Our one-year MSc Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement course is perfect training if you plan to take a further degree in plant molecular genetics, or alternatively, a career in plant breeding and crop improvement. It’s a unique opportunity to study plant molecular genetics and its potential applications in the 21st century in an environment of academic and research excellence.
The School of Biological Sciences (BIO) at UEA runs this course jointly with the John Innes Centre (JIC), which also includes The Sainsbury Laboratory. The John Innes Centre is one of the world’s leading research institutes in plant genetics and crop improvement. This means you’ll benefit from a team of teaching staff that includes members of the School of Biological Sciences together with scientists from the John Innes Centre and a number of leading plant breeding and plant biotechnology companies within the UK.
In your taught modules you’ll cover subjects including plant molecular genetics and biotechnology, target traits for crop improvement, and plant breeding – as well as learning key transferable skills such as research skills and communication. An important element of the course is the substantial six-month laboratory-based research project that you’ll conduct under the supervision of a member of BIO faculty or a senior scientist at the John Innes Centre. As part of this you’ll submit a dissertation and present a seminar on your research project.
On this one-year course you’ll take a number of taught modules alongside completing your research project plan and six-month long laboratory research project. Your modules include Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics, which gives you a Master’s level introduction to the structure and function of DNA. You’ll cover the mechanisms of inheritance in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms and study model organisms and their genomes. And you’ll explore the contemporary 'omics' technologies used for the analysis of whole genomes, gene function and expression. In further lectures and seminars you’ll explore the role of bioinformatics in genome biology and evolution. Your Plant Breeding and Statistics module teaches the basic principles of plant breeding and genetics and explores the principles and applications of newer technologies in the manipulation of traits in crop improvement. You will also learn the statistical methods appropriate for analysing data from many experiments in plant science and crop plant improvement. The module on Plant Genetics and Biotechnology looks at how both have played a significant role in understanding fundamental aspects of plant biology and how they have massive potential for crop plant improvement in the future. Practical Skills in Plant Molecular Genetics is a laboratory-based module that links the theory of bioinformatics, plant molecular genetics and marker-assisted selection together with their practical basis. Using bioinformatics, you will design molecular markers to determine the genotypes of F2 plants segregating for distinct morphological characters. You’ll then use this to predict the phenotypic characters exhibited by mature plants and select plants with specific combinations of traits – a key feature of contemporary breeding programmes. The module on Target Traits and Crop Improvement will explore how future crop plant improvement will depend upon new varieties expressing a number of key traits, either by conventional plant breeding, or by genetic modification. Your Research Project Plan module gives you the chance to conduct an extensive survey of current literature for your research project, as well as formulating hypotheses, and designing experiments to test them. In the research project, you will conduct these experiments, analyse their research project data, and critically assess their hypotheses.
Visit the MSc Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement page on the University of East Anglia website for more details!
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