Study a masters in biological and life sciences

Written By

Think Postgrad

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where can I find masters courses in biological and life sciences?

Biological and life sciences are very popular subject areas for masters study. Postgraduate courses in Biological and Life Science offer many possible future career choices. This guide explains why you might study a masters in biological and life sciences.

Why study a masters biological and life sciences?

A lot of people ask 'what do you study in life science?'. Biological and life sciences is the study of all living things on Earth. Few subjects offer such an enormous range of possibilities as these because you examine every creature on our planet. The biological sciences provide research and solutions leading to discoveries in all fields of biological study.

We have all recently experienced how important it is to understand life forms and pathogens. The study of viruses and bacteria are just one of the myriad areas to learn at masters level.

The global population has exceeded 8Bn, and as a result our planet’s climate is at a tipping point. The more we can discover about biology and life forms and their effects on our environment the better our future will be.

This understanding of biological and life sciences can lead to the development of new treatments for diseases, the creation of more sustainable agricultural practices, and the conservation of biodiversity. Additionally, studying life sciences can help us to understand the evolution of different species and how they have adapted to their environments over time. Finally, many people find the study of life sciences to be personally rewarding, as it allows them to learn about the complex and fascinating systems that make up the natural world.

What does a masters in biological and life sciences cover?

All masters degree courses build upon the foundations of a subject by focusing on specialist knowledge. This process is very effective in STEM subjects chiefly because there is such a wide range of areas to study.

Students study core subjects in science at undergraduate level. A masters degree builds upon those skills. This is demonstrated in the detail of masters course modules, and likewise by giving students access to specialist facilities to conduct research.

If you have a passion for a scientific topic, a masters in biological and life sciences is a great choice because it gives you the opportunity to investigate it further. Some masters courses allow students the freedom to learn about subjects that are not part of the syllabus. With the result that specialisation opens up many opportunities to continue studying up to PhD level.

Some degrees include a placement year in order to provide experience in laboratory work or scientific research. This is especially useful for instance, as the opportunities for work immediately after graduation depend on your location and its proximity to employers that offer internships or work placements as well as junior lab roles.

The structure of a typical masters in biological and life sciences

Teaching is usually jointly delivered by experts in different specialisations. For the most part students attend a series of lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. There will often be a mixture of individual and group-based exercises, group discussions, problem-based learning and practical training in advanced techniques.

Students will be expected to complete further hours of independent study by reading designated material, producing written assignments and completing projects. In the long run you will receive training in state-of-the art technologies and the latest research.

The course will usually consist of a number of compulsory taught modules, plus research methods and research lab skills. After that, there will be a 24-week individual research project, followed by 1 month to write it up.

The project will allow you to build up a substantial portfolio of experimental skills and thereby tackle more extended research and development projects with increased confidence.

On campus or online?

There are a wide range of masters courses in biological and life sciences from leading universities that can be studied 100% Online. This means that you will have the flexibility to study wherever and whenever you like.

You will balance study and work commitments with support offered by your course tutors and by an experienced and dedicated student success team.

Careers with a masters in biological and life sciences

A masters in global sciences can undoubtedly equip you for a range of academic and professional career paths. Contributing to research in this field can make a significant difference in the long run to the lives of humans and animals around the world.

You could study biochemistry at undergraduate level, followed by biotechnology at masters level. Blending together biology and automation can lead to opportunities in niche areas, such as the mass production of cell lines and gene therapies.

There are many careers where a qualification in biological and life sciences will be necessary, such as: -

  • Biomedical scientist
  • Forensic scientist
  • Clinical scientist
  • Medicinal chemist
  • Analytical chemist
  • Biochemist
  • Laboratory technician
  • Toxicologist
  • Microbiologist
  • Research scientist
  • Biotechnologist

The major UK employers include public sector organisations such as: -

  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • NHS, including NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT)
  • UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)
  • The Police Service and forensic services for The Home Office

Additional Professional Accreditation

A number of master degree courses in the discipline include additional professional accreditation. This is very useful for the most part if you decide upon a career where your entitlement to work is determined by your registration with one of the regulators.

The HCPC Health & Care Professions Council protect the public by regulating 15 health and care professions in the UK. Their role is to set standards for professionals' education and training and practice. They also approve programmes which professionals must complete to register with them.

In addition, specialist industry institutes offer career support and professional recognition. The Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) accredit a series of masters degree qualifications which enable eligible members to be recognised as Chartered Scientists.

Final thoughts

A masters in biological and life sciences offers a wide variety of options for study and potential career pathways. In the long run the subject provides plenty of opportunities for academic and personal development.  

Students looking for advice and feedback can use Masters Compare to identify the right course and location to contact. Individual universities offer many ways to get in touch with academic staff as well as students studying on the programme.

You can always get a feel for the course and campus by attending an Open Day or webinar event. These are designed to unpack the details of the course. They offer you the chance to ask your questions, such as ‘why study a masters at your university’, and to find out a bit more about the day-to-day aspects of the course.

Remember if you are applying from overseas there will be a number of scholarships available to applicants. In order to support international students, many universities offer these based on their academic merit and nationality, and these are listed on Postgraduate Studentships.

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