Molecular Genetics and Diagnostics MSc


Fact file

MSc Molecular Genetics and Diagnostics
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2.2 (Lower 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)
Other requirements
Applicants should hold a minimum of a 2ii honours degree in Life Sciences, Biomedical Sciences or allied subjects, awarded from an approved University. Applicants whose first language is not English will only be considered if they already hold an IELTS qualification which meets the criteria.
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
Queen's Medical Centre and University Park Campus
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


The course is designed to explain the technology, theory and practical approaches of molecular genetic methods to the diagnosis and understanding of human disease.
Read full overview

The MSc Molecular Genetics and Diagnostics is suitable for graduates in life sciences, biomedical sciences and allied subjects, as well as people already employed in related fields who wish to improve and update their knowledge and gain valuable experience.

The course has a start date in September.

The course aims to:

  • provide an advanced course of study in the theoretical and practical aspects of the genetic basis and diagnosis of human disease 
  • allow students adequate time to integrate into an active research laboratory where they are able to develop the skills which are essential when considering a career in research
  • train students to carry out critical evaluation of published scientific papers so that they develop the ability to report and interpret results

The academic staff involved with the course are recognised internationally for their work on the genetic basis of complex diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Alzheimer's disease and infectious disease caused by clinically relevant microbial pathogens such as Pseudomonas spp.,Yersinia spp. and Staphylococcus spp. Colleagues working in Molecular Diagnostics and Clinical Genetics within the NHS also contribute to the teaching on the course.

Key facts

  • The MSc Molecular Genetics and Diagnostics was previously known as the MSc Molecular Diagnostics, and has been running since 2004.
  • One of the many strengths of the course is the five-month research project that is conducted in the laboratory with a member research staff within the school.
  • 95% of the School of Life Sciences research was deemed to be of international quality according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • The peer-reviewed research carried out within the Human Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Bacteriology groups is recognised as being of either international or world-class standard.
  • The MSc Molecular Genetics and Diagnostics is coordinated by academic staff within the Molecular and Cellular Bacteriology Research Group, part of the School of Life Sciences. Staff are based either within the Centre for Biomedical Science, a new state of the art research and teaching centre, the adjacent medical school which itself is located in the Queen’s Medical Centre or the Nottingham City Hospital.
  • Extensive IT facilities are available across all campuses, including several computer rooms within the medical school.
  • The University library service provides access to more than a million books and journals. The Greenfield Medical Library houses a broadly-based collection of biomedical, nursing and healthcare-related books and periodicals and holds current subscriptions to 780 journals, reports and series titles. In addition to the print versions housed in the library, the majority of journals can be accessed electronically.

Course details

This course requires you to complete the following taught modules: 

  • Introduction to Molecular Biology Research
  • Statistics
  • Gene Regulation in Mammalian Cells
  • The Molecular Basis of Genetic Disorders
  • Bioinformatics
  • Molecular Services in Healthcare
  • Microbial Genomics and Genetics
  • Molecular Technologies

Please note that all module details are subject to change.

You will also undertake a 60-credit research project conducted over five months. This module will enable you to experience contemporary research methods by designing a research programme and performing experiments, surveys, or other research activities aimed at solving a specific biomedical problem.

The MSc Molecular Genetics and Diagnostics is taught on a full-time basis over one year (September to late August).
You will take eight taught modules that will be individually assessed. These modules are worth 120 credits. 

You will also be required to undertake a 60-credit research project leading to a dissertation, which is written up in the form of a scientific research paper. 

Each student is allocated a personal tutor at the beginning of the course, and regular meetings are scheduled throughout the year.

Course material is delivered in a variety of ways, including lectures, practical sessions and tutorials. We also provide additional learning material and self-assessment exercises online. The online MSc database provides a central point for you to access your timetable, assessment results and easy access to additional module resources provided by staff. You will be expected to work both independently and as part of a group.


The course is assessed by a variety of methods, including:

  • examinations delivered electronically (multiple choice, multiple response and extended matching questions)
  • written examinations
  • oral presentations
  • essays
  • poster preparation
  • dissertation

The modules studied during the autumn semester are assessed at the beginning of the spring semester and those studied in spring are assessed at the beginning of the summer semester.



