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MSc Biology (by research)

  Length Start dates (semester dates)
MSc by research

1 year full-time
2 years part-time

Apply for MSc by research


Biological research has a critical role to play in securing a sustainable future. Our interdisciplinary research contributes to solutions for three major global challenges - health and disease, sustainable food and fuel, and environmental change. 

Every step of our research is carried out with the help of our postgraduate students. No matter which area of biology you specialise in, you will be working alongside some of the world’s biggest names in their respective fields, at the forefront of scientific exploration. 

Your research

Our MSc by research is the shortest of our research degrees. Consequently, your thesis will be narrower in scope than an MPhil or PhD thesis, although it should still contain some original work. Your thesis can be up to 30,000 words long and will be judged by two examiners, but you are not normally required to attend an oral examination.


Explore funding for postgraduate researchers in Biology and wider postgraduate support.


You'll be assigned a supervisor who will guide your work throughout your time with us. We'll match your research interests to their area of expertise.

Training and support

Throughout your course you'll have a supervisor to support you and guide your research. 

Work on your thesis is monitored by regular meetings of the Thesis Advisory Panel (at least once every six months for a full-time student and once a year for part-time students). The panel will review the progress of your research and provide additional advice and guidance.

Our research degrees include a cohort-based training programme to provide you with project-specific and transferable skills for your future career. This includes reading and appraising scientific literature, presenting confidently to a scientific audience, and writing accounts of your research.

Course location

This course is run by the Department of Biology.

The Department of Biology is located on Campus West.

Entry requirements

To apply for this course you should hold, or expect to hold, a Bachelors degree in any biological subject with a 2:1 or first-class honours (or overseas equivalent).

We will consider applicants with backgrounds in chemistry, computer science, electronics, environment, mathematics, medicine or physics who can demonstrate a commitment to the biosciences.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must provide evidence of your ability.

Check your English language requirements


Apply for this course

Take a look at the supporting documents you may need for your application.

Find out more about how to apply.

Identify a supervisor

Before applying, you need to identify a research project that interests you. Look at the lists of academic staff in each of our research groups to see if there is a prospective supervisor working in an area which relates to your own research interests. You're welcome to email a prospective supervisor informally to find out more about their research or to ask if they might be considering taking on a postgraduate researcher.

Find a supervisor


As part of your application, you'll be invited to an interview (either face-to-face or online). As part of the interview process, you will usually be expected to make a short presentation on a recent piece of research you have conducted. If your first language is not English, you should be fluent enough to speak confidently about your intended area of research and discuss your background and interests with a panel of academics.

Careers and skills

Our dedicated careers team offer specific support including a programme of professional researcher development and careers workshops and 1:1 career support sessions. They will help you to build up your employability portfolio and to engage in activities that will build up your skills and experience within and outside of your research work.

You will have the opportunity to gain experience of demonstrating to undergraduate and taught Masters students, and receive practical advice on career planning. We hold a series of research seminars across all disciplines which are open to all researchers. There are also opportunities to present your own work through posters and talks.

A research degree is essential if you plan a career as an independent researcher with responsibility for your own research programme, whether in academia, research institutes or industry.

Career opportunities

Our graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of sectors, including:

  • clinical science
  • biotechnology and scientific research
  • postdoctoral positions
  • teaching and lecturing.

Discover York


We offer a range of campus accommodation to suit you and your budget, from economy to deluxe.

Why York

Discover more about our researchers, facilities and why York is the perfect choice for your research degree.

Graduate Research School

Connect with researchers across all disciplines to get the most out of your research project.

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