Master of Science in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Master of Science in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Offered in Block Release
  • 2 YearsCourse Duration
  • PostgraduateSkill level
  • $8553.00
  • 02 October 2023Admission Deadline

This program seeks to produce high quality graduates who are conversant in the areas of Biotechnology and microbiology. The program is offered on a block release basis and is meant to cater for individuals that are already employed in various industries and research facilities. The students are introduced to advanced aspects of recombinant DNA technology, microbial genetics, Food microbiology, Industrial, medical and environmental biotechnology as well as entrepreneuship skills to enable them to start businesses in the various fields.

To develop in students a thorough understanding of the general and advanced principles in the field of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology.


Areas of Study:
Medical Biotechnology, Plant Biotechnology, Industrial Biotechnology

Specialist Focus:
It is designed to provide graduates with the practical skills required to produce relevant cost-effective solutions in the development of local manufacturing, agricultural and food production industries, environmental pollution and monitoring and also medical technologies.

Research and innovation oriented. Teaching and learning are professionally oriented and focused on practical aspects.

Entry requirements

The normal entry qualification shall be an Honours Degree with at least a 2.2 classification in Biological Sciences, Microbiology, and Biochemistry.

The programme shall normally be offered over a period of eighteen (18) months [three (3) semesters] on full-time study and 24 months on block release. When running on fulltime a student shall register for four modules in the First Semester and four in the Second Semester making a total of eight modules in the first year of study. A student shall choose one elective module during the first semester and two electives during the second semester and shall be required to register for the Project Module at the start of the Third Semester.
When running on block release, the programme shall comprises of two blocks of 3 weeks of contact time in the first academic year and two blocks of 2 weeks of contact time for the second academic year. A student shall register for a total of eight modules in addition to a Project module. A student shall choose one elective module during the first academic year and two modules in the second year of study. A research project shall commence during Block 3 in the second academic year.
There are three fields of specialisation with elective modules from which to choose. The three elective modules chosen by the student shall all belong to one discipline or field of specialisation.
Part II shall consist of seminars in assigned readings, reports and a research project leading to a dissertation and an oral presentation.

Teaching and Learning Methods:

Lectures, tutorials, laboratory classes, seminars, group work, farm research project, individual independent study
Assessment Methods:
Written and oral examinations, tests, seminar presentations, mini-research project report, final year research project report

The Regulations for the Master of Science Degree in Applied Microbiology and
Biotechnology should be read in conjunction with the Faculty of Applied Science
Regulations and the General Academic Regulations.



SBB 5101 Microbial Genetics 23 Credits
The module looks at gene organization in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, Molecular basis and mechanisms of mutations, Molecular evolution. Regulation of gene expression and metabolic pathways, allosteric proteins, protein-DNA interaction. Yeasts and molecular genetics of cell cycle control and epigenetics.

SBB 5102 Recombinant DNA Technology 23 Credits
The module explores gene cloning, vectors-plasmid, bacteriophage, cosmids, YAC, expression of heterologous proteins in E. coli, S. cerevisiae, plant and mammalian cells, design of a protein producer, application of RFLPS and PCR techniques, horizontal gene transfer versus vertical gene transfer as well as gene editing technologies and their applications.

SBB 5111 Environmental Microbiology 23 Credits
This module examines soil and water microbiology; role of microbes in marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, biogeochemical cycling; C N, P, S. population and community diversity; interactions between microbial communities. Microbiology of extreme environments, the role of microorganisms in biodegradation, classical and contemporary biochemical, molecular and genomic approaches to microbial physiology, metabolism and ecology and the use of genetically modified microorganisms in the environment.

SBB 5211 Entrepreneurial Skills 23 Credits
The module looks at the entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs, reading a Balance Sheet, The business plan. Managing markets, Managing finances. Legal aspect, general Management, conflict management skills, environmental policy and management, release and management of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) as well as biosafety regulations.

SBB 5212 Analytical Biotechnology And Bioinformatics 23 Credits
This module examines spectrophotometry, Chromatography GC-HPLC-MS, RIA, Electrophoresis (High molecular and restricted DNA, gel and capillary), DNA and RNA isolation, NA labelling, PCR- qualitative and quantitative, DNA – sequencing, chemical synthesis of polynucleotides. It also looks at protein isolation and purification (enzymes, antibodies, heterologous expressed proteins) in laboratory scale, scale-up of protein purification, proteomics – mass spectrometry-based workflows, experimental design, sample collection and preparation. The module is also an introduction to bioinformatics databases and basic computational tools used in sequence alignment, analyzing genomics and proteomics sequence data.

SBB 5209 Plant Biotechnology (Optional) 23 Credits
The module looks at genetic modification and manipulation to increase and improve the production of plants; crop protection by gene manipulation; plants important for agriculture, plant viruses, fungi as plant pathogens; molecular basis of pathogenicity-Molecular basis of disease resistance; plant tissue culture; genetics of host plant resistance, breeding for resistance, hypersensitive response, systemic acquired resistance, manipulation of host-pathogen interactions; transgenic plants and the expression of heterologous proteins in plants.

SBB5213 Medical Microbiology And Biotechnology(Optional) 23 Credits
The module highlights medically important bacteria with emphasis on taxonomy, pathogenesis and isolation; identification of microbes – bio typing, quick methods (classical and DNA probes, pulse-field electrophoresis) DNA; probes in medicine (inborn errors, surgical pathology (HPV), oncology, forensic medicine); vaccines interferon, antibodies, hormones and laboratory diagnostics for tropical diseases.

SBB 5204 Advanced Food Microbiology (Optional) 23 Credits
The module explores the biodegradation and bio-deterioration of food; types of foodstuffs in relation to chemical composition and susceptibility to spoilage; principles and techniques employed to prevent and control spoilage; sample preparation and its role in microbial analysis; analytical microbiology techniques and their practical application; food poisoning, causative agents, sources of contamination and determination of contaminant level.


SBB 6110 Industrial Biotechnology (Optional) 23 Credits
The module looks at the application of microbial processes in industry; industrial microorganisms and their nutrition, physiology, growth, selection, isolation, screening, culture collections; production of microbial cells, primary and secondary metabolites, antibiotics, vaccine; immobilization of microbial cells and proteins (enzymes and hormones); application of immobilized products in the industrial production of food, medicines, fine chemicals, ethanol and in the environmental analysis and monitoring.

SBB 6114 Environmental Biotechnology (Optional) 23 Credits
The module examines biological waste water treatment; aerobic processes (bio filters, bio contractors, activated sludge), anaerobic conversions, (anaerobic digestion, septic tanks, biogas; biological treatment of industrial waste and reuse of solid organic waste; biomass utilization of starch and cellulose; application of fungi for degradation of lignocellulosics, biofuel production; biodegradation of xenobiotics; bioremediation technologies and soil bioremediation, recovery of minerals from low grade ores; biomining and biooxidation, bioremediation of heavy metal contaminated sites, Biofertilizers and Biopesticides, Bioprospecting.

SBB 6115 Plant Pathology (Optional) 23 Credits
This module looks at the plant pathology basics and epidemiology; host-Plant recognition symbiosis, pathogenicity and resistance; mechanisms of pathogenicity; symbiosis with bacteria, nitrogen fixation, mycorrhizae; deuteromycetes, Ascomycete and Basidiomycete diseases; bacterial and viral diseases, Nematode and insect related disease; seed borne, soil borne and post-harvest diseases; disease control strategies; resistance mechanisms and biological control.

SBB 6116 Immunology (Optional) 23 Credits
The module examines the advanced aspects of immune response, structure of immunoglobulins, complement, mechanism of action B-T-cells ; innate immunity.; polyclonal, monoclonal and synthetic antibodies; hybridoma technology; production and application of immunochemicals; recombinant antibody technology and animal cell culture techniques.

SBB 6117 Virology (Optional) 23 Credits
This module is about molecular structure and assembly of viruses (Tobacco mosaic virus, Tomato virus, HIV); function and role of virus encoded proteins and viral nucleic acids in symptom induction; herpesviruses in humans (Herpes simplex, Herpes zoster and Varicella, Epstein-Barr virus, Cytomegalovirus); measles, Mumps, poliomyelitis, Rubella; other neurotropic viruses and Prions (Rabies, Encephalitis virus, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Kuru, Human T-cell Lymphotropic virus); other system viral diseases (Dengue, Colorado Tick fever, Yellow Fever virus, Haemorrhagic fever viruses (Marburg, Lassa, Ebola), Adenovirus, Coxsackie virus; respiratory syncytial virus, Influenza virus, Rotavirus. Viruses in birds and animals. Avian flu virus, Newcastle disease virus. Plant viruses and analytical virology.

SBB 6118 Advanced Plant Biotechnology (Optional) 23 Credits
This module looks at molecular markers and their applications in plant diversity studies and marker assisted breeding; reverse genetics techniques for functional genomics; principles and applications of plant genomics (based on new generation sequencing) transcriptomics, metabolomics.; molecular farming; plant synthetic biology enabled biofuels, metabolic engineering, chloroplast transformation. Biotechnology status and future status of economic crops; biosafety and International regulation of plant biotechnology.

SBB 6010 Research Project 116 Credits
The research project shall be in an area chosen by the candidate and approved by the student's supervisor and the Departmental Board. This process shall take place during their first block release period, at the start of Part II. The student may be placed for a minimum of 10 weeks in an industry, commercial organization or research institute working on the elected research project. The research work shall be completed and the dissertation submitted one week before the examinations at the end of the block release period of Part II. Submissions after that date shall receive no more than a basic pass mark of 50%, unless dispensation is sought from the Department.
Production Managers, Quality controllers, Laboratory technicians in the food industry (brewing, baking, dairy etc), Pharmaceutical, Agricultural (seed production houses, feed manufacturers, egg and chicken industries), Medical (Laboratories at diagnostic and medical centres). Research scientists in research institutions, lecturers at Universities and polytechnics, biology educators in the education sector. Some can proceed and pursue higher degrees. Some can become consultants or become entrepreneurs in biology related businesses.

Further Studies:
PhD, MPhil in Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Biotechnology, MSc in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology,

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Mr Walter Magagula

Mr Walter Magagula

Senior Assistant Registrar

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