A unique opportunity to gain an understanding of the commercialisation of scientific ideas, the setting up of a bio-business and the research skills that are needed to accompany this knowledge.

This programme is studied on campus.

The growth in the industrial biotechnology and biopharmaceutical sectors has led to exciting career opportunities for experienced graduates. Our MSc in Biotechnology, Bioinformatics and Bio-business is a unique opportunity to gain training in advanced biotechnology and bioinformatics coupled with training in bio-business and the commercialisation of scientific ideas.

The University of Aberdeen has an impressive reputation for producing successful spin-out companies in the broad area of biotechnology and pharmacology. This MSc has harnessed these skills to provide you with an understanding of the commercialisation of scientific ideas, the setting up of a bio-business and the research skills that are needed to accompany this knowledge.

This MSc is ideal for graduates in life science, pharmacy and medical biosciences who want to improve their career prospects, widen their knowledge base linked to biotechnology and their own scientific interests, and are fascinated by the commercialisation of science.

Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month

What You'll Study

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

As well as the courses listed below you will also study a new course in "Biotechnology" (please see ‘Why study Biotechnology Bioinformatics and Bio-business’, below for more details)

Basic Skills - Induction (MT5010)

This course is designed to provide or revise the basic skills you will require for your MSc. The course will revise basic laboratory skills and techniques and advance these to a level required to undertake graduate practical classes and projects by developing hands-on experience, competence and confidence in key laboratory skills.

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Introduction to Bio - Business and the Commercialisation of Bioscience Research (BT5012) - 15 Credit Points

This course will describe the basic language of business and give examples of large versus small businesses in the bioscience area. Intellectual property rights will be explained as will how present your business and how to set up a small biotech company. A comparison will be made of the big Pharma business model and that of small biotech businesses.

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Bioinformatics (MB5021) - 15 Credit Points

A course containing a series of lectures describing 'latest-methods and discoveries' in areas of bioinformatics and functional genomics including transcriptomics, proteomics, and DNA sequence analysis

Contains an extended research practical; you carry out computer analysis of transcriptome datasets to understand how cells respond to starvation stress, and write up in research paper format.

Contains a series of in-depth workshops that teach the principles and practice of DNA and protein sequence analysis.

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Biotechnology (BT5014) - 15 Credit Points

Modern biotechnology is absolutely dependent upon our increasingly sophisticated ability to use microbial and mammalian host cells as factories to produce high quantities of protein pharmaceuticals, e.g. insulin. Increasingly, cells engineered with multiple foreign genes are also being used to drive small molecule drug production. This course will explore how such heterologous protein expression processes can be engineered and optimised to drive efficient synthesis of the next generation medicines on which healthcare systems are increasingly depending.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Plus one from the following list:

Small Molecule Drug Discovery (BT5013) - 25 Credit Points

The course will focus on small molecule drug discovery. Receptor theory and cell communication and signalling will be revised to facilitate understanding of the remainder of the course. The basis of the drug discovery process will be described and the phases of drug development discussed. A range of targets for drug discovery will be identified and how small molecule drug affect these will be described. Issues around drug regulation will be raised.

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Molecular Genetics (MB5025) - 15 Credit Points

Series of lectures covering fundamental topics such as RNA (coding, non-coding transcription), DNA –protein interactions (e.g. chromatin, transcription factors), 3D structure of chromosomes and regulation of gene activity) as well as on genome structure/genetic mapping and advanced analytical methods such as CRISPR and genome editing technology. Lectures are complemented by tutorials and workshops covering related topics.

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Introduction to Microbiology (MC5008) - 15 Credit Points

This course will provide students with microbiology knowledge for further advanced studies and will provide training in microbiological laboratory techniques. At the end of this course students will have an understanding of microbes associated with health and disease (including bacteria, fungi and viruses), practical and academic understanding of laboratory techniques required for the culture, identification and characterisation of microbes, and increased confidence in reading and critiquing primary research literature.

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Applied Statistics (PU5017) - 15 Credit Points

This course intends to develop the student's awareness of the fact that statistical techniques are integral to scientific research. Researchers must be able to specify a precise research question in statistical terms and then select an appropriate study design in order to carry out an effective research project. They must also be able to assess the adequacy of the research presented in scientific or medical literature. The same skills are also required for many MSc dissertation projects.

