow, who will provide academic and pastoral support throughout all courses.

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD)

Aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course(s), without the time or financial commitment of a full Postgraduate Certificate.

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit. Alternatively, after one year of taking courses you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to studying towards a higher award on the Postgraduate Certificate programme. Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Learning outcomes

  1. Explain how genetic variation is involved in human disease and the development of cancer
  2. Critically evaluate molecular pathology diagnostics and select the appropriate diagnostic for disease stratification to determine patient treatment
  3. Analyse next generation sequence data in the context of germline mutations that cause human genetic disease, and somatic mutations involved in cancer
  4. Understand how genetic variation can be a major determinant of patient treatment and apply this knowledge to clinical scenarios in Genomic Medicine and Molecular Pathology

The programme will adopt a blended learning format, with teaching delivered via online as a eLectures and interviews, in-person tutorials, and online interactive content.

Programme materials and resources will all be available in the virtual learning environment, Learn. Learn provides an interactive forum for students to engage with other learners and the programme teaching staff. Multiple feedback opportunities will be integrated within each course and will comprise of weekly interactive online quizzes, discussion boards and office hours. In-person tutorials will also represent an important feedback opportunity for students. Assessment will vary slightly with each course, common assessment modalities include structured written assignments, presentations and data analysis reports.

Career opportunities

The programme is aimed primarily at NHS laboratory and clinical staff. It is designed for anyone wishing to expand their understanding of molecular pathology and how it applies to clinical diagnostics. The PG Cert will be of use to a wide range of individuals as it can be used to support FRC Path, Clinical Scientist Development and Genetic Technologist Registration. It can be used as a component of STP and could potentially contribute the first 60 credits of MSc. It will also provide the scientific underpinning for Genetic Counselling.



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Neuroscience is a discipline concerned with the scientific study of the nervous system in health and disease. Research in the neurosciences is of considerable clinical impact considering the debilitating and costly effects of neurological and psychiatric disease. Read more
Neuroscience is a discipline concerned with the scientific study of the nervous system in health and disease. Research in the neurosciences is of considerable clinical impact considering the debilitating and costly effects of neurological and psychiatric disease. In this regard, a major goal of modern neuroscience research is to elucidate the underlying causes (genetic or environmental) of major brain diseases, and to produce more effective treatments for major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and depression, and neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, motor neurone disease and epilepsy. Improved treatment strategies for brain disorders relies entirely on increased understanding gained from research which integrates molecular, cellular and clinical aspects of disease. In this regard it is clear that interdisciplinary approaches are necessary to understand the complex processes which underlie brain function in health and disease. This interdisciplinary philosophy is adopted in the delivery of our M.Sc. programme in Neuroscience, which is underpinned by the diverse research expertise available within Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN).

Course Content:

This one-year M.Sc. course aims to provide a multidisciplinary training in the neurosciences, in topics ranging from molecular to behavioural. The course is ideal for students wishing to extend their specialised knowledge, and for those wishing to convert from their original degree discipline. The programme will equip participants with the skills necessary to progress into a career in biomedical, pharmaceutical or neuropsychological research. Instruction for the course consists of approximately 200 contact hours over two academic Terms to include lectures, laboratory practical sessions, journal club workshops and student-based seminars. Modules are assessed by a mixture of in course assessment and written examinations.

Specialist modules covered include:

Form and Function of the Nervous System, Biochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology, Neuropharmacology, Drug Development, Advanced Neuroimmunology, Experimental Neuroscience, Scientific Literature Skills, Neural Engineering, Neuroimaging Technology, Current Topics in Neuroscience, Cellular Neuroscience, and Research Skills.

The third Term consists of a research project on novel aspects of Neuroscience. Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience is a dynamic research environment with research spanning molecular/cellular neuroscience to clinical/translational neuroscience. Projects across these research areas may be undertaken in consultation with an expert supervisor. For students interested in a project in cellular/molecular neuroscience a range of cellular techniques such as tissue culture, immunocytochemistry, western immunobloting and immunoprecipitation, confocal microscopy, Immunoassays, flow cytometry, Real-time PCR, and high performance liquid chromatography are available. In addition, some projects will involve assessing behavioural, electrophysiological and neurochemical endpoints using in vivo models of neurological and psychiatric disease. For those with an interest in experimentation on human subjects, projects will be offered utilizing techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging and neurocognitive testing. A selection of national and international projects is also available, which involve collaboration with other academic institutes and pharmaceutical companies, in Ireland, UK and across Europe.

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