Postgraduate study

Systems and Synthetic Biology MSc, PgDip

Awards: MSc, PgDip

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Systems and Synthetic Biology

We offer an opportunity to train in one of the newest areas of biology: the application of engineering principles to the understanding and design of biological networks. This new approach promises solutions to some of today’s most pressing challenges in environmental protection, human health and energy production.

This MSc will provide you with a thorough knowledge of the primary design principles and biotechnology tools being developed in systems and synthetic biology, ranging from understanding genome-wide data to designing and synthesising BioBricks.

You will learn quantitative methods of modelling and data analysis to inform and design new hypotheses based on experimental data. The University’s new centre, SynthSys, is a hub for world-leading research in both systems and synthetic biology.

The programme consists of two semesters of taught courses followed by a research project and dissertation, which can be either modelling-based or laboratory-based.

Compulsory courses: All students will take the following courses

  • Social Dimensions of Systems and Synthetic Biology
  • Dissertation project
  • Practical Systems Biology
  • Tools for Synthetic Biology

Compulsory Course - Options In addition to the above compulsory courses, all students will need to choose 10 additional credits from this list of compulsory courses:

  • Information Processing in Biological Cells
  • Applications of Synthetic Biology

Option courses:

  • Biochemistry A
  • Bioinformatics Programming & System Management
  • Computational Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Economics & Innovation in the Biotechnology Industry
  • Gene Expression & Microbial Regulation
  • Introduction to Scientific Programming
  • Mathematical Biology
  • Neural Computation
  • Practical Skills in Biochemistry A
  • Statistics and Data Analysis
  • Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine
  • Biobusiness
  • Biodesign
  • Bioinformatics Algorithms
  • Biological Physics
  • Drug Discovery
  • Functional Genomic Technologies
  • Industry & Entrepreneurship in Biotechnology
  • Metagenomic Analysis of Microbial Communities
  • Molecular Phylogenetics
  • Next Generation Genomics
  • Probabilistic Modelling and Reasoning

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScSystems and Synthetic Biology1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
PgDipSystems and Synthetic Biology9 MonthsFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

The programme is designed to give you a good basis for managerial or technical roles in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. It will also prepare you for entry into a PhD programme.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, with a strong background in one or more of the following areas: bioinformatics, computer sciences and modelling, molecular biology and related sciences, engineering or biotechnology.

We may also consider your application if you have a background in physics or mathematics.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section

  • PTE Academic: total 61 with at least 56 in each of the Communicative Skills scores

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScSystems and Synthetic Biology1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
PgDipSystems and Synthetic Biology9 MonthsFull-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Administrator
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 5988
  • Contact: mscssb@ed.ac.uk
  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Administrator
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 5988
  • Contact: mscssb@ed.ac.uk
  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD