Bioinformatics is a discipline at the interface between biology, computing and statistics. With a strong focus on using computers to glean new insights from DNA, RNA, protein sequence data and other related data at the molecular level through data storage, mining, analysis and graphical presentation.
Why this programme
- The aim of this programme is to equip students with understanding and hands-on experience of both computing and biological research practices relating to bioinformatics and functional genomics.
- TOP 20 in the UK for Biological Sciences (Complete University Guide 2020)
- The aim of this programme is to equip students with understanding and hands-on experience of both computing and biological research practices relating to bioinformatics and functional genomics.
- Benefit from being taught by scientists at the cutting edge of their field with intensive, hands-on experience in an active research lab during the summer research project.
- Based in the College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences, which has carried out internationally-leading research in functional genomics and systems biology. It’s an ideal environment in which to train.
- Emphasis is placed on understanding core principles in practical bioinformatics and functional genomics, then implementing that understanding in a series of practical elective courses in semester 2 and a summer research project.
- Gain practical experience of working with large molecular datasets, with semester 2 courses built around real research scenarios, enabling you to see why each scenario uses the particular approaches it does and how to go about organising and implementing appropriate analysis pipelines.
- Advanced biocomputing skills are also now deemed essential for many PhD studentships/projects in molecular bioscience and biomedicine, and are of increasing importance for many other such projects.
- Learn computer programming in courses run by staff in the internationally reputed School of Computing Science, in conjunction with their MSc in Information Technology.
- Some of the teaching and research scenarios you’ll be exposed to reflect the activities of 'Glasgow Polyomics', a world-class omics facility set up within the university in 2012 to provide research services using microarray, proteomics, metabolomics and next-generation DNA sequencing technologies.
- Scientists here have pioneered the 'polyomics' approach, in which new insights come from the integration of data across different omics levels.
- In addition, we have several world-renowned research centres at the University, such as the Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology, the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research and the Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre, whose scientists do ground-breaking research employing bioinformatic approaches in the study of disease.
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’ is an intrinsically systems-level approach involving 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 (including statistics) and interpretation, and you will be brought up to date with recent advances in biological science that have been informed by bioinformatics approaches.
The programme has the following overall structure:
- core material of 60 credits in semester 1, made up of 10, 15 and 20 credit courses.
- optional material of 60 credits in semester 2: students select 4 courses (two 10 credit courses and two 20 credit courses) from those available.
- Project of 60 credits over 14 weeks embedded in a research group over the summer.
Core courses include:
- Programming (Java)
- Database Theory and Application
- Foundations of Bioinformatics
- Omics and Systems Approaches in Biology
- 60-credit summer research project lasting 14 weeks; normally this will be in 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.
Semester 2 courses (core and optional) include:
- RNA-seq and Next Generation Transcriptomics
- Pathogen Polyomics
- Using Chemical Structure Databases in Drug Discovery for Protein Targets
- Identification of Disease-Causing Genetic Variants
- A range of more general biology and computing biology courses are also available in semester 2.
Find out more about core and optional courses
Additional information about the programme can be found in the Bioinformatics MSc Programme Structure 2017-18.
Please note: students undertaking the three month PgCert will also be required to take two exams in March/April.
Programme alteration or discontinuation
The University of Glasgow endeavours to run all programmes as advertised. In exceptional circumstances, however, the University may withdraw or alter a programme. For more information, please see: Student contract.
Most of our graduates embark on a University or Institute-based research career path, here in the UK or abroad, using the skills they've acquired on our programme.
These skills are now of primary relevance in many areas of modern biology and biomedicine with many successful in getting a PhD studentship.
Others are employed as a core bioinformatician (now a career path within academia in its own right) or as a research assistant in a research group in basic biological or medical science.
A postgraduate degree in bioinformatics is also valued by many employers in the life sciences sector - eg computing biology jobs in biotechnology, biosciences, neuroinformatics and the pharma industries.
Some of our graduates have entered science-related careers in scientific publishing or education. While others have gone into computing-related jobs in non-bioscience industry or the public sector.
Fees & funding
Tuition fees for 2019-20
Home and EU
- Full-time fee: £8000
- Full-time fee: £21020
Home and EU
- Full-time fee: £5333
- Full-time fee: £14013
Home and EU
- Full-time fee: £2667
- Full-time fee: £7007
Fee information is subject to change and is for guidance only
International applicants (from beyond the EU) are required to pay a deposit of £1000 when an offer is made.
