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MSc Applied Biology Industry Placements

Hands-On Experience in Biotechnology Concepts, Techniques and Procedures 

Students following the M.Sc. in Applied Biology offered by the Department of Biology have just completed a series of three-day industry placements as part of two study units on Biotechnology that form part of the programme of studies for the taught M.Sc. degree course. These industry placements were directly related to the theoretical coverage of the relevant subject areas during lectures.  Students were introduced to key concepts, techniques and procedures applied by Farsons Group, Malta Dairy Products Ltd. (Benna), the Water Services Corporation, WasteServ and AquaBioTech Group.

Following a lecture on microbial and biochemical aspects of the brewing process, students were given an overview of Farsons’ premises, including a tour of the brewhouse and fermentation section. Students witnessed daily maintenance procedures and were given the opportunity to carry out quality control analyses under supervision, including water chemical parameter analysis, yeast counts, wort biochemical analyses, and reviewing the final product using microbiological techniques. At Malta Dairy Products Ltd., students followed the milk, cheese and yoghurt production processes, including preparation of fresh mozzarella, ricotta and ‘ġbejna’ cheese. Various employees including microbiologists, culture experts, production and packaging staff, as well as quality assurance officers were shadowed by the students.  At the Water Service Corporation, the focus was on quality control of drinking water. Sampling of various drinking water points around Malta was demonstrated, including sampling of water from reverse osmosis plants, public facilities, reservoirs and private homes. Hands-on experience included physico-chemical analysis of water samples and microbiology quality control tests carried out on water samples. The WasteServ placement was facilitated by staff based at the Magħtab Environmental Complex. The experience included familiarisation with methods used to sort and break down waste material, including use of microorganisms at the anaerobic digestion site. At AquaBioTech, students focussed on activities of the aquaculture section. Students were given an overview of the aquatic research facilities, and ongoing veterinarian, nutritional and ecotoxicological research projects. Students were also introduced to practical considerations that scientists and engineers face when designing and constructing aquaculture systems, such as optimal placement of cages and designing land-based systems.

The placements were part of biotechnology study-units coordinated by Dr. Joseph Buhagiar from the Department of Biology; these allowed the students to familiarise themselves with the interdisciplinary nature of modern industrial procedures, many of which rely on biological expertise. Indeed, Applied Biology is a scientific discipline at the forefront of research and technological developments in the life sciences.

Students reading for the MSc Applied Biology since October 2018 have gained knowledge and practical experience on state of the art developments in a variety of biology disciplines besides biotechnology, including: techniques in molecular biology, maintenance of natural living resources, terrestrial and aquatic food production, applied biochemistry, ecosystems and biodiversity, ecotoxicology and pollution studies, applied bioinformatics, and ecosystem goods and services. A dedicated module on research methods in applied biology is currently being completed by students, who will undertake a scientific research project during the third semester, starting in mid-June. This will provide students with further hands on experience in both traditional and modern biological research techniques. 

The programme is designed to prepare graduates for professional careers in a wide variety of sectors that require biological knowledge and practical application. Students can expect to find employment within the industrial sector and with organisations such as:

  • governmental and advisory bodies that require expertise in the biological sciences
  • private industries specialising in biotechnology, genetics or pharmaceuticals
  • entities dealing with agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries
  • environmental organisations

More information on the course programme and list of study-units are available on the course Department of Biology website. Any queries can be addressed to the M.Sc. Applied Biology Course Coordinator, Dr. Leyla Knittweis-Mifsud at

Interested students are encouraged to visit and to apply online.




Last Updated: 10 June 2019

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