MSc / PG Diploma in Biotechnology

The development of an MSc and postgraduate diploma programme was conceived because of the urgent necessity of the UWI and the Caribbean region to immediately invest in biotechnology, which is considered to be the most promising and fastest-growing technology of the present era. The field of biotechnology is recognized for its potential to offer solutions to worldwide problems, from food security and health to clean energy and environmental sustainability. Situated in a strategic location, Trinidad and Tobago and rest of the Caribbean have the unique advantage to explore this growing global demand in biotechnology. This postgraduate programme will provide the basic expertise, skill sets, necessary infrastructure and knowledge base which would serve to ultimately build capacity in this region. It would create avenues for advanced research and enhance intellectual capacity to enable the development of industrial and business activity, leading to generation of employment opportunities in this frontier field. This programme will be offered at both the Post Graduate Diploma and the Masters levels.

Academic Aims and Objectives

This programme is intended to meet the needs of a broad range of professionals whose basic learning and knowledge are in life sciences, medicine and agriculture. The potential users of this programme would be natural and applied scientists, teachers, medical, paramedical and technical professionals. This is an entirely new programme and is designed to provide the basic learning, necessary skill sets, knowledge and hands-on experience in contemporary biotechnology which would ultimately contribute to the higher learning, capacity building and career advancement of enrolled users.

  • To produce qualified biotechnologists with the competence to provide services to Medical Biotechnology, Agricultural Biotechnology, Industrial Biotechnology, Environmental Biotechnology and Bioinformatics and Biotechnology-based business development
  • To build national and regional technological and infrastructural capacities for imparting terminal education, training and research on contemporary biotechnology
  • To develop and foster collaborations with developed countries and institutes of Global excellence, facilitating the exchange of knowledge and development of cooperation in related industries
  • To strategically prepare the Caribbean region to actively interact with the developing World in the Biotechnology services, research and development

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the programme would be able to:

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the latest theory and techniques of molecular biology, bioinformatics and biotechnology
  • Apply current tools of biotechnology to solve problems related to the environmental conservation, crop genetic improvement, nutrition, human and animal health; bioprocessing industries; environmental conservation
  • Develop practical industrial applications within existing industries or new venture (entrepreneurship) activities
  • Exercise individual judgment and initiative in biotechnological principles and applications
  • Analyse and appraise the social & environmental impacts of biotechnology
  • Establish new work programmes in the fields of biotechnology
  • Develop a research question in a specialized area of biotechnology and evaluate this research with appropriate justification
  • Compose, execute and present a suitable high quality research project in biotechnology

Entry Requirements

Admission requirements for this programme are as follows:

  • First degree from a recognized University in Biology/Biochemistry/Agriculture or other Natural Sciences, Medicine and Veterinary Science with a minimum of lower second class honours.
  • Significant work experience in a related field would be an asset.
  • Candidates applying for the program should have completed and secured a minimum “B” grade in at least three of the following Level II/III undergraduate courses or their equivalents (UWI-St. Augustine, Mona and Cave Hill or other recognized Universities/Colleges in the region/elsewhere).
    • Genetics
    • Microbiology
    • Molecular biology
    • Microbial Biotechnology
    • Plant Biotechnology
  • Students successfully completing the Biotechnology minor/specialization at UWI, St. Augustine or major at UWI, Mona would be eligible subject to fulfilment of the grade and GPA requirements.
  • Persons without adequate coverage of these areas may be required to pursue and pass (or at least 50% final marks) appropriate qualifying courses before admission into the MSc or diploma programme.
  • Candidates not meeting the grade or GPA requirements but who have sufficient work experience in a relevant area may also be admitted under special circumstances. As part of the selection process, the department reserves the right to interview applicants for further exploration of their qualifications, experience and interest. They may be further required to complete minimum pre-requisite courses based on their needs as directed by the Programme Coordinator or Department Head.
  • Students enrolled for the PG Diploma can apply to transfer to the MSc programme before completion of their coursework. Students granted permission to transfer would be required to pay the additional fees and complete the additional coursework.


Lectures would be delivered via face-to-face and blended learning modes (e.g. WebEx) and available to students. All lectures, assignments, handouts, and review materials would be available online to all students registered under the programme. Lectures are supplemented with laboratory work and tutorials.

