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Course content

This masters programme is designed to prepare you for a career in research in molecular and cellular biology and its applications.

It comprises a year of intensive training and research experience leading to the award of an MRes degree which will give you a ‘flying start’ to a subsequent PhD programme, if this is your chosen career path.

Course details

This programme is designed to prepare you for a career in research in molecular and cellular biology and its applications. It comprises a year of intensive training and research experience leading to the award of an MRes degree which will give you a ‘flying start’ to a subsequent PhD programme, if this is your chosen career path. 

The programme aims to provide training in the practical aspects that underlie research science in this field. To achieve this aim the course contains a very high level of hands-on research, as it is our view there is no better training than lab experience.

Programme content

Two-thirds of the programme is taken up by two approximately 18-week research projects, which are undertaken in different laboratories and with different supervisors. A very wide range of research topics falling within the scope of molecular and cellular biology is available within the School; this range extends from structural biology at one extreme to multicellular systems at the other. 

In addition to this direct research experience, there are two compulsory taught modules which provide training in:

  • Science Funding and Enterprise Skills in Biosciences
  • Techniques in Molecular and Cellular Biology

These modules cover the basic principles underlying scientific research methods and the design of biological/biochemical experiments, and discussion of modern techniques in molecular and cellular biology. In addition, the science funding and enterprise module provides the skills required to obtain funding for sciences. This includes grant and business case writing and scientific presentation skills. You can also take courses to develop general research skills arranged through the Biosciences Graduate Research School. 

The taught modules consist of a combination of seminars and lectures. The lab work that is carried out during the course is student-led. You will be able to choose areas of molecular and cellular biology that fit with your career aspirations.

Assessment

The two taught modules are assessed via examination, essays and oral presentations. The two research projects are assessed via written thesis and an oral examination. 

Skills gained

This programme offers the following advantages:

  • Broad training in the skills and techniques of contemporary research in molecular and cellular biology
  • The opportunity to experience research in at least two different areas
  • Increased breadth and experience, which will enhance subsequent employability 

The course will also enable you to:

  • Conduct and fund independent research 
  • Present research results in an appropriate manner both written and orally
  • Have an appreciation and knowledge of the use of modern techniques in molecular and cellular biology
  • Build and develop scientific research projects in the public and private sector

Careers

Those who perform effectively in the MRes often continue at Birmingham to a PhD; however, the MRes also provides a very good qualification to move into research and a wide range of professions.

Learning and teaching

External interactions

In order to broaden experience and interaction with other groups several of the activities described above will be shared with students on the MRC-sponsored course in Molecular and Cellular Immunology and Oncology. We have formed partnerships with Glaxo-SK, Celltech, Hoffmann-La Roche and AgrEvo to ensure that students are made fully aware of the ethos and requirements of progressive industrial employers. This will involve both visits of senior industrial personnel to Birmingham for presentations and discussions and a visit to the Stevenage research facility of Glaxo-SK, where students will experience a mock job interview and give a short oral presentation.

Employability

Graduates of the Molecular and Cellular Biology MRes typically proceed to PhDs in a variety of institutes in the UK and abroad, although a few have become lab technicians in academic research groups. Since the MRes involves working in two different research groups, this allows our students to get experience with a broad range of laboratory techniques. These practical skills together with the critical thinking developed in the lab and via the taught modules gives our graduates a strong CV for PhD applications.


Visit the Molecular and Cellular Biology - MRes page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!

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