Key information

Mode of delivery
Delivery type
Start date
1 year


Contact our enquiries team

Contact us


Toxicologists assess the adverse, harmful effects that substances have on human health and the environment. Toxic substances can be natural resources such as arsenic and mercury, generated by living organisms such as microorganisms, algae, and shellfish, or generated by humans. Man-made sources include unintentional substances such as pollutants from traffic as well as industrial chemicals or pharmaceuticals. Toxicologists play an important role in making our lives more sustainable, by considering safety when designing new substances or by identifying safer alternatives.

This MSc programme will provide you with an advanced understanding of the multidisciplinary field of Toxicology. You'll learn about the fundamental principles of Toxicology, the harmful effects that different substances (e.g., chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, drink, pollutants,) have on human health and the environment, how the safety and sustainability of substances is assessed and improved through design strategies, what regulations exist to protect human health from the harmful effects of substances, as well as topical and emerging issues in Toxicology.

Over recent years, there has been a desire to transition away from animal testing in Toxicology and the generation of data using new approach methodologies (NAMs) means that the knowledge and skills required by toxicologists is changing. You will learn why alternative (non-animal) approaches are being increasingly used for hazard identification to make Toxicology testing more ethical, quicker, predictive, and potentially cheaper when compared to more traditional animal (mammalian) tests.

You will learn how to critically appraise the quality of existing literature and communicate scientific concepts and research findings to different audiences. You'll gain skills that enable you to work as a Toxicologist in sectors such as academia, Government, and industry to meet the current growing global demand for trained Toxicologists. The UK currently tackles the regulations and policies related to substance safety, which was previously provided by the EU pre-Brexit, and is desperately seeking trained Toxicologists. The knowledge and practical skills you will gain through this master's degree, will make you highly sought after upon graduation.

Our expertise

Heriot-Watt University is recognised internationally for studying the toxicology of particles, fibres, pollutants, nanomaterials, and advanced materials.  These research outputs have been widely published (over 200 papers), and have been used to inform:  

  • UK and EU funding priorities,
  • the development of regulations,  
  • updates to global guidance on strategies to reduce reliance on animal testing for regulatory purposes.

Your learning environment

You will learn about the world leading, state of the art Toxicology research that is being performed at Heriot Watt University. We offer hands-on experience in our state-of-the-art laboratories and workshops. You will gain practical experience of performing cytotoxicity (cell death) and genotoxicity (DNA damage) assays, learn about cell culture, and become competent at using light microscopes. You will also complete a desk or lab-based research project.

Customise your learning

Taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials, you'll get to know and build relationships with the teaching staff and academics. You'll be assessed by coursework, exams, and your dissertation, and will receive support and feedback throughout the programme.

You'll gain practical and numeracy skills relevant to the discipline and wider transferable skills, such as communication, teamwork, organisation, and problem solving, which will enable you to be employed as Toxicologists in sectors such as industry, Government and academia in both laboratory and non-laboratory roles.


We work closely with industry to ensure our course content reflects the needs of industry and employers. This means you'll gain the right blend of knowledge, practical skills and soft skills enhancing your employability.

You will learn from world leading toxicology experts and receive guest lectures from international industry, government and regulators to give real life examples of how toxicology studies are performed and how Toxicology data is used.  

As part of the programme, we will discuss topical issues in Toxicology to introduce emerging issues in the field and encourage you to identify potential solutions to current and future challenges. For example, we will discuss how we have worked with industry to;  

  • assess the toxicity of nanomaterials to promote the safe and responsible development of nanotechnology,  
  • develop new approach methodologies (NAMs) to decrease the reliance placed on animal testing,  
  • investigate the potential harmful health effects of pollutants released from different sources,
  • assess the toxicity of mixtures and evaluate the toxicity of micro- and nano-plastics to human health and the environment.

Postgraduate Masterclass Series

We’re running a series of free online masterclasses throughout July to showcase our postgraduate taught study options. Take a look at the exciting topics our academic experts will be speaking about and book to attend.

Book your place

Course content

Year 1

Semester 1

  • Food and Beverage Toxicology
  • Toxicology
  • Marine Ecotoxicology
Optional courses
  • Pathobiology of Human Disease
  • Introduction to Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Semester 2

  • Research and Professional Practice
  • Regulation of the Safe and Sustainable Development of Substances
  • Principles of Drug Discovery and Development
  • Emerging Issues and Innovations in Toxicology

Semester 3

MSc Research Project

Go Global

Some of our Postgraduate Taught Masters Programmes are eligible for Inter-Campus Transfer. Please contact for further information.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Tuition fees
Status [footnote 1] Full-time
UK 10736
Overseas [footnote 2] 26976


  1. Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.
  2. Overseas includes applications from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK. Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.

Entry requirements


You will have at least a 2:2 honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject (Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Environmental Science, Chemistry, Toxicology).

English language requirements

If English is not your first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. Please refer to English language requirements for further details.

Some applicants may be asked for alternative evidence in line with UKVI recognised English speaking countries. Applicants who have previously successfully completed courses delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.

All evidence of English language needs to be dated within two years of the commencement of study.

We also offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master's programme:

  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill lower than 4.5)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading & writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking & listening)

Why Heriot-Watt?

Clubs and activities

At Heriot-Watt we have an extensive programme of over 90 sports clubs and societies to get involved in. You can try as many as you like or start one of your own!

Edinburgh campus accommodation

Living on our beautiful Edinburgh campus is a great way to meet others from all over the world. Our student accommodation is within easy reach of the teaching buildings, sports facilities, catering venues and the Student Union

Edinburgh Campus facilities

At Heriot-Watt University, we offer a wide range of services to help you deal with all aspects of your life with us, whether these be academic, personal, technical, financial or just plain fun!

Health and wellbeing

Student Wellbeing Services aim to provide a range of support, guidance, activities and advice to help students to be their best, and get the most from their university experience. From counselling to coaching we'll sure you are fully supported.

Heriot-Watt Student Union

There's more to university life than simply getting your degree, and Heriot-Watt University Student Union is all about helping you to have the best possible experience while you study here.

Living in Edinburgh

Historic and beautiful, a cultural capital that fuels the senses whether you love the arts or nature, nightlife or study life, Edinburgh is stimulating and inspirational and never, ever boring.

Sport facilities

Oriam, Scotland Sports Performance Centre offers state-of-the-art sports facilities, for all levels of sport and ability

Your career

Employers around the world actively seek out our graduates because they are work-ready. All our degrees are career-focused and relevant to the needs of industry. Around 95% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating.

Get degree news and updates

Subscribe now

Related programmes