Skip to main content

MSc | Postgraduate Taught

Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
Places available
Please note, the start date of this course may have changed. Check for latest updates.
  • Overview

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

    Bioinformatics covers the application of mathematics, statistics and computing to biological and clinical scenarios. It involves the application and development of algorithms and software to understand and interpret ‘Big Data', which is driving medical research, discovery and practice.


    You will be looking at clinical and omics data to find complex patterns, which relate to patient response to treatments and prognosis. You will discover results that translate to the real world, through commercialisation or clinical trials to tackle diseases. 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 (, the Centre for Experimental Medicine (, and the Centre for Public Health ( This is complemented by guest lectures from industrial and clinical collaborators.

    Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics highlights

    'Big data' can 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.

    Global Opportunities

    Internationally Renowned Experts

    • You'll be involved with our Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, 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.
    Our course has been designed to equip the next generation of bioinformatics graduates with the skills and knowledge to tackle the major challenge in medical research: how to translate ‘big data’ analysis into personalised treatments for patients.

    Darragh McArt, Lecturer in Translational Bioinformatics

    Brexit Advice

    Information on the implications of Brexit for prospective students.

  • 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 DetailsA fascinating and challenging set of subjects, this Masters degree will provide students with a background in computational or life sciences, to move across to an exciting new area of discovery, technology and applications.
    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, 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 Bioinformatic Scientist at Almac Group
    Bioinformatician at Fios Genomics Ltd
    Biomedical Scientist and Junior Bioinformatician, BioKinetic Europe

    Professional Opportunities
    Queen'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.

    As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.

    • 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) £6,140
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) £6,900
    Other (non-UK) EU £6,140
    International £16,900

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2020-21. 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

    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