Biology - Bioinformatics with Computational Biology MSc

Fact File

Course Code: CKR33 Full-time; CKR41 Part-time

Course Title: Biology - Bioinformatics with Computational Biology

College: Science, Engineering and Food Science

Biology - Bioinformatics with Computational Biology

Duration: 1 year Full-time, 2 years Part-time

Teaching Mode: Full-time, Part-Time

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

Qualifications: MSc

NFQ Level: Level 9

Costs: 2017/2018 Irish/EU €6,000; 2017/2018 Non-EU fee: €18,000.

2017 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. See also detailed entry requirements.

Closing Date: See details in application procedure below

Next Intake: 10th September 2018


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.

Delivered by staff from across the Schools of Microbiology, Mathematics, Applied Mathematics & Statistics, Biochemistry & Cell Biology and the Department of Computer Science, the programme provides interdisciplinary research-led training in bioinformatics and systems biology.

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.

Course Details

Bioinformatics is defined as an academic field that seeks to create and advance algorithms, computational and statistical techniques, and theory to solve formal and practical problems arising from the management and analysis of biological data. The primary goal of bioinformatics is to increase understanding of biological processes. What distinguishes bioinformatics from other approaches, however, is its focus on developing and applying computational techniques to achieve this goal.

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.

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.

This MSc programme 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 programme 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 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.

Detailed 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.

Application Procedure

Application for this programme is on-line at Places on this programme are offered in rounds. The closing dates for each round can be found here. You must select the course code for the MSc in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, which is CKR33 for the full-time option or CKR41 for the part-time option.

For full details of the application procedure click How to Apply.

All required documentation must be either uploaded to your online application, or sent in hard copy to The Postgraduate Applications Centre, 1, Courthouse Square, Galway, immediately after an application is made.

Course Practicalities

The MSc Degree is a full-time or part-time taught Masters' Degree programme running for 12 months from the date of first registration for full-time students or 24 months from the date of first registration for part-time students.

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. 

Most of the modules in the programme (including modules on bioinformatics methods, programming, statistics, mathematics) include practical classes, so that students can gain hands-on experience.

Mathematics, statistics, engineering or computer science graduates who take the programme will also take several biology modules that include practical 'wet' laboratory classes.

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.

Full details of programme requirements, including module content, can be found here


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.

Who Teaches This Course

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.

Further Contact Information

Programme Director

Dr Marcus Claesson

School of Microbiology

Tel:     +353 21 490 1390


Contact us

E: Dr Marcus Claesson

P: + 353 21 490 1390
W: Website

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