The MSc will consist of eight taught modules and a laboratory-based project. Students will attend two full days of lectures per week prior to starting their research project, with the remaining time available for associated work. The research project is carried out on a full-time basis in semester two.

Successful completion of the course will necessitate accumulation of 180 credits, 120 of which will derive from the taught modules and 60 from the research project.

Autumn semester

Introduction to Molecular Biology Research (22 hours, 20 credits)

This course is a 20-credit module and is taught in semester one. A combination of practical sessions and lectures will be used to teach fundamental principles of genetics, basic statistical methods and aspects of planning research. The practical techniques will cover techniques such as polymerase chain reaction, DNA sequencing and methods for mutation detection and genotyping:

  • Critical analysis of scientific papers
  • Laboratory mathematics
  • How to plan, document and write up research
  • The polymerase chain reaction
  • Principles of genetics
  • Genotyping
  • Sequencing and capillary electrophoresis
  • Sequence analysis
  • Presentation skills and PowerPoint for posters
  • Mutation detection and screening
  • Methods for DNA cloning

Assessment for this module includes a critical analysis of a scientific paper (20%), write-up of the practical sessions (20%) and a multiple choice exam (60%).

Molecular Basis of Genetic Disorders (24 hours, 20 credits)

This course is taught as a 20-credit module in semester one. The module covers the molecular mechanisms for human diseases with a genetic component, including those which have a Mendelian pattern of inheritance and those with a complex mode of inheritance. The lectures will cover clinical features of selected diseases and their genetic basis. The seminars will provide experience in interpreting genetic tests in inherited disorders, and opportunities to discuss the concepts underlying the identification of predisposing genes in human disorders:

  • Principles of Mendelian inheritance
  • Seminar 1: Pedigree analysis
  • Autosomal recessive disorders
  • Seminar 2: Data interpretation (point mutations)
  • X-linked recessive disorders
  • Seminar 3: Data interpretation: Linkage analysis
  • Autosomal dominant disorders
  • Seminar 4: Data interpretation: large deletions; dynamic mutations
  • Disorders with partial penetrance
  • Seminar 5: Data interpretation: Thrombophilias; haemochromatosis
  • Mitochondrial disorders
  • Genetic imprinting
  • Concepts of genetically complex diseases
  • Seminar 6: Epidemiology - relative risk; heritability
  • Genetics of diabetes: a paradigm for complex genetic disorders
  • Seminar 7: Lessons from genetic studies of diabetes
  • Complex disorders linked to the HLA region
  • Seminar 8: Linkage analysis in the study of complex disorders
  • Genetics of cancer
  • Seminar 9: Genetic association studies
  • Seminar 10: Linkage disequilibrium; GWAS
  • Genetics of Alzheimer's disease
  • Genetics of colorectal cancer
  • Seminar 11: Alternative study designs + Module review

The assessment consists of a final exam, containing both multiple choice and short-answer written questions.

Gene Regulation in Mammalian Cells (13 hours, 10 credits)

This is a 10-credit module delivered in semester one which introduces the structure of eukaryotic genes and mechanisms of gene regulation. Topics include gene structure, chromatin remodelling, DNA/Protein and Protein/Protein interactions, and the role of gene regulation in disease:

  • Structure of Eukaryotic genes
  • Chromatin remodelling
  • Regulation of mRNA abundance
  • Small RNAs in biology and medicine
  • DNA-protein and protein-protein interactions
  • Research methods for studying gene regulation
  • Research methods - Tutorial
  • Gene Regulation and disease

This module is assessed by an essay of around 4000 words.

Statistics (18 hours, 10 credits)

This course is a 10-credit module held in semester one which will enable students to become familiar with basic statistical methods. The material will be taught in a series of computer-based practical sessions. By the end of the module students will be able to use the statistical software package SPSS to analyse data using appropriate statistical tests:

  • Introduction to statistics
  • Using statistical packages and entering data into SPSS
  • Types of research study
  • Descriptive comparison of groups
  • Exploring data in SPSS
  • Bias and confounding
  • Introduction to hypothesis testing
  • Comparing continuous data in SPSS
  • Evaluating & summarising the evidence
  • Comparing categorical data in SPSS
  • Correlation and regression analysis

The module is assessed by an exam (50%) and a statistical report (50%). For the report, students are provided with a dataset to analyse using the methods covered in the module. In addition, students have to demonstrate that they are capable of designing and setting up a data file in SPSS which is submitted electronically.


