Master of Science (Life Sciences)

Specialisation: Applied Plant Sciences

  • Return to the Master of Science in Life Sciences page for an overview of the programme.

    Course Code Name
    Core Course
    Science Communication
    Required Courses
    Advanced Plant Physiology
    Seminars on Special Topics in Applied Plant Sciences
    Plant Molecular Genetics and Development
    Specialisation Elective Courses
    (Select 2 for those on the dissertation route; 3 for those on the complete coursework route)
    Seminars and Practice on Functional Genomics
    Chemistry of Biological Systems
    Bioactive Natural Products and Their Derivatives
    Green Chemistry
    Environmental Health and Toxicology
    Conservation and Management
    Global Environmental Change and Vulnerable Ecosystems
    Evolution and Phylogeny
    Field Techniques in Environmental Science
    Forest Ecology and Management
    Sustainable Earth Resources
    MLS985 Chemical Ecology
    Plus either:
    - Dissertation (6AU); or
    MLS901 Critical Inquiry (Applied Plant Sciences) (2AU)
  • MLS900 Science Communication

    It is important for Science to be communicated effectively across all levels, given its large impact on society and vice versa.  All science professionals, whether they are in education, research or industry, will need to engage different audiences in science communication at various points in their career.  This course aims to equip participants with the knowledge and skills to evaluate scientific information and to communicate it effectively to both expert and lay audiences.  The following broad topics will be covered: mutual roles and influence of Science and society, principles of effective science communication, evaluating the quality of scientific evidence, and current science-related issues affecting society.  Opportunities for practice in science communication will be provided.

  • MLS901 Critical Inquiry (Applied Plant Sciences)

    This is a compulsory course offered to participants who are enrolled in the Critical Inquiry (CI) route.  Participants in this course will acquire experimental skills/techniques specific to the Applied Plant Sciences specialisation of the Life Sciences Programme.  This lab-based course exposes students to principal research approaches and methodologies currently adopted in the life sciences. Tools and techniques will be taught in context of their applications to research and industry. Topics include molecular techniques such as mutagenesis, DNA isolation and quantification, restriction enzyme digests, PCR (polymerase chain reaction), and molecular cloning; determination of proteins; analysis of plant minerals and total reduced nitrogen. Emphasis is on 'hands-on' laboratory experience and linking this to real situations in which tools and techniques can be used to answer specific scientific questions.

    MLS902 Advanced Plant Physiology

    The purpose of this advanced plant physiology course is to ensure that students obtain substantive understanding of the physiological processes controlling plant behaviour and productivity both at the biochemical as well as molecular levels. Particular emphasis will be on current research into plant nutrition and water relations; plant metabolism including photosynthesis, respiration, carbohydrate metabolism with an emphasis on regulation and the interaction among metabolic pathways. Group discussion of selected recent publications with reference to the use of plant physiology in improving crop production and horticulture will also be emphasised. The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to critical use of scientific papers published within the various fields of interest.

    MLS903 Seminars on Special Topics in the Applied Plant Sciences 

    This course is intended to broaden exposure of higher degree students to current and relevant topics and issues in the applied plant sciences field through discussion and dialogue with both academics and industry players. It will cover broad areas such as microbial soil biology, ecophysiology, horticulture, urban greening and natural resources usage.

    MLS904 Plant Molecular Genetics and Development

    What makes a plant a plant? How do plants do what they do? Thanks to advances in molecular genetics, engineering and computing, great strides have been made in the past quarter century in our ability to answer these basic questions. As our understanding of plant phylogeny, physiology, ecology, and development has accelerated, there is a need to organise the vast body of research in plant molecular genetics. This course will examine the molecular basis of many fundamental issues in plant biology, from inheritance to growth and development and much more. Emphasis will be placed on learning via primary literature wherever possible.

  • MLS905 Seminars and Practice on Functional Genomics 

    A core of biology is the central dogma governing the gene expression from DNA blueprint to functional protein to exert various biological function. The classic genetics studies from genotype to phenotype. With fast moving development of technology in the "-omics" era, the study of gene function has leaped forward to genome wide scale. Genome sequences continue to be completed on a regular basis, and numerous bioinformatics, genomic and proteomic tools rapidly reveal a large body of information contained in these genomes. This elective course combines lectures and laboratory sessions to cover topic and skills in functional genomic.

    MLS922 Chemistry of Biological Systems

    The role of metals in biological systems is an area of great interest to chemists and biologists alike. Life in its present form would not be possible without the involvement of the metallic elements. This course covers the key ways in which metals participate in biochemical processes, focusing on biomolecules that incorporate metal atoms in their molecular structures. The ways in which the chemical properties of selected metals define the biological function of the systems they are found in will be discussed. Topics covered will include the roles of proteins in metal management, oxygen carrier proteins, electron-transfer proteins and metalloenzymes as well as relevant topics in recent literature. Quantitative analysis of biological samples based on classical techniques and modern instrumental methods will also be discussed.

    MLS926 Bioactive Natural Products and their Derivatives

    Natural products play an essential role in the drug discovery and development process.  A high proportion of drugs currently in use, particularly in treatment of cancer and infectious diseases, are derived from natural products and their synthetic derivatives.  The purpose of the course is to provide participants with fundamental knowledge of natural product chemistry and the role natural products play in drug discovery and development.  Topics such as the distribution and biosynthesis of natural products and their ecological function within biological systems, as well as knowledge of drugs, drug extracts and bioactive natural products from plants and microbes that are used for production of medicine and herbal remedies, will be covered.  In addition, innovative analytical techniques used in natural products research will be emphasized.

