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Plant Science and Biotechnology MSc

Course Description

In the last 10-15 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 programme provides training in modern molecular aspects of plant science. Teaching is delivered by academics from the University’s Centre for Plant Sciences (CPS) and is often related to their areas of expertise and current research projects.

You’ll benefit from the research of international experts in DNA recombination and repair mechanisms and explore the wide range of approaches used in bio-imaging alongside the range of modern techniques and methodologies that underpin contemporary biomolecular sciences. You’ll explore the key topic areas of molecular biology; structural biology; cell imaging and flow cytometry; high throughput techniques; and transgenic organisms.

Our Facilities

You’ll study in a stimulating environment which houses cutting-edge facilities. The CPS laboratories feature a state-of-the-art plant growth unit, including tissue culture suites with culture rooms, growth rooms and cabinets alongside glass-houses to meet a range of growth requirements.

Course content

You’ll gain an overview of a range of modern techniques and methodologies that underpin contemporary biomolecular sciences through the investigation of five topic areas: molecular biology; structural biology; cell imaging and flow cytometry; high throughput techniques; and transgenic organisms. You’ll also conduct an extended practical investigation in the form of a laboratory-based 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 topics such as the engineering of plants, development of stress-tolerant crop varieties and techniques for gene expression and gene silencing. You’ll have the opportunity to benefit from the research of international experts in DNA recombination and repair mechanisms and their importance for transgene integration and biotechnological applications; biogenesis of mitochondria, chloroplast and peroxisomes; 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.

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.

Course structure

Compulsory modules

  • Bioimaging 10 credits
  • Topics in Plant Science 10 credits
  • Practical Bioinformatics 10 credits
  • Plant Biotechnology 10 credits
  • High-throughput Technologies 10 credits
  • MSc Bioscience Research Project Proposal 5 credits
  • Research Planning and Scientific Communication 10 credits
  • Advanced Biomolecular Technologies 20 credits
  • Protein Engineering Laboratory Project 15 credits
  • Bioscience MSc Research Project 80 credits

For more information on typical modules, read Plant Science and Biotechnology MSc in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

We provide the very best learning resources and academic support and our teaching draws on the University’s world-class research base and highly-qualified professionals from industry, non-governmental organisations and charities.

You’ll experience wide range of teaching methods including formal lectures, interactive workshops, problem-solving, practical classes and demonstrations.

Through your research project and specialist plant science and biotechnology 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.

Career opportunities

The strong research element of the Plant Science and Biotechnology MSc, along with the specialist and generic skills you develop, mean you’re equipped for a wide range of careers.

Our graduates work in diverse posts, 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 programmes.

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:

  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Ernst and Young
  • The Food and Environment Research Agency
  • The Health Protection Agency
  • MedImmune
  • Thermofisher Scientific
  • Hays Life Sciences
  • European Bioinformatics Institute
  • Smaller University spin-out companies, such as Lumora

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.

Further study

A substantial proportion of our graduates undertake further study at Leeds or elsewhere. Recent graduates have gone on to:

  • PhD positions in the UK, USA and overseas eg at the Max Planck Institute, Germany
  • research post at Harvard School of Public Health, Botswana.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Visit the Plant Science and Biotechnology MSc page on the University of Leeds website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Rachel Hubbard

5021.jpg The course stood out as being ideal for me, because it offered a unique combination of both broad spectrum biotechnology principles coupled with my more specific area of interest, plant science.

I wanted to develop and build on the broad foundation that my undergraduate degree gave me by completing a more specific Masters course, and the university has a great reputation for biological sciences and research. I really liked the fact that the course would be taught using a variety of teaching methods and assessments, as I knew I would be developing a whole suite of skills during my time here.

I really enjoyed learning about the cutting-edge research being undertaken by staff at the university, as well as having the opportunity to take part in the research being conducted through my final project. I have also enjoyed furthering my understanding of the broad spectrum of biomolecular technologies available through lab-based practicals, computer sessions, demonstrations, tutorials and lectures.

One highlight of the course for me was having the opportunity to take part in current research within the Centre for Plant Science at FBS, in the form of my research project. Overall, the higher level of study and smaller course size compared to undergraduate level allowed a more personal style of teaching that was conducive to learning and understanding.


Biological Sciences International Scholarships Scheme - 20+ Awards

Academic criteria: To be awarded as determined by the Faculty International Scholarships Committee. To receive a Faculty of Biological Sciences Scholarship all students must meet all the following conditions: Hold an offer of a study place and commence a programme of study in the Faculty of Biological Sciences in September 2014 and be fully registered on 1st December 2014.
Be a self-funded full-time student paying full overseas-rated fees.
The scholarship will be paid in the form of a deduction from the tuition fee charged by the University.
No separate application is necessary-your application will enable us to consider you for the scholarship.

Value of Scholarship(s)



The Faculty of Biological Sciences offers scholarships of £2000 to overseas Masters students commencing a programme of study within the faculty in September 2014. This scheme is open to students of all nationalities. It does not apply to students paying Home/EU fees.

Application Procedure

All applicants will be considered via their application to the University. There is no application form. Applicants should normally apply for a programme of study within the Faculty by 1 June. Late applications may be considered at the discretion of the Admissions Tutor.

Further Information



Biological Sciences - scholarships - No. of awards TBC

Information on all scholarships available can be found online.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Please see below.

Application Procedure

Eligibility for scholarships and bursaries will vary according to personal circumstances. Please visit our website for further information.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject. English Language requirements: IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component

Last Updated

07 August 2017

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