MSc Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Research Project 1-Bioinformatics

Unit code BIOL61230
Credit rating 60
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


For Research Project 1 (RP1) of the MSc in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, students will spend 100% of their time over a 3 month period from February to April working for this unit. RP1 engages the student in several activities designed to develop their research, presentation and report writing skills.

The core activity is research on a project in Bioinformatics and/or Systems Biology, that is assigned in January based on matching student ranked choices to projects provided (via the course director) from University staff. Each project in the list is described by a title, paragraph description and references. In many cases, two or more co-supervisors will be listed, reflecting the inter-disciplinary nature of the research.

The core assessment is the report in the style of a paper for the journal Bioinformatics, thus encouraging students to develop their scientific writing style and become familiar with formatting of the various elements of a research article. The course director provides specific guidance to students on the required report format for RP1.

The style of the report for RP1 contrasts with the longer dissertation style format for Research Project 2 (RP2). Several complementary assessment elements are used for RP1: laboratory performance, oral presentation skills, poster presentation skills. The aim is to develop each of these strands throughout RP1. In terms of progression of writing skills, RP1 can be seen as developing from the reports written for the taught units, which introduce students to combining computational tools with analysis of relevant literature, to the more research-led framework of RP1.

Together with the dissertation format of research and reporting for RP2, the whole aims to put students in a position to undertake cutting edge PhD or other research work, in the general area of computational biology.



  • Introduce students to research project work.
  • Give students experience in carrying out research within an interdisciplinary environment, applying computational skills learned on the MSc course in the context of experimental data.
  • Develop scientific writing skills by producing a project report in a set format of scientific publication.
  • Develop scientific presentation skills both in oral presentation and poster production.

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge on a specific area of current research in Bioinformatics and/or Systems Biology.
  • Formulate and organise a focused research plan with clear aims and objectives.
  • Develop proficiency in the application of computational methods to interpret experimental data.
  • Acquire the experience to communicate research effectively, in: (i) a report formatted as for the journal Bioinformatics, (ii) an oral presentation, (iii) a poster presentation.
  • Develop skills to carry out effective research in an interdisciplinary environment.

Teaching and learning methods

The students will carry out their own research under guidance from their project supervisors.

Assessment methods

Project report (maximum 9000 words; recommended 7500 - 9000 words): 45/60 credits = 75% weighting within unit

Performance: 5/60 credits = 8.33%

Poster: 5/60 credits = 8.33%

Oral presentation: 5/60 credits = 8.33%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided by the project supervisor(s) during the course (performance element) and through written comments on the report after the project has been marked. Specific feedback will be given by staff verbally for the poster and oral presentations.

Recommended reading

Specific reading lists will be provided for each project, included in the list of project descriptions.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jean Marc Schwartz Unit coordinator

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