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Postgraduate Study


Science and technology, business, and transitionary modules are taught in the first two terms, integrating commercial know-how with advances in research and demonstrating the many complex issues associated with bringing discovery and innovation from the laboratory to the market. The programme is highly participatory and includes numerous practical elements in the form of interdisciplinary projects, workshops, case studies and business planning activities.

Students will undertake both a consulting project and a research placement in a commercial environment, normally with a company.

The MBE class is taught as an undivided cohort. There are no elective components and all students follow the same syllabus. The class offers a professional practice experience and a high level of participation is expected. All lectures and course components are mandatory. The taught aspects of the programme occupy two intensive terms of four days per week up to ten weeks, and the third term is dedicated to the research placement in a commercial environment and dissertation. Please note that the MBE term times thus may differ from the standard University term times.

The Department is renowned for its practical and successful approach to biotechnology entrepreneurship and the exploitation of bioscience inventions. Students benefit from a unique combination of teaching and mentoring from experienced business and academic contributors. The faculty pursue a variety of research interests and the application of the resulting technologies has led to the founding of many spin-out companies. Our innovative achievements and strong Master's teaching were recognised by the Queen's Anniversary Award (2007).

One to one supervision

Students benefit from a high level of interaction with the staff responsible for the programme, in particular the Academic Lead, Programme Manager, and Programme Coordinator.  The latter two members of staff provide support to students throughout the duration of the course. Students are assigned an academic supervisor and a company supervisor for their research placement. Appointments with other senior members of staff and module leaders are by arrangement.

Seminars & classes

The majority of teaching is seminar-style, and student participation in discussions is strongly encouraged.


Students are expected to be available for lectures, workshops and assessments totalling 20-24 hours a week during term time. All modules and associated lectures, workshops and assessments are mandatory. While the course is recognised as being intense, students normally appreciate that spending their time working closely with a group of other entrepreneurial and enthusiastic individuals is a transformative educational experience. All teaching sessions are designed to be interactive with student led discussion highly encouraged.


Students undertake both a part-time consulting project as a group activitiy and a research placement as an individual activity. There are further professional practice activities associated with taught modules. These usually take the form of workshops, group seminars or team-working activities.

Literature Reviews

The work for the dissertation would normally include a literature review.


In spring of each year, students normally spend the majority of their time working on a company placement, carrying out research with a commercial or business dimension. Students are encouraged at this time to put into practice the lessons learnt from the academic aspects of the programme, as well as to demonstrate originality of research and analysis. The course staff provides considerable support to students in regard to both identifying suitable projects and during the placement itself. An academic supervisor and a company supervisor are appointed to oversee each project.

It is important that the project undertaken relates to the interface of bioscience and business enterprise, addresses a defined research question and affords the student the opportunity to collect data. The subsequent analysis forms the basis of a substantial dissertation. The findings are also presented at a symposium held at the end of the year, at which students describe their conclusions and recommendations to the host company to an audience of examiners, students and course contributors.


The course aims to return work submitted for assessment within four to six weeks, accompanied by remarks highlighting the strengths of the work and areas in which it could be improved. Students receive a termly feedback report via an online system. Student feedback is also requested through online surveys during each term.


Thesis / Dissertation

A 10,000-word dissertation is a core component of assessment. Students must pass both the taught and the dissertation component of the course to attain the degree qualification. The dissertation is based on data collected during the research placement and its subsequent analysis. It should demonstrate awareness of the current academic and business literature and show evidence of innovative thinking. At the end of the dissertation-writing period, students give an assessed presentation.


Written submissions may include essays, short reports and critical appraisals, a business plan, and a consulting project report each of which will be no more than 4,000 words in length. The assignments are generally designed not only to test knowledge but to extend learning and to develop professional practice skills. Prospective students have to note that owing to the relative brevity of the course, the workload is high.

Practical assessment

Attainment is continuously assessed, with particular emphasis on practical activities, participation and learning through teamwork in the research, preparation, and delivery of presentations. Where possible, group work reflects activities that are representative of a professional business environment.


At their discretion, the examiners may ask candidates to take an oral exam at the end of the course.

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Key Information

9 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2024

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 8, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 4, 2024
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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