Skip to main content
Start Dates
Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time


Durham City

Programme code


Ready to Apply?

Course details

Our MSc in Plant Biotechnology and Enterprise explores the need for society to increase agricultural productivity amid global warming and equips you with the skills and experience in biotechnological innovation and commercial know-how to support the vital efforts to shape food production in the future.

The course is designed to fill a gap in biosciences education. It has been developed against a backdrop of a decade-long fall in crop protection and biotech products caused by fewer companies working in the sector, a difficult legislative environment and the lack of professionals with the right abilities and specific knowledge to convert their ideas into commercial products.

You will study five taught modules delivered through a wide-ranging mix of lectures, seminars, small group classes and practical laboratory-based workshops. The final element of the course is a 6-month research project carried out on a subject of interest. The project brings together your laboratory, research and planning skills into a thesis and presentation under the guidance of a research-active supervisor.

Three taught modules have been developed specifically for this course; Frontiers in Plant Science, Agriculture and Biotechnology and Technology in Biosciences. They cover research and innovation in the field and offer opportunities to interact with the sector.

Of the remaining two modules, Bioinformatics and Data Science will cover the computational and statistical analysis of big data while Innovation and Enterprise in Plant Biotechnology, run jointly with Durham Business School, adds a business element to the course as you take on a real-world innovation challenge.

Ensuring a flow of new scientists into the plant technology sector has never been more important given the socio-economic context and the rise in global warming-linked natural catastrophes and this course will help meet that need, helping to shape a positive future.

Watch our short video - Durham MSc Plant Biotechnology and Enterprise - YouTube

Course structure

Core modules:

The Research Project develops your interest in plant biotechnology and enhances your skills in the design of experiments and project planning. The module also provides you with hands-on laboratory experience and fosters confidence in the handling and configuration of laboratory instruments.

Frontiers in Plant Science provides a broad understanding of plant development and the theories behind major agricultural and biotechnological advances as well as an awareness of the current challenges. You will also gain insight into the technical, legal and ethical limitations associated with improvement of agricultural and biotechnological processes.

Agriculture and Biotechnology creates a specific awareness of the benefits of agriculture and biotechnology for society in general and provides a framework for developing industrial applications from theoretical knowledge. There will also be opportunities to develop links with the sector through industrial visits.

Bioinformatics and Data Science develops a broad understanding of bioinformatics and the ability to use public bioinformatics databases. The module provides you with skills and knowledge in the R environment for data analysis and visualisation and the analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data using open-source software, DNA and protein sequence data and next generation sequencing data.

Innovation and Enterprise in Plant Biotechnology teaches the major theories and models of innovation and product development and their evaluation and provides training in how innovation is managed in company settings and how it is communicated across social systems. You will complete a real-life problem-based innovation challenge and you will also be introduced to aspects of intellectual property and innovation management.

Technology in the Biosciences offers an overview of recent technological developments and their application to the biosciences as well as an understanding of the theoretical aspects and practical skills underpinning technological advances in the biosciences. You will be given an overall appreciation of the strategies and technologies employed in the biosciences and how they are applied to support plant science, plant biotechnology and agriculture.


Learning on this course is delivered through an interesting and challenging mixture of lectures, seminars, small group work, laboratory-based practical sessions and case studies.

The lectures provide key information on the module subjects. The majority of lectures are given by specialist academics, with a number of key lectures delivered by guest speakers who have relevant industrial expertise in the specific topic. You will develop further insight in the smaller group sessions and debate and discuss issues arising from the lectures and from your own independent study.

Workshops and laboratory-based practical sessions offer one-to-one mentoring and you will be able to create your own research project on a subject in which you are particularly interested.


Assessment is rigorous and ongoing in order to test your knowledge and varies from module to module. Assessment methods include essays, written tests and reports, a mini project, a group presentation and the completion of a lab book. 

You will also undertake an in-depth research project, which is a significant piece of work on a subject of particular interest, chosen by you with guidance and support from your supervisor.

