MSc ACS: Digital Biology

Year of entry: 2024

Overview

Degree awarded
MSc
Duration
12 Months. [Full-Time September-September Only]
Entry requirements

We operate a selective staged admissions process. We give preference to students with the strongest grades from high-ranking institutions.

Successful applicants typically hold a First-class honours degree (70% average) from a UK university, or the overseas equivalent, in a Computer Science degree with a minimum of 50% Computer Science content.

We require that all applicants have a strong background in Computer Science reflected, for example, in solid programming and software development skills

We accept a range of qualifications, and welcome applications from overseas applicants. A typical successful offer-holder will evidence:

  • China:  a minimum of 87% in a 4-year bachelor's degree from a well ranked institution.
  • India: a minimum of 65% (First Class with Distinction) in a BSc Eng, BEng or BTech degree, depending on the institution.

For further information on international entry requirements, please contact  pgt.compsci@manchester.ac.uk

Full entry requirements

How to apply

As the entry requirements are the same across all Advanced Computer Science programmes, we ask that applicants place only one application for their preferred pathway. Those who receive an offer will be able to switch between Advanced Computer Science programmes up until the start date of the course.

When applying for a specific pathway applicants must select Advanced Computer Science on the application portal to be presented with the optional pathways.

As there is high demand for this course we operate a staged admissions process with selection deadlines throughout the year. Please see below for the staged admissions schedule.

Apply online

Sustainable Development Goals

Find out how this course aligns to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including learning which relates to:

  • Goal 4: Quality education
  • Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
  • Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

Course options

Full-time Part-time Full-time distance learning Part-time distance learning
MSc Y N N N

Course description

These are exciting times in biology and medicine. The genomics revolution is opening up whole new areas of research - from new insights into how organisms function, to new understandings of disease and disease processes. Medicine is currently involved in the largest and most ambitious IT project in the world - the capture and interpretation of electronic patient records. This information will make health care much more effective and can help spot new diseases early - whilst they can still be contained and controlled. At the heart of all these developments are data and knowledge - and a real need and demand for the skills and techniques that computer scientists can bring these problem areas. Biology and healthcare now provide some of the fastest growing and most challenging areas for computer scientists to apply their skills.

The Digital Biology pathway is centered around a central theme of Biohealth Informatics. The theme is specifically designed for computer scientists without any previous experience of medicine or biology and will help you to develop the core skills needed to work or research (as a computer scientist) in these rapidly evolving fields. This core theme is complemented by a range of other themes that allow students to develop additional skills which have important applications in healthcare and biology.

With our Digital Biology MSc, you will follow one mandatory academic theme, which combines two related course units.  You will also have the opportunity to tailor your learning and pursue other topics that interest you, by choosing three optional themes.

Open days

For details of the next University Postgraduate open day, visit open days and visits

Fees

For entry in the academic year beginning September 2024, the tuition fees are as follows:

  • MSc (full-time)
    UK students (per annum): £14,500
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £36,000

Further information for EU students can be found on our dedicated EU page.

The fees quoted above will be fully inclusive for the course tuition, administration and computational costs during your studies.

All fees for entry will be subject to yearly review and incremental rises per annum are also likely over the duration of courses lasting more than a year for UK/EU students (fees are typically fixed for International students, for the course duration at the year of entry). For general fees information please visit: postgraduate fees . Always contact the department if you are unsure which fee applies to your qualification award and method of attendance.

Self-funded international applicants for this course will be required to pay a deposit of £1000 towards their tuition fees before a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) is issued. This deposit will only be refunded if immigration permission is refused. We will notify you about how and when to make this payment.

Policy on additional costs

All students should normally be able to complete their programme of study without incurring additional study costs over and above the tuition fee for that programme. Any unavoidable additional compulsory costs totalling more than 1% of the annual home undergraduate fee per annum, regardless of whether the programme in question is undergraduate or postgraduate taught, will be made clear to you at the point of application. Further information can be found in the University's Policy on additional costs incurred by students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes (PDF document, 91KB).

Scholarships/sponsorships

We offer a number of postgraduate taught scholarships and awards to outstanding UK and international students each year.

The University of Manchester is committed to widening participation in master's study, and allocates £300,000 in funding each year. Our Manchester Master's Bursaries are aimed at widening access to master's courses by removing barriers to postgraduate education for students from underrepresented groups.

