Taught course

Bioinformatics, Polyomics and Systems Biology

University of Glasgow · School of Life Sciences

Entry requirements

Academic entry requirements A second class Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Professional experience may be taken into account. You do not need to have previous experience in computer programming, but you should be numerate, as part of the programme is spent learning programming. We may admit you if your background is outside molecular biology and we are confident that you can develop your understanding of the biology background in a timely manner. If you have a degree in a molecular bioscience and want to specialise or enhance your skills in biological computing, this programme is designed for you If your background is in a non-molecular life science, or in another discipline such as Computing Science, please apply anyway, or enquire (see contacts listed on the 'Introduction' tab), as we do often take students with other backgrounds International students with academic qualifications below those required should contact our partner institution, Glasgow International College, who offer a range of pre-Masters courses. Further information regarding academic entry requirements: student.recruitment@glasgow.ac.uk

Months of entry


Course content

This Masters in Bioinformatics, Polyomics and Systems Biology is a new, exciting and innovative programme that has grown out of our well-regarded MRes in Bioinformatics. Bioinformatics is a discipline at the interface between biology and computing and is used in organismal biology, molecular biology and biomedicine. ‘Polyomics’ is a new term used to describe the modern integrated approach to biological analysis involving genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and systems-level datasets. The MSc programme focuses on using computers to glean new insights from DNA, RNA and protein sequence data and related data at the molecular level through data storage, mining, analysis and display - all of which form a core part of modern biology.

Why Glasgow

  • Our programme emphasises understanding core principles in practical bioinformatics and functional genomics, and then implementing that understanding in a series of practical-based elective courses in Semester 2 and in a summer research project.
  • You will benefit from being taught by scientists at the cutting edge of their field and you will get intensive, hands-on experience in an active research lab during the summer research project.
  • Bioinformatics and the 'Omics' technologies have evolved to play a fundamental role in almost all areas of biology and biomedicine.
  • Advanced biocomputing skills are now deemed essential for many PhD studentships/projects in molecular bioscience and biomedicine, and are of increasing importance for many other such projects.
  • The programme is closely aligned with 'Glasgow Polyomics' (formerly the Sir Henry Wellcome Functional Genomics Facility) and its activities. Glasgow Polyomics is a new world class facility that provides research services using microarray, proteomics, metabolomics and next-generation DNA sequencing technology. Its scientists have pioneered the 'polyomics' approach, in which new insights come from the integration of data across different omics levels.
  • The Semester 2 elective courses are built around real research scenarios, enabling you not only to gain practical experience of working with large molecular datasets, but also to see why each scenario uses the particular approaches it does and how to go about organizing and implementing appropriate analysis pipelines.
  • You will be based in the College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences, an ideal environment in which to train in bioinformatics; our College has carried out internationally-recognised research in functional genomics and systems biology.
  • We have several world-renowned research centres at the University, such as the Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology, do research employing bioinformatic approaches in the study of disease.
  • You will learn computer programming in courses run by staff in the internationally reputed School of Computing Science, in conjunction with their MSc in Information Technology.

Programme Structure

Bioinformatics helps biologists gain new insights about genomes (genomics) and genes, about RNA expression products of genes (transcriptomics) and about proteins (proteomics); rapid advances have also been made in the study of cellular metabolites (metabolomics) and in a newer area: systems biology

‘Polyomics’ involves the integration of data from these ‘functional genomics’ areas - genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics - to derive new insights about how biological systems function

The programme structure is designed to equip students with understanding and hands-on experience of both computing and biological research practices relating to bioinformatics and functional genomics, to show students how the computing approaches and biological questions they are being used to answer are connected, and to give students an insight into new approaches for integration of data and analysis across the 'omics' domains.

On this programme, you will develop a range of computing and programming skills, as well as skills in data handling, analysis and interpretation, and you will be brought up to date with recent advances in biological science

The programme has the following overall structure

  • Core material - 60 credits, Semester 1, made up of 10- and 20-credit courses
  • Elective material - 60 credits, Semester 2, students select 6 10-credit courses from those available
  • Project - 60 credits, 14 weeks embedded in a research group over the summer

Core courses include:

  • Programming (Java)
  • Information Systems and Databases
  • Foundations of Bioinformatics
  • Omics and Systems Approaches in Biology
  • There is also an obligatory 60-credit summer research project lasting 14 weeks; normally this will be with one of the research laboratories in Glasgow associated with the programme, but there is also the opportunity to study in suitable laboratories in other parts of the world.

Optional courses include:

  • RNA-seq and next generation transcriptomics
  • Metagenomics
  • Genetic data handling and analysis
  • Parasite drug resistance - a polyomics approach
  • Phyloinformatics
  • Systems biology approaches to omics data analysis
  • Protein structure informatics and drug discovery.

Career Prospects

Most of our graduates embark on a research career path/PhD either in the UK or abroad using the skills they've acquired on our programme that are now of primary relevance in many areas of modern biology and biomedicine. A postgraduate degree in bioinformatics is also valued by many employers in the life sciences sector - e.g. core bioinformatician posts in research groups in basic biological or medical sciences, computing biology jobs in biotechnology/biosciences/neuroinformatics/pharma industry. Some of our graduates have entered science-related careers in scientific publishing or education; others have gone into computing-related jobs in non-bioscience industry or the public sector.

Information for international students

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training): Overall score 6.5; no sub-test less than 6.0. IBTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 20*

Please refer to our website for more information


Fees and funding

UK students
International students

For current funding and scholarship information, please refer to the websitehttp://www.gla.ac.uk/scholarships/http://www.gla.ac.uk/postgraduate/feesandfunding/#/feestatus

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months


full time
9 months


full time
9 months

Course contact details

Dr Mark E S Bailey