Computational Systems Biology MSc

Computational Systems Biology MSc

Full time: 12 months


This course provides specialist skills in core systems biology with a focus on the development of computational and mathematical research skills. It specialises in computational design, providing essential computing and engineering skills that allow you to develop software to program biological systems.

This interdisciplinary course is based in the School of Computing and taught jointly with the Faculty of Medical Sciences and the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics. The course is ideal for students aiming for careers in industry or academia. We cater for students with a range of backgrounds, including Life Sciences, Computing Science, Mathematics and Engineering.

Computational Systems Biology is focused on the study of organisms from a holistic perspective. Computational design of biological systems is essential for allowing the construction of complex and large biological systems.

We provide a unique, multidisciplinary experience essential for understanding systems biology. The course draws together the highly-rated teaching and research expertise of our Schools of Computing Science, Mathematics and Statistics, Biology, and Cell and Molecular Biosciences. The course also has strong links with Newcastle's Centre for Integrated Systems Biology of Ageing and Nutrition (CISBAN). 

Our course is designed for students from both biological and computational backgrounds. Prior experience with computers or computer programming is not required. Students with mathematical, engineering or other scientific backgrounds are also welcome to apply.

The course is part of a suite of related programmes that also include:

All four programmes share core modules, creating a tight-knit cohort. This encourages collaborations on projects undertaking interdisciplinary research.

Project work

Your five month research project gives you a real opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills in depth in Systems Biology. You have the opportunity to work closely with a leading research team in the School and there are opportunities to work on industry lead projects. You will have one-to-one supervision from an experienced member of the faculty, supported with supervision from associated senior researchers and industry partners as required.

The project can be carried out:

  • with a research group at Newcastle University
  • with an industrial sponsor
  • with a research institute
  • at your place of work


Our course structure is highly flexible. You can tailor your degree to your own skills and interests. Computational Systems Biology is designed for students who have a good degree in the biological sciences or the physical sciences (including computer science, mathematics, physics and engineering). Half of the course is taught and the remainder is dedicated to a research project.

You take compulsory modules (70 credits) and optional modules (20 credits), followed by a five month individual project (90 credits) that may be taken within the University or with a bioinformatics or pharmaceutical company. Compulsory modules typically include:

  • modelling cellular systems
  • introductory programming for biologists
  • systems biology
  • research skills for bioinformatics

There are up to four optional modules to choose from in the second semester, allowing you to tailor the research training component of your degree to your preferences. Module choices include:

  • Comparative Genomics
  • e-Science
  • Advanced Object-Oriented Design and Programming\
  • Complex Systems Analysis

Semester one contains modules to build the basic grounding in, and understanding of, Computational Systems Biology theory and applications, together with necessary computational and numeric understanding to undertake more specialist modules in the next semester. Training in mathematics and statistics is also provided. Some of these modules are examined in January at the end of semester one.

Semester two begins with two modules that focus heavily on introducing subject-specific research skills. These two modules run sequentially, in a short but intensive mode that allows you time to focus on a single topic in depth. In the first of the second semester modules you will take a module that is focussed on learning about modelling of biochemical systems - essential material for understanding biological systems at a molecular level. All of the semester two modules are examined by in-course assessment - there are no formal examinations in these modules.

Research is a large component of this course. The emphasis is on delivering the research training you need in the future to effectively meet the demands of industry and academia. Newcastle's research in bioinformatics, life sciences, computing and mathematics is internationally recognised.

The School staff teaching you are successful researchers in their field and publish regularly in highly-ranked systems biology related journals. You gain the experience of working in a team in an environment with the help, support and friendship of fellow students.

Related Degrees

  • Bioinformatics MSc

    The Bioinformatics MSc combines foundational skills in bioinformatics with specialist skills in computing programming, molecular biology and research methods. Our unique, interdisciplinary course draws together highly-rated teaching and research expertise from across the University, equipping you for a successful career in the bioinformatics industry or academia.

  • Computational Neuroscience and Neuroinformatics MSc

    This course provides specialist expertise in core neuroinformatics (such as computing and biology) focusing on the development of research skills. It equips you with the skills to contribute to biologically realistic simulations of neural activity and developments. These are rapidly becoming the key focus of neuroinformatics research.

All related programmes

Module changes

Module changes

Modules change annually to take account of:

  • changing staff expertise
  • developments in the discipline
  • the requirements of external bodies and partners
  • student feedback.

Most module information for 2018 entry will be available from mid-May 2018.

Fees & Funding

2018-2019 fees

The fees displayed here are per course.



Full time: £10,200


Full time: £10,200


Full time: £21,600

Find out more about our tuition fees, including how to pay them and available discounts.

EU students starting at Newcastle in 2018 will pay the UK (Home) tuition fee for the full duration of their course.

Funding opportunities

Entry Requirements

A 2:2 honours degree, or international equivalent, in any biological science-based subject, such as:

  • genetics
  • biochemistry
  • biology

Or a 2:1 honours degree in any computing science or maths based subject.

We will also consider applicants on an individual basis with lower or non-standard qualifications, provided they have significant industrial or professional experience in a biological or computer science related area.

Find out the equivalent qualifications for your country.

Use the drop down above to find your country. If your country isn't listed please email: for further information.

English Language Requirements

Select an English language test from the list to view our English language entry requirements.

Please email us at for further information.

If you have lower English Language scores, you may be accepted onto a pre-sessional English course. 

How to Apply

Use our Applicant Portal to apply for your course. We have a step-by-step guide to help you.

Start dates

The course starts in September. There is no application closing date for this course.

We suggest international students apply at least two months before the course starts. This is so that you have enough time to make the necessary arrangements.


If you live outside the UK/EU you must:

  • pay a deposit of £1,500
  • or submit an official letter of sponsorship

The deposit is payable after you receive an offer to study at Newcastle University. The deposit is non-refundable, but is deducted from your tuition fees when you register.


Admissions Secretary
School of Computing
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8072

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