Key Information

Tuition Fees (2016/17)
£13,685 (FT)
£24,400 (FT)
Fees note: There is an Additional Fee Element of £2,500 for this programme (for all students).

Entry Requirements

Normally, a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree in biomedical sciences, life sciences or related subject area, or a medical degree (MBBS), 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: Good

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:

Next Steps

Contact Information

Synthetic Biology MRes

Elliot Bocarro
Elliot Baroco, MRes Student 2016 (above)

"I’ve never come across any other course that requires you to be so creative, to make something new. It’s not just “write an assignment on…” or “do a presentation on…” but “go and make something novel.”


How to apply

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 aims to attract students from a wide range of science backgrounds in both the physical, engineering, chemical and mathematical sciences as well as graduates from biology based science degrees and train them in this new field, enabling them to transfer these skills to further research, industry and teaching.

Application deadlines
All applicants
29 July 2016

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

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.

The Department of Biochemical Engineering is in a unique position to offer tuition, research opportunities in internationally recognised laboratories and an appreciation of the multidisciplinary nature of Synthetic Biology research.

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

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

Department: Biochemical Engineering

(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

Degree Information

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of three core modules (60 credits) and an extended research project (120 credits).

Core Modules
  • Synthetic Biology
  • The Scientific Literature
  • Biosciences Research Skills
  • There are no optional modules for this programme.

All students undertake an independent laboratory-based extended research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000–18,000 words.

Teaching and Learning

The programme is delivered through lectures, seminars and tutorials, combining research-led and skills based courses. The taught courses are assessed by assignments and coursework. The research project is assessed by an oral presentation, submission of a dissertation and is subject to oral examination.

Further information on modules and degree structure available on the department web site Synthetic Biology MRes


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 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 electronic industry might lead to a whole new high value industry for structured biological entities.

Sahan Liyanagedera

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.

Page last modified on 24 may 16 10:19