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Biology - Bioinformatics with Computational Biology

Course Code: CKR33 FT, CKR41 PT

The MSc in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at UCC is a one-year 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.

Course Practicalities
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.

Unique Aspects of the Course
This is the only interdisciplinary course bringing computer science and biology together in an Irish university.

Entry requirements

Entrants to the programme must be holders of an Honours Bachelor degree, or equivalent qualification, in a discipline with a significant element of Mathematics, Statistics, Engineering, Computer Science or Biology, with a minimum of Second Class Honours Grade 1. In addition, candidates with Second Class Honours Grade 2 may also be considered for places, following assessment by the Programme Director, if they are also proficient in mathematics as evident from grades in Higher Leaving Cert maths or Undergraduate maths modules, and have at least one year of proven and relevant Biological, Mathematical or Computational work or Postgraduate experience. The number of places is limited and selection will be made on the candidate's performance in his/her primary degree and experience. Where relevant, candidates will have to prove their proficiency in the English language (spoken and written).

It is not necessary to have prior knowledge of computer programming or bioinformatics to take the course. All the necessary computer skills will be taught as part of the programme.

If you are applying with Qualifications obtained outside Ireland and you wish to verify if you meet the minimum academic and English language requirements for this programme please see course webpage (link below) to view the grades comparison table by country and for details of recognised English language tests.


1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.

Careers or further progression

Skills and Careers Information
Graduates of this course offer a unique set of interdisciplinary skills making them highly attractive to employers at universities, research centres and in industry. Many research institutes have dedicated bioinformatics groups, while many 'wet biology' research groups employ bioinformaticians to help with data analyses and other bioinformatics problems. Industries employing bioinformaticians include the pharmaceutical industry, agricultural and biotechnology companies. For biology graduates returning to 'wet lab' biology after completing the MSc course, your newly acquired skills will be extremely useful. Non-biology graduates seeking non-biology positions will also find that having acquired interdisciplinary skills is of great benefit in getting a job.

Placement and Study Abroad Information
In principle, placements abroad to execute the research project can be facilitated subject to approval by the course coordinator(s).

Starting Salaries
Varies depending on the particular post and job description from approximately €25k to €35k per annum.

Further enquiries

Programme Director
Dr Marcus Claesson
School of Microbiology
Tel: +353 21 490 1390

Subjects taught

This MSc course will provide theoretical education along with practical training to students who already have a BSc in a biological/life science, computer science, mathematics, statistics, engineering or a related degree.

The course has four different streams for biology, mathematics, statistics and computer science graduates. Graduates of related disciplines, such as engineering, physics, medicine, will be enrolled in the most appropriate stream. This allows graduates from different backgrounds to increase their knowledge and skills in areas in which they have not previously studied, with particular emphasis on hands-on expertise relevant to bioinformatics:

Data analysis: basic statistical concepts, probability, multivariate analysis methods

Programming/computing: hands-on Linux skills, basic computing skills and databases, computer system organisation, analysis of simple data structures and algorithms, programming concepts and practice, web applications programming

Bioinformatics: homology searches, sequence alignment, motifs, phylogenetics, protein folding and structure prediction

Systems biology: genome sequencing projects and genome analysis, functional genomics, metabolome modelling, regulatory networks, interactome, enzymes and pathways

Mathematical modelling and simulation: use of discrete mathematics for bioinformatics such as graphs and trees, simulation of biosystems

Research skills: individual research project, involving a placement within the university or in external research institutes, universities or industry.

As part of the MSc course, you will 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.

Assessment method

There are exams for most of the taught modules in May of each of the two academic years, while certain modules may also have a continuous assessment element. The research project starts in June and finishes towards the end of September. Part-time students will carry out their research project during the summer of their second academic year.

Application date

Applications for 2017-18 intake are now open.

While UCC operates a rounds system for Postgraduate Taught courses (detailed below) we would advise you to apply as soon as possible.

Deadline for receipt of Applications: Offers will be made:

For all completed applications received by January 16th 2017 Offers will be made by January 30th 2017

For all completed applications received by March 1st 2017 Offers will be made by March 15th 2017

For all completed applications received by May 1st 2017 Offers will be made by May 15th 2017

For all completed applications received by July 3rd 2017 Offers will be made by July 17th 2017

Late applications may be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis for any courses that have remaining capacity for places.

Non-EU Applicants:

Please visit the following page for further information for Non EU applicants

Course fee

2017/2018 Irish/EU €6,000

Enrolment and start dates

Next Intake: 11th September 2017

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!