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Course overview

Our course is unique. You’ll explore the molecular genetic basis to disease from both a human and infectious disease perspective.

Key topics that you’ll cover include:

  • the molecular basis to human genetic diseases
  • the molecular basis to infectious diseases
  • molecular diagnostic technologies in healthcare
  • bioinformatics and statistics
  • research skills

On this course, you will:

  • experience advanced study in the theoretical and practical aspects of the genetic basis and diagnosis of disease from both human and pathogen perspectives
  • be involved with an active research laboratory where you will develop the skills essential for a career in research
  • train to carry out critical evaluation of published scientific papers and develop the ability to report and interpret results
  • study the latest diagnostic technologies in healthcare

You will work with an active research group throughout your project - getting involved in research at the forefront of the University's research strategy.

This course is suitable for graduates in life sciences, biomedical sciences and allied subjects, as well as those already employed in science, laboratory or medical fields.

Why choose this course?

International Research

95% of the School of Life Sciences research was deemed to be of international quality.

Research Excellence Framework 2014

9th for research power

The School of Life Sciences was ranked 9th for research power in our unit of assessment.

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

Gold-standard teaching

Our teaching is recognised as of the highest standard

Course content

You will study 120 credits of taught modules and undertake a 60 credit research project. Further information on the modules this course covers is available under the modules tab. 

For the research project, you’ll have a choice from topics provided by academics across diverse research areas. Working alongside active researchers , you’ll carry out contemporary research by performing wet or dry-lab experiments which may take the form of bioinformatic analysis, systematic reviews or other similar research activities aimed at solving a specific biomedical problem. 

The research project includes an oral examination and dissertation. 


Core modules (15 each)

Common Research Methods: Molecular Techniques

During these practical laboratory sessions, you will gain experience of standard techniques related to laboratory research in the fields of immunology, microbiology and molecular genetics. From this, you will appreciate the workflow of gene cloning, followed by sequence analysis of genes and their variability, as well as cloning and expression of recombinant proteins.

Common Research Methods: Transferable Research Skills

You will gain an understanding of how to plan, prepare and execute research in the field of molecular biology, microbiology immunology and genetics. As well as learning how to manage the various stages of research projects, you will gain experience presenting research data and preparing publications. This module will also enhance your ability to critically assess published literature and analyse data.


This module will familiarise you with statistical techniques used in analysing biological data and provide practical experience in using statistical software (SPSS). You will learn how to interpret, describe and present data using the appropriate statistical terms and graphical forms.

Microbial Genetics and Genomics 20 credits

Several genetic regulatory systems are examined in this module to illustrate how key virulence factors are regulated in bacterial and viral pathogens. These examples are also used to demonstrate how tools used for genomic analysis can be used to diagnose and monitor infectious diseases.

Gene Regulation in Mammalian Cells

Topics covered in this module include chromatin remodelling, methods for regulating abundance of mRNA, DNA/protein and protein/protein interactions, research methods and gene associations with disease. You will learn how to describe the mechanisms that control eukaryotic genes and apply current research methods to address gene regulatory issues. The role that gene regulation plays in disease is also explored.


Through lectures and workshops in the spring semester, you will receive training in key skills in bioinformatics. You will work their way through a series of exercises designed to provide experience of the common bioinformatics techniques and challenges presented by large datasets, both of which characterise many fields of modern biological research. In the final workshops you are given individual research projects. Using the skills acquired during the module, students undertake an independent bioinformatic analysis and write a short report describing their results.

Molecular Services in Health Care

On this module, you will gain knowledge and understanding of the application of molecular diagnostic techniques in the health service including: genetic counselling, molecular clinical genetics, cytogenetics, population screening and cellular pathology.

You will also explore the factors to be considered for setting up a molecular diagnostic laboratory as well as appreciating the ethical considerations to genetic counselling and genetic screening.

Molecular Technologies in Complex Diseases 20 credits

An extensive overview of molecular techniques used in the research of human diseases is provided on this module. The possible implications of these methods is also be explored. You will discuss the strengths and limitations of linkage analysis and genetic association studies in the study of complex disorders as well as enhancing your ability to critically evaluate relevant literature.

Molecular Basis of Genetic Disorders 10 credits

This module covers the molecular basis of human diseases with a genetic component, focusing on those with a Mendelian pattern of inheritance. Through a combination of lectures and seminars, you will study the clinical features of selected diseases and their genetic basis as well as how to interpret genetic tests in inherited disorders and the concepts underlying the identification of predisposing genes in human disorders.

Research project (60 credits)

Research Project

On this 60 credit module you will design and execute a research programme – performing experiments, surveys, analysing data and undertaking other research activities aimed at solving a specific biomedical problem in the subject area you are studying. You will discuss the research project with your academic supervisor before the project begins.

As well as gaining the technical and project management skills required for contemporary research, you will develop the ability to write scientific texts through producing a dissertation based on your research findings. This report is discussed with academic staff during an oral examination.

The topic and form of project may vary from laboratory-based work, bioinformatics or extended literature reviews, depending on the expertise of our academic staff and which course you are enrolled on.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Thursday 19 November 2020.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

We are preparing your tutorials, laboratory classes, workshops and seminars so that you can study and discuss your subjects with your tutors and fellow students in stimulating and enjoyable ways. While we will keep some elements of online course delivery, particularly while Covid-19 restrictions remain in place or where this enhances course delivery, teaching is being planned to take place in-person wherever possible. This will be subject to government guidance remaining unchanged.

We will use the best of digital technologies to support both your in-person and online teaching. We will provide live, interactive online sessions, alongside pre-recorded teaching materials so that you can work through them at your own pace. While the mix of in-person and digital teaching will vary by course, we aim to increase the proportion of in-person teaching in the spring term.

  • Lectures
  • Practical classes
  • Tutorials
  • eLearning
  • Self-study

Alongside University academic staff, colleagues working in molecular diagnostics and clinical genetics in the NHS may contribute to the teaching on the course.

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.

How you will be assessed

All assessments in the 2021/22 academic year will be delivered online unless there is a professional accreditation requirement or a specific need for on-campus delivery and in-person invigilation.

  • Examinations
  • Written exam
  • Oral exam
  • Essay
  • Poster presentation
  • Dissertation

Assessment methods vary depending on the topic being studied.  

Contact time and study hours

As a guide, one credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. For the taught-stage of the course, you will spend approximately a third of your time (around 400 hours) in lectures, tutorials, workshops, practical classes, including the directed study which is necessary in preparation for workshops/practical classes. The remaining time will be completed as independent study. Tutorial sessions are built into the timetable and there are several group and individual meetings timetabled throughout the year. Additional meetings can be requested as needed.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:2 honours degree in life sciences, biomedical sciences or allied subjects


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


Qualification MSc
Home / UK £8,500
International £25,000

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Our libraries contain all relevant books and research journals you might require, however, if you wish to purchase these materials for yourself, you should take this into consideration.


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

Graduate destinations

Students from our full suite of MSc courses have gone on to a variety of positions, including:

  • 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)
  • Research Technician – University of Nottingham
  • Research Scientist – GlaxoSmithKline

Career progression

94.9% of postgraduates from the School of Life Sciences secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £21,400 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £40,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates who were available for employment, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning (2017/18). Our teaching is of the highest quality found in the UK.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national grading system, introduced by the government in England. It assesses the quality of teaching at universities and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

This content was last updated on Thursday 19 November 2020. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.