Programme Content and Structure

Students must complete at least 24 Level I credits which must include:
Semester 1
MSc/PhD Biotechnology
  • BIOT 6000 / BIOT 5000* Molecular Biology and R-DNA Technology
  • BIOT 6001/ BIOT 5001* Microbial and Environmental Biotechnology
  • BIOT 6005 / BIOT 5005* Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing
  • BIOT 6007 / BIOT 5007* Bioinformatics
Semester 2
  • BIOT 6002 / BIOT 5002* Advances in Plant Genetic Engineering and Plant Biotechnology
  • BIOT 6004 / BIOT 5004* Immunotechnology, Molecular Therapies and Diagnostics
  • BIOT 6006 / BIOT 5006* Bioethics, Biosafety and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in Biotechnology
BIOT 6014 Research Project
  • Research Project: 1 semester research work + Presentation and Report 12 credit Supervised
(MSC – Any 2 courses)
(PGD – Any 2 course)
Semester 2
BIOT 6008 / BIOT 5008* Genomics and Proteomics
BIOT 6010 / BIOT 5010* Molecular Plant Breeding Technologies
BIOT 6011 / BIOT 5011* Applied Bioinformatics
BIOT 6012 / BIOT 5012* Directed Reading and Seminar
BIOT 6013 / BIOT 5013* Entrepreneurship in Biotechnology



The proposed MSc program comprises 42 compulsory credits:

  • Eight (8) core courses (3 credits each)
  • Two (2) optional courses from 5 (3 credits each)
  • Research Project (12 credits)

The Postgraduate Diploma programme would comprise of 30 compulsory credits:

  • 8 core courses and 2 optional courses

Programme duration

  • The master’s course would be 1.5 years full-time or 2.5 years part-time
  • The PG diploma would be 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

Regulations and Assessment

Students should refer to the Manual of Procedure for Graduate Diploma and Degree, the regulations for Graduate Diplomas and Degrees, the Graduate Studies Guide for Students and Supervisors, and the Thesis Guide.

Assessment of Student’s Performance

Examinations are held according to the UWI’s regulations:

  • In order to pass a course, a candidate must attend at least 75% of the lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions; He/she must have submitted the relevant project/reports pertaining to all laboratory or industry work and must have satisfied the examiners in the associated examinations and course work.
  • Examinations associated with each course shall be conducted by means of written and/or practical papers, normally taken at the end of the semester in which the candidate has registered. However, performance in course work in the form of essays, in-course tests, projects, or continuous assessments of theoretical and /or practical work, all contribute towards the final grade awarded in a course.
  • All the online submissions should go through plagiarism screening through “Turnitin” software tool. The University’s policy on plagiarism would be strictly enforced for all the submitted course work.
  • All the activities related to course work have their own deadline and this has to be strictly adhered to. Any delay in submission would lead to rejection of submission or proportional reduction of marks.
  • When theoretical and/or practical coursework contributes towards an examination, candidates must satisfy the examiners (≥50% marks) in each component.
  • Candidates who score 50% and above would be deemed to have successfully passed the course.
  • In respect of any candidate who fails the coursework or written examination at the first attempt, a second attempt may be allowed upon approval from the Board of Examiners and the Campus Committee for Graduate Studies and Research.
  • Candidates permitted a second attempt at a course, having failed either the coursework or the written examination at the first attempt, will be required to rewrite only that component (written examination or coursework) failed, unless the Campus Committee in any particular case decides otherwise. Marks allotted to the component passed at the first attempt will be credited to the candidate at his or her second attempt at the course. No candidate will be permitted to repeat the examination in any one course on more than one occasion, unless approval is given by the Board for Graduate Studies and Research.
  • Candidates who repeat the examination in any course shall not be eligible for the award of a diploma or degree with distinction.
  • A student in the master’s programme who fails the Research Project may, upon approval by the Board of Examiners and the Campus Committee for Graduate Studies and Research, be granted a Diploma providing all the course requirements are met.

Grading System

Percentage Grades

70 – 100 A
60 – 69 B+
50 – 59 B
0 - 49 F

Progress through the Programme

  • Full-time students required to complete all courses (core and optional) within one academic year (5 – 6 courses per semester). After completing all core and the required optional courses, full-time master’s students would then be allowed to start the research project, which should be completed within one or two semester
  • Part-time students are required to complete the courses within two academic years (2 – 3 courses per semester). After completing all core and optional courses, part-time master’s students would then be allowed to start the project which should be completed within two semesters.

Time limits for completion and enforced withdrawal

Candidates would be required to withdraw from the programme if he/she fails more than six (6) credits in any one semester or fails any course or course component in a second siting.

However, if the candidate has exhausted the maximum time limit with a deficit of no more than 6 credits for completion of the degree requirement, the Board of Examiners may recommend to the Campus Committee for Graduate Studies (after consultation with the Programme Coordinator) an extension of the period of study by one or two semesters.

Re-admission to the programme after enforced withdrawal

Candidates, who have had to withdraw from the programme because of poor academic performance, may re-apply for admission after one year of separation.

Additional Course

The following four (4) credit course offered by the Department of Life Sciences is available for MPhil/ PhD students:

  • BIOL 6062 Bioethics
Top of Page