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MSc Industrial Biotechnology (Distance Learning)

Course Description

Start dates

January, May or September


The time is ripe to develop low carbon alternatives to petroleum-based products both in terms of what society wants and what economics demand. This makes it’s an exciting time to be part of the rapidly developing Biotech Industries. However, biorefining is a highly technical field and the successful growth of the industry is resulting in a lack of sufficient staff with the technical knowledge necessary to support its expansion. This course has been designed in consultation with existing UK industries to address this skills shortage. Since this programme is aimed at people who are already working, training is via distance learning and we hope to complement these with workshops.

Taught by experts at both Aberystwyth University (AU) and Bangor University (BU) through AU, the Industrial Biotechnology course offers you a highly vocational option.

The MSc comprises five core modules and four complementary modules which have been selected to allow students to study the main components of the biorenewable pipeline, from raw materials through extraction and processing to products; and to carry out your own work-based research. They are:

Core Modules

Biorenewable Feedstocks - each January

Students will learn about dedicated crops, agricultural waste and food waste streams and look at how to match feedstock to end-use. The module will examine: the scale of the challenge facing land-based crop production in the 21st century; the role of emerging technologies to meet these needs sustainably; and practical and economic considerations to scaling up production.

Biorefining Technologies - each January

This module will equip students with a detailed fundamental and practical knowledge of biorefining including pre-processing, processing and product isolation. It will teach them to evaluate the relative limitations and merits of different extraction, microbial biotechnology & fermentation technologies

Biobased Product Development - each September

This module will focus on potential end-products from bio-refineries including the relevant performance tests and the available processing/manufacturing technologies; both current and emerging technologies will be discussed. The module will also pay attention to the product innovation chain including commercial elements, life-cycle analysis and regulatory considerations.

Waste Stream Valorisation - each May

This module explores the potential to valorise a range of waste streams and will include case studies of exemplary waste streams as well as from students’ own chosen areas of interest.

Drivers of the Bioeconomy - each September

This module examines the societal drivers that shape the bio-economy and looks at what makes production viable. The need for energy efficient will be highlighted, along with vertically integrated production pipelines.

Research Methodologies and Advances in Bioscience

This module provides a framework for developing your research skills in the context of your own research question. You will be paired you up with a supervisor whose research field is in your area of interest and your supervisor will then guide you as you develop your ideas.

Work-based Dissertation

You may start your dissertation in any semester but should only be taken when Research Methodology and Advances in Biosciences has been completed and will involve a work-plan developed with your ATP tutor, academic supervisor and employer (if relevant). Working at a rate of 10-15 hrs per week we would expect the dissertation to take a year to complete.

Complementary Modules

Carbon Footprinting and Life Cycle Assessment - each January

(BU) This module will provide a theoretical and critical analysis of the practice and application of Carbon Footprinting (CF) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as key tools in assessing the environmental impact of agricultural systems.

Genetics and Genomics - each May

(AU) This module focuses on the challenges facing land based production and the role of emerging technologies to meet these challenges sustainably.

Anaerobic Digestion - each May

(BU) This module covers not only the technological aspects of AD, but also the opportunities and consequences of different feed-stocks, the alternative uses of the produced energy and digestates.

Climate Change - each September

(BU) After an introduction to the science and effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the module will assess historical climate change and will look at current predictions of future change. Methods by which agriculture and industry could adapt to the consequences of – and mitigate its effect on – climate change will be discussed.

Each distance learning module runs for 12 to 14 weeks. Students can start with whichever module they like and take as many or as few as they are able to over the five years of registration.

To achieve a PGCert, students must complete three taught core modules
To achieve a PGDiploma students must complete any six taught modules
To achieve an MSc, students must complete four core modules, two complementary modules and a work-based dissertation.

Visit the MSc Industrial Biotechnology (Distance Learning) page on the Aberystwyth University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Candidates must hold at least a second class Honours degree in a biological science, or a closely related discipline. Applications from mature candidates with relevant experience are welcome and will be given equal consideration. Non-graduates must have at least 24 months of relevant full-time work experience in an agri-food industry - Relevant experience will be determined by the University. If you have employment experience which you consider may be equivalent to a degree, please give details of positions held, dates of employment, responsibilities within the position held and employer contact details on a separate sheet.

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Recipient: Aberystwyth University

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