MRes Systems and Synthetic Biology

Gain hands-on experience in experimental biology and modelling to understand, predict and redesign biological pathways.

Key information

Duration: 1 year full-time
Start dateOctober 2021
Location: South Kensington
ECTS: 90 credits

Applications are now closed

Overview

Our MRes in Systems and Synthetic Biology provides a platform to overcome traditional barriers and work collaboratively on the ‘big problems’ and applications in synthetic and systems biology.

The programme is delivered by the is delivered by the and is organised in association with the Centre for Integrative Systems Biology and Bioinformatics (CISBIO). There is a link with the BIoS Centre at King’s College to facilitate the integration of this research with emerging ethical, legal and societal issues.

Study programme

This full-time programme lasts for one academic year and is made up of both taught and research-based elements.

The taught elements begin in October and last for the duration of the autumn term (October-December). This includes introductory modules that cover essentials for both life and physical scientists, as well as modules on experimental systems biology, theoretical systems biology, synthetic biology, and advanced technologies.

As well as conventional lectures, you undertake practicals, bench work, case studies, proposal writing and journal clubs.

In the spring term (January), you choose a topic for your eight-month long research project and draft a proposal to be evaluated by a student panel, before submission to supervisors. Your completed project is submitted in September of the summer term.

Close connections to industry and medicine are provided through the research projects from members of the Institute, as well as additional courses and workshops.

Structure

Modules shown are for the current academic year and are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

Please note that the curriculum of this programme is currently being reviewed as part of a College-wide process to introduce a standardised modular structure. As a result, the content and assessment structures of this course may change for your year of entry. We therefore recommend that you check this course page before finalising your application and after submitting it as we will aim to update this page as soon as any changes are ratified by the College.

Find out more about the limited circumstances in which we may need to make changes to or in relation to our courses, the type of changes we may make and how we will tell you about changes we have made.

Structure

Core modules

You take all of the core modules below.

Advanced Technology

This short lecture module covers imaging and high-throughput technologies. Imaging techniques include various forms of fluorescence microscopy, and high-throughput techniques include RNAi screens, microarrays, and microfluidic devices.

Essentials for Life Scientists

This short lecture module introduces the basics of modelling and theoretical analysis, tailored towards students from the life sciences with limited theoretical background.

Essentials for Physical Scientists

This short lecture and tutorial module provides an introduction to life sciences, specifically tailored for physical sciences graduates.

Experimental Systems Biology

Lectures will cover signalling and gene regulatory pathways and programmes in bacteria, mammalian cells and plants.

Synthetic Biology

This module addresses social, ethical and policy issues, such as how is science linked to society, biology in the political context, social challenges, governance and regulation.

Theoretical Systems Biology

This lecture module covers various modelling techniques, including dynamical systems, networks and deterministic differential equations, as well as statistical approaches such as Bayesian inference.

Research project

You take both of the modules below.

  • Research Project
  • Research Proposal

You begin work on your research project in January, when you will choose a topic and draft a proposal to be presented to a student panel. The research proposal is then assessed toward your final degree grade by your supervisors.

The project is supervised by at least two people with different expertise – one supervisor may also come from industry.

Your completed project, which accounts for 60% of your degree, is submitted during the Summer term.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods

  • Computer-based work
  • Formal presentations
  • Group work exercises
  • Individual research project and dissertation (9 months), with optional placement
  • Laboratory
  • Lectures
  • Online lecture materials
  • Online lecture recordings
  • Practical classes
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Dissertation
  • Essays
  • Individual research project report
  • Presentations
  • Viva

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis.

Admissions

Minimum academic requirement

Our minimum requirement is a 2.1 degree in physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, life sciences or biomedical sciences.

A suitable grounding in mathematics is required, for example: A-level Mathematics grade A.

International qualifications

We also accept a wide variety of international qualifications.

The academic requirement above is for applicants who hold or who are working towards a UK qualification.

For guidance see our Country Index though please note that the standards listed are the minimum for entry to the College, and not specifically this Department.

If you have any questions about admissions and the standard required for the qualification you hold or are currently studying then please contact the relevant admissions team.

English language requirement (all applicants)

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the higher College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for postgraduate applicants.

Competence standards

Our competence standards highlight the core skills students should be able to demonstrate by the end of this course.

View the Department of Life Sciences' competence standards [pdf]

We believe in providing the widest practicable access to all of our degree programmes and will make reasonable adjustments wherever possible to support your study. For more information, please contact the Department using the contact details below.

Department of Life Sciences

E: L.Barron@imperial.ac.uk

How to apply

How to apply

Making an application

Apply online

All applicants must apply online.

Visit our Admissions website for details on the application process.

You can submit one application form per year of entry. You can usually choose up to two courses.

Application fee

For 2021–22 entry, we are introducing a pilot application fee for our Master's courses. This helps cover some of the administrative and staffing costs associated with processing the large volume of applications we receive.