Spring semester

Bioinformatics (15 hours, 10 credits)

Taught together with students from the MSc Immunology and Allergy, this 10-credit module is held in semester two. This module will enable students to obtain practical experience in using advanced bioinformatics software available for the analysis of genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic data:

  • Introduction to bioinformatics
  • Sequence interpretation, annotation and variation
  • Investigating the transcriptome
  • Protein structure and function prediction
  • Proteome analysis and protein interaction networks
  • Implications for Human Health
  • IT sessions
  • Seminars

The module is taught using a combination of lectures and practical sessions. Students are required to produce a poster for assessment which includes information gathered from online databases and analysis of a nucleic acid sequence. There is also an associated short report which documents the process taken to analyse the sequence and produce the poster.

Molecular Services in Health Care (12 hours, 10 credits)

This course is a 10-credit module taught in semester two. Topics include the following: setting up a molecular diagnostics laboratory, ethical issues and genetic counselling, cytogenetic techniques, prenatal diagnosis and diagnosis of microbial infections:

  • The impact of molecular diagnosis
  • Establishing a molecular diagnostics laboratory
  • Cytogenetics
  • Genetic counselling sessions
  • Pre-natal diagnosis
  • Pre-implantation diagnosis
  • Phenylketonuria and screening
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia and screening
  • Molecular diagnosis and cellular pathology

Assessment is via an essay of around 4000 words.  

Microbial Genetics and Genomics (24 hours, 20 credits)

This 20-credit module is taught in semester two. It will provide an overview of genetic and genomic approaches to the study and diagnosis of bacterial and viral pathogens, including a global overview of the regulation of pathogenesis in Prokaryotes. The taught courses cover the following subjects:

  • Introduction to basic microbiology
  • The use of basic microbiological and molecular techniques to identify bacterial and viral pathogens
  • An overview of the structure and organisation of bacterial genomes
  • Quorum sensing
  • The role of bacterial virulence factors in infection.
  • The regulation of expression of Staphylococcus aureus virulence determinants
  • PBL - Using genetic tools to diagnose MRSA
  • The regulation of expression of bacterial virulence determinants
  • An overview of the structure and organisation of viral genomes
  • Introduction to the regulation of expression of viral virulence determinants
  • The genetics of Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 as an example of an RNA virus infection
  • Genetics of Hepatitis B virus as an example of a DNA virus infection
  • The role of host genetics in virus infections
  • PBL - Isolation and genetic typing of viral infections
  • A brief overview of some notable clinically relevant pathogens
  • Artemis and Artemis Comparison tool
  • PBL - Gene and protein sequence analysis

The module is composed of a combination of lectures delivered by experts covering the latest knowledge in their respective fields with additional problem-based learning (PBL) sessions giving students the opportunity to investigate and solve realistic situations.  

Molecular Technologies (32 hours, 20 credits)

This 20-credit course is held in semester two, and will provide an extensive review of emerging molecular techniques used in research of human diseases. Topics include: real-time PCR, microarrays, methods for diagnosis of infectious diseases and mutation detection:

  • Molecular Genetics and Disease
  • Student session - Setting Assessment and Discussion
  • Student session - Living with her genes
  • Student session - The Hap Map Resource
  • Student session - Copy Number Variation (CNV)
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA)
  • Student session - High Throughput Technologies
  • Chips and Microarrays
  • Student Session - Genome Wide Association Studies
  • Deep Sequencing
  • Proteomic aspects of disease
  • Sequence analysis and mutation detection
  • Genotype/Phenotype correlations
  • Student session - Assessments
  • New frontiers

The module is delivered using a combination of lectures with additional student-led sessions. For these sessions, students are provided with a question or topic which they have to research and present. Assessment is by multiple choice exam (60%) and a group project (40%).