Deposits terms & conditions
The University requires a deposit to be paid by International (beyond the EU) applicants in receipt of an offer to this programmes and who require a Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from the University in order that they can apply for a student visa. This is required where the programme is competitive and the deposit is required in order to demonstrate your commitment to attend the programme should you meet all the conditions of your offer.
If you are made an offer for this programme the University will write to you and request a deposit with information on how to pay your deposit and the deadline for making the deposit payment. Please note that if you are unable to pay a deposit because you are planning to fund your studies through an official financial sponsor then you should upload a copy of your scholarship application or award letter to your application by the deadline date.
The following guidelines will apply in determining whether or not a deposit will be refunded. Where the deposit is refunded, a 10% handling fee will be deducted.
Deposits WILL be refunded to applicants under the following circumstances:
- Where the University is unable to offer you a place.
- Where the applicant has personal circumstances such as illness, bereavement or other family situations that has prevented them coming to the UK. Medical or other proof may be requested.
- Applicant can prove that they have applied for a visa to attend the University of Glasgow, but the VISA has been refused. The applicant must have shown ‘real intent' to study at the University of Glasgow but has been unable to obtain their visa.
- Applicant does not meet his / her conditions of offer: this may be academic or language test requirements. Satisfactory evidence must be uploaded to the student’s online application to prove that they have not met the conditions of their offer (note that applicants who do not meet the language condition of their offer must show reasonable attempt to meet this, i.e. they must provide a language test which was taken after the date that the deposit was paid).
Deposits WILL NOT be refunded to applicants under the following circumstances:
- Applicant decides to go to another institution.
- Applicant cannot be released from work to study at the University of Glasgow.
- Applicant does not send completed documentation as requested in the condition of the offer: this may be required in order to prove that the offer has not been met for academic or language test conditions - failure to respond to requests for this information will result in no refund.
- Applicant has not secured funding to attend the University of Glasgow: this may be as a result of not being successful in applications for scholarships, OR simply not having sufficient funds in bank at time of visa application. This condition will apply unless it can be proven that there are clear mitigating circumstances which have significantly changed the applicant’s position since the time of application.
- Applicant has decided to defer – in this situation the University will retain the deposit and credit it against the applicant’s account for securing their place for the following year of entry.
Refund requests must be made within 60 days of the programme start date stated on your offer letter: requests made after this date will be subject to discretion.
- Fee for re-assessment of a dissertation (PGT programme): £360
- Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed: £320
- Registration/exam only fee: £150
Please note this programme is not yet approved for US Federal Loans funding. If you wish to apply for US Federal Loans funding to study on this programme please notify Carol Barnett (email@example.com).
Scotland's Saltire Scholarships
Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships is a programme of scholarships offered by the Scottish Government in collaboration with Scottish universities. Our chosen scholars are people who aspire to become influential leaders in their future careers. They have wide ranging interests outside their studies and a desire to broaden their personal and academic experience in Scotland.
Scholarships are available to citizens of the following countries: Canada, China (including Hong Kong), Japan, India, Pakistan and USA. Saltire Scholars will also have the opportunity to take part in a programme of activities over and above their studies, including dialogue with the academic and business community in Scotland.More Information
University of Glasgow/Glasgow International College Achievement Award
In conjunction with GIC we are pleased to reward our best-performing students who finish the Foundation or Pre-masters course with excellent grades and attendance. This is awarded as a one off tuition fee discount of £3,000More Information
Postgraduate Student Loan (NI)
If you are a Northern Irish student looking to study a taught Masters programme* in Glasgow then you can apply for a student loan in exactly the same way as you would for a University in Northern Ireland.
Northern Irish students are able to apply for non-means-tested tuition fee loans of up to £5,500, to help with the costs of funding
For more information visit
* does not apply to Erasmus Mundus programmesMore Information
PG International Excellence Award
The Award is available to international students entering any of the University’s Colleges and will be awarded as a tuition fee discount.More Information
African Excellence Scholarship (UKEAS)
The University of Glasgow is offering 1 exclusive scholarship to students from either Nigeria or Ghana who have been supported in their application by our representative UKEAS. The scholarship is available to students entering any of the University’s Colleges to undertake a one year Masters programme.More Information
University of Glasgow Chancellors Award
The University of Glasgow has a total of 20 Chancellors Awards available. The Award is available to students entering any of the University’s Colleges and are awarded as a tuition fee discount.More Information
University International Leadership Scholarship
The University of Glasgow has 20 International Leadership Scholarships available to international (non-EU) students starting a postgraduate taught Masters programme in any discipline in September. The scholarship is awarded as a tuition fees discount.
