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Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics

MSc ( 1 year Full-time / 2 years Part-time )

Overview

Ecologists and evolutionary biologists now routinely use next-generation DNA sequencing in their research, and graduates who are skilled in both genome analysis as well as ecology and evolution are rare. Genome-enabled approaches are helping rapidly to advance our understanding of the dynamic relationship between genotype, phenotype and the environment. Our programme will give you cross-disciplinary skills in a rare combination of areas of expertise, from bioinformatics and evolutionary inference to computational biology and fieldwork.

You will be taught by researchers who apply genomic methods to a wide range of issues in ecology and evolution, from bat food webs and genome evolution to microbial biodiversity in natural and engineered ecosystems.  For example, Professor Steve Rossiter carries out world-leading research on bat genome evolution; Dr Yannick Wurm has discovered a social chromosome in fire-ants; and Dr China Hanson is using genetic methods to study microbial biogeography. This means that teaching on our programme is informed by the latest developments in this field, and your individual research project can be at the forefront of current scientific discovery. 

You will conduct your own substantive six-month research project, which may be jointly supervised by contacts from related institutes or within industry. You will also take part in a field course in Borneo - see photos from a recent trip on Flickr - giving you the opportunity to develop first hand experience of theory in action. 

Programme highlights

  • Work with lading researchers in environmental genomics - find out more about our research interests on the Evolution and Genetics research group page 
  • Two-week tropical ecology field trip (currently to Borneo)
  • Strong foundation for careers in consultancy, environmental policy and management or research
  • Strong foundation for PhD training in any area of genomics, ecology or evolution

Research and teaching

By choosing to study at a Russell Group university you will have access to excellent teaching and top class research. You can find out more about our research interests and view recent publications on the School of Biological and Chemical Science's Evolution and Genetics group page.

My lab uses forensic DNA techniques to reconstruct ecological events, such as where a bee has picked up pollen or which prey a spider has consumed. Using these methods, we generate large food webs to try and understand the ecological effects of landscape-level changes in habitat
Dr Elizabeth Clare, Lecturer

Informal enquiries

If you have questions about this programme which you would like to put to Dr Christophe Eizaguirre, MSc Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics Programme Director, please contact:

Tel: +44(0)207 882 6982
Email: c.eizaguirre@qmul.ac.uk

Structure

This MSc programme combines taught modules with individual and collaborative research projects. You will apply the knowledge and techniques from your taught modules in a practical setting and may be able to publish your project findings.

If you have any questions about the content or structure, contact the programme director Dr Christophe Eizaguirre

Taught modules

  • Genome Bioinformatics: Covers the essential aspects of next generation sequence (NGS) analysis, including genome assembly, variant calling and transcriptomics. Also covers essential computer skills needed for bioinformatics, such as Linux and using our high performance computing cluster.
  • Coding for scientists: Assuming no prior programming knowledge, teaches you how to program in Python, using biological examples throughout. Python is one of the most popular languages in the bioinformatics community, and understanding Python provides the perfect foundation for learning other languages such as Perl, Ruby and Java.
  • Statistics and bioinformatics: Covers core statistics methods, within the R statistical computing environment. R has become the de facto environment for downstream data analysis and visualisation in biology, thanks to the hundreds of freely available R packages that allow biological data analysis solutions to be created quickly and reliably.
  • Post-genomics bioinformatics: Introduces techniques that have developed as a consequence of developments in genomics (i.e. transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, structural biology and systems biology) with particular emphasis on the data analysis aspects. Practicals cover the popular Galaxy framework, advanced R, and machine learning.
  • Research frontiers in evolutionary biology: Exploring the frontiers of research in evolutionary biology. Topics covered will include: incongruence in phylogenetic trees, neutral versus selective forces in evolution, the origin of angiosperms, the origin of new genes, the evolution of sociality, the significance of whole genome duplication and hybridisation. Current methods being used to tackle these areas will be taught, with an emphasis on DNA sequence analysis and bioinformatics.

Research modules

  • Evolutionary/Ecological Analysis/Software Group Project module: Students are organised into small teams (~3-4 members per team). Each team is given the same genomic or transcriptomic data set that must be analysed by the end of the module. Each team must design an appropriate analysis pipeline, with specific tasks assigned to individual team members. This module serves as a simulation of a real data analysis environment, providing invaluable experience for future employability.
  • Individual Research Project (50 per cent of the programme)

Student handbook

Find out more about this programme in our Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics student handbook.

 

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class BSc (Hons) degree (or equivalent international qualification) in a relevant subject, such as ecology, environmental science, biology or zoology.  Applicants with a good lower second class degree may be considered on an individual basis, taking into account relevant background and related achievements.

This programme includes one compulsory overseas field course to Borneo, during which students should expect to have to undertake physically-demanding work in remote locations. Applicants for the programme from outside the UK should ensure that there are no residency or travel restrictions that would prevent them from attending this course. Applicants with any disability that impacts upon their ability to undertake such activities should seek advice from the School before applying for this programme.

Costs for flights, accommodation and meals are fully covered by the tuition fees - you will not have to contribute additional funds towards this field trip.

English language requirements

All international students are required to provide evidence of their ability in English language.

The minimum level required for entry to our postgraduate programmes is:

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) - (6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in writing)
  • WELT (Warwick English Language Test) – BBC/BCC
  • TEEP (Test of English for Educational Purposes) – 6.5
  • Cambridge ESOL Certificate in Advanced English – B
  • Cambridge ESOL Certificate of Proficiency in English – C

For further information about our English language requirements please visit the our international pages.

Am I eligible?

To check your eligibility contact our Postgraduate Admissions team:

Email: sbcs-pgadmissions@qmul.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 3328

Learning and teaching

Our Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics programme combines traditional lectures and practicals with a diverse range of learning formats. Group work, student presentations and open discussion/debate are an integral part of the programme, giving you the chance to develop communication and team-working skills. We take pride in cultivating a close-knit and friendly working relationship between academics and students on this programme.  You will benefit from small group teaching, normally no more than 15 students in each seminar, allowing for a more intensive learning experience and increased interaction.

Teaching and assessment

Your taught modules normally take place in blocks of two weeks of full-time teaching (normally 9am-5pm), followed by weeklong study breaks for independent learning and coursework. Most modules are taught through lectures during the morning, with practicals, seminars, discussion groups and workshops taking place in the afternoon.

You will take six taught modules (four two-week modules in Semester A and one three-week module and the field course in Semester B), which make up 50% of your final grade. These will be assessed through a mixture of reports, essays, practicals and presentations.

Your tropical ecology field course usually takes place in Borneo; much of the theory covered in your taught modules you will apply in a real research context during this field course.

Your research project and dissertation is 50% of the final grade and typically involves field sampling, experimentation, laboratory work and data analysis.

Independent study

You are encouraged to use your independent study time to engage with current researchers in the labs, or volunteer for extra fieldwork, thereby giving you first-hand experience of the research environment. You will also have opportunities to attend lab meetings, shadow PhD students and gain a full understanding of the research taking place in our department before deciding on your own research project. 

Dissertation

You will also undertake a supervised research project and dissertation.

Fees

Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2018/19 Academic Year
Full time £10,250

Tuition fees for International students

2018/19 Academic Year
Full time £20,500

Funding

There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships

We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.

Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.

Alternative sources of funding

Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.

Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.

Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide [PDF] for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.

Read more about alternative sources of funding for Home/EU students and for Overseas students.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079
email bursaries@qmul.ac.uk

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717

Graduate employment

Our postgraduates students go on to work in a wide variety of careers. Some apply their degree knowledge directly, working as conservation officers or research assistants. We have developed modules accommodating pure research and applied practical skills developed to promote graduate employability. The transferable skills gained through this enable graduates to work in areas beyond those directly related to their degree. These include government, education and retail. Other graduates pursue their subject interest by undertaking a PhD.

Career support

Throughout the course, postgraduates have access to a careers programme to prepare them for applying for work after graduation. This programme includes workshops on job hunting and job applications as well as employer events to facilitate networks and help students to explore their options. Recent career events open to the School’s postgraduates include the SBCS Industrial Liaison Forum featuring small and medium sized employers, and workshops on applying for and doing a PhD.

Queen Mary’s location between Canary Wharf, the City and the Olympic Village redevelopment means that there are substantial opportunities for on campus and local part time work and work experience. On campus there are 1200 job and volunteer opportunities ranging from E-learning Assistant to Website Administrator and from Society President to Student Mentor. QTemps job agency offers work suitable for current students and recent graduates, QMSU Volunteering facilitates volunteering and QM JobOnline hosts over 800 part time and full time job vacancies.

  • Read more about our careers programmes and range of work experience opportunities on the QM Careers pages.

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