The master’s programme of biochemistry and biotechnology offers courses in English and Dutch. It is possible to choose a complete curriculum of English courses. The two-year master’s programme (120 credits) consists of four modules of 30 credits each:
- common general courses (general, broadening),
- major course package (specialising),
- minor course package (broadening),
- master dissertation (practical training).
The master’s programme offers five specialising majors:
- the major Bio-informatics and system biology is based on the recent need for bio-computing and computational biology for the processing of the vast amount of data generated from the biological information flow on different levels (genome, transcriptome, proteome, interactome, signalosome);
- the major Biochemistry and structural biology focuses on the determination of protein structures and the study of the functioning of molecular ‘machines’;
- the major Biomedical biotechnology studies the relation between basic cell biological processes and pathological processes (inflammation, cancer, metabolic illnesses) and pays also attention to biomedical applications such as the development of new vaccines and new therapies;
- the major Microbial biotechnology studies microbial diversity and functionality and applies the fundamental knowledge of the molecular genetics of micro-organisms such as bacteria, yeast, moulds and viruses in a broad variety of biotechnological applications;
- the major Plant biotechnology aims at the development of biotechnological applications of plants in agriculture (e.g. disease resistance or drought tolerance), production of bio fuels and the biosynthesis of products with medical applications.
The major is supported by a training period (6 credits) in the first master and a master dissertation (30 credits) in the second master. The master's programme offers four broadening minors:
- The minor Research offers the students an extra speciality, chosen from the remaining majors and offers an extra training period (this minor is particularly interesting for English speaking students);
- The minor Education offers a part of the secondary teacher training;
- The minor Economics and Business Administration offers an introduction to different aspects of business life;
- The minor Interdisciplinary Combination permits to combine a major with a coherent package of courses from a different field (informatics, chemistry, engineering sciences,...).
In the second year, a research project (master's dissertation) of 30 credits is scheduled. The master's dissertation is a requirement for every student to obtain a master’s degree. The master's dissertation is an original piece of research work. It aims to develop and strengthen the research capacity skills of the students. The student selects a topic and is given guidance by a supervisor. The master's dissertation consists of a literature review part, practical research and an original analysis of the topic.
A very large number of the current graduates in biochemistry and biotechnology (between 40-60% in the past five years) starts doctoral studies; most of them graduate successfully. Ghent University has a strong research tradition in the domain of biochemistry and biotechnology, which leads to highly qualified PhDs in an internationally competitive research environment. Later, these doctors find their way to national and international universities, research institutions and a growing number of young biotechnological companies.
The use of biochemical and biotechnological methods and production strategies increases in health care, the environmental sector, the food industry, the agricultural industry, the chemical industry. This implies that there is and will be a demand for academically educated, but also practically trained biochemists and biotechnologists. Given the broad scientific basic education, the combination of chemistry and biology, the practical and research-oriented aspects of the study programme, the biochemist and the biotechnologist are well trained for the job market.
The fields of employment are scientific research at universities, research centers, R&D in companies, pharmaceutical industry, cosmetics companies, laboratories for medical analysis, food industry, fermentation industry, agricultural industry, petrochemical industry, chemical industry, biotechnological companies, companies in environmental technology, public services for water treatment, the environmental sector.
Finally, graduates in biochemistry and biotechnology often end up in education, both at the level of the secondary schools (for masters) and at the level of the colleges of higher education (for doctors).