Biological Sciences (MSc by Research)

2019-20 (also available for 2020-21)

This course is eligible for Master's loan funding. Find out more.

Start date

23 September 2019

13 January 2020

20 April 2020

Duration

The maximum duration for a full-time MSc by Research is 1 year (12 months) with an optional submission pending (writing up period) of 4 months.

Sometimes it may be possible to mix periods of both full-time and part-time study.

Application deadlines

For PGR start date January 2020

29 November 2019

For PGR start date April 2020

11 February 2020

For PGR start date September 2020

02 July 2020

About the research degree

A Master's by Research (MSc) allows you to undertake a one year (full-time) research degree. It contains little or no formal taught component. This type of study gives you the chance to explore a research topic over a shorter time than a more in-depth doctoral programme.

Research Master's students choose a specific project to work on and have a greater degree of independence in their work than is the case with a taught Master’s course.

You’ll be expected to work to an approved programme which you will develop in conjunction with your supervisor within the first few months of starting your studies. Whilst undertaking the research project you will also have the opportunity to develop your research skills by taking part in training courses and events.

At the end of the project you write up your findings in the form of a short thesis of around 25,000 words, which will then be examined.

On successful completion, you will be awarded your degree and if you have enjoyed this taste of research you may then decide to apply for the full research doctoral degree (PhD).

You will be appointed a main supervisor who will normally be part of a supervisory team, comprising up to three members. The research supervisor will advise and support you on your project.

Entry requirements

The normal entry requirements for enrolment on a MSc by Research is an upper second honours degree (2.1) from a UK university or a qualification of an equivalent standard, in a discipline appropriate to that of the proposed programme to be followed.

If your first language is not English, you will need to meet the minimum requirements of an English Language qualification. The minimum for IELTS is 6.0 overall with the written element at least 6.0 with no element lower than 5.5, or equivalent will be considered acceptable. Read more about the University’s entry requirements for students outside of the UK on our Where are you from information pages.

What can I research?

There are several research topics available for this degree. See below examples of research areas including an outline of the topics, the supervisor, funding information and eligibility criteria:

Outline

The human DNA damage response (DDR) involves a multitude of pathways that respond to the great variety of DNA lesions that cells face. Quite often in cancers some DNA repair pathways may be deregulated, potentially allowing cancer cells to drive aggressive disease or resist chemotherapeutic treatments. We aim to characterise novel factors involved in cancer-related DDR by biochemical, structural and cell biological approaches.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £10,000 per annum are required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) increasingly threatens our health and well-being, as infectious microbes evolve to become resistant to existing antibiotics. There is an ongoing need to discover new antibiotic classes and bring them to the clinic. The Minor Groove Binder (MGB) drug discovery platform of the Universities of Strathclyde and Huddersfield contains a family of novel compounds one of which, MGB-BP-3, is ready to enter Phase II Clinical Trial for the treatment of Clostridium difficile, in partnership with our developers MGB Biopharma.1 MGBs kill bacteria through binding to their DNA and interrupting essential bacterial metabolism, but importantly, they act at a number of targets within each cell, which means that variants that are resistant to MGBs have not been seen.2,3 We wish to investigate a range of new compounds from the MGB portfolio as potential agents for clinically challenging infections, principally those of the ESKAPE pathogen set, in addition to exploring their capacity to synergise with existing antibiotics.4,5 Beyond this, we are also interest in performing hit to lead optimisation in the antifungal, antimycobacterial and antiparasitic fields.

In a pilot study, we have already shown that in situations where a clinical pathogen has developed resistance to an existing antibiotic, dual therapy with an MGB may extend the effective lifetime of that antibiotic. This would ‘repurpose’ that ailing clinical antibiotic and extend its useful lifetime.

At present, there are a number of interesting avenues of both Chemistry and Biology research, which we wish to evaluate:

Chemistry 1. Design of novel antifungal MGBs 2. Design of novel antimycobacterial MGBs, particularly for TB. 3. Design of novel antiparasitic MGBs. 4. Design of novel antibacterial MGBs effective against Gram-negative pathogens. 5. Investigation of MGB physicochemical property modulation on activity profile against various pathogenic organisms.

Biology 1. Investigation of MGB synergy with a range of clinically relevant antibiotics. 2. Investigation of MGB synergy with a range of efflux pump inhibitors. 3. Investigation of MGB synergy with other MGBs. 4. Investigation of mechanism of action of novel MGBs that are exiting our current synthetic medicinal chemistry pipeline.

This project provides students with the opportunity to contribute to our Global MGB Drug Development efforts, and assist with developing a better understanding of our emerging new class of antibiotic.

References 1 http://www.mgb-biopharma.com/mgb-biopharma-successfully-completes-phase-i-clinical-trial-with-oral-mgb-bp-3-a-truly-novel-antibiotic-targeting-clostridium-difficile-infections/ https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02518607?term=mgb&rank=1 2 F. J. Scott et al., Eur J Med Chem. 2017 Aug 18;136:561-572. 3 F. J. Scott et al., Euro. J. Med. Chem., 2016, 116, 116–125. 4 F. J. Scott et al., Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett., 2016, 26, 3478-86. 5 F. J. Scott et al., Bioorg. Med. Chem Lett., 2016, 26, 3326-3329.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of between £3-£15,000 per annum are required depending on the nature of the project.

