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MSc Biology - Bioinformatics with Computational Biology

Course Description

The MSc in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at UCC is a one-year 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.

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.

Visit the website: http://www.ucc.ie/en/ckr33/

Course Detail

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.


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.


There are exams for most of the taught modules in May of each of the two academic years, while certain modules may also have a continuous assessment element. The research project starts in June and finishes towards the end of September. Part-time students will carry out their research project during the summer of their second academic year.


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 useful. Non-biology graduates seeking non-biology positions will also find that having acquired interdisciplinary skills is of great benefit in getting a job.

How to apply: http://www.ucc.ie/en/study/postgrad/how/

Funding and Scholarships

Information regarding funding and available scholarships can be found here: https://www.ucc.ie/en/cblgradschool/current/fundingandfinance/fundingscholarships/

Visit the MSc Biology - Bioinformatics with Computational Biology page on the University College Cork website for more details!

Student Profiles

UCC Postgraduate Bursaries for Taught Programmes - 20+ Awards

UCC are offering bursaries to students who have lost funding because of the changes to the Student Grant Scheme in the 2012 Budget. There has been a substantial increase in the number of postgraduate students in Ireland in recent years but it is feared that the change in the Student Grant Scheme as part of Budget 2012 may affect the numbers adversely.UCC have decided not to limit the number of bursaries as supplying suitably qualified graduates is one of its actions to support the government’s 2012 Action Plan for Jobs. “There is great merit in offering these Bursaries”, says Dr Michael Murphy, President of UCC. “We know that the removal of the Government grant will have caused some problems for students and we hope that this measure alleviates the financial difficulties. This support for our postgraduate students complements the support that UCC offers disadvantaged students through it Access programme and Talented Student Programme at UCC. We think it is very important to support our students at this time as well-qualified postgraduate students will be an important part of Ireland’s economic recovery”. In 2011, 3,691 postgraduate students registered to study across UCCs four Colleges (College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, College of Business and Law, College of Medicine and Health and the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science) undertaking studies ranging from Higher Diplomas to doctoral research degrees. With over 200 taught and research programmes, UCC is one of the most popular universities for postgraduate study in Ireland. UCC’s excellent reputation and support for all students, especially disadvantages students, is one of the major reasons for its designation as the ‘Sunday Times Irish University of the Year 2011-12’ and ‘Ireland’s first Five Star University’ (QS Stars 2011). Other national programmes that provide financial support for suitably qualified students to undertake postgraduate studies include the Graduate Skills Conversion Programme (GSCP), a joint initiative with the Department of Education and Science and the Higher Education Authority. The aim of this programme is to provide graduates with the opportunity to acquire qualifications for employment in the ICT area. These postgraduate courses are provided at reduced fees (€2,750) and aim to enhance Ireland’s competency in this economically important area. ICT is just one of the many options available to students; the full range of UCC post graduate programmes is available on http://www.ucc.ie/en/study/postgrad/what/colleges/

Value of Scholarship(s)



The bursaries are specifically designed to ensure that students who were previously in receipt of a local authority grant and as a result of the changes in the scheme are no longer eligible are not disadvantaged.To be eligible, the student must have qualified for Local Authority, VEC or Department of Education grants in the final year of their bachelor’s degrees. The bursaries are not limited to UCC graduates; the scheme is open to students from any Irish HE institution who graduated since 2009 and who will commence a full time taught Post graduate programme in UCC in September 2012.

Application Procedure

Full details of the bursary scheme are on the University website http://www.ucc.ie/en/financeoffice/fees/

Further Information



Graduate Skills Conversion Programme - 20+ Awards

The Graduate Skills Conversion Programme (GSCP) is a joint initiative with the Department of Education and Science and the Higher Education Authority.The aim of the programme is to provide graduates with the opportunity to acquire qualifications for employment in the ICT area. A greatly reduced fee applies to all courses under this programme. For 2012-13 the fee is €2,750 if studying the programme full time. If you are studying the programme part time a fee of €1,700 is payable in the first year and a similar fee is payable in the second year.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Reduced fees: €2, 750 approx


Prospective postgraduate students living or working in an EU country for three of last five years. Non-EU applicants don't qualify. Each course has different academic eligibility criteria; click here to find course information: http://www.ucc.ie/en/study/postgrad/what/PostgraduateFunding/FundedProgrammes

Application Procedure

As places are limited on these courses students are advised http://www.pac.ie/ apply online as soon as possible to secure a place. In the case of the Graduate Skills programmes, funding will be based on all PAC EU taught applications.

Further Information


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. 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.

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