MSc Medical Biotechnology

Postgraduate, Full-time

Medical Biotechnology MSc



This course will develop your understanding of key concepts and practices in the biotechnologies that drive new product innovation

Overview

Our course is designed to enhance your career in the medical or pharmaceutical biotechnology sectors in a variety of research, product and technology development and leadership roles.

Medical Biotechnology will equip you with broad theoretical knowledge and critical understanding of advanced principles in biotechnology. 

You'll also gain the practical skills required to underpin a career within a business or research environment.

This course is eligible for a SFC funded place for Scottish and EU students – please see the SFC funding page for more information on how to apply. The deadline for applications for a January 2019 start is the 30th of November 2018.

medical biotechnology

Mode of Study:

Full-time (available as Part-time)

Duration:

1 year

Start date:

JanSep


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Course details

This course provides detailed knowledge of key concepts in cell technology, bioprocessing and molecular analysis and how these approaches are applied in areas of specific relevance to medical and pharmaceutical applications such as drug design and discovery, immunology and microbial infection.

You’ll explore and critically evaluate the technologies driving discovery and modification of natural compounds for use in medicine, the relationship between progress in our understanding of disease and the development of diagnostics and treatments, as well as the application of theoretical concepts to the use of biological systems for production of drugs.

Business and entrepreneurship are also a core feature of this programme.

You’ll address themes that influence the success of any biotechnology venture such as intellectual property, bioethics, sustainability and public perception through the development of a novel business concept.

There is an emphasis on developing your practical laboratory skills with various opportunities for hands-on experience in a range of current techniques and practices such as mammalian cell culture and fermentation. In your final trimester you’ll undertake an independent project within a vibrant research team, allowing you to apply and further develop your technical, research and professional skills. There may be the opportunity to conduct your research project externally in a relevant organisation or bio-industry.

You’ll also develop key skills including communication, problem solving, team work, project management, and leadership.

“This programme explores biotechnology from the core science to the translation of a novel concept into a real world commercial venture with biomedical application and looks at how this impacts society.” Dr Fiona Stainsby, lead academic for the course.

  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    This is a full-time course over one year and is split up into three trimesters. You can choose to start in either January or September.

    Duration:

    • September starts: 12 months
    • January starts: 18 months with a three-month break over the summer (after the first taught trimester)
    You’ll learn through interactive lectures, workshops, tutorials, site visits and laboratory sessions, and by engaging with guided independent study. Sites visits and/or guest lectures may also be arranged. A variety of assessment tools are used to enhance and evaluate your learning.
  • note and pen Assessments

    Your assessments are mapped out across your programme and include formative work to help practice your skills, as well as summative work which will build on this preparatory work. These are carefully spaced out across each trimester to avoid clashes and include many different types of assessment such as essays, lab reports, posters, oral presentations, short discussions, class tests and exams. 

    Some of these assessments involve group-work, whilst others are individual. 

    For example: In the Business and Bioethics module, you will work on a business plan and are required to prepare an oral pitch and a written report. In the Cell Technology module, you will be assessed on practical lab skills and also via a class test.

  • library Facilities

    The MSc Medical Biotechnology programme is delivered at our landmark Sighthill Campus where students learn in state of the art laboratories equipped with, for example, cell tissue culture hoods; category II microbiology facilities; anaerobic chambers; bioreactors; confocal microscopy and molecular biology equipment, to ensure we meet the needs of students entering employment and research roles in the healthcare and life science sector.

Modules

Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Advanced Immunology ( BMS11100 )

In this module you will gain a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the cells, molecules and functions of the human immune system. You will learn about the role of the immune system in diseases such as autoimmune disorders and allergy. You will also learn about immunotechnology aspects including blood typing, transplantation, monoclonal antibodies and vaccines, illustrating the value of immunology in diagnosis and therapeutics.

The innate and adaptive immune responses; the cellular and molecular components of the immune system; inflammation and vaccine adjuvants; role of dendritic cells and pattern recognition receptors (PRRs); antigen processing and presentation; role of B and T cells in immune responses; immunological techniques e.g. flow cytometry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); immune tolerance and autoimmune disease; transplantation; tumour immunology; hypersensitivity; Monoclonal antibodies and therapeutics.

