MSc Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement (Part time)


Take the next step towards the career you want and sign up to one of UEA’s Postgraduate Open Events on 29 January and 18 March 2020.

Read It


The world is running out of antibiotics. But we're tapping into a surprising new source - the backs of leafcutter ants.

Read It

Key facts

(2014 Research Excellence Framework)


Scholarships are available to support with tuition fee costs and/or living expenses. Apply now for September.

Read It
You’re ready to specialise in plant genetics and crop improvement at a ground-breaking centre for this highly prized discipline. With this expert, cutting edge training, you’ll have the perfect grounding to move into PhD research or a career in the practical plant breeding.

This MSc enables you to explore genetics, plant genomics, plant molecular genetics and statistics for plant science, in addition to training valuable transferable skills. Alongside your taught modules, you’ll also work on a laboratory-based research project (worth 60 credits), giving you the opportunity to work closely with world-leading scientists at the John Innes Centre or a relevant industry partner. The John Innes Centre – based on Norwich Research Park alongside UEA – is one of the world’s leading research institutes in plant genetics and crop improvement, so there are few places in the world where you’ll find a better opportunity to work with such leading authorities and world-class facilities.


This degree follows the same programme as its full-time equivalent but is spread over two years.

Course Modules 2020/1

Students must study the following modules for 100 credits:

Name Code Credits


This module provides a Master's level introduction to the structure and function of DNA. You will cover the mechanisms of inheritance in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms and receive an introduction to the study of model organisms and their genomes. This will be followed by lectures that cover the contemporary 'omics' technologies used for the analysis of whole genomes, gene function and expression. Lectures and seminars that introduce the role of bioinformatics in genome biology and evolution will also be included, together with an opportunity to gain practical experience in bioinformatics. These lectures and seminars will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills for more in-depth coverage of these topics later in the academic year, including your laboratory-based research project.




The aim of this year-long module is to provide an understanding of the practice of plant breeding and genetics. It is also to explore the principles and applications of other technologies in the manipulation of traits in crop improvement. The module also covers statistical methods for analysing data from many experiments in plant science and crop improvement. This provides students with important skills required for the design and analysis of experimental data from their own research project, and for a wide range of research in the future. On completion of the module, students will understand the principles, analysis and application of Mendelian, population and quantitative genetics in plant breeding. They will also understand the application of biotechnology, breeding strategies and selection procedures, the principles and application of heterosis and hybrid breeding and the role of genetic resources and gene conservation. The statistics training will cover the estimation of important parameters, confidence intervals and significance tests and the concepts of experimental design, together with the use of general linear modelling as a widely-applicable method for analysing experimental data.




Plant genetics and biotechnology have played a significant role in understanding fundamental aspects of plant biology and they also have tremendous potential for crop plant improvement in the future. This module will provide you with an overview of the theory and practical applications of plant molecular genetics, genomics and transformation technologies in both model and crop plants. This is a compulsory Module for MSc in Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement.




The aim of this laboratory-based module is to provide you with a link between the theory of bioinformatics, plant molecular genetics and marker-assisted selection, (which is covered in other modules), together with their practical basis. Using bioinformatics, you will design molecular markers to determine the genotypes of F2 plants segregating for distinct morphological characters. Genotyping of the F2 seedlings will be used to predict the phenotypic characters exhibited by mature plants. The module will demonstrate how molecular genetics can be used to select plants with specific combinations of traits - which is a key feature of contemporary breeding programmes. The module will also provide you with key practical skills in bioinformatics, molecular genetics and scientific writing skills.




Future crop plant improvement will depend upon new varieties expressing a number of key traits, either by conventional plant breeding, or by genetic modification. These traits include durable resistance to pathogenic microorganisms, and promoting interactions with other microorganisms that will result in mutually beneficial symbioses that could reduce inputs of nitrogen and phosphorous in agriculture. Other desirable traits include tolerance to abiotic stresses such as drought, salinity, and extremes of temperature, as well as crops with enhanced nutritional quality. This module will investigate the genetic basis underlying these important traits in both model and crop plants, and the strategies for introducing these traits into specific crops. This is a compulsory module for MSc in Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement.



Students must study the following modules for 80 credits:

Name Code Credits


This is a compulsory and restricted module for MSc in Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement. You will undertake a six month laboratory-based research project on some aspect of plant genetics, crop improvement, plant-microbe interactions or plant biology. You will be supervised by a member of scientific staff at the John Innes Centre or The Sainsbury Laboratory. This module provides a thorough training in experimentation, data collection, critical analysis, and presentation.




This module involves an extensive survey of current literature related to the research project module, the formulation of hypotheses, and the design of experiments to test them. In the research project, you will conduct these experiments, analyse their research project data, and critically assess their hypotheses. You will carry out individual work under the supervision of the research project supervisor. This is a restricted and compulsory module for MSc in Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Biological Sciences or Plant Biology
  • Degree Classification Bachelors degree (minimum 2.1 or equivalent)
  • Alternative Qualifications Candidates with other experience, such as employment within a plant breeding company or relevant research experience will also be considered.

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 58 (minimum 42 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact

Special Entry Requirements

Applicants are required to submit two references with their application - at least one of these must be related to their most recent Academic study.

A full, detailed CV should also be included with the application.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees for the academic year 2020/21 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £8,850 (full time)
  • International Students: £19,800 (full time)

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).


Living Expenses

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.



A variety of Scholarships may be offered to UK/EU and International students. Scholarships are normally awarded to students on the basis of academic merit and are usually for the duration of the period of study. Please click here for more detailed information about funding for prospective students.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

To apply please use our online application form.

Further Information

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515