Entry requirements

Applicants need the equivalent of a UK honours degree to at least a 2:1 in a Biosciences equivalent degree (i.e. Biology, Natural Sciences, Agriculture). It is not necessary to have prior laboratory experience in plant sciences techniques

English Language requirements

English language requirements: Candidates whose first language is not English will normally be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language by possessing a recent English language test score of average 6.5 or above in IELTS, or TOEFL iBT (internet based) 92 or above, or equivalent.

Additional requirements

  • Completed online application form
  • CV/Resume
  • Evidence of higher degree qualifications with mark statements
  • Personal statement (up to 750 words)
  • References: the applicant will need to provide the names of two people who can provide an academic reference in support of your application. An academic reference could be from, for example:
    • Your personal tutor
    • Your thesis supervisor
    • Your line manager in a research group

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £13,500 per year
EU students £30,500 per year
Island students £13,500 per year
International students £30,500 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


As a biosciences postgraduate, you receive the essential skills and knowledge that come with research-led teaching, enabling you to continue your academic work at a higher level.

Your experience in the Department also develops more personal attributes, sought by employers, to help you take the step into a stimulating and rewarding professional career.

Recent postgraduates have gone on to succeed in a wide range of roles in teaching, the health sector, industrial R&D and biotechnology, management, accountancy, conservation, ecological and environmental services, journalism, environmental and biological patent law, pharmaceuticals, the civil service and the armed services.

Whether you choose to follow a research or employment path, you will be equipped with up-to-date skills and knowledge that you can use to help society tackle global challenges related to humankind, the climate and the environment.

Department information


The Department of Biosciences considers global issues such as healthy ageing, food security and control of disease and the existential conditions of climate change and sustainability. Our academic goal is to develop workable responses that will help to improve lives and environments worldwide.

We take a research-led approach to teaching that develops both the theoretical and practical knowledge that is needed in order to be able to contribute in a meaningful way to tackling these issues.

Learning in the Department benefits from being informed by global scientific advances and the national and international priorities of governments and organisations at a time when biosciences have never been more important.

The expertise of our academic staff is wide-ranging. Specialisms feature bacteria, plants, animals and humans with an emphasis on biotic and abiotic stress, signalling and environmental adaptation, cell structure, function and development, and human health and disease.

Reflecting the constant change and growth of bioscience we encourage interdisciplinary-based partnerships such as Chemical Biology with the Department of Chemistry and Behavioural Ecology with the Department of Anthropology.

We have an engaged and vibrant community of more than a hundred postgraduate students and researchers, who come here from all over the world to conduct their research and develop their skills. Postgraduate biosciences at Durham provides a unique opportunity to really shape the future.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Biosciences Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 100% internationally recognised research environment (REF 2021)


The Department of Biosciences is located in a UNESCO World Heritage site, a short walk from the historic centre of Durham. Other academic departments and university services such as libraries and museums can be found nearby.

In the Department itself, we have a huge range of state-of-the-art technology, which is widely used by the postgraduate community for research work. The highly specialised equipment includes electron and confocal laser scanning microscopy, transgenic studies, genomics, DNA analysis and proteomics, bioinformatics, remote sensing, ecological field sampling and computer modelling.

Other departmental facilities are also world-class, including extensive greenhouses, environmental control chambers, cell technology facilities, microscopy suite, facilities for next generation sequencing and proteomics, and dedicated powerful computers for bioinformatics.

More information on our facilities and equipment.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

Similar courses

Bioarchaeology - MSc

Program Code: F4KB09
Start: September 2024

Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology - MSc

Program Code: F4KE09
Start: September 2024
Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology

Human Bioarchaeology and Palaeopathology - MSc

Program Code: F4KD09
Start: September 2024
Human Bioarchaeology and Palaeopathology

Master of Data Science (Earth and Environment) - MDS

Program Code: G5P123
Start: September 2024
Master of Data Science (Earth and Environment)