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  • Study Type

    Full time available

  • Subject Areas

    Biological Sciences

  • Start Date

    September

  • Course Duration

    MSc: 1 year full-time, PgDip: 9 months full-time

  • Course Type

    MSc, PgDip

  • Course Fees

    Please see website for details

  • Last Updated

    02 May 2017

Course content

This academically challenging and career-developing programme focuses on research and development using biological and chemical principles and systems to create new products, services and industries.

You will employ elements of the developing field of synthetic biology to bring about significant changes and major innovations that address the challenges of rapidly changing human demographics, resource shortages, energy economy transition and the concomitant growth in demand for more and healthier food, sustainable fuel cycles, and a cleaner environment.

Programme structure

You will learn through a variety of activities, including:

  • lectures
  • workshops
  • presentations
  • laboratory work
  • field work
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • discussion groups and project groups
  • problem-based learning activities

You will attend problem-based tutorial sessions and one-to-one meetings with your personal tutor or programme director.

You will carry out research at the frontier of knowledge and can make a genuine contribution to the progress of original research. This involves carrying out project work in a research laboratory, reviewing relevant papers, analysing data, writing reports and giving presentations.

Compulsory courses:

  • Applications of Synthetic Biology
  • Tools for Synthetic Biology
  • Social Dimensions of Systems & Synthetic Biology
  • Environmental Gene Mining & Metagenomics
  • Research Project Proposal
  • MSc Project and Dissertation

Option courses:

  • Biochemistry A & B
  • Introduction to Scientific Programming
  • Commercial Aspects of Drug Discovery
  • Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine
  • Biological Physics
  • Enzymology & Biological Production
  • Next Generation Genomics
  • Machine Learning & Pattern Recognition
  • Drug Discovery
  • Biophysical Chemistry
  • Bioinformatics Programming & System Management
  • Economics & Innovation in the Biotechnology Industry
  • BioBusiness
  • Molecular Modelling & Database Mining
  • Industry & Entrepreneurship in Biotechnology
  • Practical Skills in Biochemistry A & B
  • Functional Genomic Technologies
  • Information Processing in Biological Cells
  • Data Mining & Exploration
  • Gene Expression & Microbial Regulation
  • Bioinformatics
  • Principles of Industrial Biotechnology

Learning outcomes

By the end of the programme you will have gained:

  • a strong background knowledge in the fields underlying synthetic biology and biotechnology
  • an understanding of the limitations and public concerns regarding the nascent field of synthetic biology including a thorough examination of the philosophical, legal, ethical and social issues surrounding the area
  • the ability to approach the technology transfer problem equipped with the skills to analyse the problem in scientific and practical terms
  • an understanding of how biotechnology relates to real-world biological problems
  • the ability to conduct practical experimentation in synthetic biology and biotechnology
  • the ability to think about the future development of research, technology, its implementation and its implications
  • a broad understanding of research responsibility including the requirement for rigorous and robust testing of theories and the need for honesty and integrity in experimental reporting and reviewing

Career opportunities

You will enhance your career prospects by acquiring current, marketable knowledge and developing advanced analytical and presentational skills, within the social and intellectual sphere of a leading European university.

The School of Biological Sciences offers a research-rich environment in which you can develop as a scientist and entrepreneur.


Visit the Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology - MSc/PgDip page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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