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Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics (MSc)

MSc | Postgraduate Taught

Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
Places available
25 (Full Time)
This course is now closed to applications for September 2021. If you are interested in September 2022 entry, please register your interest.
  • Overview

    The past decade has seen enormous advances in molecular and biomedical technology resulting in an‘omics’ revolution.

    Bioinformatics covers the application of mathematics, statistics and computing to biological and clinical scenarios. Algorithms and software tools are used to understand and interpret patient-derived ‘Big Data’


    You will be analysing clinical and ‘omics data in order to find complex patterns relating to patient response to treatments and prognosis. You will discover results that translate to the real world, through clinical trials or commercialisation. You will use your vision to find unique solutions to clinical and biological problems, and by the end of the degree you will be ready to work within a multidisciplinary team alongside bioinformaticians, biologists and clinicians from the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research, the Welcome Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (, and the Centre for Public Health (

    This is complemented by guest lectures from industrial and clinical collaborators.

    Please note a deposit will be required to secure a place.

    ***The MSc Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics programme for September 2021 is now at capacity. Eligible applications will be added to a Waiting List and reconsidered should places become available.***

    Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics highlights

    The analysis of ’Big Data' may provide the key to unlocking the cause and development of various diseases, such as cancer. It also, offers the prospect of developing new drugs and therapies to prevent and treat conditions and diseases.

    Internationally Renowned Experts

    • You'll be involved with our Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research, who work with partners around the world in developing cancer treatments and pioneering advances in patient care. The Centre has an international reputation for successful dissemination and application of cutting edge research , knowledge transfer and the commercialisation of research ideas and innovations.
    This conversion course provides a solid foundation in data analytical skills which will enable graduates to make the transition into careers in bioinformatics. The modules are delivered by research-intensive academics with industrial and clinical collaborators, ensuring that the course content is kept up to date on cutting-edge techniques. 

    Jaine Blayney, Lecturer in Translational Bioinformatics, Course Director
  • Course content

    Course Structure

    Students may enrol on a full time (one year) basis. There is an introductory module to Cell Biology and Computational Analysis during the first two weeks. This is followed by three (20 CAT) modules in Semester 1, and four modules (2 x 20 CAT and 2 x 10 CAT) during Semester 2.

    The MSc is awarded to students who successfully complete all taught modules (120 CATS) and a dissertation (60 CATS).

    A Diploma exit qualification is available to those students who have successfully completed 120 CATS points of taught modules.

    A Certificate exit qualification is available to those students who have successfully completed 60 CATS points of taught modules.

    Course DetailsBioinformatics and Computational Genomics is an interdisciplinary field at the heart of biomedical research, discovery and practice. With its challenging and rewarding content, this Masters degree will provide students, with a background in computational or life sciences, the opportunity to move into an exciting new area of discovery, technology and application. We provide a broad learning base and offer training in open-source programming languages commonly used in academia and industry.

    You will begin with an introductory short course (two weeks at the beginning of the first semester) in Cell Biology, followed by compulsory modules in:

    Analysis of Gene Expression
    This module will provide the practical molecular biological knowledge required to develop the most effective and useful computational tools for analysis of gene expression data.

    Genomics and Human Disease
    This module explores rapidly advancing fields that are moving from specialised research areas to mainstream medicine, science and public arenas. The principles of genomic medicine will be discussed alongside bioinformatics approaches for identifying 'causative genes' for human disease.

    Scientific Programming and Statistical Computing
    This module covers the fundamental elements of the statistical framework R and the programming language Python. It gives an introduction to parallel processing applications and implementation and how to leverage modern big-data problems through HPC computing.

    Health and Biomedical Informatics and the Exposome (half module 10 CATS)
    The module will cover different aspects of health informatics including the basic structure of electronic health records (EHRs). This module also includes an introduction to the concept of the exposome and the contribution of biomedical informatics in exposome research.

    Systems Medicine: From Molecules to Populations (half module 10 CATS)
    Students will develop knowledge of integrative approaches for multi-'omics biomedical data analysis in order to illuminate disease mechanisms, with applications in precision medicine. Systems medicine brings together multiple scientific disciplines; some of the key areas covered in this module are network biology, machine learning and patient stratification.

    Applied Genomics
    This module examines the practical challenges in generating different 'omics' datasets, the important implications of how this is conducted when analysing such datasets and gives practical experience of dealing with resulting datasets using relevant tools.

    Biostatistical Informatics (online)
    The core of this module will highlight the analysis of different 'omics' data, including pre-processing, normalisation and quality control. The module will also provide an introduction to carrying out statistical tests in the R statistical programming language.

