UCC Postgraduate courses

Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

  • Code

    CKR33 Full-time; CKR41 Part-time

  • College

    Science, Engineering and Food Science

  • Duration

    1 year Full-time, 2 years Part-time

  • Teaching Mode

    Full-time, Part-Time. See Additional Teaching Mode Information for more info.

  • Qualifications

    MSc

  • EU Fees 2018

    €6,000
    See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Non-EU Fees 2018

    €18,000

  • Entry Requirements

    Candidates must be holders of an Honours Bachelor degree 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 Requirements for full details.

  • Closing Date

    Late applications currently being Accepted

  • Non-EU Closing Date

    15th June

  • Start Date

    10th September 2018

Course Outline

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.

Additional Teaching Mode Information

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

Non-EU Applications

Applicants who are interested in applying for the programme can also apply online at PAC.

For full details of the non-EU application procedure please visit our how to apply pages for international students.

 

**All Applicants please note: modules listed in the course outline above are indicative of the current set of modules for this course, but these are subject to change from year to year. Please check the college calendar for the full academic content of any given course for the current year. 

In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools and departments. 

Course Practicalities

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.

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.

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.

Why Choose This Course

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. 

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.

Where Have Graduates Of The Programme Gone?

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.

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.

View the grades comparison table

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.

For more detailed entry requirement information please refer to the International website .

Fees and Costs

The fee for this course is €6,000.

Part-time students:

If your course is offered full time and part time, the fee for part time courses is half the full time fee.

Deposits:

If your course required a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second semester fee payment in January.

EU student fee payment:

Fees for EU students are payable in two equal instalments. First payment at registration in August and the second in January.

International student fee payment:

Fees for Non-EU Students are payable in one instalment in August.

How can I pay?

By Credit/Debit card online or by credit transfer.

Questions?

If you have any questions on fee payment please email our Fees Office at fees@ucc.ie .

The Non-EU fee for this course is €18,000.

Non-EU Fees

The 2017/2018 Postgraduate Fees Schedule is available here

How Do I Apply

1. Choose Course

Firstly choose your course. Applicants can apply for up to three courses under one application. Details of taught courses are available on our online prospectus.

2. Apply Online

Once you have chosen your course you can apply online at the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC). Applicants will need to apply before the course closing date. There is a €50 application fee.

3. Gather Supporting Documents

Scanned copies of the following documents will need to be uploaded to PAC in support of your application. Applicants may need to produce the original documents if you are accepted onto a course and register at UCC.

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC
  • Any supplementary forms requested for your course.

Please log into PAC for more details.

4. Application processing timeline

Our online application system PAC opens for applications in early November of each year.

Questions on how to apply?

EU students contact graduatestudies@ucc.ie

International students contact internationaloffice@ucc.ie

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)

Please note that you will be asked to fill in a supplementary information form as part of the applications process for this programme. This form is available to view here MSc Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Irish/EU Closing Date Rounds

Irish/EU places on this programme are offered in rounds. The closing dates for each round can be found here

The closing date for non-EU applications is 15th June

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