For more information, see the Department of Computer Science Fees and funding page or visit The University of Manchester funding for master's courses website for more information.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the world's call to action on the most pressing challenges facing humanity. At The University of Manchester, we address the SDGs through our research and particularly in partnership with our students.

Led by our innovative research, our teaching ensures that all our graduates are empowered, inspired and equipped to address the key socio-political and environmental challenges facing the world.

To illustrate how our teaching will empower you as a change maker, we've highlighted the key SDGs that our courses address.

  • Goal 4: Quality education

    Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

  • Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

  • Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

    Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

    Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

Contact details

Department
Department of Computer Science
Contact name
Postgraduate Admissions Team
Telephone
+44 (0)161 543 4018
Email
Website
https://www.manchester.ac.uk/cs
School/Faculty

The School of Engineering creates a world of possibilities for students pursuing skills and understanding. Through dynamic research and teaching we develop engineering solutions that make a difference to society in an ethical and sustainable way.  Science-based engineering is at the heart of what we do, and through collaboration we support the engineers and scientists of tomorrow to become technically strong, analytically innovative and creative. Find out more about Science and Engineering at Manchester .

Courses in related subject areas

Use the links below to view lists of courses in related subject areas.

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview

We operate a selective staged admissions process. We give preference to students with the strongest grades from high-ranking institutions.

Successful applicants typically hold a First-class honours degree (70% average) from a UK university, or the overseas equivalent, in a Computer Science degree with a minimum of 50% Computer Science content.

We require that all applicants have a strong background in Computer Science reflected, for example, in solid programming and software development skills

We accept a range of qualifications, and welcome applications from overseas applicants. A typical successful offer-holder will evidence:

  • China:  a minimum of 87% in a 4-year bachelor's degree from a well ranked institution.
  • India: a minimum of 65% (First Class with Distinction) in a BSc Eng, BEng or BTech degree, depending on the institution.

For further information on international entry requirements, please contact  pgt.compsci@manchester.ac.uk

English language

In order to be accepted onto an MSc programme in the Department of Computer Science, applicants need to provide evidence of having achieved the required level in a recognised English language qualification.
  • IELTS: overall score of 7.0 with no sub-test below 6.5.
  • TOEFL iBT: at least 100 overall with no sub-test less than 22. We do not accept 'MyBestScore'. We do not accept TOEFL iBT Home Edition.
  • Pearson PTE: at least 76 overall with no sub-test below 70.
  • Pre-sessional English run by the University Language Centre.

We also accept many other English language qualifications from overseas, depending on the qualification, the scores obtained and the University's assessment of its academic suitability.

Please contact pgt.compsci@manchester.ac.uk  and we will be able to advise further.

English language test validity

Some English Language test results are only valid for two years. Your English Language test report must be valid on the start date of the course. Please contact us for further information: pgt-compsci@manchester.ac.uk

Application and selection

How to apply

As the entry requirements are the same across all Advanced Computer Science programmes, we ask that applicants place only one application for their preferred pathway. Those who receive an offer will be able to switch between Advanced Computer Science programmes up until the start date of the course.

When applying for a specific pathway applicants must select Advanced Computer Science on the application portal to be presented with the optional pathways.

As there is high demand for this course we operate a staged admissions process with selection deadlines throughout the year. Please see below for the staged admissions schedule.

Apply online

Staged admissions

Apply online

Applications to this course are considered through a staged admissions process with selection deadlines throughout the year. Due to the competition for places and high quality of applications that we receive, we give preference to students from high-ranking institutions and with grades above our minimum entry requirements.

Please ensure you submit all supporting documentation with your application before the application deadline to avoid a delay in processing.

Applications for 2024 entry :

Stage 1 : Application received by 10 November 2023; Decision by 12 January 2024.

Stage 2 : Application received by 5 January 2024; Decision by 8 March 2024.

Stage 3 : Application received by 1 March 2024; Decision by 19 April 2024.

Stage 4 : Application received by 24 May 2024; Decision by 21 June 2024.

Whilst we aim to give you a decision on your application by the deadline date, in some instances due to the competition for places and the volume of applications received, it may be necessary to roll your application forward to the next deadline date. If this is the case we will let you know after the deadline date.

