About this course
Develop specialist knowledge and practical skills on this MRes Advanced Biological Sciences degree. You’ll build in-depth understanding of your chosen specialism as you conduct a piece of original research, supported by the University of Southampton’s expert academics. This degree is great preparation for future PhD research, or for a career in a wide range of industries.
Our flexible, research-focused MRes biological sciences course lets you focus on a particular research interest. You can choose to specialise in one of the following:
- biodiversity, ecology and ecosystem services
- developmental biology
- molecular and cellular bioscience
- plant biology
An MRes differs from a standard MSc in the balance between teaching and research. As an MRes student you’ll spend more time on the research project and less on the taught part of the course.
The taught part of the course will allow you to increase your scientific knowledge in your chosen area and enhance your skills in research, presentation and scientific communication.
You'll use your learning as the basis for an original piece of research, with the support of a leading academic in your specialism. You’ll also benefit from a wide range of facilities, including a dedicated life sciences laboratory.
Your research project will be laboratory or fieldwork-based, depending on the specialism you choose.
When you apply, we'll ask you to choose a supervisor for your research project. You can explore our list of potential supervisors to learn more about their research areas.
The course leader is Dr Lorraine Williams, Associate Professor in Plant Biology. Her research focuses on the role of membrane proteins in plant nutrition. Read Dr Williams’ profile to find out more about her work.
This course is based at Highfield.
This qualification is awarded by the University of Southampton.
Download the Course Description Document
The Course Description Document details your course overview, your course structure and how your course is taught and assessed.
Changes due to COVID-19
Although the COVID-19 situation is improving, any future restrictions could mean we might have to change the way parts of our teaching and learning take place in 2022 to 2023. This means that some of the information on this course page may be subject to change.
Find out more on our COVID advice page.
You’ll need a 2:1 degree in biological sciences or a related subject.
If you’re a non-UK applicant, you should have completed at least 4 years in higher education.
Find the equivalent international qualifications for your country.
English language requirements
If English isn't your first language, you'll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. You'll need all of the following scores as a minimum:
IELTS score requirements
- overall score
We accept other English language tests. Find out which English language tests we accept.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
This is a full-time master’s course. You’ll study for a full 12 months.
The taught part of the course runs from October to June (semesters 1 and 2) and consists of 4 modules that you’ll choose with the help of your academic supervisor to complement your research project.
The main research part of the course runs for the whole year.
You’ll have exams at the end of semesters 1 and 2.
Want more detail? See all the modules in the course.
You'll study a total of 5 modules: the MRes Advanced Biological Sciences research project, and 4 optional modules from the following list.
For entry in Academic Year 2022-23
Year 1 modules
You must study the following module:
MRes Advanced Biological Sciences Research Project
This module provides two-thirds of the content for the MRes in Advanced Biological Sciences programme. Each student undertakes an extensive research project which is laboratory and/or fieldwork based, depending on the specialisation chosen: • Biodiversit...
You must also choose from the following modules:
This module will provide Master’s year (level7) Neuroscience students a course based around UoS expertise in Neuroscience. This will be a research led education in which core concepts and techniques developed at levels 4-6 are iterated to an advanced leve...
Applied Plant Biology
The module provides a broad outline of the applications of plant biotechnology in the modern world. Where possible, general principles are developed alongside specific examples rather than giving exhaustive lists of detailed information. Plants are incr...
Biodiversity and Conservation
This module concerns global biodiversity, what we understand by it and why it is in crisis, and current efforts to conserve and manage it. We begin with an appraisal of different values of diversity at scales from genetic to species, communities and ecosy...
Biofilms and Microbial Communities
BIOL6047 ‘Biofilms and Microbial Communities’ aims to provide an understanding of bacterial biofilms and the environmental, industrial and health care problems related to complex microbial consortia of societal importance. Students will learn to describe ...
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
Large-scale approaches at the molecular, cellular, organismal and ecological level are revolutionizing biology by enabling systems-level questions to be addressed. In many cases, these approaches are driven by technologies that allow the components of bio...
The aim of this module is introduce third year students to the main clinically relevant parasite classes, it will consider their lifecycles, the human/veterinary pathology caused and the treatment methods both of the primary and where applicable intermedi...