Further information

Biotechnology and Drug Discovery ( MIC11108 )

This module will provide you with insight and understanding in one of the most exciting areas of modern biotechnology. You will learn to examine, critique and appraise established and emerging technologies used in drug design and discovery. You will also develop important, transferable scientific communication skills during interactive components.
Protein structure, function and post-translational modifications including glycobiology.
Culture systems: mammalian, insect, bacterial culture systems.
Recombinant proteins for therapeutic use.
DNA/RNA based drugs: antisense RNA; siRNA, microRNA.
Cell penetrating peptides.
High throughput screening strategies for new drugs/targets: genomics, microarray; proteomics, phage display.
Stem cell culture and applications
Cancer immunotherapy
CRISPR genome editing
Drug delivery systems – Nanotechnology, viral, non-viral, mechano-chemical.




Further information

Business and Bioethics ( MIC11104 )

Development of biotechnology and influencing factors; Basis concepts of IPR, patents & licensing; Technology transfer; Commercialisation strategies and financing for the biotechnology sector; National and global context – markets & trends; Business models and plans - comparison of large corporate vs SMEs, mature companies vs start-ups; Regulatory framework governing management of risk; Introductory ethics and the history of “ethical” regulation; legal implications of being “unethical”; perception of biotechnology by society, sustainability (environmental, social and economic) exploration of specific topics, e.g. personalise medicine, stem cell research, genetic manipulation of crop and fuel plants, transgenic animals, the use of animal/human subjects in research.

Further information

Cell Technology ( MIC11103 )

Cell culture, preservation and manipulation - including microbial, plant, human/animal primary and immortalised cell lines and tissue maintenance; aseptic technique and media design; culture isolation and inoculum development, cell counting; manipulation of cells including non-recombinant and recombinant approaches to strain improvement for bioprocessing, and stem cell therapy.
Units of operation of a bioprocess and factors influencing optimisation - bioreactor design, inoculum development, scale-up, product separation and analysis.
Regulatory and quality framework - COSSH, GMP, GLP, biosafety and containment, product approval, validation and auditing. Responsible scientific practice.
Laboratory experiments/projects in cell culture, media design and preparation, optimisation of fermentation, product separation and analysis, experiment and project design, statistics, data-handling.

Further information

Current Practice in Drug Development ( BMS11104 )

You will develop a demonstrable understanding of the principles of drug development at the molecular level and the practices currently adopted in industry. You will focus on the historical origins of existing drugs and contemporary methods being used to develop new ones. You will learn to appraise and analyse physical parameters and data on drug candidate molecules. Industry-modelled case studies, individual and group activities will enhance your presentational and organizational skills to achieve competency in workshop preparation and delivery; and in writing scientific research reviews.
Origins and new sources of drugs; natural products and new pharmaceuticals; the drug discovery and development process. Molecular modelling. Stereochemistry: a source of problems in medicinal chemistry. Structure-based drug design; pharmacophore-based drug design; QSAR. Physicochemical properties and drug design: electronic factors, lipophilicity, partition coefficient, steric parameters, prediction of drug-receptor interactions, ligand binding studies. Drug formulation, prodrugs. Computational techniques: analysis of conformational space, molecular graphics and the visualisation of molecules. Molecular diversity. Combinatorial libraries and modern methods of synthesis. Current approaches to the chemotherapeutic treatment of (selected) diseases: cardiovascular disease, inflammation, cancer, viral- and bacterial- infection, diabetes, asthma, cognitive disorders. Patent application procedures and IP maintenance; legislation.

Further information

Molecular Pathogenesis of Microbial Infection ( MIC11100 )

In this module you will examine the molecular themes underpinning the pathogenesis of microbial infection. You will examine the responses of microbes to external stimuli and understand the molecular mechanisms that modulate genetic regulation of virulence factors and microbial stress responses that ensure survival and infection in the host. The host response to microbial infection: innate and acquired immune response to infection; Invasion & colonisation of the host: molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis; Virulence factors involved in adhesion, invasion and colonisation; molecular structure and genetic regulation. Overcoming antimicrobial resistance: antibiotics/antivirals/antifungals and resistance; bacterial physiology and novel therapeutics.

