Masters degrees in Botany train postgraduates in the purpose of plant classification, including an understanding of their physiology and structure through identification and taxonomy. Consideration is also given to plant ecology, the biosphere, and economic importance.
Programmes in this field are typically taught MSc courses, though research oriented MRes and MPhil courses may also be available at some institutions.
Courses in this area offer a wide range of specialisations, including Ethnobotany, Systematic Botany, Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement. A mixture of practical training, academic study and fieldwork will be offered on most courses.
For example, you will likely study topics such as conservation science, biodiversity management, and consumption, exploring these practically through lab testing, experimental growing, molecular methods and geographic information systems (GIS). You will also explore the commercial and business practices within the field, including environmental law and policy, as well as public health and risk management.
Careers may be highly varied depending on your interests. You may wish to branch into agriculture, conservation and wildlife management, or environmental consultancy and policy making for government agencies and NGOs.
The understanding of plant diversity and resources has never been more important. As we face the unprecedented challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, effective environmental surveillance and conservation depend upon detailed knowledge of plants and their habitats.
This programme is run jointly by the University and the world-renowned Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).
This programme is run jointly by the University and the world-renowned Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). The RBGE is home to one of the world’s best living collections of plants (15,000 species across four sites, amounting to five per cent of known world species), a herbarium of three million preserved specimens and one of the UK’s most comprehensive botanical libraries.
RBGE offers collections-based biodiversity research opportunities across a wide spectrum of organisms and geographical regions. This diversity, coupled with the RBGE’s world-leading research in different continents, provides an unrivalled masters programme in plant biodiversity.
This programme is full time and consists of two semesters of lectures, practicals, workshops and investigations, followed by a four-month research project. The programme includes a two-week field course in a tropical country (recently Belize).
The programme is delivered mainly at RBGE but also at the University’s King’s Buildings campus.
There are no option elements to the programme – all courses are compulsory.
Your research project will be chosen in consultation with your supervisor, and will link directly with active research programmes at RBGE or other research institutions.
The field trip, together with training and a short practical exam, qualifies you for the RBGE Certificate in Practical Field Botany.
The programme is good preparation for roles in taxonomy, while many graduates have also continued to PhD studies. Past students have entered a wide variety of jobs at research institutions, conservation agencies and elsewhere.
Please note that all modules are subject to change. Please see our modules disclaimer for more information.
All our master’s programmes emphasise the practical skills that employers need, whether that is the ability to identify plants, carry out environmental assessments or use the latest cutting-edge molecular techniques. As a University of Reading MSc graduate, you will be well equipped to work in the field or the lab, and in the private or public sector. Many of our graduates go on to study for a PhD and pursue a career in research either in industry or in universities.
Typical roles of graduates from our ecology and wildlife-based MSc programmes include conservation officers, project managers, field ecologists and environmental consultants. Graduates from our biomedical MSc programme typically go on to pursue PhD studies or work in the pharmaceutical industry.
Ecology is an important discipline to inform many different environmental management issues which often involve wider impacts being assessed for planning and other purposes. There is an increasing desire to utilise sites which are environmentally sensitive and this puts pressure on ecology and habitat survival. There are many other types of environmental impacts which are often hidden but also affect Ecology such as the many different pollutants which are often highlighted monthly. Species decline is becoming a well known issue globally and the ability to maintain and continue species and grow is important in a declining environment.
The programme comes from a very strong department which has been ranked consistently at number 1 in soil science and soil ecology in the UK (REF 2014). The Master's in Ecology has very solid foundations as it has been taught to generations for over 50 years and with this comes considerable knowledge and experience. With this programme you get a chance to influence how we utilise our environment and manage it to the best ability to preserve our ecology.
Our MSc programme provides flexibility to enable you to gain knowledge and skills to meet your career aspirations, whether in research or as a practicing ecologist. The programme runs through a full year, starting with a field course and culminating in a major research project. You will have the opportunity to gain hands on experience of everything from field survey to chairing discussions, from statistics and modelling to report writing and from identifying important ecological questions to researching them and writing a scientific paper. Previous graduates have gone on to the top of their chosen profession in research, consultancy, conservation, policy, education and advocacy.
Experimental Design and Analysis
Introduction to GIS
Population and Community Ecology
Statistics for Complex Study Designs
Introduction to Ecological Field Research in Northern Scotland
Molecular Ecological Techniques
Soils for Food Security
Introduction to Bayesian Inference
Research Project Planning
Environmental Impact Assessment
Spatial Information Analysis
Marine Spatial Management and Top Predators
Readings in Ecology, Conservation and Environment
Ecology, Conservation and Society
Environmental Management Plan
Applied Forest Ecology
Advanced Modelling for Ecology and Conservation
Project in Ecology
Find out more detail by visiting the programme web page
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*Please be advised that some programmes have different tuition fees from those listed above and that some programmes also have additional costs.
