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Course content

This Masters in Bioinformatics is a new, exciting and innovative programme that has grown out of our well-regarded MRes in Bioinformatics. Bioinformatics is a discipline at the interface between biology and computing and is used in organismal biology, molecular biology and biomedicine. This programme focuses on using computers to glean new insights from DNA, RNA and protein sequence data and related data at the molecular level through data storage, mining, analysis and display - all of which form a core part of modern biology.

Why this programme

◾Our programme emphasises understanding core principles in practical bioinformatics and functional genomics, and then implementing that understanding in a series of practical-based elective courses in Semester 2 and in a summer research project.
◾You will benefit from being taught by scientists at the cutting edge of their field and you will get intensive, hands-on experience in an active research lab during the summer research project.
◾Bioinformatics and the 'Omics' technologies have evolved to play a fundamental role in almost all areas of biology and biomedicine.
◾Advanced biocomputing skills are now deemed essential for many PhD studentships/projects in molecular bioscience and biomedicine, and are of increasing importance for many other such projects.
◾The Semester 2 elective courses are built around real research scenarios, enabling you not only to gain practical experience of working with large molecular datasets, but also to see why each scenario uses the particular approaches it does and how to go about organizing and implementing appropriate analysis pipelines.
◾You will be based in the College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences, an ideal environment in which to train in bioinformatics; our College has carried out internationally-recognised research in functional genomics and systems biology.
◾The new programme reflects the development and activities of 'Glasgow Polyomics'. Glasgow Polyomics is a world-class facility set up in 2012 to provide research services using microarray, proteomics, metabolomics and next-generation DNA sequencing technologies. Its scientists have pioneered the 'polyomics' approach, in which new insights come from the integration of data across different omics levels.
◾In addition, we have several world-renowned research centres at the University, such as the Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology and the Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre, whose scientists do ground-breaking research employing bioinformatic approaches in the study of disease.
◾You will learn computer programming in courses run by staff in the internationally reputed School of Computing Science, in conjunction with their MSc in Information Technology.

Programme structure

Bioinformatics helps biologists gain new insights about genomes (genomics) and genes, about RNA expression products of genes (transcriptomics) and about proteins (proteomics); rapid advances have also been made in the study of cellular metabolites (metabolomics) and in a newer area: systems biology.

‘Polyomics’ involves the integration of data from these ‘functional genomics’ areas - genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics - to derive new insights about how biological systems function.

The programme structure is designed to equip students with understanding and hands-on experience of both computing and biological research practices relating to bioinformatics and functional genomics, to show students how the computing approaches and biological questions they are being used to answer are connected, and to give students an insight into new approaches for integration of data and analysis across the 'omics' domains.

On this programme, you will develop a range of computing and programming skills, as well as skills in data handling, analysis (including statistics) and interpretation, and you will be brought up to date with recent advances in biological science that have been informed by bioinformatics approaches.

The programme has the following overall structure
◾Core material - 60 credits, Semester 1, made up of 10, 15 and 20 credit courses.
◾Elective material - 60 credits, Semester 2, students select 4 courses (two 10 credit courses and two 20 credit courses) from those available.
◾Project - 60 credits, 14 weeks embedded in a research group over the summer.

Core and optional courses

◾Programming (Java)
◾Database Theory and Application
◾Foundations of Bioinformatics
◾Omics and Systems Approaches in Biology
◾These 4 courses are obligatory for those taking the MSc degree and the PgDip; they are also obligatory for those with no prior programming experience taking the PgCert.
◾60-credit summer research project lasting 14 weeks - this is also obligatory for those taking the MSc programme; normally this will be with one of the research laboratories in Glasgow associated with the programme, but there is also the opportunity to study in suitable laboratories in other parts of the world.

Optional courses include:
◾RNA-seq and next generation transcriptomics
◾Metagenomics
◾Pathogen Polyomics
◾Using Chemical Structure Databases in Drug Discovery for Protein Targets
◾Identification of disease-causing genetic variants
◾A range of more general biology and computing biology courses are also available in semester 2.

Career prospects

Most of our graduates embark on a research career path here in the UK or abroad using the skills they've acquired on our programme - these skills are now of primary relevance in many areas of modern biology and biomedicine. Many are successful in getting a PhD studentship. Others are employed as a core bioinformatician (now a career path within academia in its own right) or as a research assistant in a research group in basic biological or medical science. A postgraduate degree in bioinformatics is also valued by many employers in the life sciences sector - e.g. computing biology jobs in biotechnology/biosciences/neuroinformatics/pharma industry. Some of our graduates have entered science-related careers in scientific publishing or education; others have gone into computing-related jobs in non-bioscience industry or the public sector.

Visit the Bioinformatics, Polyomics and Systems Biology - MSc/PGDip page on the University of Glasgow website for more details!

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