MPhil Biotechnology

  • DeadlineStudy Details:

    11 months FT

Course Description

The MPhil in Biotechnology is a newly launched (2018) programme at the University of Cambridge, for which world-leading academics and industry champions are coming together to deliver an in-depth multidisciplinary curriculum.


The programme offers a pathway specifically designed to bring in analytical skills from an engineering, physics, mathematics and computer sciences background into the biological sciences in response to major talent needs in biotechnology fields.


Entry Requirements

Academic. Applicants should hold a first or a good upper second class honours degree or equivalent.

Language. Candidates who are not native English speakers must demonstrate that they can read, write and speak English to the standard required to fully participate in the programme. Information on the language test scores required for the MPhil in Biotechnology can be found in the Graduate Studies Prospectus. Specifically, the requirements for IELTS and TOEFL are as follows.

IELTS: minimum overall score of 7.0, with a minimum of 7.0 in the listening, writing and speaking elements, and a minimum of 6.5 in the reading element.

TOEFL internet-based test (iBT): minimum overall score of 100, with not less than 25 in each element.

Visa information. If you are made an offer, an ATAS will be required in order to obtain a Visa. When applying for ATAS clearance, use the JACS code J7 and the JACS code type Research. In your ATAS application please enter the following JACS code in the ‘Full JACS Code (if available)’ section: J700. Please do not apply for an ATAS unless you have been made an offer.

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Module Details

1. Core biotechnology course. From October to December, the students take a foundational lecture course on principles of biotechnology. This is a broad-spectrum course covering a range of topics from cell biology, synthetic biology and bioanalytical techniques to cancer biology and bioethics

2. Elective advanced courses. The programme offers the students the possibility of tailoring their studies to their educational needs and career goals. During Michaelmas and Lent terms, they attend six courses selected from a list of subjects taught at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology as  as well as at other departments across the University. These courses allow the students to acquire advanced knowledge and skills in specific subjects close to their interests. Given the emphasis of the programme on an interdisciplinary approach to biotechnology, many of the elective courses on offer explore topics that are transversal to biological, engineering, physical and computer sciences.  Some of the elective courses allow the students to complement their training with business-relevant knowledge and skills. Students will normally be able to select their advanced courses from the list below. Please note that the courses on offer may change slightly from year to year, being subject to student numbers and academic staff availability, but every attempt will be made to allocate students to their preferred choices.

  • Biomimetics (Department of Engineering)
  • Bionanotechnology (CEB)
  • Biophysics (CEB)
  • Biosensors (CEB and Department of Engineering)
  • Cellular & molecular biomechanics (CEB and Department of Engineering)
  • Computational Neuroscience (Department of Engineering)
  • Healthcare biotechnology (CEB)
  • International Business (Department of Engineering)
  • Management of technology (Department of Engineering)
  • Mathematical Biology of the Cell (Department of Engineering)
  • Medical physics (Departments of Engineering and Physics)
  • Molecular modelling (Department of Engineering)
  • Optical microscopy (CEB)
  • Pharmaceutical engineering (CEB)
  • Systems biology (Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics)

3. Practical course. In Michaelmas term, the students take a practical course on fundamental and advanced biotechnology techniques. Over approximately 50 hours, the students will develop their practical skills through both taught and hands-on elements. The course includes practical demonstration sessions, computer-based cloning experiments, and wet-laboratory experiments. Examples of techniques covered in the course include state-of-the-art cloning, mammalian cell transfection with fluorescent-based sensors, CRISPR-Cas9, and optical microscopy.

4. Individual research project. The MPhil in Biotechnology is a taught programme with a strong research component, which includes an individual research project and a team research project (details below). Straight from the beginning till June, the students undertake their individual research projects within the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology or other participating departments depending on their specific interests. Normally a number of projects involvinge industrial collaborations are also offered for those who would like to have a taste of industry-applied research.  The students plan and execute their own work and submit their results in the form of a dissertation. Through the individual research project, the students extend their specialised knowledge by exploring a topic of their choice, develop practical skills in wet-laboratory and/or computer-based environments, and acquire a range of research and transferable skills that will set them up for independent research.

5. Team research project. The team research project is a distinctive feature of this programme. Throughout the Summer, after completing the individual research element, the students carry out a team research project that will have been defined and organised in collaboration with one of our industrial partners. In this project, the entire class tackles together a research challenge, having the chance to further develop knowledge and practical skills in biotechnology as well as research and business-relevant skills. This module is a key element in the training of business-relevant knowledge as the students work on an industrially motivated problem and interact closely with mentors from industry. The students rely on leadership competences, effective project management, multilingualism to understand a range of different stakeholders, and commercial awareness to successfully complete the exercise. The team research project culminates in the delivery of a professional report. Both the individual and the team research projects involve oral presentation of the results in the form of a mini-symposium to an audience of academics and industrial representatives.

6. Professional and career skills module. Despite its strong scientific core, the programme places significant emphasis on the training of transferable skills relevant to academia and industry. The development of transferable skills is transversal to various elements of the programme and further promoted by a dedicated module running throughout the year. This compulsory module covers both career skills and professional skills all the way from the lab bench to the market. 

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