The University of Sheffield
Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Master of Science (MSc) in Bionanotechnology

Studying bionanotechnology

The past twenty years have, in fact, demonstrated that the investigation of properties on the nanometer scale can lead to significantly new insights concerning fundamental issues, but also to novel technological perspectives. Different processes and nano-fabrications have been reported exploiting structural manipulations at an atomic, molecular and/or supramolecular length scale. Particularly, nanodevices that have to work in water encounter challenging environments and demand a new set of design principles analogous to those used in cell biology. Indeed, nature has some very smart and capable ways of creating nano-scale structures, exploiting the chemical and physical properties of molecules such as proteins and phospholipids. These molecules are capable of self-assembling into different architectures according to several external factors. Bionanotechnology is a speciality of nanotechnology dealing with atomic and molecular level engineering and manufacturing using biological molecules or directed to bio-medical applications.

Several industries have already been integrating nanotechnology into their production processes. Among these industries, the rapidly advancing biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector is already interested in developing and using nanotechnology. This would generate a demand for highly specialized employment that universities must meet quickly.

The programme forms part of a unique package of distinct but related courses in nanotechnology, (see for the full list), developed in an alliance between departments at the Universities of Sheffield and Leeds and running successfully for several years. This course package attempts to deliver the new kind of graduates required to sustain the many multi-million-dollar research and development programmes issued internationally by most industrial countries, such as the UK DTI Nanotechnology initiative. We expect this trend to continue, and demand on expertise in this area to grow. Inter- and multi-disciplinarily are important new qualifications, since progress in technology is now faster in areas at the boundaries between physics, chemistry, biology and engineering, rather than within one single discipline. This novel programme is ideally suited to students with a first degree (e.g. BSc or Masters) in another subject, who want to move into a new area that is interdisciplinary in nature, and which will provide new skills while building on knowledge of more traditional topics.

What does the course provide?

  1. To give students up-to-date training in the bionanotechnology, to turn them into highly sought-after candidates for both further academic studies and industrial recruitment.
  2. To provide students with a clearly distinct and advanced qualification in a field located at the convergence of standard subjects, such as physics, chemistry, materials or engineering, which should increase the employment opportunities open to them.
  3. To give students a deeper insight into the principles of conducting independent research than is usual within a traditional final-year project, through access to a research group or laboratory, and integration with PhD students and Postdocs (where applicable).
  4. To provide transferable skills ranging from literature searching to report writing and the preparation of PowerPoint presentations, and where possible, the publication of scientific results arising from the project.
  5. To qualify students in the language and classifications used in the nanotechnology area, so that they are able to continue self study and follow reports ranging from press coverage to the published scientific literature.

Course Organisation and Structure

The programme runs from the final week of September to early September the following year, with each of the two semesters covering four out of eight modules, which are each worth 15 credits.

General distribution of credits (total = 180):

Semester 1, lectures/classes: 60 credits

Semester 2, lectures/classes: 60 credits

No option modules are current available.

The project is worth 60 credits

It runs through both semesters plus summer studies.

Students undertake the project at the university where they have chosen to be based (either Leeds or Sheffield).

The topical areas of the four modules in Semester 1 are intended to provide a general overview of nanotechnology and comprise:

  1. Generic Methodologies in Nanotechnology and Biophysical Techniques
  2. Physics for Bionanotechnology
  3. Biosensors
  4. Biophotonics and bioimaging

The topical areas of the four modules in Semester 2 provide specialist knowledge and training in:

  1. Macromolecules at surfaces and structured organic films
  2. Bionanomaterials
  3. Nanotoxicology
  4. Supra molecular interactions and self assembly systems

For a Diploma, 120 instead of 180 credits are required (the project is excluded).

For a PG Certificate, 60 credits are sufficient (half of the taught modules).

Teaching is organized in blocks, so that modules run partially in parallel and partially consecutively. Each block can comprise up to three hours teaching, restricting the module duration to six or seven weeks within each semester. This teaching scheme minimizes the need to travel between Leeds and Sheffield.

Part time study schedules need to be arranged on an individual basis.

Want to Know More?

Should be directed in the first instance to:

Course Director: Dr Fred Claeyssens
Department of Materials Science and Engineering,
The Kroto Research Institute,
North Campus,
University of Sheffield,
Broad Lane,
S3 7HQ

Tel: +44 (0)114 222 5513

email :

Dedicated webpages about this course and the framework of NanoMsc courses are available at: