• Status: Fully Approved
  • Start date: October 2017
  • Duration:

    2 years part-time or 1 year full-time

  • Attendance:

    2 evenings a week part-time or 2 afternoon and 2 evenings a week full-time, October to September

  • Location:

    Central London

Programme overview

This specialist postgraduate degree provides you with high-quality postgraduate training in bioinformatics, including a major research component. It provides a foundation for the development of essential bioinformatics knowledge and skills within the context of academic research, as well as an introduction to the emerging field of systems biology.

The programme is designed for students from a range of scientific backgrounds, who want to pursue research training in the interdisciplinary field of bioinformatics and systems biology. It is relevant to those seeking a future career in both academia and industry.

On successful completion of this programme, students from all backgrounds should be able to:

  • understand the core concepts and statistical fundamentals that underpin the field of bioinformatics, most notably in the area of sequence analysis
  • program in Python, and design and query databases using SQL. Experience of more advanced programming practices (such as software testing and application development) will also be gained.
  • explain core biological concepts (such as genes and genomes, protein structure and function) and growth areas such as Next Generation Sequencing and (at least at an introductory level) systems modelling.


      Our research areas include:

      • computational structural bioinformatics, with a focus on the characterisation of macromolecular assemblies relevant to disease
      • analysis of next-generation sequencing data, both genomic and transcriptomic
      • immunoinformatics, in particular virus-host interactions and immune responses to protein therapeutics
      • developing bioinformatics and chemoinformatics methods to analyse metabolic pathways
      • structure-thermodynamic relationships, molecular simulation and inhibitor design
      • biomedical text mining
      • developing new computational methods that exploit data produced using various experimental techniques (e.g. cryo-EM, mass spectrometry, NMR and tomography).

      How to apply

      You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

      Need help with your application? Watch videos featuring our academic experts giving advice on applying to Birkbeck and answering some of the most frequently asked questions.

      Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

      Application deadlines and interviews

      We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.

      Online application

      Bioinformatics with Systems Biology (MRes) (Part-time)

      Bioinformatics with Systems Biology (MRes) (Full-time)

      Why study this course at Birkbeck?

      • Provides training in bioinformatics and systems biology - growth areas of science at the beginning of the third millennium. Both of these areas have grown dramatically in the last 2 decades.
      • Aims to meet the present needs of the pharmaceutical, chemical and biotechnology industries for research and development.
      • Part of the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, a joint initiative with University College London and a major biology research hub in the heart of London.
      • Access to online learning material, computer and visualisation laboratories and multimedia seminar rooms, equipped with graphics workstations.
      • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), in a joint submission with UCL, Biological Sciences at Birkbeck were ranked 11th in the UK, with a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
      • Watch videos of our postgraduate students discussing their experience of studying at Birkbeck.

      Course structure

      Over half of the programme is devoted to a practical project which includes programming and method development as well as the use of existing techniques such as genome analysis, analysis of next-generation sequencing data, molecular simulations and molecular modelling.

      Training is also provided in searching and evaluating data in literature and online databases, and the analytical and presentational skills required by the successful research scientist.

      You take 4 course units selected from a list of 8 options.

      Option modules

      Entry requirements

      Applicants may have first degrees in a wide range of subjects, including biology, computer science, mathematics, chemistry or physics.

      Some practical knowledge of 1 programming language would be a distinct advantage.

      Mathematics to A-level or equivalent desirable, but GCSE/O-level considered.

      International entry requirements

      If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

      If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

      Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.


      Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa
      Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa
      Part-time overseas students: £ 7225 pa
      Full-time overseas students: £ 14450 pa

      Payment and Fees Discounts

      Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

      Fees discounts: If you are a Birkbeck alumni or a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

      Funding and Financial Support

      The government's new postgraduate loan scheme allows you to borrow up to £10,000 to cover the cost of your tuition fees, living costs or other study expenses – and you don't have to start repaying until 2019.

      Part-time students who are experiencing financial need may apply for assistance from the Birkbeck Alumni Fund Postgraduate Opportunity Bursary.

      Find out more about funding and financial support at postgraduate level.

      Careers and employability

      Graduates go on to careers in the biotechnology, chemical, and pharmaceutical sectors, as well as academia. Possible professions include healthcare scientist (genetics), research scientist, or higher education lecturer. This degree can also be useful in becoming a science writer or software developer.

      Find out more about these professions.

      Find out more about the destinations of graduates in this subject.

      We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

      Teaching and assessment


      Lectures and coursework early on, with increasing focus on the research project through the year. Research seminars by outside speakers and research supervision for project and thesis.


      Examinations (for certain modules only), coursework, literature review, oral presentation, project thesis and viva voce.

      Our research

      Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

      Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

      In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), in a joint submission with UCL, Biological Sciences at Birkbeck were ranked 11th in the UK, with a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.

      Read about Birkbeck research helping to identify fundamental biological and physical structures and fight disease.

      Further study opportunities

      If you are interested in further research, we offer an MPhil/PhD in Biology.