University of Glasgow African Excellence Fee Waiver
For September 2019 academic session we are offering 10 scholarship worth the full tuition fee of a one year Masters programme to to academically excellent students from Africa.
If you study here you will benefit from our extensive knowledge, state-of-the-art facilities and pioneering teaching methods. Studying at Glasgow will prepare you for a wide variety of careers that are in demand internationally and also for future research and study.More Information
African Excellence Scholarship (Uniserv)
The University of Glasgow is offering 1 exclusive scholarship to students from either Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda who have been supported in their application by our representative in these countries – Uniserv Ltd. The scholarship is available to students entering any of the University’s Colleges to undertake a one year Masters programme.More Information
Postgraduate Talent Scholarships
The University of Glasgow awards Postgraduate Talent Scholarships each academic year to support students who could face financial difficulties in taking up their place to study at the University. The value of each scholarship is £2,000 and they are for students undertaking a one or two year Taught Masters programme, in any of the University’s Colleges. For two year Taught Masters programmes, the scholarship is available in year one only.More Information
Glasgow Kerala Scholarship
Following the severe floods which impacted the Indian state of Kerala, the University of Glasgow is offering 4 exclusive scholarships to students from this area and who are facing challenges in progressing onto postgraduate education. The scholarship is available to students entering any of the University’s Colleges to undertake a one year Masters programme in 2019-2020.More Information
PGT Excellence Scholarship
The University of Glasgow has a total of 28 PGT Excellence Awards available to UK and EU Students. Scholarships are available to students entering any of the University’s colleges and are awarded as a tuition fee discount.More Information
Sir Fitzroy Maclean Postgraduate Scholarship
The University of Glasgow is pleased to award a Sir Fitzroy Maclean Postgraduate scholarship available to new students, from one of the eligible countries, for September 2019 entry.
Sir Fitzroy Maclean was a Scottish soldier, author and politician. Awarded an Honorary degree of DLitt from the University in 1969, Sir Fitzroy Maclean had a long relationship with the University before he died in 1996. This scholarship was established with respect to Sir Fitzroy’s interests and passions.
The Scholarship will be awarded as a tuition fee discount and stipend.More Information
The University offers a 10% discount on all Postgraduate Research and full Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. This includes University of Glasgow graduates and those who have completed a Study Abroad programme or the Erasmus Programme at the University of Glasgow. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes.More Information
Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loans England only (PTFL)
If you’re starting a master’s degree, you could get a Postgraduate Master’s Loan of up to £10,609 to help with course fees and living costs. You have to repay your Postgraduate Master’s Loan at the same time as any other student loans you have. You’ll be charged interest from the day you get the first payment.
If you’re studying by distance learning, you can also apply.
Examples of postgraduate master’s qualifications include:
- MSc (Master of Science)
- MA (Master of Arts)
- MPhil (Master of Philosophy)
- MRes (Master of Research)
- LLM (Master of Law)
- MLitt (Master of Letters)
- MFA (Master of Fine Art)
- MEd (Master of Education)
- MBA (Master of Business Administration)
If you plan to study for Master of Architecture (MArch) or an Integrated Master’s qualification, you should apply for undergraduate supportMore Information
Wheatley Foundation Bursary
A Wheatley Foundation bursary is a grant that customers living in our homes can apply for to support them to achieve their educational goals and help them on the career path they wish to undertake. It will also aim to offer employability support like CV support and internships where appropriate. A bursary award can support you for the costs of books, equipment, travel costs, childcare or other living costs that will help you to complete a course.More Information
Postgraduate Student Loan (Scotland and EU)
From session 2018-2019 eligible full-time students, undertaking an eligible postgraduate course, can apply for a tuition fee loan up to a maximum of £5,500. Eligible part-time students can apply for a tuition fee loan up to a maximum of £5,500 for the course, split across each year of their course, where the course does not take any longer than twice the length of the full-time equivalent course.
