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MPhil in Biological Sciences by Advanced Study


Our world is facing escalating problems of potentially catastrophic proportion: climate change, water and food scarcity, global pandemics and damaging economic addiction to fossil fuels. As life scientists, we need to identify ways to help address these challenges and prepare to be part of the solution to future crises.

Biomolecular science is the study of biological processes at the molecular level, whether within a cell, a tissue, a whole organism or an ecosystem. As such its concepts and experimental approaches underpin the whole range of present-day life sciences. Biomolecular science is a rapidly evolving field: in the technologies it exploits to understand life at the macromolecular level and in its conceptual advances that drive basic research and support biotechnology applications. By combining traditional areas of science to unravel how molecular machines execute biological processes, biomolecular science transcends boundaries between the single disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science.

This MPhil aims to convey a comprehensive understanding of biological processes at the molecular level. We will discuss the major biological macromolecule families, including, DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids and carbohydrates. We will explore the properties of biological membranes, the basis of biomolecular recognition, mechanisms of signalling and the applications of this knowledge in therapeutics. The understanding and application of advanced technologies are crucial to the advancement of biomolecular science and these will be explored in depth. Although we will not focus on specific diseases, the workshops and discussions will include relevant pathophysiological contexts, as understanding the molecular basis of disease will be imperative to developing innovations, from target-based therapeutics to agricultural applications.

The course will draw upon the breadth and international strengths in biomolecular science within the University of Cambridge and associated research institutes; notably the Departments of Biochemistry, Genetics, Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology Development and Neuroscience, Plant Sciences, Zoology, the Gurdon Institute, the MRC Toxicology Unit, the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the Sainsbury Laboratory and the Wellcome-MRC Stem Cell Institute.

Core topics in Biomolecular Science:

  • DNA, chromatin and complex genetic control
  • RNA mediated control of gene expression
  • Proteins - where are we now and where are we going?
  • Lipids and membranes
  • Carbohydrates: nutritional, agricultural and industrial importance
  • Biomolecules: World Problems and Solutions
  • Biomolecules: World Problems and Solutions 2

Research Methods training in Biomolecular Science:

  • Biophysics and NMR
  • X-ray crystallography and CRyo EM
  • Gene Editing
  • Advanced Imaging
  • Imaging macromolecules in their cellular context
  • Application of "omics" technologies
  • Molecular Modelling


Please note that the list of topics is an illustrative example and can change from year to year depending on the availability of academic staff.

 Find out more and apply

More information:

Participating research groups in the Biomolecular Science Pathway

Biomolecular Science 2023/24 cohort

Key contact

MPhil Coordinator


Dates and deadlines

Application deadline: 24 April 2024

Funding application deadline: 4 January 2024