Top
Institution / University College Cork
City scape

Biology - Bioinformatics with Computational Biology

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.

Dr Marcus Claesson from the School of Microbiology is the Programme Director, and the 12 taught modules are delivered by staff from across the Schools of Microbiology, Mathematics, Applied Mathematics & Statistics, Biochemistry & Cell Biology and the Departments of Computer Science.

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.

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 click here to view the grades comparison table by country and for details of recognised English language tests.

Non-EU Candidates

Non-EU candidates are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to Irish university primary degree level. In addition, where such candidates are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language. To verify if you meet the minimum academic requirements for this programme please visit our qualification comparison pages.

Duration

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

The part-time option will be taught during weekday working hours over 2 years.

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.

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 complementary and useful. Non-biology graduates seeking non-biology positions will also find that having acquired interdisciplinary skills is of great benefit in getting a qualified job in many sectors due to being able to adapt knowledge across a broad range of disciplines.

Working in the field of bioinformatics is both a challenging and satisfying job, which often involves problem solving, programming, statistical analyses of large data sets, and mathematical modelling of biological phenomena. It is possible for a bioinformatician to work on many different biological questions and types of data sets, making this an interesting and exciting field to work in.

A bioinformatician’s day-to-day work can involve studying many different fascinating and important biological questions, such as:

What are the genetic differences between the DNA of humans and chimpanzees?

How many genes are there in the human genome, and can we identify them all?

What differences exist in the DNA of different people, and how does that affect their health, appearance and behaviour?

Is it possible to create a computer program to analyse the DNA sequences of 1000 different individual humans, and to reconstruct their genetic history (see http://www.1000genomes.org)?

What are the differences between cancer cells and healthy cells?

How do new drug-resistant strains of malaria evolve from existing strains, and can we predict what strains will emerge in future?

What bacteria are present in different environments, such as different parts of the human body in people of different ages, populations and health?

How are different animal groups (eg. humans, flies, jellyfish, earthworms, etc.) related to each other, and when and where did they evolve from a common ancestor?

How can ‘omics’ data from e.g. metabolomics, genomics, transcriptomes from case and control subjects/animal be integrated and relevant information be extracted and interpreted?

And many other interesting and important questions

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.

Our programme has now been running since October 2009, and graduates to date are working here in UCC and other academic institutions in Ireland or abroad, some are working in Teagasc, some with computing multinationals in Ireland, and some have moved further afield to the Netherlands, Austria, U.S.A and New Zealand to mention a few. There are many opportunities for bioinformaticians in many countries worldwide, as the skill is always in short supply. This MSc qualification is recognised worldwide, and graduates will be able to work in any country for which they have the appropriate working visa.

Further enquiries

Contact details for this course
Dr Marcus Claesson
m.claesson@ucc.ie
+ 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, usually in December and May, of each of the two Semesters, while certain modules also have a continuous assessment element. The research project starts in June and finishes towards the end of September, followed by an oral thesis presentation in the middle of October Part-time students will carry out their research project during the summer of their second academic year.

Application date

Closing dates

Closing Dates for Application

Applications for 2018 start dates will open on November 1st 2017.

EU Applicants: UCC operates a rounds closing date system for the majority of postgraduate taught programmes (detailed below).

Some programmes have a specific closing date. Applicants are advised to consult with the postgraduate prospectus for programmes with a specific closing date.

The UCC rounds EU application system closing dates for Postgraduate Taught courses are detailed below. However, we would advise applicants to apply as soon as possible.

Deadline for receipt of Applications: Offers will be made:
For all completed applications received by January 15th 2018 Offers will be made by January 29th 2018

For all completed applications received by March 1st 2018 Offers will be made by March 15th 2018

For all completed applications received by May 1st 2018
Offers will be made by May 15th 2018

For all completed applications received by July 2nd 2018
Offers will be made by July 16th 2018

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

While there is no official closing date for Research courses applicants are advised to submit their application at least two months ahead of their proposed start date. There are four official Research start dates – September/October, January, April and July.

Non-EU Applicants:

Please visit the following page for further information for Non EU applicants http://www.ucc.ie/en/international/studyatucc/postgraduateprogrammes/tau...

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: 10th September 2018

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!