View all funding options on our funding database via the programme page
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In recent years the study of plant sciences has been revolutionised by the development of new tools and technologies which have allowed unprecedented progress in the study of plant biology – knowledge which is being applied to develop sustainable solutions to some of the major challenges of the 21st century.
This course will give you specialist training in the modern molecular aspects of plant science. A large part of your teaching will be delivered by academics from the University’s Centre for Plant Sciences (CPS) linked to the latest research in their areas of expertise.
You’ll explore the wide ranges of approaches used in biomolecular sciences as applied to plant science. This will cover theory and practice of recombinant DNA and protein production, bioimaging using our confocal microscope suite, practical bioinformatics and theories behind ‘omic technologies.
You’ll also learn how to design a programme of research and write a research proposal, read and critically analyse scientific papers in plant science and biotechnology and present the findings. A highlight of the course is your individual 80 credit practical research project.
The course is 100% coursework assessed (although some modules have small in course tests). Our teaching and assessment methods are designed to develop your independent thinking, problem solving, communication skills and practical ability, making you attractive to employers or providing an excellent foundation for further study (eg PhD).
You’ll study in a faculty ranked 6th in the UK for its research impact in the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014).
You’ll study in a stimulating environment which houses extensive facilities developed to support and enhance our faculty’s pioneering research. As well as Faculty operated facilities, the CPS laboratories are well equipped for general plant research. There is also a plant growth unit, including tissue culture suites with culture rooms, growth rooms and flow cabinets alongside transgenic glass-houses to meet a range of growth requirements.
On this course you’ll gain an overview of a range of modern techniques and methodologies that underpin contemporary biomolecular plant sciences.
You’ll also apply your knowledge to an extended practical investigation in the form of a laboratory-based mini project, involving practical training in a range of modern molecular biology and protein engineering techniques such as gene cloning, PCR, mutagenesis, protein expression, protein purification and analysis.
A module on plant biotechnology will address current topics such as the engineering of plants, development of stress-tolerant crop varieties and techniques for gene expression and gene silencing through reading discussion and critical analysis of recent research papers.
You’ll learn from the research of international experts in DNA recombination and repair mechanisms and their importance for transgene integration and biotechnological applications; plant nutrition and intracellular communication; and the biosynthesis, structure and function of plant cell walls.
You’ll also explore the wide range of approaches used in bio-imaging and their relative advantages and disadvantages for analysing protein and cellular function. Bioinformatics and high throughput omic technologies are crucial to plant science research and you will take modules introducing you to these disciplines.
In the final part of the course you'll work on an independent laboratory-based research project related to your course options. You’ll receive extensive training in experimental design, the practical use of advanced techniques and technologies, data analysis and interpretation, and will be assigned a research project supervisor who will support and guide you through your project.
You’ll have access to the very best learning resources and academic support during your studies. We’ve been awarded a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF, 2017), demonstrating our commitment to delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for our students.
Your learning will be heavily influenced by the University’s world-class research as well as our strong links with highly qualified professionals from industry, non-governmental organisations and charities.
You’ll experience a wide range of teaching methods including formal lectures, interactive workshops, problem-solving, practical classes and demonstrations.
Through your research project and specialist plant science modules, you’ll receive substantial subject-specific training. Our teaching and assessment methods are designed to develop you into a scientist who is able to think independently, solve problems, communicate effectively and demonstrate a high level of practical ability.
We use a variety of assessment methods: multiple-choice testing, practical work, data handling and problem solving exercises, group work, discussion groups (face-to-face and online), computer-based simulation, essays, posters and oral presentations.
The strong research element of the Plant Science and Biotechmology MSc, along with the specialist and generic skills you develop, mean you’ll graduate equipped for a wide range of careers.
Our graduates work in a diverse range of areas, ranging from bioscience-related research through to scientific publication, teacher training, health and safety and pharmaceutical market research.
Links with industry
We have a proactive Industrial Advisory Board who advise us on what they look for in graduates and on employability-related skills within our courses.
We collaborate with a wide range of organisations in the public and commercial sectors. Many of these are represented on our Industrial Advisory Board. They include:
Industrial research placements
Some of our partners offer MSc research projects in their organisations, allowing students to develop their commercial awareness and build their network of contacts.
The aim of this programme is to give you a broad-based training in biomedical research, with a focus on cardiovascular science. This includes an introduction to cardiovascular development, the development of cardiovascular disease, organ function and dysfunction, and the cardiovascular system in reproduction and inflammation.
You will gain an integrated view of the physiology and pathology of cardiovascular system from both basic and clinical scientists.
You will attend research seminars and tutorials by senior clinicians and basic scientists, and conduct three research projects in the internationally renowned laboratories of the Centre for Cardiovascular Science.
You will also deliver research-orientated presentations and gain skills in critical reading of scientific literature and in the writing of scientific reports.
Students produce written reports from each of their research projects, which are assessed by two of the Centre’s PIs. The research supervisor also contributes a mark based on performance in the laboratory.
This is the ideal programme for high-calibre students who wish to progress to a PhD in cardiovascular science.