Research Project (60 credits)

Students will carry out their own research projects during spring and summer, in areas and topics determined by members of academic staff. The experimental part of the projects is carried out within the laboratories where research is being performed by other MSc and PhD students, post-doctoral fellows and technicians which are always keen to provide help and support. The aim is for students to develop their practical and intellectual skills in scientific investigation, and gain experience of project and time management. Project reports will be written up in the style of an original research paper, giving the student further hands-on experiences in writing scientific publications.

Specifically the project will enable students to:

  1. Demonstrate ability to research, and apply to the practical investigation, relevant research literature from a variety of sources, in an area appropriate to the course.
  2. Design experiments to yield interpretable results, to analyse and interpret data obtained and, on this basis, choose appropriate lines of further investigation.
  3. Carry out and develop safe and effective research practice.
  4. Present and discuss the merits and weaknesses of the investigative approach, and identify future research avenues using both oral and written techniques.

Students will spend 400-750 hours in the laboratory for the duration of the project.

During this period, students and their supervisors are expected to meet informally on a regular basis to discuss progress and complete four formally documented meetings.

Preparation of the dissertation will normally take 100 hours across the duration of the module. Examples of some recent research projects include:

  • Investigation of splicing mutations in bleeding disorders
  • Investigation of F8 gene deletions in haemophilia A
  • Molecular screening for oesophageal cancer
  • Mapping functional elements in the SerpinA1 promoter
  • Translational efficiency of SerpinA1 alternative transcripts
  • Copy number variation (CNV) and Alzheimer's disease
  • Haplotypes of the epidermal growth factor gene and intrauterine growth
  • Multiplex FISH Analysis in leukaemia
  • Examining quorum sensing gene expression using lux-based promoter fusions in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis
  • Novel signalling molecules involved in global control of gene expression in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Identification and function of small regulatory RNAs in pathogenic Clostridia

Assessment of the project is as follows:

• Supervisor mark for practical skills (20%)

• Research presentation and questions (40%)

• Dissertation (40%)



For more details on our modules, please see our module catalogue

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



Home/EU Students

The School of Life Science is offering a number of scholarships amounting to £1,000 each for students starting in 2017-18. To apply for these scholarships you need a copy of an acceptance letter confirming that you have a place to study. This is a competitive scheme and students will be awarded a scholarship on academic and individual merit.

Closing date is 12 mid-day (UK time) Monday 14 August 2017. 

Full details and application forms for these scholarships can be obtained by contacting: 

Anita Purshottam

The University's Graduate School can also advise you on funding opportunities.

International Students

The School of Life Science is offering a number of scholarships amounting to £1,000 each for students starting in 2017-18. To apply for these scholarships you need a copy of an acceptance letter confirming that you have a place to study. This is a competitive scheme and students will be awarded a scholarship on academic and individual merit.

Closing date is 12 mid-day (UK time) Saturday 20 May 2017. Successful applicants will be notified in writing by 10 June 2017.

Full details and application forms for these scholarships can be obtained by contacting: 

Anita Purshottam

The University's International Office has a range of scholarship opportunities for international students.



The MSc Molecular Genetics and Diagnostics provides our students with an excellent theoretical and practical background in molecular genetic methods currently used in both research and diagnostic healthcare.  Upon graduation our students are internationally competitive and go on to establish a range of successful careers. These include studying for a PhD in internationally-recognised research laboratories worldwide, or alternatively working in industry or the healthcare sector. Previous graduates have also obtained positions as trainee diagnostic geneticists. 

Students from our full suite of MSc courses have gone on to a wide variety of positions - here are a few examples: 

  • SHO in Medical Microbiology 
  • Research Technicians - Oncology 
  • SpR in Medical Microbiology 
  • PhD - London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 
  • Infection Control Nurses 
  • NHS Clinical Scientists 
  • Regulatory Affairs Specialist - AMGEM Biotech 
  • PhD - School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Cambridge 
  • Clinical Trial Data Managers 
  • Application Specialist Biological Sciences - Japan 
  • Biomedical Scientists (BMS1) 
  • PhD 
  • Research Technician - University of Nottingham 
  • Research Scientist – GlaxoSmithKline   

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 93% of postgraduates from the Faculty of Medicine & Health Services who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £28,925 with the highest being £70,000.*

*Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career prospects and employability

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research


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