Read interviews with students and graduates from the MSc programme in Biotechnology:


“It’s an incredibly exciting sector in which a lot is happening,” says Simon Noel Brown. He now works for CMC Biologics, a pharmaceutical company in Søborg.

Simon Brown, MSc graduate from Biotechnology at University of Copenhagen

Why did you choose Biotechnology?

I had a good biology teacher in upper secondary school, so I found it interesting and exciting.

I was actually planning to do biology, but then someone told me about Biotechnology. Since I knew I wanted to work in the pharmaceutical sector developing medicines, this seemed an obvious choice. I wanted to work with cancer medicines, and that’s exactly what I’ve ended up doing. 

I got a shock when I started studying. I did quite badly in the first two exams. These were difficult subjects – mathematics and biophysics. I feared that I would never get through the degree programme. But when we began doing more biology it started to get really interesting.  

What are you doing now?

I now work for CMC Biologics, a contract-based company that produces medicines for other companies. For example, a customer orders a given quantity of a product, and CMC produces this. It might sound simple, but it’s not. Otherwise there would be no work for us. It could be cancer medicine, malaria medicine or something else. 

Did you feel ready for the labour market? 

Yes, but it’s a totally different world, going from writing a thesis to working in a production company. There are all sorts of documentation and traceability requirements you have to comply with. For example, if a person becomes ill from a given medicine in five years’ time, you have to be able to go back and document all the processes involved in the production.

So you have to familiarise yourself with reams of formalities, documentation systems and procedures, which you don’t learn about at university. And so there are generally many more checks and much more monitoring compared to university.

I feel that I’m very good at reading and quickly appraising new material. So, I’ve learned the necessary methods at university. I’ve tried my hand at a lot of different things at university and have done a lot of laboratory work. The combination of theory and practice during my studies has suited me well. Working with theory in practice helps you understand and remember better. So I’m good at learning new things. 

When you were doing your bachelor’s degree, did you know that you would go on to do a master’s?

Yes, I knew I wanted to do a master’s degree in Biotechnology. At the start of my master’s programme I went to Australia for six months and studied at the University of New England in Armidale. That was really great. I lived in a college, travelled around and enjoyed myself – but I also got a lot out of it academically. I had a really good chemistry professor who pushed me hard.  

What about the future? 

I’d like to go abroad in a couple of years’ time, once I’ve acquired some more competences, so I have something to offer. I may be able to apply for a job at CMC’s sister company in Seattle.

Or I might go to the USA, Germany, the UK or even Australia. As long as it is somewhere with a strong biotech sector. My girlfriend, who has an MSc in Biology and works at Novo, would also like to travel abroad.  

Would you recommend this programme to others?

Yes, if you find biology, chemistry and science exciting, it’s an enjoyable programme. There’s a lot of choice, and you can go on to do a PhD or find a job in the private sector, as an upper secondary school teacher or as a researcher. It’s an incredibly exciting and dynamic sector. You cannot open a newspaper without seeing headlines about new advances in the field of biotechnology, so there’s a lot of money in the sector for equipment and research. 

I would definitely recommend becoming a ‘student for a day’ and going along to the university’s open day events. I had no idea such events were held when I applied, and it could have affected my choice. 

Be sure to look at other options. You can find a lot of information on websites – also on the websites of the universities in Aarhus and Odense. I would also encourage everyone to go abroad during their studies. You get so much out of it – friendships, academic knowledge and contacts.

Simon now works as Analytical Coordinator at Novo Nordisk.



Sebastian Theobald, from Germany, is doing his master’s programme in Biotechnology. "I searched for a programme where I could choose the courses I wanted. Here in Copenhagen I could choose almost everything."

Photo of Sebastian Theobald

Where did you study before you came to Copenhagen?

I went to Bonn University. It’s right next to Köln – 20 kilometers from there. I studied for my bachelor in Biology for three years.

And then right after my bachelor, I went to Copenhagen. I handed in my thesis, took the train and came here. The deadlines were so close because I wanted to do a language course, so I had to be here in August.

So you are learning Danish too?

Yes! Haha … jeg kan snakke lidt dansk. (‘I can say a few things in Danish’)

The language course was a good help. I came here without any knowledge of the language. It was actually pretty hard at first, because I couldn’t read the contracts I signed, I couldn’t read the signs in the supermarket, and with some people I couldn’t communicate. So it was really tough and the language course in August helped me a lot, because it was every day, and progress was fast.

So you are counting on using Danish in the future?

I live in this country, so I want to communicate with people in their native language, and I also want to get a job here. So it’s a requirement and it’s just better if you can speak Danish.

Did you choose Copenhagen because of the programme or did you just want to get abroad?

I think it was a combination. On one hand I really wanted to go abroad. And also the programme is pretty good. I

searched for a programme where I could choose the courses I wanted, and in other countries you had mostly quite strict structures and everything was preplanned. Here in Copenhagen, I could choose almost everything. So that was the main reason why I chose Copenhagen.

