The MSc in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at UCC is a one-year full-time (or two years part-time) taught masters course commencing in September. Bioinformatics is a fast-growing field at the intersection of biology, mathematics and computer science. It seeks to create, advance and apply computer/software-based solutions to solve formal and practical problems arising from the management and analysis of very large biological data sets. Applications include genome sequence analysis such as the human genome, the human microbiome, analysis of genetic variation within populations and analysis of gene expression patterns.
Major research efforts in the field include sequence alignment, gene finding, genome assembly, protein structure alignment, protein structure prediction, modelling of DNA and protein evolution, analysis of genetic variation in populations, and analysis of gene expression, protein-protein interaction and protein mass spectrometry data. Another emerging area within bioinformatics is systems biology, which examines how individual biological components (e.g. metabolic pathways, genes, proteins, organelles, cells, physiological systems, organisms) interact in a network to produce observable phenotypes of a whole organism or body system.
As part of the MSc programme, students carry out a three-month research project in a research group in UCC or in an external university, research institute or industry. The programming and data handling skills that you will develop, along with your exposure to an interdisciplinary research environment, will be very attractive to employers. Graduates from the MSc will have a variety of career options including working in a research group in a university or research institute, industrial research, or pursuing a PhD.
A candidate for the MSc Degree in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology must register over one academic year (October-September) (for full-time students) or two years (part-time students) from the date of first registration for the programme.
The MSc programme will train participants to an advanced level in bioinformatics theory and applications.
Graduates of the programme will:
• have a solid background in the theory behind bioinformatics methods and tools so that they can critically evaluate research in bioinformatics
• be able to use existing bioinformatics methods and tools and rapidly learn to apply new methods and tools
• be able to organise, process and analyse large data sets generated by genomics and systems biology approaches
• be able to program and create scripts for parsing various formats of biological data within a command-line computer environment
• understand the role of modelling and simulation of biological systems
• have a deep knowledge of the aspect of bioinformatics in which they carried out their three-month research project (as part of the MSc programme). This experience will prepare them for a future research career in the bioinformatics field.
Mathematics, statistics, engineering or computer science graduates who take the programme will also take several biology modules that include practical 'wet' laboratory classes. Since bioinformatics involves organising and analysing large data sets from high-throughput biological studies, and developing algorithms and statistical approaches to analyse and understand these data, it heavily relies on mathematical and statistical models and methodologies, as well as on computational tools and applications, where the outcomes of such efforts also require coupling to a particular biological question.
Full-time students must complete 12 taught modules and undertake a research project. Part-time students complete about six taught modules in each academic year and undertake the project in the second academic year. Each taught module consists of approximately 20 one-hour lectures (roughly two lectures per week over one academic term), as well as approximately 10 hours of practicals or tutorials (roughly one one-hour practical or tutorial per week over one academic term), although the exact amount of lectures, practicals and tutorials varies between individual modules.
Placement or Study Abroad Information
As part of the MSc programme, students will carry out a three-month research project in a research group in UCC or in an external university, research institute or industry. This will provide the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in bioinformatics to a cutting edge research question.
In principle, placements abroad to execute the research project can be facilitated subject to approval.