This course is designed to illustrate the ways in which the theoretical principles of biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology presented in previous courses can be applied to yield important commercial or therapeutic products or processes.
Cancer Chromosome Biology
This module will deliver a comprehensive analysis of selected topics associated with the cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive cancer development and lead to tumour progression. This will involve exploring the genetic drivers of disease, the mechan...
Cellular Signalling in Health and Disease
The module comprises an introduction/revision to inflammatory mediators and a detailed survey of the way that they interact in different diseases. This information is integrated in the context of a number of human diseases affecting a range of different t...
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
This module provides an understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of brain function. We will use examples of specific molecules and cell-cell interactions to provide explicit details of such function to highlight core principles of neuronal develo...
Cellular and Molecular Pathology
The module will cover recent advances in selected areas of molecular cell biology explaining key aspects of cell and molecular biology required to understand these studies. The relevance of these studies to advancement of medical science will also be exp...
This module will support the student's Masters project work, and is centred around existing seminar series and other activities within the School of Biological Sciences and other Academic Units. It exposes students to current research and aims to enforce ...
Current Topics in Cell and Developmental Biology
This module provides a detailed and up-to-date study of a small number of topics in modern cell biology
Data Management and Generalised Linear Modelling for Biologists
Evidence-based ecology, evolution and conservation require quantitative analyses of field data typically collected under imperfectly controlled conditions and across heterogeneous habitats. This module will develop generic skills in (1) the design of data...
Development Origins of Health and Disease
This module seeks to understand the broad physiological principles that progress from the early embryo through to the later stages of fetal development, birth and early postnatal life using the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesi...
Evolution and Development
This module will deliver a comprehensive analysis of the topics associated with evolutionary developmental biology. This will involve exploring the theory of evolution; embryology and molecular pathways of development; what the fossil record tells us abou...
Evolution and Genetics
Evolution typically happens over long time periods, with organisms being selected based on their environments. But climate change and human factors can also increase the rate of evolution. In this module we show how organisms evolve in terms of their envi...
Fluxes, Cycles and Microbial Communities
Microorganisms are key players in all the major biogeochemical cycles on Earth. Fluxes, Cycles, and Microbial Communities explores the microbial influence on the biological, chemical, and geological processes that shape natural environments on our planet....
Global Challenges in Biology
This module will consider human-caused global challenges and their impact on marine and terrestrial ecosystems. We will discuss the main causes of global change, including greenhouse gases, changes in temperature and rainfall, and human land use, as well ...
This module covers the major topics in cellular and molecular immunology, including antigen recognition, antigen processing and presentation to B and T cells, the molecular events leading to the generation of antibody and T cell receptor diversity, antibo...
Molecular Cell Biology
The organisation of the eukaryotic cell has always fascinated researchers. This module illustrates the upkeep of cellular structure and function.
This module provides fourth year students with an introduction to the molecular basis of receptor pharmacology. The module detailed analysis of the mechanisms of drug action at the molecular level through the application of biochemical and molecular biolo...
Most biological processes involve interactions between macromolecules. The module discusses selected examples and explains techniques used to study molecular interactions.
This module describes the neurobiology that underpins the aetiology and pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disease that has been a focus of intense and exciting research activity over the last several decades. The course is largely a research-led unit wher...
Neuropharmacology of CNS Disorders
This module is to describe basic concepts in neuropharmacology e.g. on the localisation and putative function of neurotransmitter pathways in the brain and to use this knowledge to consider different theories relating to the biochemical basis of action of...
Plant Cell Biology
This module explores current topics in plant cell biology. It provides an understanding of the unique features of plant cells and of the cellular mechanisms that allow plants to interact with their environment. Responses at the cellular level to important...
Regulation of Gene Expression
To provide an understanding of i) the regulation of transcription in eukaryotic organisms; ii) post-transcriptional regulation; iii) the structure, formation and function of microRNAs; iv) how the process of translation is controlled.
This module provides fourth year students with an introduction to the principles of selective toxicity, in which chemotherapeutic agents are used to inhibit the growth of an invading species (or cancerous cells) by selective targeting pathways or processe...
Skills in Molecular Bioscience
Skills in the molecular biosciences are rapidly developing. This course will prepare students for several common techniques, giving them a grounding in experimental design so that they can use these new skills in their current and future research career.
