Masters degrees in Plant Biotechnology provide specialist knowledge of the physiology, breeding, and pathology of plants at the molecular level and their use in industrial applications.
Popular postgraduate specialisms in this subject include Plant Biology, Plant Science and Plant Agriculture. Entry requirements normally include an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject such as Agriculture, Biology, or Chemistry.
Plants and their biological compounds are essential for many of the day-today products we use and consume, such as proteins and metabolites for food and pharmaceuticals.
It is to this end that you will scrutinize the molecular structures and processes which underpin plant-insect, plant-pathogen, and crop-weed relationships, and how these enable the development of tools and technologies to aid plant growth, pest control, and post-harvest quality control. You can also explore the production of renewable resources, including bioconversion and bioenergy.
With this experience – together with practical skills you’ll gain such as lab testing, bioimaging, and data analysis - numerous careers are open to you. From positions in conservation and wildlife programmes, to consultancy within government agencies and NGOs, and even product design and development.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
A substantial proportion of our graduates undertake further study at Leeds or elsewhere. Recent graduates have gone on to:
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.
Whether you are a new graduate or already employed and seeking to further your career prospects, this course offers a solid career development path. You can also choose this course if you wish to pursue research in biotechnology at PhD level.
Biotechnology is the application of biological processes and is underpinned by • cell biology • molecular biology • bioinformatics • structural biology. It encompasses a wide range of technologies for modifying living organisms or their products according to human needs.
Applications of biotechnology span medicine, technology and engineering.
Important biotechnological advances including
The course is led by academics who are actively involved in biotechnology research and its application to the manipulation of proteins, DNA, mammalian cells and plants. Staff also have expertise in the use of nanoparticles in drug delivery and the manipulation of microbes in industrial and environmental biotechnology.
You are supported throughout your studies by an academic advisor who will help you develop your study and personal skills.
What is biotechnology
Biotechnology is the basis for the production of current leading biopharmaceuticals and has already provided us with the 'clot-busting' drug, tissue plasminogen activator for the treatment of thrombosis and myocardial infarction. It also holds the promise of new treatments for neurodegeneration and cancer through recombinant antibodies.
Genetically modified plants have improved crop yields and are able to grow in a changing environment. Manipulation of cellular organisms through gene editing methods have also yielded a greater understanding of many disease states and have allowed us to understand how life itself functions.
You begin your studies focusing on the fundamentals of advanced cell biology and molecular biology before specialising in both molecular and plant biotechnology. Practical skills are developed throughout the course and you gain experience in molecular biology techniques such as PCR and sub cloning alongside tissue culture.
Core to the program is the practical module where you gain experience in a range of techniques used in the determination of transcription and translational levels, for example.
All practicals are supported by experienced academic staff, skilled in the latest biotechnological techniques.
Research and statistical skills are developed throughout the program. Towards the end of the program you apply your skills on a two month research project into a current biotechnological application. Employability skills are developed throughout the course in two modules.
The masters (MSc) award is achieved by successfully completing 180 credits.
The postgraduate certificate (PgCert) is achieved by successfully completing 60 credits.
The postgraduate diploma (PgDip) is achieved by successfully completing 120 credits.
Optional modules :
As students progress through the course they are exposed to a wide range of teaching and learning activities. The assessment strategy of the postgraduate course considers diverse assessment methods. Some modules offer dedicated formative feedback to aid skills development with assessments going through several rounds of formative tutor and peer feedback. Summative assessment methods are diverse, with examinations present in theory-based modules to test independent knowledge and data analysis. Several modules are entirely coursework-based, with a portfolio of skills such laboratory practical's and research proposals generated throughout the course forming the summative tasks. In all cases, the assessment criteria for all assessed assignments are made available to student prior to submission.
The course is suitable for people wishing to develop their knowledge of molecular and cell biotechnology and its application to solving health and industrial problems.
You can find career opportunities in areas such as
Students on this course have gone on to roles including experimental officers in contract research, research and development in scientists, diagnostics specialists and applications specialists. Many of our graduates also go on to study for PhDs and continue as academic lecturers.