Further information

Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology ( BMS11110 )

The module will provide you with an introduction to the major aspects of the scientific study of drugs in man, not just with respect to the design of optimum drug therapy, but also looking at the differences between pharmacology and toxicology. You will learn about how drugs work, their limitations, and the variability of response. You will study how cells transduce messages from the plasma membrane into the cell and nucleus. You will learn about how the body’s endogenous signalling system works and how this informs drug development. This includes the basic principles of receptor theory, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and their relevance to establishing the theoretical and practical basis for the rational clinical application of drugs. You will also examine the cellular and molecular mechanisms of toxicology.

This includes the basic principles of toxicokinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion), and the factors affecting each. You will examine the cellular and molecular mechanisms of xenobiotic toxicity, together with toxicity testing in the pharmaceutical industry. You will gain an insight into how intracellular signalling mechanisms can be manipulated, resulting in new research methodology. You will also engage with the literature surrounding molecular pharmacology and toxicology in order to understand recent developments in research in this area.

You will cover the concept of ion channels and G protein-coupled receptors, intracellular kinase cascades, calcium signalling and linked control of transcription factors. Manipulation of signalling cascades in therapeutics and research. Basic principles of receptor theory, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and rational drug design. Introduction to toxicology. Toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics. Detailed descriptions of specific toxicant and pharmacological examples. In vitro and in vivo models of toxicity. Mechanisms of xenobiotic toxicity and toxicity testing.

Further information

Research Project ( BMS11102 )

In this module you will conduct an independent piece of research, either as a practical laboratory-based project, or a piece of qualitative research (e.g. surveys). This involves design, development and implementation of a programme of research in a particular field of study relevant to your programme of study. You will critically analyse data/information generated, and communicate the outcomes in a written report, which will develop your skills in scientific writing. This will give you experience in summarising information and presentation skills.
On-line literature searches. Literature review. Project formulation. Hypothesis generation. Experimental design. Development of practical skills/research technique. Data generation/collection and analysis. Use of appropriate statistical analysis. Evaluation of findings, critical analysis and conclusions, with reference to supporting literature. Communication of original research results in a report written in the style of a scientific paper.



Further information

Research Skills ( MIC11107 )

In this module you will relate the physico-chemical properties of RNA, DNA and protein to the common methodologies and technologies used for molecular analysis. In doing so, you will understand the parameters that can be varied in the optimisation of a methodology and will be able to predict the effect of alterations to these parameters. You will study the current developments that are taking place in molecular analysis and critically review the application of this technology to areas of interest in biomedical sciences and biotechnology. A series of practical laboratory sessions will help you gain experience in commonly-used practical techniques relating to the lecture material. DNA purification, restriction and quantification; Cloning – vectors, ligation, screening and analysis of clones; Gene expression and protein purification; Protein analysis – quantification, detection and mass spectrometry; Principles of nucleic acid hybridisation and DNA synthesis to applications in PCR, sequencing microarrays and gene silencing techniques (RNA interference); In silico analysis and manipulation of RNA, DNA and protein sequence information (bioinformatics); “-omics” – comparative and functional genomics, proteomics.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

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Entry requirements

Entry requirements 

The entry requirements for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at a 2:2 or above. We look for applicants to have a background in bio-molecular sciences such as: biotechnology, molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry and biomedical sciences.

We may consider degree equivalent or lesser qualifications if you have sufficient relevant work experience gained in biotechnology related industries and research laboratories.

English language requirements

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2018/19 2019/20
Home/EU £5,850 £6,084
Overseas £15,150 £15,755


Frequently Asked Questions about Fees.
Information of Bursaries and Scholarships.
The University offers a 10% discount on MSc Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes.

SFC funded course

Edinburgh Napier University has funding to support a very limited number of postgraduate taught places for this course. Awards are available for those starting in September and January each year.

Careers

  • Laboratory-based or research management and product development work in a variety of industries ranging from multi-national companies to smaller biotechnology enterprises in the medical, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and biochemical sectors.
  • Opportunities may also exist in contract research companies and service providers to the biotechnology sector, in addition to research institutes and local government.
  • Further study in a research setting: graduates will be qualified to continue to PhD studies in the bio-molecular sciences.
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