Biochemical Engineering


MRes Synthetic Biology

MRes Synthetic Biology


Key Information

Programme starts

September 2018

Tuition Fees (2018/19)
£15,350 (FT)
£27,580 (FT)
Application deadlines
All applicants
Open: 16 October 2017
Close: 27 July 2018

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

Normally, a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree in biochemistry, biomedical sciences, life sciences, biochemical engineering, chemical biology or any related subject area, or a medical degree (MBBS), or a physical sciences degree, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Applicants with an appropriate professional qualification and relevant work experience may also apply.

English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Standard

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:


Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

Brown Family Bursary
Deadline is 11 May 2018
£15,000 (1 year)
UK students
Based on both academic merit and financial need

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Who can apply?

The programme attracts students from a wide range of science backgrounds including graduates from biology-based science degrees and the physical, engineering, chemical and mathematical sciences to train them in this new field, enabling them to transfer these skills to further research, industry and teaching.

Application deadlines
All applicants
27 July 2018

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

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Receive notice of graduate open days, events and more.

Register your interest


Key Information

Programme starts

September 2018

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL is recognised as one of the world's best research environments within the field of biochemical engineering and synthetic biology as well as biological and biomedical science.

UCL Biochemical Engineering is in a unique position to offer tuition and research opportunities in internationally recognised laboratories that carry out synthetic biology research, and an appreciation of the multidisciplinary nature of synthetic biology research.

Students on this MRes programme undertake a major research project where topics can be chosen spanning the expertise in six departments across UCL.

Department: Biochemical Engineering

Student / staff ratios › 51 staff including 31 postdocs › 49 taught students › 121 research students

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Biochemical Engineering
90% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

(Student / staff ratio correct as of current prospectus)


This is a list of titles of research projects available to students on the MRes Synthetic Biology programme in 2015/2016

  • Engineering the human microbiota: design and construction of robust therapeutic delivery devices
  • Direct cell reprogramming using microfluidic chips
  • Design of calcineurin variants containing unnatural amino acids to determine how the phosphatase is targeted during synaptic plasticity
  • Directed evolution of functional XNA molecules
  • Establishing a high-throughput tRNA charging assay
  • Properties of electron transfer in a spin labelled phage
  • 'Design and construction of rigid phage and viruses of different lengths and widths as molecular wires'
  • Making nanorings with toroidal currents from Ouroboros phage
  • Engineering Phaeodactylum for biocatalyst production
  • Design and use of de novo pathways for alkaloid biosynthesis
  • Design of an artificial signaling system
  • Repurposing a versatile genetic payload delivery system through refactoring studies
  • Expression of firefly luciferace in CHO cells to act as a reported for transcriptional activity of recombinant proteins
  • Engineering Synthetic Biology workflows with Antha-Lang
  • A DNA-based synthetic channel for the ligand-controlled transport across bilayers
  • Genome engineering to intensify productivity of a stable lentiviral ‘super-packaging’ cell line
  • Rewiring the Pichia pastoris genome to maximise industrial production of chiral amino alcohols
  • Combinatorial directed co-evolution of two enzymes in a novel pathway
  • Aminoacylases: the final step in a de novo pathway to antibiotics
  • Synthetic genes for modified Honey Bee silk
  • Designing and constructing phages for opto-electronic applications


The MRes in Synthetic Biology is composed of 4 parts; a major research project and 3 taught modules. The taught modules run from the end of September through to March with the research project beginning in January.  The choice of research project is made in November. These projects are offered from our own department and other groups spread across UCL which exemplifies the multidisciplinary nature of Synthetic Biology.

The three taught course modules and the research project add up to a total of 180 credits.

Synthetic Biology

(30 credits)

Research Skills

(15 credits)

Transferable Skills in Bioprocess Research and Development

(15 credits)

MRres Research Project

(120 credits)


Henry de Malmanche, Graduate

Henry de Malmanche

(pictured right in photo)

"UCL is one of the few universities in the world offering a Synthetic Biology masters course.

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I found the Research masters to be challenging and stimulating - the taught component got me up to speed with the latest development in the field, and the research component allowed me to hone my skills in the laboratory. I was very impressed with the diversity of projects available for the research component of the course. To be able to conduct high-tech research right in the centre of the vast metropolis of London was icing on the cake. 

Since finishing the program I have received several offers for various PhD programmes, and I will shortly be beginning a PhD split between New Zealand and Australia working on virus bioprocessing using a synthetic biology approach. Without a doubt the MRes from UCL has opened doors for me whether applying for further postgraduate study or jobs in science and research. Recently I completed an internship at a NZ-based biotechnology company working on a very exciting project involving synthetic biology."

Key Information

Programme starts

September 2018

Location: London, Bloomsbury


The Synthetic Biology MRes will qualify students to go on to work in the growing number of small companies engaged in synthetic biology both here in London and across the UK and the world. There are many large companies that are building their own synthetic biology potential and some of our students are already working with these groups. Our students often go on to do further research in PhDs and EngDs globally. Our graduates have practical experience of generating novel research with our unique facilities that makes them of great value to employers and collaborators.

Recent career destinations for this degree
  • Freelance Software Developer
  • PhD in Biochemistry, University of Oxford
  • PhD Bioenergy and Industrial Biotechnology, University of Cambridge
  • Scientific Consultant, Labcitec, Mexico
  • PhD in Synthetic Biology, UCL

Synthetic biology is a fast growing area of research and will have a major economic and social impact on the global economy in the coming decades. The involvement of molecular biologists, biochemists, engineers, physical scientists, chemists and biologists can create designed cells, enzymes and biological modules that can be combined in a defined manner. These could be used to make complex metabolic pathways for pharmaceuticals, novel hybrid biosensors or novel routes to biofuels. A future integration of biological devices and hybrid devices as components in the electronics industry might lead to a whole new high value industry for structured biological entities.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Student View

Sahan Liyanagedera

What is your background?

I did my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science at the 

Peninsula School of Medicine and Dentistry at Plymouth University.

I became interested in Synthetic Biology following a module on the final year of my degree on DNA sequencing technology. I was more interested in taking a course that would give me experience in a laboratory than focus on an exam. I think I’ve learned more over the past few weeks working on my project than I did over my degree, especially due to having no experience in Molecular Biology techniques.

What is your research project?

My project aim is to link the Transaminsae and Transketolase Enzymes via a flexible linker and express this  fusion enzyme in the yeast Pichia Pastoris. If accomplished it will increase the efficiency of the two step pathway these enzymes are involved in that produces chiral amino alcohols; which is present in 40% of pharmaceuticals. 

What inspired you to become a biochemical engineer?

The ability to make things, to be creative. We all consume so much that it’s a great opportunity to actually create something.

What is your aim after graduation?

I am considering studying for a Phd in Biochemical Engineering and then studying medicine.