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Biophysics and Molecular Life Sciences MSc

Course Description

Biophysics provides structural and mechanistic insights into the biological world and uses this knowledge to create solutions for major global problems, such as food production, climate change, environmental damage and drug production. It spans the distance between the vast complexity of biological systems and the relative simplicity of the physical laws that govern the universe.

Our Biophysics and Molecular Life Sciences MSc provides interdisciplinary training by bringing together concepts from chemistry, physics and the life sciences. It is taught by staff actively pursuing research in these areas and from members of BrisSynBio, a flagship centre for synthetic biology research in the UK.

The programme gives you an opportunity to gain knowledge and practical experience by studying molecular interactions and mechanisms at the level of the cell to the single molecule. Topics for study include molecular structure determination, dynamic molecular mechanisms, molecular simulation, molecular design and single-molecule technologies. You can also choose an additional unit that reflects your personal interests, allowing you to broaden your knowledge of biomedical subjects whilst focusing on biophysics. You will also learn about the commercialisation of research outcomes, including intellectual property, setting up a business, getting investment, marketing and legal issues.

Graduates from this programme will be well-prepared for a PhD programme in biophysics or related fields. Additionally, the numerical, problem-solving, research and communication skills gained on this programme are highly desired by employers in a variety of industries.

Robust evidence is the cornerstone of science and on this programme you will gain research experience in laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, including atomic force and electron microscopy, biological and chemical NMR, x-ray crystallography and mass spectrometry.

Your learning will be supported throughout the programme in regular, small-group tutorials.

Programme structure

Core units
Biophysics and Molecular Life Sciences I
-The unit begins with a short series of lectures that introduce the general area of molecular life sciences for the non-specialist. The remaining lectures cover a variety of molecular spectroscopies, molecular structure determination, an introduction to systems approaches using proteomics, and the mechanistic characterisation of biomolecules using a variety of biophysical techniques.

Biophysics and Molecular Life Sciences II
-The unit describes highly specialised techniques at the interface of physics, chemistry and the life sciences. This includes techniques for studying biomolecules at the level of a single-molecule, synthetic biology, bioinformatics and molecular simulations.

Core Skills
-A series of practical classes, lecture-based teaching sessions, and tutorials that prepare you for the practical project, provide a foundation for further studies and develop a range of transferable skills.

Literary Project
-An extended essay on a subject chosen from an extensive list covering the topics described above. You work independently under the guidance of a member of staff.

Project Proposal and Research Project
-You work independently under the guidance of a member of staff to produce a written project proposal. This is followed by a 12-week research project investigating your chosen topic. The research project forms the basis for a dissertation.

Lecture-based option
You will study one lecture-based unit from:
-Cancer Biology
-Cardiovascular Research
-The Dynamic Cell
-Infection, Immunology and Immunity


Typically, biophysics careers are laboratory-based, conducting original research within academia, a government agency or private industry, although the transferable skills gained on the course are ideal for many other careers outside of science, including business and finance.

Visit the Biophysics and Molecular Life Sciences MSc page on the University of Bristol website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Anna Meletiou

5277.jpg As a city, I chose Bristol because I was told it is a nice place to live in the UK. After seeing some photos on the internet, I knew I was going to like living here. I chose the University of Bristol because it is a very well-established university, full of opportunities and great staff.

The research opportunities and the lab facilities are amazing. I didn't have the chance to work in a Biochemistry lab before, and I was amazed by the quality of the lab equipment and the working environment.

Bristol has a lot of unique buildings, libraries and study spaces, amazing views of the city and many parks to enjoy the sun and have a time off. The Sports Centre offers a variety of sports and gym. The Bristol SU also offers many GetActive sessions and help students in all matters. The Student's Health Services and The Student Counseling are excellent.

I like the colors of the houses, especially Clifton is an amazing area here in Bristol. Whenever I walk around the Harbourside and beyond, I enjoy watching all these different colors of this city! There are many historical buildings in the city centre as well, which are lovely.

People here are extremely friendly and helpful, making this year here in Bristol an unforgettable experience. My accommodation is brand new and in the heart of Bristol, so it’s a convenient distance from many places, and the campus and I’m not afraid of going out at nights. I am able to interact with people and make friends from different countries.

My plans are to find a PhD soon, or work in the industry. My experience in Bristol helped me understand my area of expertise more, to gain valuable knowledge and to be able to decide my next steps in my career with more confidence and important skills.


Entry Requirements

A lower second-class honours degree in biochemistry, biophysics, life sciences, chemistry, physics or an equivalent subject, plus a minimum grade B in A-level Chemistry (or equivalent qualification).

Last Updated

16 September 2016

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