Quantitative Genetics


This page provides some guidance on applying for the Programmes

If you are interested in applying to our Quantitative Genetics suite of Programmes, please keep in mind that while admission is not competitive in the sense that we limit the number of offers we make, we are selective. This is important as our goal is to continue to offer the best Programmes of their kind in terms of quality and prestige, and to do that, we must provide an academically rigorous course of study. However, not everybody is adequately equipped to do well here. Consequently, our over-arching concern whilst we review applications is to determine whether the applicant can succeed in our Programme. We believe that the admissions process can be collaborative: if you provide us with an application that is a complete and open description of your academic/work history, career plans, and expectations regarding what you hope to get from our Programme, then we can be best positioned to determine if this Programme is right for you. An MSc is a considerable investment in terms of both time and money, and we have no wish to waste either of yours by encouraging you to pursue the wrong course of study. We urge you to review this website carefully to hone your understanding of what we do, and we offer guidance below for what sort of qualifications we look for in successful applications.

Academic degrees and performance – We often attract students with life science backgrounds, especially those that include some elements of genetics. However, because much of the course is taught from first principles, an in-depth understanding of biology and genetics coming into the Programme is not essential. However, a rigorous academic background that features quantitative coursework signals to us that you have been exposed to the relevant skills that are essential to success in our Programmes. Whilst high overall marks are desirable, of course, we are most interested in seeing good marks in courses in Genetics and those with significant quantitative elements, such as Maths, Stats, Physics, etc.

Personal statement – We assume that applicants want to join our Programme, but the reasons for your interest may not be clear unless to you tell us. Explaining your motivation for applying and how our Programme fits into your career goals helps us gauge how well you understand what we do, and this influences our admission decisions. A successful application will clearly document an interest in genetics, but how you choose to do this is up to you. The Personal Statement also provides an opportunity to address apparent shortcomings in your application with helpful information. For example, a lack of quantitative coursework in your undergraduate degree might be compensated for by work experience in a relevant field. In some cases, a school-level qualification may be sufficient.

References ­– The most useful references are written by people who know the applicant and can comment on their ability to succeed in our Programmes. Assessments backed up by evidence can be particularly persuasive. An example of this might be an undergraduate research supervisor who was particularly impressed by your ability to execute a challenging statistical analysis. Appropriate people to provide your references could include a Personal Tutor (or equivalent) or another professional academic who has taught you at an undergraduate or postgraduate level (you should avoid requesting letters from PhD students in most cases). Emphasise to your letter writers that we will look to them to comment on your potential to undertake rigorous postgraduate study in a quantitative field.   If it has been a while since you have graduated, you may be able to supply a work-related reference in place of an academic one. This would typically be written by a line manager.

In short, choose your letter writer wisely. They may not be aware of what we do; if that is the case, do your best to explain to them what we are looking for. A conscientious referee will do his or her best to tailor his or her letter to the applicant’s specific programme.