Postgraduate study
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Bioinformatics MSc, PgDip

Awards: MSc, PgDip

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that develops methods and software tools for understanding biological data.

As an interdisciplinary field of science, bioinformatics studies and processes biological data, combining:

  • computer science
  • informatics
  • statistics/mathematics
  • engineering

The emphasis is on leveraging aspects of these disciplines to efficiently explore biology: it is BIO-informatics after all.

The aim of the Bioinformatics MSc is to equip you with a strong background in biology, at the same time training you in the application and development of methods used to interpret the vast amounts of data generated by high-throughput 'omics' technologies, be they proteins or nucleic acids.

Is this MSc for me?

On completing this programme you will be well qualified to undertake further studies, take up bioinformatics posts in industry, or perhaps start your own bioinformatics company.

We recognise that all of our MSc Bioinformatics students come from different backgrounds, and have different interests in biology. This programme in Bioinformatics allows you to take advantage of all the advances in biology, as well as the bioinformatics tools to explore that biology.

We aim to provide you with a set of core skills that all bioinformaticians should have. By offering diverse and extensive course options, you can choose the mix of courses you want and determine the specific content of your programme.

There are two semesters of teaching, followed by a research project over the summer (May-July/early August).

Courses

Courses are delivered by staff who are active researchers in each field. Their expertise may be supplemented by selected guest speakers, from industry or other research organisations.

There is a mix of compulsory and recommended elective courses available. These are listed on the Degree Programme Table (DPT). Note that available courses can vary from year to year, so make sure you are looking at the correct version of the DPT for your application year. Here you will be able to see the compulsory courses for this programme, and the optional courses too.

Dissertation

The Dissertation, which you submit in late August, is the write-up for the research project you do from early May to late July/early August.

This independent research project involves doing, or applying, things that you have learnt about in the first two semesters. It is full-time and usually in person. Most students find the project to be the most enjoyable part of the degree.

How will I learn?

The teaching styles and assessment methods vary from course to course. They include:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • computer workshops
  • lab demonstrations

For assessment, courses can have a combination of in-course assessments and exams.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScBioinformatics1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24
PgDipBioinformatics9 MonthsFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

By studying the MSc in Bioinformatics, you will:

  • acquire cutting-edge knowledge about 'omics' technologies, and how best to develop and apply tools to leverage the biological data they generate
  • learn that these technologies can be used in different ways to answer different biological questions, and to gain practice integrating or combining these approaches to suit the research interests
  • be provided with opportunities to practise talks to convey your knowledge to your classmates

    • Communicating your knowledge to others is an essential skill. To help you develop these skills, our staff will provide feedback on these talks, and some may be formally assessed.
  • gain experience writing interactive programmes, generating reports, summarising your knowledge on a subject, and drawing conclusions from a wide range of data types

    • These activities will, with practice, equip you with the necessary communication skills for whatever career pathway you have chosen.

Our Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience at the University, providing:

  • tailored advice
  • individual guidance and personal assistance
  • internships and networking opportunities (with employers from local organisations to top multinationals)
  • access to the experience of our worldwide alumni network

We invest in your future beyond the end of your degree. Studying at the University of Edinburgh will lay the foundations for your future success, whatever shape that takes.

To find out more about our Careers Service, you can visit their website:

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in biological sciences. You must have a strong background in molecular biology, biochemistry or related sciences and some experience of computer science and mathematics, especially if your interests include learning about the application of machine learning based tools.

We may also consider your application if you have a background in chemistry, physics, mathematics or engineering

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Deposit

If you receive an offer of admission you will need to pay a deposit to secure your place.

  • £1,500 (this contributes towards your tuition fees)

Any applicants who are required to pay will receive an offer with full details.

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScBioinformatics1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
PgDipBioinformatics9 MonthsFull-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 31 May 2024

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications may close earlier than the published deadlines if there is exceptionally high demand.

We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline.

We aim to make the majority of decisions within eight weeks of the selection deadline.

If we have not made you an offer by a specific selection deadline this means one of two things:

  • your application has been unsuccessful, in which case we will contact you to let you know, or
  • your application is still being considered, will be carried forward for consideration in the next selection deadline and we’ll be in touch once a decision is made

Selection Deadlines

Round Application Deadline Decisions made or applications rolled to the next deadline
1 15 December 1 March
2 31 March 31 May
3 31 May 31 July

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD