MSc Global Plant Health
- Full Time
- Degree of Master of Science
- Course Length
- 1 years
- Course Start Date
- September 2024
Plant diseases have shaped human history. Controlling plant diseases is therefore important in the effort to realise a sustainable future for everyone and everything on this planet.
This MSc in Global Plant Health, delivered by The Sainsbury Laboratory, will equip you to tackle this pressing problem. Plant diseases cause significant crop losses worldwide. This is made worse by the frequent emergence of new diseases. The impact goes well beyond the quantity and quality of food. We need to manage existing diseases as effectively as possible and respond rapidly to new outbreaks.
Many of the most effective solutions require a thorough understanding of the science underlying the interactions between plants and microbes, together with effective leadership and management. You will gain the high-level knowledge, insight and skills that will be sought after by all organisations involved in global plant health.
This one-year MSc in Global Plant Health provides the strongest possible grounding for a career devoted to minimising crop losses to help feed the world and protect the environment. By enrolling for this MSc, you will understand what makes plant pathogens virulent, the basis of plant immunity, how the next discoveries are made through experimental and computational approaches, what makes global response strategies successful and how to lead such a response. Rooted in scientific research excellence, this course develops the skills most sought after by employers. These include complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, coordination with others, and judgment and decision making.
This course is run by The Sainsbury Laboratory. It is an independent research institute that leads the world in molecular plant-microbe interactions. Its research covers a wide range of global diseases of crops. Its celebrated Group Leaders will share their vast experience with you. This course is associated with The School of Biological Sciences at UEA, with contributions from across the Norwich Research Park, including the John Innes Centre. You will therefore study in one of the world’s leading campuses in plant and microbial science.
A key and innovative element of the course is a 5-month research project of relevance to a global plant disease outbreak. This will provide invaluable experience for the next stage in your career by gaining familiarity with how to handle the main elements of the response to an emerging plant pathogen – from diagnosis, understanding virulence mechanisms and developing novel control strategies, through to project management.
Study and Modules
This one-year course is a mixture of five taught modules and a 5-month research project. These compulsory elements are exclusive to this course. Attendance at weekly seminars at The Sainsbury Laboratory forms part of modules throughout the year.
The first module introduces global plant health. You’ll learn about major crops and their pathogens, the diagnosis of disease, and the underlying plant biology. You’ll also understand the strengths and weaknesses of traditional and modern crop improvement methods in relation to plant pathology.
The molecular plant-microbe interactions and plant health module covers our current understanding of the mechanisms of pathogenesis in the context of plant science. This ranges how plants recognise pathogens, how plants acquire immunity and how the pathogens develop ways of overcoming immunity. It is this fundamental scientific understanding that is vital in the development of innovative and robust ways to control plant disease.
The experimental approaches to understand and combat disease module details the practical aspects of how diagnoses and new discoveries are made. This covers experimental design concepts of a wide range of methods and approaches in plant health with hands-on experience in core protocols.
The module on data science and informatics for plant disease research details bioinformatic and computational approaches to understand and tackle plant health. You’ll learn how numerous breakthrough discoveries are rooted in the expanding range of genomic resources now available.
The module on leadership, project management and global disease response strategies explains how the science can be used to make a difference on the ground. This covers the range of disease control measures to choose from, through to how diverse agencies around the world work together to control outbreaks successfully. This includes models of management and leadership, project lifecycles, communication, teamwork, risk management, and conflict resolution, through to working within legal, policy and resource constraints.
All of the taught modules come together in the final interdisciplinary research project. Each plant disease outbreak requires a team of individuals with different skills to work together to come up with solutions to realise their potential. You’ll gain valuable first-hand experience of how research can contribute to a successful response. This includes lab work and/or computational studies, developing hypotheses, and understanding how research fits into a response strategy that realises an optimal outcome. Each student will have the opportunity to focus on their chosen plant health research specialism, produce a report and present a seminar summarising their achievements.
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. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, the University will endeavour to consult with 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. 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 inform students.
Teaching and Learning
Our teaching team is led by world-renowned Group Leaders at The Sainsbury Laboratory, supported by our Associate Group Leaders based in other Norwich Bioscience Institutes, Senior Scientists, Laboratory Managers, Postdoctoral Scientists, Postgraduate Research Students and international guest lecturers from organisations involved in supporting global plant health.