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Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

As well as the courses listed below, you will also study new courses in "Advanced Bioinformatics and Genome Sequencing" and "Advanced Biotechnology" (please see ‘Why study Biotechnology Bioinformatics and Bio-business’, below for more details)

Advanced Bio - Business and the Commercialisation of Bioscience Research (BT5508) - 15 Credit Points

This advanced course builds on the basics provided in Introduction to Bio-business and the Commercialisation of Bioscience Research (BT5012). It provides more detail on financing and setting up a Bio-business.

The course deals in depth with finance, corporate governance and business models. The major assessment involves the students working together in teams to set up a virtual bio-business and to pitch this business to a group of experts in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector. The team will adopt the roles of senior management team and present to the experts their part of the business.

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Advanced Biotechnology (BT5510) - 15 Credit Points

This course will take the student through in depth study of how synthetic biology and systems biology are transforming the principles and practice of modern biotechnology. The course will teach modern methods of biotechnology including host cell design and optimisation using modern modelling techniques, leading to an understanding of how multiple genes under precise regulatory control can be introduced into a species to endow it with new biotechnologically-valuable properties.

Through hands on study of synthetic biological processes in a series of workshops, students will learn how advanced genetic engineering of host expression systems can transform production of pharmaceuticals, chemical feedstocks and biofuels. The course will equip students with a range of knowledge and skills directly relevant to modern biosciences, including the biotechnology industry.

View detailed information about this course

Advanced Bioinformatics and Genome Sequencing (MB5522) - 15 Credit Points

An exciting course that brings a student right up to date with the most modern bioinformatics, genome assembly and annotation technology. You, the student, will isolate a novel bacterium from the environment and purify its DNA. This will be whole genome sequenced, and you will then assemble your own bacterial genome and functionally annotate it, taught by expert bioinformaticians from our Centre for Genome-Enabled Biology and Medicine. Your analysis will enable you to make identifications of the species you have isolated, its metabolic and environmental responses, growth constraints and regulation, cell surface markers and antibiotic resistance, producing a full inventory of genes and their presumptive functions. Overall the course prepares a student for future employment in a biosciences workplace where genome sequencing and annotation is becoming an every-day tool of modern biotechnology.

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Beyond Your Degree (GS55M2)

This course gives students the opportunity to develop the skills needed to progress in their degree programme and beyond into their chosen career. It focuses on the job application process, the support available from the university both during and after their degree, and the skills that apply to undertaking projects. Sessions include an introduction to the careers service, CV, cover letter and interview skills, workplace professionalism and managing projects. Online resources are provided to support transferable skill development.

The course strongly relies on self-assessment and identification of opportunities by the students to use the support sessions and online resources available. Although completion of the course is compulsory, most of the course sessions offered are optional, and completion of the course is achieved through formative assignments.

This course is the second of two courses relating to generic skills that are compulsory for all taught postgraduate students in the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Plus one from the following list:

Biologic Drug Discovery (BT5509) - 15 Credit Points

Biologic therapies represent one of the most important and novel areas of drug discovery in the 21st century. The aim of this course is to provide an insight into the success of protein, peptide or antibody based biologic therapies and to examine how this exciting new area will develop over the next decade.

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Regulation in Microbial Adaption (MC5510) - 15 Credit Points

A course describing the principles behind how microorganisms respond to environmental stresses

A range of microbial stress responses are detailed using a range of model systems, pathogens and non-pathogens, showing how gene expression is regulated by stress.

Contains an extended research practical; you carry out computer-based modelling to understand how cells responds to starvation stress, and write up in research paper format.

We teach with reference to the scientific literature allowing you to place your learning in the context of the latest published research.

View detailed information about this course

Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Masters Research Project (MB5902) - 60 Credit Points

The topic of the project will be subject and supervisor dependant.

View detailed information about this course

Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

The teaching of our MSc Biotechnology, Bioinformatics and Bio-business programme is lecture based with self-directed learning, practical classes and tutorials to support the lecture material.

