January 2021
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Postgraduate Programmes


MSc Systems Biology

Systems biology is an interdisciplinary, emerging field which combines biological systems with the traditionally more separate disciplines of physics, mathematics, engineering and computer science.

Biological systems display self-ordered and emergent properties that are not displayed by their individual components – life being the most obvious emergent property. A contrasting feature of biological systems which distinguishes them from non-living systems, is their inherent variability and the action of natural selection on all of the interacting components.

The goal of systems biology is to distill principles behind the generation, diversification and maintenance of biological processes. The aim; to allow biologists to work in an increasingly predictive manner in the study of living cells, drawing on mathematical models which have a proven track record in other physical and engineering sciences.

As one of the five key themes which feature as part of the University’s £80 million science strategy, systems biology at Exeter combines the expertise of academics within biology, mathematics, computing, engineering and physics, to understand biological processes across scales, from sub-cellular phenomenon up to the ecological level.

As an MSc student on the programme, you will benefit from teaching and research across this breadth of academic knowledge. You will be trained in a modern systems-based approach exposing you to a range of state-of-the-art high throughput data generation platforms, including next generation sequencing and mass spectroscopy along with computational/modelling approaches. The programme will develop your biological and modelling skills through a combination of taught modules and jointly supervised project work.

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the programme, the programme is available to students from a wide range of first-degree backgrounds including biology, computer science, medicine, engineering and mathematics.

MSc/MRes/PgDip/PgCert Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics encompasses all aspects of biological information acquisition, processing, storage, distribution, analysis and interpretation. This programme provides an overview of current developments and introduces appropriate and novel tools and techniques from computer science, biology and mathematical statistics. The programme also addresses the current uses of bioinformatics in biotechnology, ethical issues and the use of future technologies for bioinformatics research. In addition, the research project gives you an opportunity to undertake a substantial, individually motivated and practically oriented piece of work, which allows you to apply your knowledge in real biological domains.

The programme will form an ideal grounding for your future career. It has a significant research component which accounts for about half of the programme, as well as professional skills training.

The high proportion of research content within the programme (>50% of credits) permits you to qualify with either an MSc or MRes qualification. Please discuss your preference with the Programme Director at the time of registration.

MSc Medical Informatics

Medical informatics is the scientific field that deals with the storage, retrieval, sharing and optimal use of biomedical information, data and knowledge for problem solving and decision making.

There is a growing interest among medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies in biomedical informatics, especially in modelling, simulations, gene expression control, clinical databases, probabilistic modelling and machine learning. Medical informatics impacts on all basic and applied fields in biomedical science and is closely tied to modern information technologies, notably in the areas of e-science and bioinformatics.

The overall aim of the programme, which is a variant of our successful Bioinformatics MSc, is to cover tools and techniques that help scientists create and validate models, and thereby enhance our understanding of biological and biomedicinal processes.

Our MSc Medical Informatics reflects medical informatics as a truly multidisciplinary field: it is taught by the School of Biosciences; the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry; the Wellcome Biocatalysis Centre and the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society (EGENIS). Research projects are undertaken in the Wellcome Biocatalysis Centre or the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (Postgraduate Health Institute), or among a range of industrial placements.

The programme involves research, development and application of computational tools for storing, organising and analysing biological, molecular and medical data, eg DNA, protein sequences, SNiPs data and micro-array data. The programme is split 50:50 between taught modules and a research project.

The programme will form an ideal grounding for your future career. It has a significant research component which accounts for about half of the programme, as well as professional skills training.