This fee will be £80 per application and not per course. 

We will waive the fee for any applicant – Home or Overseas – who demonstrates that they are experiencing financial hardship.

There is no application fee for Postgraduate Certificates, Postgraduate Diplomas or PhDs. The fee for MBA applications to the Imperial College Business School is £135. 

Find out more about the application fee and waiver

ATAS certificate (overseas candidates)

An ATAS certificate is required for all visa-nationals, with the exception of EEA/Swiss nationals and nationals of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA.

To apply for an ATAS certificate online, you will need your programme’s Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH) code and ‘descriptor’, as well as your university supervisor name. For this course, these are:

CAH codeDescriptorSupervisor name
CAH03-01-02 biology (non-specific) Professor Anne Dell

Your student visa application, or extension of stay, will automatically be refused if you need an ATAS certificate and cannot provide one.

For further guidance on obtaining an ATAS certificate please see the information on our International Student Support website.

Further questions?

Find answers to your questions about admissions. Answers cover COVID-19, English language requirements, Visas and more.

Visit the FAQs

Tuition fees and funding

The level of tuition fees you pay is based on your fee status, which we assess based on UK government legislation.

Find out more about fees and funding opportunities.

Tuition fees

Home rate of tuition

2021 entry

£12,700 per year

Fees are charged by year of entry to the College and not year of study.

Except where otherwise indicated, the fees for students on courses lasting more than one year will increase annually by an amount linked to inflation, including for part-time students on modular programmes. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value in April 2021 will apply to fees for the academic year 2021–2022.

Fee status

Whether you pay the Home fee depends on your fee status.

Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status.

Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

EU/EEA/Swiss students

The Government has confirmed that EU/EEA/Swiss students who begin a course before the 31 July 2021 will be eligible to pay the same fee as Home students and have access to student finance for the duration of their course, as long as they meet certain requirements which are unchanged from previous years. This includes students who begin the course remotely.

EU/EEA/Swiss students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note, we do not expect this to apply to Irish students or students benefitting from Citizens' Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens' Rights Agreement respectively. However, we are currently awaiting the formal publication of the amended Fees and Awards regulations.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website has useful information on the conditions you currently need to meet to be entitled to pay tuition fees at the Home rate for study on a higher education course in England and reflect the regulations as they currently stand (not the amended regulations which are subject to publication).

UKCISA has also provided some information in response to Questions for students starting their course from the 1 August 2021. 

For regular updates for EU students, please see our Imperial and the EU webpages.

Overseas rate of tuition

2021 entry

£31,200 per year

Fees are charged by year of entry to the College and not year of study.

Except where otherwise indicated, the fees for students on courses lasting more than one year will increase annually by an amount linked to inflation, including for part-time students on modular programmes. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value in April 2021 will apply to fees for the academic year 2021–2022.

Fee status

Whether you pay the Overseas fee depends on your fee status.

Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status.

Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

EU/EEA/Swiss students

The Government has confirmed that EU/EEA/Swiss students who begin a course before the 31 July 2021 will be eligible to pay the same fee as Home students and have access to student finance for the duration of their course, as long as they meet certain requirements which are unchanged from previous years. This includes students who begin the course remotely.

EU/EEA/Swiss students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note, we do not expect this to apply to Irish students or students benefitting from Citizens' Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens' Rights Agreement respectively. However, we are currently awaiting the formal publication of the amended Fees and Awards regulations.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website has useful information on the conditions you currently need to meet to be entitled to pay tuition fees at the Home rate for study on a higher education course in England and reflect the regulations as they currently stand (not the amended regulations which are subject to publication).

UKCISA has also provided some information in response to Questions for students starting their course from the 1 August 2021. 

For regular updates for EU students, please see our Imperial and the EU webpages.

Postgraduate Master's loan

If you're a UK national, or EU national with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you may be able to apply for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan from the UK government, if you meet certain criteria.

For 2021-22 entry, the maximum amount is £11,570. The loan is not means-tested and you can choose whether to put it towards your tuition fees or living costs.

DeepMind Scholarships in Life Sciences

A generous donation from DeepMind has established two new MSc scholarships for students from under-represented groups wishing to study courses in Life Sciences with applied artificial intelligence (AI).

Each scholarship will cover the full course costs, including living costs, and will provide additional support for equipment and attendance at academic conferences. The deadline for this scholarship is in May 2021.

Find out more about the DeepMind Scholarships in Life Sciences

Scholarships

We offer a range of scholarships for postgraduate students to support you through your studies.

See what opportunities you may be eligible for.

If you are an Iranian national and are accepted to study at Imperial starting this October, you may be eligible to apply for the Irani family scholarship.

Accommodation and living costs

Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.

You can compare costs across our different accommodation options on our Accommodation website.

A rough guide to what you might expect to spend to live in reasonable comfort in London is available on our Fees and Funding website.

Further information

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