Molecular Genetics

MSc, 1 year, full-time

This is for you if... you want to study molecular genetics at an advanced level.

Course Description

This postgraduate degree will provide you with instruction in current concepts and techniques of molecular genetics as applied in modern research, together with practical experience of experimental techniques. Although the course is demanding and challenging, our students tell us that they find it exciting, stimulating and rewarding.

During this intensive experimental course you will form strong working relationships with the other students and meet people from many different countries; our students make friendships that last many years.

Key Facts
Start date
September each year

Dr Fred Tata, MSc Convenor
+44 (0)116 252 3428

Department of Genetics website

Why Leicester?

The Department of Genetics at Leicester has run a successful and popular MSc course in Molecular Genetics for more than 20 years. Over this time, we have developed the course to reflect the teaching and research strengths within the University.

The course acts as a springboard for our graduates seeking employment in molecular, biomedical or biotechnological research, and provides an ideal qualification and set of skills for those aiming to apply for PhD programmes in related topics.

Some students have even continued their careers in the Department, including Dr Turi King who led the DNA analysis work which formally identified the remains of King Richard III.

Course Structure



The taught part of the degree is based on eight, week-long experiments that you undertake in a fully equipped laboratory dedicated to the Molecular Genetics MSc. These are not like experiments you may have done before in your degree studies; here you will perform sophisticated molecular analyses yourself from start to finish. You will receive expert guidance from academic staff throughout the experiments and they will also make you think about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

This part of the course is organised in two large modules which also include lectures and tutorials:

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.



You will choose your laboratory research placement from projects covering a broad range of disciplines involving molecular genetics and a variety of organisms. You will become part of an active research group employing modern approaches and technologies to solving significant research questions.

Projects undertaken by Molecular Genetics students have included:

  • Characterising actively transducing L1 retrotransposons in humans
  • DNA methylation and photoperiodism in the wasp N. vitripennis
  • Recombination hotspots in the human genome
  • Mitochondrial stress and autophagy in a Parkinson’s model
  • Genetic variation during persistent Meningococcal carriage
  • Third generation sequencing for complex genomes
  • Effects of folic acid deficiency on genome stability in mice
  • Characterisation of the PapsFIL gene in the opium poppy
  • Effect of bottleneck on phase variable genes of Campylobacter jejuni
  • Functional genomics of Bak1 polymorphisms and human platelets
  • An advanced model of Huntington's Disease in Drosophila

Assessment of the research project is in three parts: your research performance, a dissertation you write about your research and a seminar you will present at the end of the project.


The project work of some MSc Molecular Genetics students is published in high quality journals, as shown in these examples:

  • Armstrong CA, Jones GD, Anderson R, Iyer P, Narayanan D, Sandhu J, Singh R, Talbot CJ, Tufarelli C. (2012) DNMTs are required for delayed genome instability caused by radiation. Epigenetics 7, 892-902. doi:10.4161/epi.21094
  • Borg M, Rutley N, Kagale S, Hamamura Y, Gherghinoiu M, Kumar S, Sari U, Esparza-Franco MA, Sakamoto W, Rozwadowski K, Higashiyama T, Twell D. (2014). An EAR-dependent regulatory module promotes male germ cell division and sperm fertility in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 26,1-17. doi:10.1105/tpc.114.124743
  • Huang Y, Hidalgo-Bravo A, Zhang E, Cotton VE, Mendez-Bermudez A, Wig G, Medina-Calzada Z, Neumann R, Jeffreys AJ, Winney B, Wilson JF, Clark DA, Dyer MJ, Royle NJ. (2014) Human telomeres that carry an integrated copy of human herpesvirus 6 are often short and unstable, facilitating release of the viral genome from the chromosome Nucl. Acids Res. 42, 315-327 doi:10.1093/nar/gkt840
  • Kourmpetli S, Lee K, Hemsley R, Rossignol P, Papageorgiou T, Drea S. (2013) Bidirectional promoters in seed development and associated stress/hormone responses. BMC Plant Biology 13, 187. doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-187
  • Mason RP, Casu C, Butler N, Breda C, Campesan S, Clapp J, Green EW, Dhulkhed D, Kyriacou CP, Giorgini F (2013) Glutathione peroxidase activity is neuroprotective in models of Huntington's disease Nature Genetics 45, 1249-1254 doi:10.1038/ng.2732
  • Pegoraro M, Noreen S, Bhutani S, Tsolou A, Schmid R, Kyriacou CP, Tauber E. (2014) Molecular evolution of a pervasive natural amino-acid substitution in Drosophila cryptochrome. PLoS ONE 9(1): e86483 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086483
  • Riddell CE, Lobaton Garces JD, Adams S, Barribeau SM, Twell D, Mallon EB. (2014) Differential gene expression and alternative splicing in insect immune specificity BMC Genomics 15, 1031 doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1031
  • Vosnakis N, Maiden A, Kourmpetli S, Hands P, Sharples D, Drea S. (2012) A filamentous flower orthologue plays a key role in leaf patterning in opium poppy. The Plant Journal 72, 662–673 doi:10.1111/j.1365-313X.2012.05112.x
  • Watkins RJ, Patil R, Goult BT, Thomas MG, Gottlob I, Shackleton S. (2013) A novel interaction between FRMD7 and CASK: evidence for a causal role in idiopathic infantile nystagmus. Hum. Mol. Genet. 22, 2105-2118 doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt060

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Teaching and Assessment

The taught phase of the course runs between September and December and is based around a series of hands-on lab experiments and small group teaching that will introduce you to a variety of modern molecular techniques and research strategies. One day a week is reserved for a supporting lecture programme in diverse topics related to molecular genetics and biosciences.

In this taught phase, continuous assessment exercises will be a major element of the course and written assignments will be used to assess your analysis and understanding of the taught practical modules; there are also two exams. To allow you to complete written assignments and to prepare for exams, some weeks are set aside for private study and revision.

Between January and July, you will undertake a full-time laboratory research project in a topic and lab chosen from a broad range offered by the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology, the MRC Toxicology Unit, or collaborating research institutes or industrial partners (when available).

The spread of projects covers a wide variety of disciplines involving molecular genetics and a variety of organisms, and some work conducted by students has contributed to peer reviewed publications.

Entry Requirements

2:2 degree (or equivalent) in a biological science.

Significant relevant work experience may be considered.

English Language Requirements

IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. If you do not yet meet our requirements, our English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU) offers a range of courses to help you to improve your English to the necessary standard.

International Qualifications

Find your country in this list to check equivalent qualifications, scholarships and additional requirements.

Countries list

Fees and Funding

Career Opportunities

The research training you receive and the research project you conduct will provide a training that PhD supervisors and employers value highly when recruiting from around the world.


Our Career Development Service is here to support you, with advice on interviews, CVs, work experience, volunteering and more. From Freshers’ Week to Graduation and beyond, they are here to help you reach your professional goals.

Course Qualification Duration Start Dates Availability
Molecular Genetics MSc 1 year full-time September each year Apply Now
Molecular Genetics
1 year full-time
Start Dates
September each year

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