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Postgraduate study

Bioprocessing and Biotherapeutics MSc

Biotechnology is a sector that promises extraordinary rewards from new drugs that address our medical needs and fight epidemics and rare diseases, to industrial processes that use renewable energy and crops that are able to grow in harsh climatic conditions and ensure safe and affordable food.


Course overview

You develop comprehensive knowledge and understanding of biosciences, expertise and skills in relation to biochemistry, manufacturing principles and laboratory practice required by the biotechnologies sector within an industrial context of biological products.

You also have the unique opportunity participate in a research-intensive course, via a combination of taught modules and an in-depth research project, utilising the facilities of the University’s National Horizons Centre (NHC).

The NHC offers state-of-the-art analytical and digital infrastructure supporting basic and applied research in the biosciences and across disciplinary boundaries, aligned to academic excellence and industry needs. Building on the strengths of our current research teams, you are exposed to a significant internationally competitive research and innovation capability that is responsive and engaged with industry needs to develop sustainable relationships with regional and national partners to power growth and innovation in the bioscience sector.

High-spec teaching, learning and collaboration spaces, labs, a state-of-the-art computing suite, and open innovation spaces give you the tools for project development using data analytics, modelling and simulation, visualisation and process improvement and control.

The North East, particularly, the Teesside region, is an important regional, national and international hub for the life sciences sector, with both well established (FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, GlaxoSmithKline, Hart Biologicals) and emergent companies (Absolute Antibodies, StreamBio, Hexis Labs, Quantum Dx). Next to the Centre for Process Innovation’s National Biologics Manufacturing Centre and the University’s Centre for Professional and Executive Development, the National Horizons Centre is at the heart of an ecosystem of life science excellence.

Facilities within the National Horizons Centre enable you to engage with a range of advance and innovative research themes including:

  • provision of a comprehensive genomic, proteomic, metabolomics data acquisition, processing and modelling capability with internationally competitive instrumentation, software and technical support.
  • studies of disease pathways including biomarker discovery, treatment monitoring, development of diagnostics and screening. Supported by bioinformatics modelling and development of predictive models.
  • biopharmaceutical research including product characterization, metabolism and drug interaction studies.
  • protein structure/function studies including aggregation, modification, activation and inhibition
  • use of advanced cellular imaging capabilities, including live cell imaging, using light, confocal and Raman microscopy approaches incorporating fluorescence resonance energy transfer and fluorescence lifetime imaging. This will enable the study of, among other topics;
    conformational changes
    drug interactions with living cells
    molecular interactions
    tissue characterisation

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Course details

Course structure

Core modules

Advanced Downstream Bioprocessing

Principles, basics and applications of industrial downstream bioprocessing are examined in this module with the emphasis on advanced cell therapies and biologics production particularly with regards to their purifications from cellular and process contaminants.

You focus on the theories and principles of general downstream processing, including cell disruption strategies, extraction, precipitation, centrifugation, adsorption, conventional filtration, membrane separations, and high-resolution separations (chromatography, expanded bed adsorption, spray drying). Module material will provide critical evaluation of research and development in industrial/commercial context.

Advanced Upstream Bioprocessing

You examine the upstream part of a bioprocess from the perspective of developing a robust, high-yielding upstream process, gain a thorough understanding of the process concepts and the underlying biological phenomena required to succeed, not just in the upstream production stage, but in the overall bioprocess.

You gain an in-depth knowledge of theoretical and practical aspects of gene therapy as a treatment to cure human diseases and explore the different vectors and delivery systems available in the market. In addition, you design experiments, select the best host and develop technical skills related to gene therapy.

Analytical Techniques

You focus on a range of analytical instrumentation used in bioscience research applications. Emphasis will be placed upon chromatography, mass spectrometry and spectroscopy instrumentation. The importance of these practical instrumentation techniques to modern investigations, including proteomics, metabolomics and genomics, will be explored. You will learn advanced laboratory skills for sample extraction, sample preparation, instrumentation methodology and how to interpret spectra. You will develop essential data handling skills, including the use of a range of statistical programmes.

Biopharmaceuticals: From Concept to Product

Explore target selection and key economic drivers for drug development. Learn how processes are created to upstream, downstream and analyse aspects of biomanufacturing. Study the creation of transgenic and stable cell lines, and how cells are grown for autologous and allogenic treatments.

Through case studies, you learn how clonal selection is performed to select clones for monoclonal antibodies, and how companies have developed their own cell lines and platform processes. You also focus on how viral and non-viral vectors are being developed through plasmid engineering for various gene therapies, and state-of-the-art gene delivery systems.