Deadline

Home/EU – for September- June 30th, for January-October 31st and Overseas for September- May 31st, for January- September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

We propose to study the DNA damage response in early-branching animals and protists, to develop simple models reflecting mammalian genome integrity. Simple model animals may include multicellular Trichoplax, through to more complex cnidarians, ctenophores and porifera, or early branching unicellular protists such as choanoflagellates. The project will include a significant proportion of bioinformatics and genomics, alongside molecular biology and protein biochemistry methods.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £10,000 per annum are required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

Microorganisms from extremophilic environments (thermophiles, halophiles etc.) have long been an excellent source of novel enzymes for the biotechnology and chemicals industries. We aim to isolate and characterise novel proteins from known and uncharacterised extremophilic bacteria, archaea, fungi or viruses, that potentially act in DNA metabolism and other related processes. The project may include microbial ecology, molecular biology, biochemistry and structural biology approaches.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £10,000 per annum are required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

The aim of the project is an efficient and targeted transport of functional proteins into the viable epidermis. Using the genetic skin disease congenital chthyosis as an example, the importance of specific gene expression systems will be studied. Congenital ichthyosis can be caused by deficiency of ransglutaminase 1, an enzyme involved in the final steps of keratinocyte differentiation in the skin. The efficacy of treatments with recombinant nzyme produced in different cells, such as E. coli, insect or mammalian cells, will be assessed. Enzyme activity has to be determined and cell lines, primary keratinocytes and skin models have to be treated and characterised regarding protein uptake, subcellular localisation, morphology, and biological availability.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of between £4,000-£8,000 per annum are required depending on the nature of the project.

Deadline

Home/EU – for September- June 30th, for January-October 31st and Overseas for September- May 31st, for January- September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

ETS transcription factors are key regulators of many developmental pathways during cellular differentiation. When deregulated in certain cancers ETS factors can exhibit diverse effects, partly due to their overlapping DNA binding specificities. This project will attempt to discover novel interacting ETS partners which help direct their specific functions, and biochemically and structurally characterise novel and known interactions. This will further shed light on ETS biology, but also potentiate attempts to targets these factors in specific cancers.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £10,000 per annum are required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

Borrelia, the causative agent of Lyme disease, is not only increasing in prevalence in the northern hemisphere, but causes pernicious disease often with few symptoms. We intend to further study Borrelia biology by applying structural biochemistry and molecular biology approaches to characterise novel proteins that could act as pathogenicity determinates. The project will focus on proteins involved in DNA metabolism, potentially leading to new drug targets or vaccine candidates.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £10,000 per annum are required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

ADP-ribosylation is an enigmatic protein modification derived from the cellular metabolite NAD+, whose role is relatively poorly studied in cell biology. We aim to characterise novel factors involved both mono- and poly-(ADP)-ribose modification and recognition, particularly those associated with cancer and the DNA damage response. Characterisation will use biochemical, structural and cell biological approaches.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £10,000 per annum are required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

It is well established that aging is a progressive deterioration of an organism’s cellular structures and homeostatic mechanisms, with an increasing decline with age in an organism’s ability to correctly perform normal cellular functions. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage arising from respiration-associated reactive oxygen species or inaccurate mtDNA replication and repair is linked with normal and premature aging, and other age-associated degenerative disorders affecting healthspan.

Little is known of how mitochondria repair the damage to their DNA, and in particular, the roles of lesion bypassing DNA polymerases, several of which may be targeted to the mitochondria. Some DNA polymerases may exhibit either protective or mutagenic effects on mtDNA, suggesting their deregulation could influence not only cancer development, but mitochondrial aging and hence normal life- and healthspan.

We will study these DNA polymerases to assess how they influence mtDNA integrity in human cells using in vivo and in vitro approaches, and also if they influence organismal lifespan with the Caenorhabditis elegans worm model system. The project brings together UK and international laboratories in the fields of genome integrity, metabolism, C. elegans and oxidative DNA repair.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of between £3-£15,000 per annum are required depending on the nature of the project.

Deadline

Home/EU – for September- June 30th, for January-October 31st and Overseas for September- May 31st, for January- September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

To find out more about the research we conduct, take a look at our Research, Innovation and Skills webpages, where you will find information on each research area. To find out about our staff visit ‘Our experts’ which features profiles of all our academic staff.

You should enter the project title and supervisor in the online application form.

No research proposal is necessary in your application.

Research Enviroment

We provide a supportive and vibrant research environment for postgraduate researchers (PGRs). Researchers at all levels are encouraged to contribute and collaborate. The Graduate School ensures that postgraduate research is of the highest quality and equips you with the resources that you need to become a successful researcher.

We have an exciting and comprehensive Researcher Skills Development Programme available to all postgraduate researchers. This enables you to broaden your knowledge and access tools and skills which can significantly improve employability. The programme is also mapped onto Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework (RDF), allowing you to benefit from Vitae support as well as our own Programme.

We offer skills training through a programme designed to take advantage of technology platforms as well as face-to-face workshops and courses. The University has subscribed to Epigeum, a programme of on-line research training support designed and managed by staff at Imperial College London which will be accessed via Brightspace, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment. We also subscribe to the University of East Anglia webinar series and The Good Doctorate video training series. We are part of the North West and Yorkshire PGR Training Group that allows PGRs to attend relevant training opportunities at other nearby universities.

Student support

At the University of Huddersfield, you'll find support networks and services to help you get ahead in your studies and social life. Whether you study at undergraduate or postgraduate level, you'll soon discover that you're never far away from our dedicated staff and resources to help you to navigate through your personal student journey. Find out more about all our support services.

Important information

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