Biotechnology, MSc

120 credits (2 years)

Analyse and manipulate biological systems at the interface between chemical engineering, food technology, molecular biology and medicine.​

Biotechnology master's programme​ at Chalmers

The master's programme focuses on the interface between chemistry, biology and medicine, with engineering as a common working tool. It provides students with competencies on how to use engineering principles in the analysis and manipulation of biological systems to solve problems across a spectrum of important applications.

The master's programme thus covers the broad base of knowledge from genetics to process engineering provided by expertise from the Departments of Biology and Biology engineering, Chemistry and Chemical engineering and Physics, at Chalmers, and the units of Chemistry and molecular biology and Biochemistry, at the University of Gothenburg.

Biotechnology Chalmers University of Technology


In recent decades, gene modification has revolutionized the biotechnology industry, giving rise to countless new products and improving established processes. However, biotechnology, as practiced today, is much more than recombinant DNA technology, cellular biology, microbiology and biochemistry.

It also embraces process design, engineering, modelling and control.

The practical applications of biotechnology include age-old techniques such as brewing, fermentation and cheese making, all of which are still important today. The introduction of new techniques based on fundamental biological research has resulted in major advances. Microorganisms and cells (or parts thereof) are utilized to produce valuable products, and new medicines are products of biotechnology.

Topics covered

The subjects of tissue engineering and applied microbiology are fundamental areas in the Biotechnology master’s programme. The courses included in the programme plan handle topics such as biomaterials, metabolic systems and industrial biomedicine.

There are also different tracks within the programme. For example, the Food and health track where you can find the course Food technology and sustainable food systems. This course focuses on the application of food science and engineering principles into sustainable product development and industrial production along the food chain. The programme also offers the track Biomaterials and tissue engineering. This track includes, among others, the course Tissue engineering which provides a general understanding of tissue growth and development, as well as the tools and theoretical information needed to design tissues and organs.​

Master's programme structure

The master's programme runs for a duration of two years, leading to a Master of Science (MSc) degree. During each year, students can earn 60 credits (ECTS) and complete the programme by accumulating a total of 120 credits. Credits are earned by completing courses where each course is usually 7.5 credits. The programme consists of compulsory courses, compulsory elective courses and elective courses. ​

Compulsory courses year 1

During the first year the programme starts with six compulsory courses that form a common foundation in Biotechnology. Each course is usually 7.5 credits.
  • Systems biology
  • Introduction to bioinformatics
  • Ethics in biotechnology
  • Biotechnology and molecular biology
  • Bioanalytical chemistry
  • Industrial biotechnology​

Compulsory courses year 2 
In the second year you must complete a master's thesis in order to graduate. The thesis may be worth 30 credits or 60 credits depending on your choice.
  • Ethics in biotechnology 
  • Master’s thesis​

Compulsory elective courses
Through compulsory elective courses, you can then specialize in one of the four profile tracks: Systems biotechnology and bioeconomy, Biomolecular science and technology, Food and health, Biomaterials and tissue engineering. 

Profile track: Systems biotechnology and bioeconomy
Deals with the analysis of biochemical, cellular, organismal and global systems. The profile focuses on genome-scale cell models, omics technologies, bioinformatics and enzyme technology and how these can be applied in biomedical research, and in the bioeconomy via systems biology, metabolic engineering and industrial biotechnology. The following courses make up the systems biotechnology and bioeconomy profile track or specialisation.
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Applied bioinformatics 
  • Advanced analytical chemistry-proteomics and metabolomics
  • Enzyme technology
  • Sustainable biomass supply
Profile track: Biomolecular science and technology
Provides advanced level education in protein function, stability, structure, production and design. It also focuses on the physical chemistry of RNA and DNA and the biological chemistry of molecular interactions within the cell. Such knowledge is essential for modern drug design and for understanding molecular mechanisms of health and disease. The following courses make up the biomolecular science and technology profile track or specialisation.
  • Biophysical chemistry
  • Protein folding and function
  • Applied bioinformatics 
  • Advanced analytical chemistry-proteomics and metabolomics
  • Design and production of biomolecules biomedical toxicology
  • Structure and dynamics of biomolecules
Profile track: Food and health
Focuses on physical, nutritional and safety aspects of food and food (bio-)technology applications, from raw materials to consumer products. Special focus is put on the causal relationship between food intake and health/disease, and sustainable food production and consumption​. The following courses make up the food and health profile track or specialisation.
  • Food chemistry
  • Food microbiology
  • Nutrition, health, and sustainable diets
  • Food biotechnology and bioactivity assessment
  • Food technology and sustainable food systems
Profile track: Biomaterials and tissue engineering
Offers an interdisciplinary education that gives students breadth in the biomaterials area, as well as depth in specific topics related to medicine-, cell-, and tissue-oriented biotechnology, materials for medical devices and tissue engineering. ​The following courses make up the biomaterials and tissue engineering profile track or specialisation.
  • Materials in medicine, medicine for the engineer
  • Tissue engineering
  • Cell and tissue interactions with biomaterials
  • Biological materials
Elective courses
You will also be able to select courses outside of your programme plan. These are called elective courses.
You can choose from a wide range of elective courses, including the following:
  • Synthetic biology iGEMA
  • Synthetic biology iGEMB
  • Advanced molecular biology
  • Drug development
  • MSc.Thesis
  • Genetically engineered foods​