Skills in Structural Biology
Student will acquire a foundation in the theory underpinning a range of biophysical techniques used to study structure and function of biomolecules. The students will have the opportunity to learn at a practical level how these techniques are employed, le...
Structure and Function of the Nervous System
This module will provide a detailed understanding of the structure and function of the nervous system. Starting with nervous system development and then focusing on the adult nervous system, students will learn about the gross anatomy of the human brain a...
This module seeks to expose students to research level studies in a number of areas related to the function of the nervous system, necessary to understand the pathophysiology of neurological conditions. The course will describe CNS development, and the s...
The Molecular and Structural Basis of Disease
The course provides an insight into how molecular studies can be employed to further medical research and aid in the development of novel treatments and therapeutics. The course will cover a number of areas including the role of epigenetic in disease, amy...
Learning and assessment
The learning activities for this course include the following:
- extended research project
- independent learning (studying on your own)
We’ll assess you through:
- a dissertation
You’ll spend 1,200 hours of study time carrying out your advanced biological sciences research project and writing a dissertation to present your findings.
The project is a chance for you to develop your research skills and show in-depth knowledge of your subject.
You’ll work closely with a supervisor to choose your research topic, and have regular support meetings throughout the process.
We'll assign you a personal academic tutor, and you'll have access to a senior tutor.
With this degree you’ll be in a great position to continue your research at PhD level or move into a career in industry.
Areas you could go into include:
- scientific services
- science communication
- science policy
Careers services at Southampton
We're a top 20 UK university for employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022). Our Careers and Employability Service will support you throughout your time as a student and for up to 5 years after graduation. This support includes:
- work experience schemes
- CV/resume and interview skills workshops
- networking events
- careers fairs attended by top employers
- a wealth of volunteering opportunities
- study abroad and summer school opportunities
We have a thriving entrepreneurship culture. You'll be able to take advantage of:
- our dedicated start-up incubator, Futureworlds
- a wide variety of enterprise events run throughout the year
- our partnership in the world’s number 1 business incubator, SETsquared
Fees, costs and funding
Fees for a year's study:
- UK students pay £9,250.
- EU and international students pay £25,400.
What your fees pay for
Your tuition fee covers the full cost of tuition and any exams.
Find out how to pay your tuition fees.
Accommodation and living costs, such as travel and food, are not included in your tuition fees. Explore:
10% alumni discount
If you’re a graduate of the University of Southampton you get a 10% discount on your postgraduate tuition fees.
Postgraduate Master’s Loans (UK nationals only)
This can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate master's course. Find out if you're eligible.
Funding your postgraduate studies
A variety of additional funding options may be available to help you pay for your master’s study. Both from the University and other organisations.
Funding for EU and international students
Find out about funding you could get as an international student.
How to apply
- Use the 'apply for this course' button on this page to take you to our online application form.
- Search for the course you want to apply for.
- Complete the application form and upload any supporting documents.
- Submit your application.
Make sure we receive your application at least 4 weeks before the start of the course. This gives us time to consider your application, if there are still places available.
Make sure we receive your application at least 6 weeks before the start of the course.
This gives us time to consider your application, if there are still places available. It will also give you time to apply for a visa if we offer you a place.
When you apply you’ll need to submit a personal statement explaining why you want to take the course.
You’ll need to include information about:
- your knowledge of the subject area
- why you want to study a postgraduate qualification in this course
- how you intend to use your qualification
You'll also need to send 2 academic references.
Please include the required paperwork showing your first degree and your IELTS English language test score (if you are a non-native English speaker) with your application. Without these, your application may be delayed.
What happens after you apply
You'll be able to track your application through our online Applicant Record System.
We'll assess your application on the strength of your:
- academic achievements
- relevant professional experience
- personal statement
- academic references
We will aim to send you a decision 6-8 weeks after you have submitted your application.
If we offer you a place, you will need to accept the offer within 30 working days. If you do not meet this deadline, we will offer your place to another applicant.
Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, we may not be able to give you specific feedback on your application if you are unsuccessful.
Equality and diversity
We treat and select everyone in line with our Equality and Diversity Statement.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
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