You’ll be taught through a combination of lectures, interactive workshops, online material, and laboratory/computational/project work to support your learning of concepts and practical applications. Contact time will average over eight hours per week with additional research seminars and other optional training activities. Being immersed in The Sainsbury Laboratory research culture will hugely benefit your learning. Almost all of this course can be adapted to online learning if necessary. The availability of laboratory-based activities may be subject to government health advice at the time.
The number of students is limited each year to create a focused group that maximises peer-support. You will have a dedicated Study Space within The Sainsbury Laboratory equipped with individual desks, laptops, Wi-Fi, lockers and space for seminars and workshops. You’ll get support before and throughout the course from the TSL Postgraduate Student Committee.
Much of the coursework will require independent study, allowing you to hone your analytical skills and develop time-management skills to maximise your learning.
You have the opportunity to explore the plant and microbial science of the researchers of not only The Sainsbury Laboratory, but the other institutions of the Norwich Research Park.
A highlight of the course is the interdisciplinary, research project. Projects will involve specialisation reflecting one or more of the taught modules.
We’ll assess your learning in a combination of ways appropriate to each module and their learning objectives. You’ll be assessed based on coursework that includes laboratory reports, assignments, focused literature reviews, short essays, presentations and problem-based learning activities. For each module, you’ll have the chance to test your skills with up to two practice or “formative” assignments. That assignment might be a coursework essay or data analysis. Your final module, which comprises a third of the overall assessment marks, will be assessed by coursework, a project report and a presentation in the period after Easter.
You’ll get feedback on your practice assignments from your tutors. The purpose of the feedback is to help you improve your work before your final formal or “summative” assignment and we encourage you to discuss your feedback with your tutors.
For practice assignments, we always aim to give you feedback within 10 working days of hand-in. For formal assignments we aim to give feedback within 20 working days of hand-in.
- Degree Classification
- Bachelors degree 2.1 or equivalent
- Degree Subject
- Biological Science or equivalent that covers plant and/or microbial sciences.
- English Foreign Language
Applications from students whose first language is not English are welcome. We require evidence of proficiency in English (including writing, speaking, listening and reading):
IELTS: 6.5 overall with minimum 6.0 in all components
Test dates should be within 2 years of the course start date.
We also accept a number of other English language tests. Review our English Language Equivalencies for a list of qualifications that we may accept to meet this requirement.
If you do not yet meet the English language requirements for this course, INTO UEA offer a variety of English language programmes which are designed to help you develop the English skills necessary for successful undergraduate study:
- Applicants will be shortlisted for an online interview.
This course is open to UK and International applicants. The annual intake for this course is in September each year
Additional Information or Requirements
Entry to this course is on a competitive basis. The Course Directors will assess each application based on the level of knowledge and experience of the following: molecular biology, genetics, molecular interactions, data science such as bioinformatics and statistics, laboratory skills, and independent study.
Applicants are required to submit two references with their application - at least one of these must be related to your most recent academic study.
A full, detailed CV should also be included with the application.
Our Admissions Policy applies to the admissions of all postgraduate applicants.
Fees and Funding
Tuition fees for the Academic Year 2024/25 are:
UK Students: £16,800 (full time)
International Students: £33,150 (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 Home students).
We estimate living expenses at £1,023 per month.
Further Information on tuition fees can be found here.
Scholarships and Bursaries
The University of East Anglia offers a range of Scholarships; please click the link for eligibility, details of how to apply and closing dates.
Course Related Costs
Please see Additional Course Fees for details of course-related costs.
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.
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.
After the Course
You’ll graduate from this prestigious course well prepared for a career in any aspect of global plant health, whether you choose to first continue your studies at PhD level or not. There are opportunities to work with governments, policy makers, agri-tech companies, charities and other non-governmental organisations, to name but a few. You’ll get networking opportunities and advice on applications and interviews while on the course and get support from UEA CareerCentral.
A degree at UEA will prepare you for a wide variety of careers. We've been ranked 1st for Job Prospects by StudentCrowd in 2022.
Examples of careers that you could enter include:
Academic research and/or teaching
Registered Plant Health Professional
Plant health government policy making
Government Animal and Plant Health Agency
Plant Health Non-Governmental Organisation (e.g. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation)
Non-Profit Agricultural Research Organisation (e.g. CIMMYT)
Discover more on our Careers webpages.