Taught course

Molecular and Cellular Basis of Human Disease

University of Sheffield · Department of Biomedical Science

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in a biomedical-related subject.

We also accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies.

Months of entry


Course content

Begin your training in the mechanisms behind human disease, and learn how we can better understand and treat diseases, ready for an exciting career in academia, healthcare, industry or beyond.

Course description

This 12-month course has been designed for students who are fascinated by the fundamental processes that underpin how our bodies work at a cellular level. Whole genome sequencing and other scientific advancements have provided us with a wealth of information about the genetic changes found in disease but less is known about how these affect cellular mechanisms. Through your training, we’ll teach you the techniques that scientists use to understand how failures in key processes can lead to disease, and how we can use these discoveries to pave the way for new therapeutic treatments and biotechnologies.

At Sheffield, we’re experts in the use of animal models for understanding disease mechanisms. Our scientists then use this knowledge to perform therapeutic studies into how we can treat disease. Our researchers are exploring solutions to cardiovascular disease, using zebrafish to understand how the developing heart undergoes complex morphological rearrangements. They’re even making breakthroughs in the search for Motor Neurone Disease treatments through careful study of the genetic and cellular malfunctions that lead to disease. It’s research like this that you’ll have the chance to get involved in throughout your degree.

This course is built from a core programme of specially tailored modules, covering both the practical and theoretical side of the discipline. Lecture modules will provide you with a deep understanding of how epithelial tissues perform an essential role in our bodies, how we model human disease in the laboratory, and the causes, treatments and ongoing research into cancer. Immersive practical training modules will give you hands-on experience in laboratory techniques that underpin research in this field including cellular trafficking assays, model organism handling, CRISPR, PCR, and fluorescence microscopy..

On top of this, you’ll receive training in scientific writing and presentation skills, critical analysis skills, and statistics and data analysis skills, as well as ethics and public awareness of science, allowing you to build the key transferable skills and knowledge you’ll need to support your career ambitions.

When it comes to facilities, in the School of Biosciences we're home to the internationally renowned Bateson Centre, which is a world leading collection of academics, researchers and facilities collaborating to reduce the impact of human disease. These scientists also work closely with our cell biologists, physical scientists, computational biologists and clinicians to understand how our cells interact with the environment around them to develop improved disease therapies.

The biggest part of the course is the independent research project. You'll spend three months researching the fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms that contribute to disease, working with academics and researchers whose research is at the forefront of these fields. Our academics will train you to use the specialist equipment that you'll need to complete your project, and provide support to help you design your experiments, analyse your results and present your findings.

Example past research projects include:

  • Macropinocytosis as a regulator of cancer cell growth
  • Role for SUMO-Specific Protease 1 in Regulating Mitochondrial biogenesis under Hypoxia linked to Aging, Age-related Degenerative and Ischaemic Diseases
  • Host senescence responses to the typhoid toxin of Salmonella Typhi

Often, research carried out by our MSc students during their MSc research projects forms the basis of publications in peer-reviewed journals. Here are examples of past papers including student authors:

  • Walters, K., Sarsenov, R., Too, W.S. et al. Comprehensive functional profiling of long non-coding RNAs through a novel pan-cancer integration approach and modular analysis of their protein-coding gene association networks. BMC Genomics 20, 454 (2019).
  • Buckley CM, Heath VL, Guého A, Bosmani C, Knobloch P, et al. (2019) PIKfyve/Fab1 is required for efficient V-ATPase and hydrolase delivery to phagosomes, phagosomal killing, and restriction of Legionella infection. PLOS Pathogens 15(2): e1007551.


We accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies. Find out more on the Medical School website.

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