In the second semester students have a unique opportunity to individually sequence and analyse the entire genome of a microorganism isolated and characterised by themselves. External experts are also regularly invited to provide specialist expertise.

Many lectures are recorded and can be viewed again when required. The MSc makes the most of hands-on learning to enable repeated exposure to evidence-based practice using real life examples. Some of the teaching methods employed in the programme include:

  • Inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary learning
  • Exposure to leading academic and industry experts
  • Research-led teaching taught by key opinion leaders
  • Insight into real-life situations and examples

On-going support is provided by the University’s dedicated, interdisciplinary team of experienced researchers, who will be tutoring you. Peer support will develop throughout the course(s) as engagement with students from other countries and disciplines is actively encouraged.

Much of the teaching on this course is participatory and you are expected to consolidate all taught content by completing related tasks and activities and engaging in independent study in your own time.

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Peer Learning
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Each course has its own continuous assessment criteria based on the progress of practical and course work as well as a written degree examination.

Progression to a research project is dependent on performance in the individual courses. The MSc project is assessed with the submission of a thesis and viva examination.

Why Study Biotechnology, Bioinformatics and Bio-business?

  • You will be taught by world leading researchers in Biotechnology, Bioinformatics and Bio-business.
  • You will have access to business entrepreneurs and world-leading researchers on-site and you will experience studying within the one of the top 10 medical schools in the UK.
  • You will have an opportunity to contribute to cutting edge research during your project.
  • Brand new courses in Biotechnology and Advanced Bioinformatics and Genome Sequencing give you the opportunity to carry out whole genome sequencing from a bacterial species you have isolated from the environment, and analyse that genome for novel properties.
  • Advanced Biotechnology is a brand new course introducing the latest biotechnology approaches to protein expression, including synthetic biology and modelling of biological systems
  • Aberdeen is recognised as Scotland’s commercial centre for drug discovery, with University of Aberdeen spin-outs in the vanguard of this; our courses in Bio-business give you direct access to this expertise via invited lecturers from the biotech spin-out community.
  • Embedded within an active and dynamic research culture, you will have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills required to enhance your employability and further your career. There will also be opportunities to build a network of contacts within the biotechnology and pharmaceutical field.
  • You will benefit from having access to teachers and researchers who are key opinion leaders in their field.
  • We strongly believe in inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary learning, which is reflected in the collaborations we organise with other universities, research institutions and governments within the UK, Europe, America and more than 12 developing countries.
  • We have a huge range of online learning materials so you can re-listen to lectures and access revision materials whenever you need to. We aim to make your learning as interactive as possible to improve your understanding of clinical scenarios and critical thinking.
  • The University of Aberdeen is a World Top 170 University (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020)
  • 85% of all research submissions were rated as "outstanding" or "very considerable" for impact
  • The University of Aberdeen is a Top 30 UK University, Complete University Guide 2020

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

Applicants will usually require an upper second-class Honours degree (2:1) or equivalent in a biological or biomedical science subject or a related degree.

Please check our International student pages for country-specific requirements.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 51; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

an up-to-date CV/Resumé
Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £10,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year
International Students £23,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Funding Opportunities

The following options are available to support your studies.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers and Employability Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Professor Heather Wallace
Professor Iain Gibson
Dr Elaina Collie-Duguid
Programme Coordinator
Professor Ian Stansfield

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


Image for The Institute of Medical Sciences
The Institute of Medical Sciences

The Institute of Medical Sciences

Focused on developing future effective therapies, the Institute of Medical Sciences houses nearly 400 researchers and support staff working on cutting-edge biomedical subjects aimed at understanding the human body's response to infection and disease.

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Foresterhill Health Campus

Foresterhill Health Campus

The Foresterhill Health Campus is one of the largest clinical complexes in Europe which includes the Medical School, large teaching hospital, the Institute of Medical Sciences and the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health.

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Library facilities

Library facilities

A dedicated Medical Library on the Foresterhill Health Campus and the fantastic facilities in the Sir Duncan Rice Library at King’s College, are complemented by online access to the key medical and health sciences journals and textbooks.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX