MSc Human and Molecular Genetics

MSc Human and Molecular Genetics

Following the sequencing of the Human Genome and emerging ideas of personalised medicine becoming a tangible goal, this MSc is a great starting point for students considering a career in genetic diagnostic laboratories, or any branch of molecular biology research. This MSc will provide an excellent training in practical molecular biology techniques for biology graduates who have had limited laboratory experience during their first degree, providing you with excellent research and clinical training to support your future career in molecular bioscience.

Graduates from this course go on to great careers. Here are just a few examples:

Bethany Green

Bethaney Green
NHS Trainee Healthcare Scientist (Genetics), Sheffield Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Mohammed Alfawaz

Mohammed Alfawaz
PhD Research Scientist (Molecular Genetics), The University of Sheffield Medical School (Oncology)

Hasan Alnaser

Hasan Alnaser
PhD Research Scientist (Genetics – DNA Repair), The University of Sheffield (MBB)


Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 2319

About the course

If you are fascinated by molecular genetics and you are keen to get hands on experience, but your undergraduate BSc degree provided limited practical experience, then this course is for you.

The course is particularly suited to candidates who are especially interested in human molecular genetics and how human genetic diseases are diagnosed at the chromosome and DNA level.

The course will provide you with an understanding of what causes genome instability and genetic change and an opportunity to put your expertise into practice. The Human Genetics Laboratory Project is designed to integrate and apply this knowledge to the diagnosis and prognosis of human genetic diseases and cancer.

Further information

Entry requirements

For entry into this MSc course, candidates must hold a first class or second class BSc honours degree, or equivalent university qualification in a molecular biology related subject (e.g. Biochemistry, Genetics, Biotechnology, Microbiology). Candidates with professional experience may also be considered following interview.

Fees and funding

Up-to-date fees can be found on the University's postgraduate webpages:

Postgraduate taught course fees and funding

There are various sources of funding that could help you with your postgraduate studies, and for international students there are a number of scholarships available:

Scholarships for international students | Postgraduate Student Funding Table


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The Human and Molecular Genetics MSc lasts for one academic year, which is split over two semesters and includes seven modules. The course begins in September and includes nine months of laboratory experience and research, lectures and seminars, essay writing and a final dissertation.

Laboratory modules

Laboratory Skills in Molecular Bioscience (semester one)
This module is designed to develop and practice core genetic and biochemical techniques so that students may progress confidently to the research project. Protein and DNA isolation, SDS PAGE, Western analysis, ion exchange chromatography, protein overexpression, PCR, plasmid construction, restriction mapping and BLAST DNA sequence analysis will all be included as part of a 3 month, fully supervised laboratory project.

Research Project (semester two)
This module lasts 6 months and gives students an opportunity to conduct their own clinical genetics research project. As part of this module, students will receive extensive training in human chromosome analysis, human cell line culture and maintenance, microscopy and data analysis. You will communicate your research findings to the scientific community by oral and poster presentations. Students will also complete dissertation and defend their work through viva voce examination.

Lecture and seminar modules

Human Genetics I (semester one)
This lecture based course will provide a firm grounding in single gene disorders, how these diseases are are isolated through positional cloning and the application on this information to such techniques as prenatal diagnosis. The course will also include how the encoded protein(s) can be studied allowing the molecular pathology of the disease to be elucidated. As case studies students will consider Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, trinucleotide repeat expansions, familial speech disorder and hereditary cancers. The second part of the module will be concerned with changes in chromosome structure and number, which are also a common cause of disease. We will consider the mechanisms for the orderly segregation of chromosomes during meiosis and the results of mistakes in these processes.

Literature Review (semester one)
This module involves an in-depth survey of the current literature relevant to the student's Laboratory Project. Students will build upon the skills in literature searching and interpretation they have developed in their undergraduate studies, making use of a variety of databases and literature-searching tools.

Advanced Research Topics (semesters one and two)
This course will develop the ability of students to acquire information through the medium of research seminars. It will give insight into the development of scientific ideas, and acquaint students with the most recent developments in selected areas. Students will attend a series of seminars, given as part of the departmental research seminar programme, and will write a brief report on each. They will take part in a journal club, involving studying, presenting and discussing papers from the scientific literature. They will also undertake more extensive research into the scientific literature relevant to a subset of topics. Reporting of this work will include oral presentations in which students will practice modern presentation techniques.

Human Genetics II (semester two)
Common diseases often run in families but do not show the characteristic Mendelian segregation. Such diseases are influenced by alleles affecting many genes and the risk is also strongly affected by environmental factors. The first part of the module will be concerned with these complex diseases and how the risk alleles are identified. The second part of the module will be concerned with the function of the genetic testing laboratory. As well as considering the nature of the test used, there will be a discussion of the practical problems faced by the genetic counsellor with an emphasis on ethical dilemmas which often arise.

Genome Stability and Genetic Change (semester two)
This lecture bases course examines in detail the mechanisms that generate genetic variation and maintain genome integrity. There is a strong emphasis on eukaryotes. Underlying mechanisms of genetic recombination, mismatch repair, excision repair and mutagenesis will all be discussed. Wherever possible, experimental detail is included to illustrate how conclusions on gene function and interactions are determined.