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Synthetic Biology MRes

This MRes programme aims to train students in the fast-growing area of synthetic bgiology, a discipline which takes the knowledge and understanding we now have of the individual parts of biological systems and uses them in a defined way to design and build novel artificial biological systems.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2017

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year

Tuition fees (2017/18)

£14,370 (FT) N/A (PT)
£25,890 (FT) N/A (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 3 October 2016
Close: 28 July 2017

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. There is an Additional Fee Element of £2,500 for this programme (for all students).

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: 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:

Degree information

Students develop an understanding of the areas making up synthetic biology, including engineering principles, mathematical modelling, molecular biology, biochemical engineering and chemistry. Modules also provide the necessary skills for acquisition and critical analysis of the primary scientific literature and transferrable research development skills. The programme includes a major research project that will give in-depth training in synthetic biology research methods.

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

Optional modules

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 is available on the department website: Synthetic Biology MRes


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


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.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Science Technician, King Richard's School
  • Scientific consultant, Labcitec
  • PhD Synthetic Biology, UCL
  • PhD Biochemistry, University of Oxford
  • PhD Bioenergy and Industrial Biotechnology, University of Cambridge


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 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 in unique facilities of generating novel research that makes them of great value to employers and collaborators.

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 2012–2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

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 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.

Department: Biochemical Engineering

Student / staff numbers › 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
74% 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.

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 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
28 July 2017

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

Contact information

Page last modified on 27 October 2016 at 11:10 by UCL Publications & Marketing Services. Please contact us for content updates.


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