Introduced in 2004, this course was developed by the Cambridge Computational Biology Institute, an interdisciplinary centre bringing together the unique strengths of Cambridge in medicine, biology, mathematics and the physical sciences.
The course is aimed at introducing students to quantitative aspects of biological and medical sciences. It is intended for mathematicians, computer scientists and others wishing to learn about the subject in preparation for a PhD course or a career in industry. It is also suitable for students with a first degree in biosciences as long as they have strong quantitative skills (which should be documented in the application).
This 11-month course consists of core modules in bioinformatics, scientific programming with R, genomics, systems biology and network biology. Before the start of the first term, students are required to attend an introductory course in molecular biology. Courses are delivered in association with several University departments from the Schools of Biological Sciences and Physical Sciences, groups within the School of Clinical Medicine, the European Bioinformatics Institute and the Sanger Institute. The course concludes with a three-month internship in a university or industrial laboratory.
After completing the MPhil in Computational Biology, students will be expected to have:
- acquired a sound knowledge of a range of tools and methods in computational biology; - developed the capacity for independent study and problem solving at a higher level; - undertaken an internship project within a laboratory or group environment, and produced a project report; - given at least one presentation on their project.
The course combines taught lectures (October-April), followed by a summer internship project (May-August). There are typically 3-4 taught modules per term, and each module consists of 16 hours of lectures. Each module is assessed by coursework, and there is one general examination in May.
The Course Director is available throughout the year for individual meetings, and briefly meets termly with each student to check on progress. Each lecturer is also encouraged to arrange an office hour whereby students can talk about their progress.
Lectures: Typically 16 hours per module, with students taking 8 modules.
Journal Clubs: A weekly seminar is held during the first two terms on topics across Computational Biology. These seminars help students to select an appropriate project.
Students undertake a mandatory internship (May to August) in either a university or industrial laboratory. The Department will compile a list of possible opportunities which students can discuss directly with the host laboratory. Alternatively students may organise their own internship, subject to the approval of the Course Director.
A 18,000 word (maximum) report must be written to summarise the student's internship. An oral presentation on this report must also be given.
Students give a 25 minute presentation on their project as part of the formal assessment. Some assessed coursework may also require students to present their work.
Each module is assessed typically by two written assignments. These assignments involve significant computational elements.
A compulsory two-hour general examination is sat in May.
MPhil students wishing to apply for a PhD at Cambridge must apply via the Graduate Admissions Office for continuation by the relevant deadline.