Which courses did you choose?

I began with computer programming for the life sciences, pharmaceutical analysis – so, a bit outside of biology. One course was actual plant biology and the other course was really technical … so a bit different, something interdisciplinary.

And then basic biotechnology afterwards – heterologous expression – which gave me a good basis for my work on my thesis, because it deals with everything you need for biotechnology, a broad basis.

What’s your choice of subject for your thesis?

Actually it’s a project which includes everything I learned in heterologous expression. You transfer a gene to another organism.

Heterologous expression is if a gene is transcribed to a protein in another host, which is not a native one. It makes an enzyme, for example you can produce insulin which is normally produced in us humans. You can produce it in yeast. That’s what Novo Nordisk does.

I will do genetic engineering of yeast for better protein production. If for instance the current yield of a protein which research groups are interested in is very low, I will use the genetic tools and attempt to increase this yield sufficiently, so we can use it for structural studies. And for that kind of studies you need a lot of protein.

Couldn’t you have found similar programmes somewhere else in Europe?

Well – I was in Scandinavia last summer and experienced a bit of the social system and the people and everything, so I also wanted to learn more about that too.

The education is very good and it’s free to study here, so that’s also a very good point. Because if you study in the UK it will cost you a lot of money.

What about the social life here?

We are a lot of people in the same situation, so you get together really easily. And there are a lot of social activities around here, sports you can do, and meeting places like the Friday Bar at A-vej (A-vej means A-road and refers to one of the roads in the campus), where you can have free coffee on Tuesdays and Thursdays, games you can enjoy with some friends, and the joy of just meeting people.

And Copenhagen is such a vibrant place – especially when the full degree students arrive in August and September, there’s a lot going on here. So it’s really easy to socialize in Copenhagen.

What are your plans when you finish your studies?

It would be great if I could find a job and work here for a while. I would like to become a scientist and stay in the university environment. Or maybe I’ll do my PhD in biotechnology directly after finishing my Master’s.

Would you recommend the programme to others?

I would recommend it, but I would definitely think a lot about which choices to make – about how to pick the right elective courses. Really think about what do I want to do, and where do I want to end up with my studies.

After graduation, Sebastian went on to do a PhD at the Technical University of Denmark. He now works as a in the pharmaceutical company LifeMine Therapeutics in the United States.



Excellent planning of his studies makes it possible for Jakub (BSc in Biology) to do an individual research project as a part of his MSc programme in Biotechnology. The secret is that he passed some of the obligatory MSc courses in the programme while being an exchange student at University of Copenhagen one year prior to the beginning of his MSc degree.

Photo of  Jakub

Ten years from now, you could have the opportunity to purchase a drug based on research done by Jakub right now. Every day, he is working on an individual research project at University of Copenhagen in which he is purifying and characterising proteins. Potentially, this research can by used by large international biotech companies for e.g. antibiotics.

"The way that I have planned my studies gives me time to do what I want to do, meaning working on my research project. In my opinion, you learn much more from learning by doing, including learning from your mistakes, than you do by only taking courses. It also prepares you for your future career”, Jakub says.

But having the opportunity to do your own research while being a student is not something Jakub takes for granted. He thinks it is a unique feature of the university that students are trusted to work on a confidential research project and use professionally equipped labs in the process without supervision.

Another great thing about his study plan is that he has the flexibility to take elective courses. Something which he enjoys more than taking obligatory courses as it makes it possible for him to study exactly what he finds is most interesting or relevant for his future career. In fact, Jakub believes that the combination of individual research and elective courses will give him a unique academic profile which will make him stand out the crowd upon graduation.

Prepared For a Career As a Researcher

Jakub's individual research project has great perspectives in terms of being applied in real life as the research is sponsored by a company. It would be brilliant for him as well, if he succeeds in getting his research for the MSc thesis next year sponsored - however, he knows it requires a lot of recommendation. But the applicable approach to education in the Biotechnology programme does make the likelihood of success bigger, Jakub thinks.

Doing an individual research project is most definitely preparing Jakub to go for a career as a researcher, but he has not yet decided whether he should apply for a PhD position or a position in a biotech company. No matter what the decision will be, Jakub would like to stay in Denmark if the right opening shows up.

International Study Environment

As Jakub is doing a lot of individual research in stead of taking courses, it is not as easy as when he was an exchange student to socialise with fellow international or Danish students. He does, however, live with two international students in a flat in Copenhagen and he has a Danish girlfriend.

But the programme definitely offers an international perspective on the academic field of studies, there are international students in class and consequently Jakub feels that gaining international competences is integrated in the programme. And as an exchange student Jakub enjoyed the excellent welcome activities, social events, and services that the university offers international students.

Jakub now works as a Research Scientist at the Danish biotech company Ovodan Biotech.