From session 2018-2019, new students will be eligible to apply for support to undertake postgraduate diploma and full masters’ level courses via distance learning.
Please see the Postgraduate funding guide.
For more information visit the SAAS websiteMore Information
Postgraduate Loans for Welsh Students
If you are a Welsh student looking to study a postgraduate programme in Glasgow then you can apply for a student loan in exactly the same way as you would for a Welsh University.
Postgraduate Masters Loan
If you’re starting a masters degree*, you could get a Postgraduate Masters Loan of up to £10,280 to help with course fees and living costs.
* does not apply to Erasmus Mundus programmes
For more information visit Student Finance Wales
Postgraduate Doctoral Loan
If you’re starting a doctoral degree on or after 1 August 2018, you could get a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan of up to £25,000 to help with course fees and living costs.
For more information visit Student Finance Wales
The University of Glasgow is offering 4 scholarships (one per college) for applicants to the University who are staying in the UK on humanitarian grounds and are facing challenges in progressing onto Higher Education. The scholarship is open to prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students of the University of Glasgow applying for entry in 2019. The scholarship meets the full cost of tuition fees for the duration of your programme as well providing an additional £4,000 per year stipend, if the eligibility criteria for university accommodation is met this will also be provided for the duration of your degree. For more information on the accommodation criteria please see the Residential Services section on the website.
We are also offering 4 scholarships to students who hold refugee status. This scholarship is awarded as a £5,000 per year stipend toward living costs per year of study.More Information
The Clan Gregor Society Prize
The Clan Gregor Society are offering an award to new entrants to the University of Glasgow who descend from Clan Gregor. Prospective students will be asked to submit an application highlighting areas of consideration such as academic excellence and financial need. The award is open to both Undergraduate and postgraduate applicants.
The scholarships above are specific to this programme. For more funding opportunities search the scholarships database
Normally an upper second-class Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Professional experience may be taken into account. Applicants with a lower second-class Honours degree in a relevant subject will be considered on a case by case basis.
Relevant degree subjects are
- all biology degrees with a substantial molecular biology or genetics component.
- other biology degrees with at least some molecular biology.
- computing science, software engineering or IT.
- mathematics or statistics (with evidence of experience in computer programming).
- other physical sciences subjects with either evidence of experience in computer programming or evidence of a strong background in molecular biology.
For all other degree backgrounds, please consult the programme director for advice before applying.
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 and many of the courses involve statistical analysis. 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 the contact listed above), 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.
English language requirements
For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)
- overall score 6.5
- no sub-test less than 6.0
- or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification:
Common equivalent English language qualifications
All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:
- ibTOEFL: 90; no sub-test less than:
- Reading: 20
- Listening: 19
- Speaking: 19
- Writing: 23
- CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
- CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
- PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII at Distinction with Distinction in all sub-tests
For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.
The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:
- School of Modern Languages and Cultures: English for Academic Study
- BALEAP guide to accredited courses
What do I do if...
my language qualifications are below the requirements?
The University's English for Academic Study Unit offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.
my language qualifications are not listed here?
Please contact the Recruitment and International Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office: email@example.com
We are proud of our diverse University community which attracts students and staff from over 140 different countries.
How to apply
To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We cannot accept applications any other way.
Please check you meet the Entry requirements for this programme before you begin your application.
As part of your online application, you also need to submit the following supporting documents:
- A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s) (if you have already completed your degree)
- A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
- Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
- One reference letter on headed paper
- Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
- Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
- A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)
You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process.
You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload supporting documents such as your final transcript or your language test.
For more information about submitting documents or other topics related to applying to a postgraduate taught programme, check Frequently Asked Questions
Guidance notes for using the online application
These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately; they are also available within the help section of the online application form.
If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.
- Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
- Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
- Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
- Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
- Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
- English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
- Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
Reference: Please provide one reference. This should typically be an academic reference but in cases where this is not possible then a reference from a current employer may be accepted instead. Certain programmes, such as the MBA programme, may also accept an employer reference. If you already have a copy of a reference on letter headed paper then please upload this to your application. If you do not already have a reference to upload then please enter your referee’s name and contact details on the online application and we will contact your referee directly.
Standard application deadlines
- International applications (non-EU): 21 July 2019
- UK and EU applications: 25 August 2019
Classes start September 2019 and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.Apply now