    Research Project: Dissertation
    Translational bioinformatics and technical development research projects are mainly split between the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology and the Centre for Experimental Medicine. You will be working with supervisors who are actively conducting research into the causes and treatments of disease. There are also opportunities to work on research projects with our industrial partners.

    You will be taught by subject experts from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (, the Centre for Experimental Medicine (, and the Centre for Public Health ( This is complemented by guest lectures from industrial and clinical collaborators.

    During the research projects, you may have the opportunity to work alongside PhD students in an open-plan environment on-campus, but the course is flexible. A suite of high-specification PCs is available for use by students on this course.
    EnvironmentYou’ll be taught by active researchers including biologists, clinicians and bioinformatician. We also have teaching input from our industrial partners.

    During the research projects, you may have the opportunity to work alongside PhD students in open-plan environments on-campus, but the course is flexible. A suite of high-specification PCs is available for use by students on this course.

    People teaching you

    Dr Jaine Blayney


    Career Prospects

    The rapid production of 'omics' data within medicine and the life sciences has meant that individuals with analytical experience in this field are highly sought after. Recent graduates have gone on to work in industry in companies such as Almac Diagnostics, Randox, Biokinetic Europe and Fios Genomics and some have gone onto further PHD level research.

    Employment after the Course
    Many of our students go on to pursue further PhD study in Bioinformatics at Queen’s and further afield. Others go on to work in a variety of roles in both the private and public sector here in Northern Ireland and internationally. The following are some of the jobs they have taken on:

    Bioinformatician at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
    Application Scientist at Dotmatics
    Network and Security Engineer at Darktrace
    Junior Bioinformatics Scientist at Almac Group
    Bioinformatician at Fios Genomics Ltd
    Biomedical Scientist and Junior Bioinformatician, BioKinetic Europe

    Professional Opportunities
    QUB's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

    Learning and Teaching

    We provide a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life and work in an advanced society making use of innovative technologies.

    Across a combination of morning and afternoon classes, examples of the opportunities provided for learning on this course are lectures, practical experiences learning technologies and self-directed study to enhance employability.




    Assessments associated with the course are outlined below:

    Assessment for the modules will be based on 100% coursework/in-class tests/dissertation.

    Students who pass all of the taught modules but who fail to achieve a mark of at least 50 per cent in the dissertation are eligible for the award of a PG Diploma.

    Students who pass 60 CATS of modules are eligible for the award of PG Certificate

  • Entry Requirements

    Entrance requirements

    A 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a Natural Science subject, Mathematics, Computer Science, or a relevant medical or life sciences subject (e.g. Genetics, Molecular Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Physics or Statistics). A medical (MB) or dental degree (BDS) is also considered.

    Intercalating Medical and Dental Applicants

    i) QUB

    Intercalating medical and dental students within QUB will be considered if they have successfully completed the third year of their course at first attempt and achieved at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree standard. Intercalating applicants should also ensure they have permission to intercalate from either the Director of Medical Education or Dentistry as appropriate.

    ii) External

    An external medical or dental student wishing to intercalate must have successfully completed all assessments at first attempt for the year in which they are applying. External intercalating applicants should also ensure they have the permission of the Head of Undergraduate Medical/Dental Education or equivalent from their home University.

    iii) International

    • Applicants who are currently studying an overseas Medical (e.g. MBBS or MbChB) or Dental degree at a recognised institution acceptable to the University, may apply.

    • Applicants must have passed all assessments at first attempt for the year in which they are applying, normally 3rd year for those completing a 5 year programme or 4th year for those completing a 6 year programme.

    • Applicants may be required to provide details of the medical or dental curriculum they are studying in order to confirm compatibility.

    International Students

    For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

    English Language Requirements

    Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years

    International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

    For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

    • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
    • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

    INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

  • Fees and Funding

    Tuition Fees

    Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £6,450
    Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £6,450
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £7,250
    EU Other 3 £17,700
    International £17,700

    1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

    2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

    3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

    More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

    Additional course costs

    All Students

    Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

    Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.

    Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

    If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

    Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

    There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

    Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics costs

    Students have the option to hire a locker, at a cost of £5 per student per year. Students will need access to their own computing facilities as part of this programme is delivered online.

    How do I fund my study?

    The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

    A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

    More information on funding options and financial assistance.

    International Scholarships

    Information on scholarships for international students, is available at

  • Apply

    How to Apply

    Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

    Apply now

    When to Apply

    The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.

    Terms and Conditions

    The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
    Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.

    Download a prospectus