Masters degrees in Systematic Botany provide advanced training in a branch of taxonomy. They deal with the study of morphological, numerical, and molecular methods for identifying and classifying living and fossilised plants.
Postgraduate specialisms include areas such as Ethnobotany, Plant Taxonomy and Plan Bioinformatics. Entry requirements normally include an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject such as Botany, Biology or Environmental Science.
Systematic Botany allows you to specialise in a multitude of areas within the field. For example, you may wish to focus on particular organisms such as angiosperms, fungi, cryptograms, weeds, and so on. You may wish to focus on these organisms in a wider context, in areas such as phylogenetics (evolutionary relationships), population genetics, and plant geography.
The practical training you receive - including lab testing, bioimaging, gene tracking, and practical fieldwork such as excavating and geographic information systems (GIS) - will provide you with valuable experience which you can use in a number of roles.
These may include: palaeobotany or ethnobotany; conservation and wildlife ecology including biodiversity management; taxonomic consultancy for museums, research institutes, and other organisations; further research and academia.
Please note that all modules are subject to change. Please see our modules disclaimer for more information.
All our master’s programmes emphasise the practical skills that employers need, whether that is the ability to identify plants, carry out environmental assessments or use the latest cutting-edge molecular techniques. As a University of Reading MSc graduate, you will be well equipped to work in the field or the lab, and in the private or public sector. Many of our graduates go on to study for a PhD and pursue a career in research either in industry or in universities.
Typical roles of graduates from our ecology and wildlife-based MSc programmes include conservation officers, project managers, field ecologists and environmental consultants. Graduates from our biomedical MSc programme typically go on to pursue PhD studies or work in the pharmaceutical industry.
The understanding of plant diversity and resources has never been more important. As we face the unprecedented challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, effective environmental surveillance and conservation depend upon detailed knowledge of plants and their habitats.
This programme is run jointly by the University and the world-renowned Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). The RBGE is home to one of the world’s best living collections of plants (15,000 species across four sites, amounting to five per cent of known world species), a herbarium of three million preserved specimens and one of the UK’s most comprehensive botanical libraries.
RBGE offers collections-based biodiversity research opportunities across a wide spectrum of organisms and geographical regions. This diversity, coupled with the RBGE’s world-leading research in different continents, provides an unrivalled masters programme in plant biodiversity.
This programme is full time and consists of two semesters of lectures, practicals, workshops and investigations, followed by a four-month research project. The programme includes a two-week field course in a tropical country (recently Belize).
The programme is delivered mainly at RBGE but also at the University’s King’s Buildings campus.
There are no option elements to the programme – all courses are compulsory.
Your research project will be chosen in consultation with your supervisor, and will link directly with active research programmes at RBGE or other research institutions.
The field trip, together with training and a short practical exam, qualifies you for the RBGE Certificate in Practical Field Botany.
The programme is good preparation for roles in taxonomy, while many graduates have also continued to PhD studies. Past students have entered a wide variety of jobs at research institutions, conservation agencies and elsewhere.
Our MSc Bioinformatics and Systems Biology course looks at two concepts that complement each other and reflect the skills currently sought by employers in academia and industry.
Bioinformatics is changing as high throughput biological data collection becomes more systems-oriented, with employers seeking people who can work across both disciplines.
Enormous success has been achieved in bioinformatics, such as in defining homologous families of sequences at the DNA, RNA, and protein levels. However, our appreciation of function is changing rapidly as experimental analysis scales up to cellular and organismal viewpoints.
At these levels, we are interested in the properties of a network of interacting components in a system, as well as the components themselves.
Our MSc reflects these exciting developments, providing an integrated programme taught by researchers at the forefront of fields spanning bioinformatics, genomics and systems biology.
You will gain theoretical and practical knowledge of methods to analyse and interpret the data generated by modern biology. This involves the appreciation of biochemistry and molecular biology, together with IT and computer science techniques that will prepare you for multidisciplinary careers in research.
This course aims to:
Learn from researchers at the forefront of fields spanning bioinformatics, genomics and systems biology.
Develop your research skills in preparation for a career in the biosciences industry or academic research.
We use a range of teaching and learning methods, including lectures, practicals, group discussions, problem classes and e-learning.
Research projects provide experience of carrying out a substantive research project, including the planning, execution and communication of original scientific research.
Find out more by visiting the postgraduate teaching and learning page.
Research projects are assessed by written report. Taught units are assessed through both coursework and exams.
The taught part of the course runs from September to April and consists of 60 credits delivered from four 15-credit units:
You will undertake two research projects, each carrying 60 credits, in Semester 2 and the summer.
Additionally, tutorials and the Graduate Training Programme (skills development) will run through the whole course.
"My final MSc project was conducted in collaboration with a cancer research group in Liverpool, aimed at facilitating targeted DNA sequencing of gene regions identified as being important for breast cancer.
This gave me an opportunity to work together with researchers outside of the university on a project that had real-world value."
You will be able to access a range of facilities throughout the University.
Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service .
Our graduates acquire a wide range of subject-specific and transferable skills and extensive research experience.
The combination of systems biology and bioinformatics addressed in this course reflects the current skills sought in academic and industrial (eg pharmaceutical) settings.
Around half of each class find PhD positions straight after the MSc, while others build upon their training to enter careers in biology and IT.