Please note: All places are subject to availability and if you apply at one of the later stages, some courses may already be reaching capacity or be closed to further applications. We, therefore, recommend that you apply early in the cycle to avoid disappointment.

Applicants who are made a conditional offer of a place must demonstrate that they have met all the conditions of their offer by 31 July 2024.

Advice to applicants

We require the following documents before we can consider your application:

  • Official Bachelor degree transcripts, including official translations and original language copies if study not undertaken in English. 2+2 and 3+1 applicants must provide official transcripts and certificates from both institutions.
  • An official document from your university verifying your current weighted average mark (not arithmetic average) if this information is not included in your transcript of study. Please note: where grades are given as a percentage, the weighted average mark must also be recorded as a percentage, not as a GPA grade.
  • Degree certificate if you have already graduated.
  • If still studying, please provide an official list of all the modules you are taking in your final year.
  • A CV if you graduated more than three years ago.

References and personal statements are not required for your application to this programme.

If English is not your first language, we also require proof of your English language ability. If you have already taken an English language qualification, please include your certificate with your application.

You must submit all these supporting documents with your application. If any of the above information is missing, we will not be able to consider your application and it may be withdrawn.

Applications received after the deadline will be considered at our discretion.

How your application is considered

We consider your full academic history including which course units you have taken and the marks obtained. Even if you have met our minimum entry requirements, we will take into account your marks in relevant course units in our final decision making.

If you graduated more than three years ago, we will also consider the information contained on your CV and any relevant work experience you have to assess if you are still able to fulfil the entry criteria.

Interview requirements

No interview is required for this course.

Overseas (non-UK) applicants

CAS Information

Self-funded international applicants for this course will be required to pay a deposit of £1,000 towards their tuition fees before a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) is issued. This deposit will only be refunded if immigration permission is refused. We will notify you about how and when to make this payment.

Please upload a copy of your current valid passport with your application showing the photograph page with your application. For CAS purposes, this must show your full name, date of birth, nationality, passport number and the date the passport is valid until, which must be later than the date of your planned arrival in the UK, and the start date of your course.

If you have previously studied in the UK on a Student Route visa as an undergraduate or postgraduate student, please send a copy of your previous CAS statement to us as it will assist with the issue of your new CAS statement. This includes study in the UK on study abroad programmes and any study that you did not complete.

You cannot use your CAS to apply for a visa more than three months before the start date of your course. The Admissions Team will contact you at the appropriate time.

Your CAS number is only valid for one visa application.

Deferrals

Applications for deferred entry are not accepted for this course. If you receive an offer and wish to be considered for the following year of entry, you will need to place a new application. Please be aware there is no guarantee of receiving another offer, and offer conditions are subject to change in line with entry requirements.

Re-applications

If you applied in the previous year and your application was not successful you may apply again. Your application will be considered against the standard course entry criteria for that year of entry. In your new application you should demonstrate how your application has improved. We may draw upon all information from your previous applications or any previous registrations at the University as a student when assessing your suitability for your chosen course.

Course details

Course description

These are exciting times in biology and medicine. The genomics revolution is opening up whole new areas of research - from new insights into how organisms function, to new understandings of disease and disease processes. Medicine is currently involved in the largest and most ambitious IT project in the world - the capture and interpretation of electronic patient records. This information will make health care much more effective and can help spot new diseases early - whilst they can still be contained and controlled. At the heart of all these developments are data and knowledge - and a real need and demand for the skills and techniques that computer scientists can bring these problem areas. Biology and healthcare now provide some of the fastest growing and most challenging areas for computer scientists to apply their skills.

The Digital Biology pathway is centered around a central theme of Biohealth Informatics. The theme is specifically designed for computer scientists without any previous experience of medicine or biology and will help you to develop the core skills needed to work or research (as a computer scientist) in these rapidly evolving fields. This core theme is complemented by a range of other themes that allow students to develop additional skills which have important applications in healthcare and biology.

With our Digital Biology MSc, you will follow one mandatory academic theme, which combines two related course units.  You will also have the opportunity to tailor your learning and pursue other topics that interest you, by choosing three optional themes.

Teaching and learning

Computational thinking is becoming increasingly pervasive and is informing our understanding of phenomena across a range of areas; from engineering and physical sciences, to business and society. This is reflected in the way the Manchester course is taught, with students able to choose from an extremely broad range of units that not only cover core computer science topics, but that draw on our interdisciplinary research strengths in areas such as Medical and Health Sciences, Life Sciences and Humanities.