Career

Biotechnology today is much more than recombinant DNA technology, cellular biology, microbiology and biochemistry. It also embraces process design, engineering, modelling and control.
These skills are highly relevant for graduates pursuing a research career in the bioscience field or seeking to enter the biotechnology, food or biomedicine industries. Some of our graduates work at international companies such as Astra Zeneca, Mölnlycke, or Essity whereas others work in start-ups like Mycorena or as consultants. Others choose academic careers and do a PhD at Chalmers or another university. You will also find Chalmers biotech graduates at different research institutes and at governmental or municipal positions, working for instance as environmental engineers, specialists, or advisors. 

Research within Biotechnology

Within the Department of Biology and Biotechnology, we perform research with relevance for our daily life. Furthermore, we work on creating knowledge that can improve the efficiency and sustainability of industrial processes. Our research finds broad applications in areas of health (food and medicine), industrial production (biotechnology for the production of bulk and fine chemicals and proteins), as well as for energy production (transportation fuels). In common for the application areas is that we have developed a versatile toolbox that helps us to understand what is going on in our model systems – from cells to humans and in the longer perspective we want to be able to influence the systems we work with. 

One of our most important missions is to drive the development of novel and improved tools to study effects at a cellular level, such as systems biology analysis and modeling tools, metabolic engineering, and bioimaging. We have powerful experimental platforms that encompass well-equipped fermenters, computer-controlled artificial intestine models, analytical instruments, and laser-based microscopy. We are collaborating in broad, interdisciplinary national and international networks within academia and with industries belonging to different businesses.

Department of Biology and Biological Engineering

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

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Sustainable development​​​​​

The programme is highly interlinked with the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development goals (SDGs). The table below provides an overview of the sustainable development goals and the associated targets within the programme.
SDGs for Biotechnology at Chalmers



Goal 2: Zero hunger
The programme has a strong focus on physical, nutritional and safety aspects of food and food, especially on the causal relationship between food intake and health/disease, and sustainable food production and consumption. 

Goal 3: Good health and well-being
Within the programme, we focus on understanding, building up and analyzing biochemical, cellular, organismal and global systems, e.g. genome-scale cell models, omics technologies, bioinformatics, biological chemistry or enzyme technology. This can be applied for understanding molecular mechanisms of health and disease, for modern drug design and for making materials for medical devices and tissue engineering.

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production 
Within the programme one focus is on the analysis and development of biochemical or cellular systems for innovative solutions supporting a transition into a bioeconomy. This means e.g. sustainable, industrial production of chemicals and commodities from renewable raw materials, enabling sustainable consumption and production.  

Goal 13: Climate action
The research within biology and biological engineering can be translated to solutions for sustainable provision of energy in the forms of biofuels, for climate-friendly production of bio commodities or carbon-reducing or even carbon-capturing technologies. ​

Student interview

“I have developed a new way of thinking”​
Abril, Mexico, Biotechnology

Why did you choose this programme?
– I had already learned basic ways of modelling, what was going on inside the cells, the bioreactors, the dryers, the mixers and so many more industrial operations from my bachelor’s in Biotechnology. I fell in love with math applied to biology and I knew that I wanted to deepen my knowledge so I could use it in my work. Chalmers has amazing Systems Biology and Synthetic Biology research groups with very talented people working on them, so I really hope their wisdom rubs off on me after completing my master's programme.

What have you been working on?
– I’ve been using programming software (MATLAB and R) to analyse biological data to determine how gene expression dynamics work in a cell population that has been exposed to different stress conditions, such as heat, hypoxia and high osmotic pressure. I have also been making predictions as to how a cell might respond if we “turn off” or “turn on” a few genes, using a computational model of a cell. It’s awesome because you get the chance to have an idea of what’s going on the inside of the bacteria without even needing to use a super-powerful microscope! I love these projects because it’s one thing to do the same experiments in the lab, but it’s a whole different and amazing thing to have an idea of what’s going on inside it to get valuable information that we couldn’t get experimentally.

What do you like the most about your programme?
– I like that the teachers let you figure out most things by yourself, while always being present to help you in anything you might need. This way, you can develop a way of thinking that is necessary to solve research problems that require the tools they’re teaching us. Prior to this, I had no programming knowledge whatsoever, but now I feel like I’m becoming rather proficient at it!

What do you want to do in the future?
– Firstly, I’d like to work for a while in Sweden to get more experience, as it’s home to many exciting established biotechnological companies such as Astra Zeneca.​ Later on I would like to start my own biotechnology consultant company back in Mexico. Biotech is still an emerging field there, with many companies wanting to switch to cheaper and ecologically friendly productions by incorporating bioprocesses to their operations. 

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Page manager Published: Tue 30 Nov 2021.