Course overview

Every field in life sciences has been transformed by the use of computers. Bioinformatics is a rapidly developing field at the interface between life sciences and computational science focused on addressing key questions in biology through the development and application of methods, data analytics, and software tools. The ability to develop and apply computational methods to large and complex datasets will be a key driver of biological innovation in the next decades.

MSc Bioinformatics at Nottingham is aimed at students with a background in biological sciences who wish to develop skills in bioinformatics, computer programming, and data analytics skills for industry, future research careers, and more. The course is not aimed at students with a background in computer science.

The study programme incorporates the areas of:

  • Computational biology, programming, and practice
  • Evolutionary genomics and bioinformatics
  • Genomics
  • Cutting-edge molecular biology technologies
  • Advanced experimental design and analysis

See what our graduates think of this course, and how it will shape their futures: Bioinformatics' students

Why choose this course?

Record holders

Nottingham holds the record for longest DNA sequence read – highlighting our expertise.

Comprehensive studies

You will receive tuition in all aspects of bioinformatics to prepare you for any project.

World-Leading research

100% of UoA24 (Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism) and 84% of the UoA5 (Biological Sciences) research submitted was judged to be "world-leading" (4*), or "Internationally Excellent" (3*).

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Gold-standard teaching

Our teaching is recognised as the highest standard

Course content

You will learn:

  • a basic understanding of programming methods and best practices – our model language will be Python, but students will acquire the skills to learn any language
  • methods to analyse the biological content and scientific value of “big data” sets produced from multiple technologies
  • the best ways to extract biological meaning from disparate data
  • technical knowledge of sequence analysis including high throughput short and long-read sequencing
  • methods and application of assembly and mapping
  • evolutionary genomics and phylogeny
  • bioinformatics pipelines and automation methods to simplify day-to-day analyses


Advanced Experimental Design and Analysis 10 credits

This module explores the statistical basis behind experimental design and analysis. You will be taught how to evaluate experimental design and analysis from the perspective of those analysing the subsequent data, a key step often overlooked. Assessment will be by examination.

Core Research Methods: Transferable Research Skills 10 credits

In this module, you will gain a grounding in planning, preparing and executing research in the field of molecular biology, microbiology immunology and genetics. You will learn how to plan research projects, assess published literature, analyse data and gain experience presenting research data and preparing publications.

Computational Biology, Programming and Practice 20 credits

In this module, you will learn the fundamentals of everything from for loops to functions and classes. As this MSc is practical in nature, you will be taught in the framework of a commonly used language, Python. However, the teaching will be focussed on developing tools and techniques to allow you to solve problems and continue your learning. Any language you learn now will be out of date within a few years at best. So, we will equip you with the tools to learn new techniques and methods as they appear.

This module is non compensatable and will be assessed through weekly progress checks and assignments.

Comparative and Evolutionary Genomics 20 credits

In this module you will learn the basis of evolutionary genomics and how to apply modern bioinformatics tools and methods to analysis of genome wide data sets. The course will cover phylogeny and alignment through to assembly and comparison of genomes. You will be assessed through a mix of exams and practical assessments.

Bioinformatics Group Research Project 60 credits

This semester long full-time module consists of three independent research projects carried out in groups/teams. This module is worth 60 credits and consists of instructor lead group analysis of exemplar problems in bioinformatics analysis. Here you will practice your newly acquired bioinformatics skills with the support of academics and your peers. You will work on these projects in small groups with individuals taking responsibility for different components of the analysis and presentation. This allows you to learn from one another to experience the working environment often found within real projects, and develop and fine tune your skills. There are three rotations, each of which will be led by a different academic and will last for three weeks. The module is assessed in three parts, each contributing equal weight to the final mark. The three assessments are a presentation, a GitHub page, and a project report.  

Bioinformatics Individual Research Project 60 credits

After the group project, you will complete an individual project. These projects will be embedded within a working laboratory. However, although supervision will be available, you will be expected to plan and deliver the work yourself. The project will be assessed by thesis and viva.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Thursday 20 July 2023.

Due to timetabling availability, there may be restrictions on some module combinations.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Problem-based learning
  • Small group learning
  • Computer-based exercises
  • Project work
  • Lectures
  • Seminars

Teaching methods and module delivery are determined by content but it is anticipated that at least half of your time will be spent completing practical tasks in computer labs or active research projects. The teaching week is split into teaching days and days where you are free to complete assignments.

Most of the formal teaching will occur during the autumn semester with some in the spring.

How you will be assessed

  • Group project
  • Project work
  • Coursework

Students will focus on a group bioinformatics project during semester two with a final project running into the summer. Students are required to complete six compulsory modules (20 credits each), a group project (60 credits), and an individual final project (60 credits) on a topic relevant to bioinformatics.

The pass mark for the MSc is 50%. Students failing to achieve that grade may be given the opportunity to obtain a Diploma in recognition of work already completed if they achieve a grade between 40-49%. Diploma students do not undertake a final 60-credit project.

Contact time and study hours

As a guide, one credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. For the taught-stage of the course, you will spend approximately a third of your time (around 400 hours) in lectures, tutorials, workshops, practical classes, including the directed study which is necessary in preparation for workshops/practical classes. The remaining time will be completed as independent study. Tutorial sessions are built into the timetable and there are several group and individual meetings timetabled throughout the year. Additional meetings can be requested as needed.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 in biological or related sciences – qualifications in other fields will be judged on an individual basis by the course lead.


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


Qualification MSc
Home / UK 12,500
International 28,600

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

One key focus of this course is the use of open-access software and tools. As such, you do not need to consider costly software subscriptions. However, students are expected to provide their own laptops which will enable them to connect to central servers for data analysis. Recommended minimum specifications are available from the course director.

You should be able to access most of the books you'll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles as appropriate. The course relies heavily on online course materials which are free to access for the student.


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

We have designed this intensive taught course to deliver a wide range of bioinformatics skills grounded in a solid understanding and appreciation of the underlying biology sciences. Graduates of the course are equipped with the skills to pursue employment or further study in a variety of areas.

We anticipate that many of our graduates will go on to undertake PhDs applying their bioinformatics skills to a wide range of problems and questions. In addition, we anticipate students will go on to a wide range of bioinformatics careers in industries such as healthcare and basic science research.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
Play video

MSc Bioinformatics - what does it look like in practice?

An in-depth talk with Matt Loose about Bioinformatics

This content was last updated on Thursday 20 July 2023. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.