Fermentation Microbiology

You explore the fundamentals of fermentation technology, a multi-disciplinary area of biotechnology which involves skills in science and engineering. Fermentation technology is ubiquitous – it ranges from the production of food in a kitchen to the synthesis of sophisticated, extremely high-value, cutting-edge therapeutics. The principle of bioprocess technology involve the use of cells as micro-factories to manufacture the product of interest. The cellular products can be directly utilised or, alternatively, the cells can be engineered to produce products of interest.

Genomics and Bioinformatics

You gain an in depth understanding of advances genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics knowledge and their applications in specific disease state. You learn about the most recent technologies including next generation gene sequencing, genome editing, genomic and bioinformatics analyses. This module also explores the genomic application for disease treatment and prevention (pharmacogenomics), personalised medicine as well as ethical challenges in this field.

Life Science Research Project

You undertake a major independent practical research project in your discipline where you are fully integrated within a research team. Reflecting staff expertise, you will be able to pursue many discipline-related topics, including medical, industrial and environmental microbiology, molecular, cell and system biology, recombinant DNA technology, protein biochemistry, structural biology, fermentation, bioengineering and many other areas, using the state-of-the-art analytical and digital infrastructure at the National Horizons Centre. You will complete a hypothesis-driven project utilising appropriate discipline-specific laboratory, database or computational research methodologies to interrogate a hypothesis in a specialised area of the life sciences. You will be expected to work at a level recognised to be at the forefront of the discipline. Supervisors will provide guidance to support you but a high degree of autonomy is required.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

The course is delivered at the University’s Darlington Campus utilising facilities provided by the National Horizons Centre (NHC) and the University’s Centre for Professional and Executive Development. The NHC is a state-of-the-art research, teaching and training facility.

The course employs a diversity of teaching and learning methods including:
• lectures
• seminars and workshops (including oral presentations and poster sessions)
• laboratory-based sessions

Lectures are used to convey substantial elements of the subject content, provide core themes and explanations of difficult concepts, and set the scene for independent learning. The traditional format is enhanced through the use of computer-based, or other audio-visual aids, and supported by interactive VLE based provision of lecture notes and lecture capture.

Seminars provide a context for interactive learning and allow you to explore aspects of the modules in further depth. The learning experience is enriched by the inclusion, where possible, of guest seminars from professionals in the discipline. In addition, you are encouraged to attend extracurricular presentations organised by the School and external organisations such as Royal Society of Biology.

Lab sessions develop advanced research methodologies and to ensure competency in using an array of complex techniques applicable to bioprocessing and biotherapeutics, specifically, analytical techniques and upstream bioprocessing, which make full use of the life science research facilities which include dedicated microbiology, tissue culture, bio-imaging and fermentation laboratories, located at the NHC.

Data analysis and visualisation software and computing facilities, capable of both statistical and bioinformatic analysis, are integrated into the lecture, seminar and laboratory sessions.

Research Project
Your research project integrates the technical, research and employability skills gained during previous modules. It’s your opportunity to plan and organise with significant autonomy, challenge orthodoxy, demonstrate originality and operate ethically in potentially unpredictable situations and for you to demonstrate a sound appreciation and ability to select and use appropriate research methodologies and statistical approaches.

In addition to the scheduled sessions, you are expected to spend a significant number of hours of guided independent study time completing laboratory work and, subsequently, collecting, manipulating, analysing and interpreting data.

How you are assessed

Assessments test subject knowledge, application of this knowledge, independent thought and skills acquisition. A variety of assessment tools have been used to ensure a diverse assessment strategy, including:

• examinations
• oral presentations
• technical reports
• literature surveys, evaluations and summaries
• dissertation


Entry requirements

At least a UK 2.2 honours degree (or equivalent) in a subject related to science, engineering or technology. If your first degree is not in one of the subject areas, please check with our admissions team if it is acceptable.

A range of international qualifications are also accepted.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country



Career opportunities

Biotechnology is one of the one of the most exciting sectors at the moment. No other sector has the same promise of extraordinary rewards from new drugs that address our medical needs and fight epidemics and rare diseases, to industrial processes that use renewable energy and crops that are able to grow in harsh climatic conditions and ensure safe and affordable food.

As a graduate you will be confident, critical, creative, adaptable, articulate and aspiring in the field of biotechnology within industrial, commercial, government and environmental settings, research and further postgraduate study.


Information for international applicants


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2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£6,710 a year

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Fee for international applicants
£17,000 a year

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2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£750 for each 20 credits

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