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Biological Sciences by Research MSc

UCAS code
Year of entry 2017
Course Length
1 year full time
2 years part time
Department Biological Sciences »


Refine your research skills and develop advanced scientific and technical expertise with a one-year Masters by Research programme in Biological Sciences.

Choose your preferred research area from Biomedical Sciences, Plant Molecular Sciences and Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour to learn alongside academic staff working at the frontiers of knowledge in their particular fields.

You’ll contribute to a renowned research culture, with Royal Holloway, University of London School of Biological Sciences ranked 25th in the UK for influential research output by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

Study in our state-of-the-art laboratories, providing advanced equipment for bioinformatics, mass spectrometry and protein and gene sequencing. You’ll have access to on-site woodland and meadow field testing facilities, and our campus is within easy reach of sites of special scientific interest, including Windsor Great Park, Box Hill and Chobham Common.

Gain the generic skills and hands-on experience you need to continue into further study as a PhD student, or progress towards a research career in a variety of different sectors.  

  • Develop research skills to progress to further study at PhD level or a research career in a variety of sectors.
  • Take part in world-class research led by renowned academics, with 76% of our Biological Sciences research ranked world-leading and internationally excellent. (REF 2014)
  • Use our state-of-the-art facilities, with £16 million recently invested in equipment for bioinformatics, mass spectrometry and protein and gene sequencing.
  • Study on a biodiverse campus with on-site woodland and meadow field testing facilities, within reach of sites of special scientific interest including Windsor Great Park and Box Hill.
  • Choose from three areas of research: Biomedical Sciences, Plant Molecular Sciences and Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour.

Find out more and how to apply.

Taught element

This will develop your research skills in (amongst other things): 

  • Experimental design
  • Data analysis
  • Quality assurance
  • Use of bioinformatics tools
  • Grant writing
  • Paper writing
  • Recording and organising your daily laboratory tasks electronically
  • Conference presentation

Research project

The project will be an opportunity to pursue your own independent research within the lab of your supervisor. All of our academic staff are research-active, and so all projects are at the cutting edge within their specific discipline. Day-to-day supervision will be provided by your supervisor or an experienced researcher within their lab, and you will become part of the research team – attending lab meetings and gaining an insight into other projects running alongside yours.

This research degree includes a taught component offering lectures in transferable skills delivered throughout the first two terms. As part of this there is a requirement to complete coursework, prepare and present your research to a School audience by means of a poster as well as a 20 minute oral presentation in the summer term. All elements of the programme must be passed in order to be able to submit the final project for assessment in summer. 

Students receive regular, scheduled, feedback on their performance in taught modules, their project plan, literature review/draft introduction (autumn term), draft materials and methods write up (spring term), preparatory oral presentation (spring term); assessed oral presentation (summer term); and draft project write up (summer term).

As with most research degrees, the final write up will be assessed internally and externally at the end of the summer with the final award of a Masters by Research degree in the following autumn term

Entry criteria:

Typically a UK Lower Second Class Honours degree (2:2), or equivalent, in Biology, Biochemistry or a related discipline. However, individual supervisors might request a higher degree classification.

English language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores. For equivalencies, please see here.


International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below




Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

 Additional information:

  • Enthusiasm for your chosen discipline.
  • The ability to work both independently and in a team.
  • Previous experience of working on a research project at undergraduate level is an advantage.

A Masters in Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London is ideal for students who want to continue to further PhD study or pursue a research career in a variety of sectors. You will develop a range of advances research techniques as well as a range of transferrable skills, including experimental design and data analysis, as well as presenting research findings to an audience in the form of a conference presentation.

Our Masters graduates have gone on to secure PhD positions at Royal Holloway, the University of Oxford, Imperial College London, the Max Plank Institute, Germany, St George's University of London and MRC Harwell, as well as prestigious careers including Senior Keeper in Herpetology at London Zoo and Species Recovery Officer at Plantlife International.

  • Around a quarter of graduates secure PhD positions at Royal Holloway or elsewhere.
  • Excellent preparation for a research career in a variety of fields.
  • A close-knit graduate network to draw on, with alumni often visiting Royal Holloway to share their experiences. 

Home and EU and students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £7,195 (includes the £3,000 bench fee)

Overseas students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £17,200 (includes the £3,000 bench fee)

Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*The tuition fees given above apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis.  Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee and information is available from the Royal Holloway Student Fees Office on Student-Fees@rhul.ac.uk. All fees are likely to rise annually in line with inflation, but by no more than 5 per cent per year.

For further information, please see Royal Holloway’s Terms & Conditions.

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