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Faculty of Mathematics

 

The MPhil in Computational Biology is an 11-month course aimed at introducing students to quantitative aspects of biological and medical sciences. It is intended for mathematicians, computer scientists and others wishing to learn about the subject in preparation for a PhD course or a career in industry. It is also suitable for students with a first degree in biosciences as long as they have strong quantitative skills (which should be documented in the application).

Preliminary courses

All students joining this course are required to attend an introductory course in Molecular Biology.  This session is usually scheduled at the start of the academic year (October) just before formal lectures commence.

Course Structure

The course combines taught lectures (October-April), followed by a summer internship project (May-August).  There are typically 3-4 taught modules per term (Michaelmas, Lent and Easter), and each module usually consists of 16 hours of lectures.  The course consists of core modules in bioinformatics, scientific programming with R, genomics, systems biology and network biology.   Courses are delivered in association with several University departments from the Schools of Biological Sciences and Physical Sciences, groups within the School of Clinical Medicine, the European Bioinformatics Institute and the Sanger Institute.

Internships

Students undertake a mandatory internship (May to August) in either a university or industrial laboratory.  The Department will compile a list of possible opportunities which students can discuss directly with the host laboratory.  Alternatively students may organise their own internship, subject to approval of the Course Director.   At the end of the internship students are required to submit a project report and present their work.  The report and presentation are both assessed.

Assessment

The taught modules for this course are assessed by coursework (typically two assignments per module). Assignments involve significant computational elements.  In addition to the taught modules, students sit a two-hour general examination in May on the material taught within the modules. Students are also required to complete an internship project which is assessed by a report of no more than 18,000 words and a presentation.

Course Director

The Course Director is Dr. Stephen Eglen. Dr. Stephen Eglen is a computational neuroscientist based in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.

Further information

Potential applicants may find the documentation provide on the ‘Current Students’ webpage informative as a guide to the structure and content of the course.  The range of modules offered year-on-year is dependent upon the availability of teaching staff, and the content of modules is regularly reviewed.  Subsequent years may therefore be similar but not necessarily identical to the information provided here.  Students joining the course will be provided with updated documentation at the start of the year.