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MPhil Courses in Mathematics and Related Subjects

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.

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. There is also a Recommended Reading List.

Course Structure

The course combines taught lectures (October-April), followed by a summer research 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, cancer evolution and systems biology, though course content may vary from year to year. Courses are delivered in association with several departments from across the University, and neighbouring institutes.

Research Project

Students undertake a mandatory research project (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 project and submit a proposal, subject to approval of the Course Director.   At the end of the research project students are required to submit a project report and present their work.  The report and presentation are both assessed.


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 a  research project which is assessed by a project report of no more than 15,000 words and a presentation.

Course Directors

The Course Directors are Professor Stephen Eglen and Professor Gos Micklem. Professor Eglen is a computational neuroscientist based in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. Professor Micklem is Professor of Computational and Molecular Biology in the Department of Genetics.

For further information please see Applications and Funding