Coursework and assessment

Lectures and seminars are supported by practical exercises that impart skills as well as knowledge. These skills are augmented through an MSc project that enables students to put into practice the techniques they have been taught throughout the course.

Course unit details

For September 2024 entry, we are making several changes to our course unit offering. These changes are not yet reflected in the course unit list below, but are summarised here as follows:

Masters Project COMP66060 (60 credits)

This course unit remains mandatory but will be worth 60 credits instead of 90 credits. In this course unit you will learn about the dissertation project process, how to plan the project and how to write the dissertation, including ethical and professional considerations. We will provide you with the skills to undertake, manage and deliver a technical project in the broad field of computer science, over the course of approximately 3 months (June-August). 

The following two optional course units are being introduced under a new theme, which will be available to select in Semester 2: Decision Making Under Uncertainty. 

Reasoning and Learning Under Uncertainty COMP64102 (15 credits)

Machine learning is increasingly being used for decision support in data driven applications. A key concept when making decisions based on predictive models is that of uncertainty, e.g., in applications of AI where safety or trustworthiness are required. Uncertainty quantification recognises that exact predictions are often out-of-reach due to theoretical or practical limitations. This course unit studies different probabilistic machine learning models that incorporate uncertain reasoning and the mathematical concepts and algorithms required to learn such models from data.

Reinforcement Learning COMP64202 (15 credits)

Reinforcement learning (RL) looks to create machine learning models that are able to make decisions. An agent learns to achieve a goal in an uncertain, potentially complex environment. Successful real-world applications include but are not limited to robotics, control, operation research, games, economics, and human-computer interactions. This course will cover the breadth of modern model-free RL methods, discuss their limitations, and introduce various current research topics. In particular, we expect to cover the following: deep learning methodology and architectures, stabilisation of approximated value estimation, modern actor-critic methods, planning as inference, exploration with deep networks, offline reinforcement learning, deep multi-agent reinforcement learning, multi-task and meta-learning.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Principles of Digital Biology COMP60532 15 Mandatory
Introduction to Health Informatics IIDS60542 15 Mandatory
Automated Reasoning and Verification COMP60332 15 Optional
Modelling Data on the Web COMP60411 15 Optional
Data Engineering COMP60711 15 Optional
Systems Governance COMP60721 15 Optional
Foundations of Machine Learning COMP61011 15 Optional
Representation Learning COMP61021 15 Optional
Text Mining COMP61332 15 Optional
Cognitive Robotics and Computer Vision COMP61342 15 Optional
Cryptography COMP61411 15 Optional
Cyber Security COMP61421 15 Optional
Querying Data on the Web COMP62421 15 Optional
Software Security COMP63342 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 14 course units

Scholarships and bursaries

Across our institution, we offer a number of postgraduate taught scholarships and awards to outstanding UK and international students each year.

The University of Manchester is committed to widening participation in master's study, and allocates £300,000 in funding each year. Our Manchester Masters Bursaries are aimed at widening access to master's courses by removing barriers to postgraduate education for students from underrepresented groups.

For more information, see the Computer Science Fees and funding page or visit the University of Manchester funding for masters courses website for more information.

Facilities

  • Newly refurbished computing labs furnished with modern desktop computers
  • Access to world leading academic staff
  • Collaborative working labs complete with specialist computing and audio visual equipment to support group working.
  • Over 300 Computers in the Department dedicated exclusively for the use of our students.
  • An Advanced Interfaces Laboratory to explore real time collaborative working;
  • A Nanotechnology Centre for the fabrication of new generation electronic devices;
  • An e-Science Centre and Access Grid facility for world wide collaboration over the internet.
  • Access to a range of Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)
  • Specialist electronic system design and computer engineering tools.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk

Careers

Career opportunities

Students following the Digital Biology pathway have all the career options as described for general Advanced Computer Science.

In addition, students following this pathway are well placed for careers with healthcare providers, the pharmaceutical industry, and bio-health research institutes.

We maintain close relationships with potential employers and run various activities throughout the year, including career fairs, guest lectures, and projects run jointly with partners from industry. This is managed by our Employability Tutor; see the Department of Computer Science's employability pages for more information.