    MLS928 Green Chemistry

    Green chemistry, also called sustainable chemistry, encourages the design of products and processes that minimize the use and generation of hazardous substances. This course deals with the fundamental principles of green chemistry and their extensive application potentials in various chemistry and related fields, e.g. Physics, Molecular Biology, and Environmental Science. The course covers topics like waste minimization, atom efficiency, solvent selection, (bio)catalysis, renewable resources and energy efficient processes. Participants will be exposed to various examples of chemical synthetic processes and analytical methodologies that minimize the use and generation of hazardous substances. Relevant green analytical techniques will be introduced.

    MLS962 Environmental Health and Toxicology

    The study of the effect of pollution on natural ecosystems by examining biological responses at all organismal levels (molecular to whole organism) using biomarkers is an increasingly popular tool for managing environmental health by various governmental bodies. MSc (LS) Environmental Science candidates who take this course will have an opportunity to run laboratory experiments using known pollutants.  Field sampling will be conducted to examine possible correlations with environmental contamination, allowing candidates to experience a direct application of ecotoxicology techniques as an environmental management tool.  This experimental extension allows for a more rigorous assessment of a research-based course.

    MLS963 Conservation and Management

    In a rapidly changing world where the utilisation of resources is inextricably linked to development, the challenge of ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources has global consequences. This course will deal with issues relating to the sustainable use, protection, conservation and management of the earth's natural resources through relevant case studies. Local, regional and international initiatives, which address the issue of sustainable development and natural resource management, and the role of science in environmental management will be studied.

    MLS964 Global Environmental Change and Vulnerable Ecosystems

    Accelerated change in the environment on a global scale has been observed in the Anthropocene.   The drivers of these global scale changes are attributed to human activities that relate to an unsustainable rate of development.  Natural ecosystems (both terrestrial and aquatic) are impacted by environmental change, particularly when the scale and intensity of change exceeds the natural resilience and tolerance states of these ecosystems.  It is important to be able to monitor and understand the impacts of environmental change to whole systems, especially vulnerable tropical ecosystems which largely support more than half of the earth’s human populations.  This course aims to look at global environmental change and their impacts on vulnerable ecosystems from a scientific perspective, utilising state of the science technologies and newly developing knowledge.  The course will be delivered as a practice-based field-orientated programme, which will have an overseas field component.

    MLS965 Evolution and Phylogeny 

    While Physics and Chemistry have many fundamental laws that most science students are well acquainted with, Biology is fascinating in that there is a unity of all life, with the incredible diversity of living things and their innumerable adaptations for survival and reproduction. What made this shared ancestry and diversification possible? We will explore the process of evolution and the patterns of relationship among living things that follow from it. In addition, we will see how an evolutionary approach can help us better understand the interaction between organisms and their environment, as well as how an understanding of evolution and phylogeny can assist in the conservation and management of habitats and endangered species. Research themes and methods that are currently being actively pursued in the field will be highlighted.

    MLS966 Field Techniques in Environmental Science 

    In the study of the environment, field research is fundamental to helping scientists understand natural processes, and responses of ecosystems to changes, e.g. environmental change, global warming, pollution.  This course introduces current research approaches and methods employed by field scientists in gathering data pertaining to plant and animal physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology, adaptations and behaviours.  Participants will have the opportunity to conduct field experiments under the guidance of experts using field instrumentation and laboratory analyses.  Techniques include plant physiology, ecotoxicology, chemical ecology, microbiology, molecular biology and pharmacognosy.  Participants will also conduct field experiments and analyses of research data.

    MLS967 Forest Ecology and Management

    Many countries depend on forests as natural resources that contribute towards economic growth. Large areas of the world's forests, however, are being cleared at a fast pace, which, left unchecked, may result in the loss of biodiversity as well as the degradation of the environment through soil erosion and the building up of greenhouse gases, not to mention a loss of a potentially sustainable source of income. How then do we achieve a balance to attain sustainable growth? This course will examine two overlapping yet very different issues. The first concerns the dynamics of forest ecosystems: their history, distribution, and ecology. The second issue is that of forest usage and management, timber and non-timber extraction methods, and silviculture. Policies pertaining to the international trade in timber, forest conservation, and sustainable forestry will also be examined in an attempt to better understand the forces that will determine the fate of our forest resources.

    MLS969 Sustainable Earth Resources 

    The course introduces earth’s biodiversity as composed of resources that sustain life.  In order for natural systems and human civilisation to exist in harmony, there is a need to develop sustainable relationships between humans and the global environment, and this is an issue that has become a matter of urgency, as economic and social goals relate to strategies of resource use and ecosystem management. The problems and policies associated with the use of resources (wilderness, forests, farmland, aquatic ecosystems) and urban industrial society are examined. Singaporean issues are central, but are set in a global context. Topics include: the concept of sustainable land-use, measuring and monitoring ecological biodiversity, developing land-use policies that take in ecosystem, social, and economic needs, and the development of a "land ethic" in modern societies.

    MLS985 Chemical Ecology

    This course on Chemical Ecology explores the role and function of chemistry in mediating interactions among a variety of organisms, including intraspecific and interspecific interactions.  The course will cover the range of compound classes involved in chemical ecology.  In addition, we will discuss the diversity of species interactions and chemical compounds in terrestrial and aquatic systems, and methods (e.g. analytical and molecular techniques) used to detect these compounds.  We will cover defensive and offensive chemistry mediating antagonistic interactions; the evolution of defenses; chemicals mediating mutualisms, competition, and sociality; the physiology of chemical production and recognition; and how chemical ecology affects humans.  The biotechnological applications of chemical ecology will also be discussed.  This course will include paper discussions of relevant recent literature.