Taught course

Biological Sciences

University of Sheffield · Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:2 undergraduate honours degree in biological sciences or a related subject.

Months of entry


Course content

This course is under review for 2023 entry and we will provide an update in early 2023. Please contact the department for further information.
Specialise in one of three major areas: Ornithology, Plant and Crop Science or Biodiversity and Conservation, or choose to develop a wide range of knowledge across the biological sciences.

Course description

Our MSc trains you for a career in research or management around the world. You can specialise in one of our three pathways: Ornithology, Plant and Crop Science, or Biodiversity and Conservation, or you can choose to explore the breadth of organismal biological sciences.

Throughout your course, you'll learn about fundamental concepts and key skills required within the discipline before applying what you've learnt in your literature review and Independent Research Project.

Ornithology: You'll be equipped with the tools to sample avian diversity from cellular to population levels, learning about techniques including specimen handling and curation, DNA extraction and analysis, and geographic range mapping. You'll also develop an understanding of the evolutionary and ecological processes that shape bird behaviour, beauty, and community composition, and of the large-scale conservation challenges that threaten the world's birds.

Plant and crop science: Gain a broad understanding of the agri-food system as a whole. You’ll learn about the major issues in sustainable agriculture, and the cutting-edge techniques used in plant, crop and soil science.

Biodiversity and conservation: Develop fundamental knowledge about major conservation issues and their human and environmental drivers, including urbanisation, tropical logging, marine plastics, and the balance between sustainable food production and biodiversity.

Whichever path you choose, you'll be learning about the latest research in the field, from experts who are making the discoveries first-hand.

You’ll conduct your own fieldwork in The Gambia or a location closer to Sheffield such as the Peak District, and receive training in experimental design and data collection, giving you the key skills to plan and manage your own projects.

The biggest part of the course is the Individual Research Project. Here you'll spend three months researching an area within the biological sciences that matches your future career aspirations, under the supervision of one of our world-leading researchers.

You could be field-based, lab-based or complete a computational data driven project which will give you an opportunity to apply the subject-specific knowledge and analytical skills that you've developed throughout your degree as well as developing new skills in the use of cutting-edge research methods.

Example research projects include:

  • The grass family (Poaceae): a study system in phylogenomics
  • Genomics in ecology and evolution
  • The Peak District: a study system for biodiversity and management
  • The Heliconius butterfly (Heliconius sara): a model study system in biological sciences
  • Parasitic plants as agro-ecosystem engineers
  • The soil system


The cost of all core fieldwork and practical project work is included in your tuition fees, this includes travel and accommodation for any one day field trips and compulsory field courses as well as obligatory safety equipment. Necessary vaccinations and visas required for travel, as well as travel to field sites for research project work, may incur additional costs.

Please see our University website for the most up-to-date course information: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/taught/courses

Information for international students

English language requirements

Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

For more information about entry requirements for international students, please visit https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/international/applying/postgraduate-taught

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Postgraduate Admissions Tutor
+44 114 222 2341