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School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics

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


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 leading researchers in environmental genomics - find out more about our research interests on the School of Biological and Chemical Science's Biology research 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 Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics 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


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: This module provides an introduction to bioinformatics, focusing specifically on the analysis of DNA sequence data. Lectures cover the bioinformatics methods, algorithms and resources used for tasks such as sequence assembly, gene finding and genome annotation, phylogenetics, analysis of genomic variance among populations, genome wide association studies and prediction of gene structure and function. Practical exercises are used to gain experience with relevant existing bioinformatics tools, data formats and databases.
  • Coding for Scientists: This module provides a hands-on introduction to computer programming (popularly known as coding) using scripting languages popular in the field. The focus is on producing robust software for repeatable data-centric scientific work. Key programming concepts are introduced, and these concepts are then brought together in scientifically relevant applications to analyse data, interact with a database and create dynamic web content. Good coding practice, such as the importance of documentation and version control, is emphasised throughout.
  • Statistics and Bioinformatics: This module is focussed on teaching data analysis using the statistical programming language R. The module covers the basics of using R; drawing publication-standard graphs with R; experimental design; exploratory data analysis; the fundamentals of statistical testing including t-tests and chi-square tests; ANOVA and Regression; fitting and interpreting general linear models; the basics of bioinformatic analysis in R. The module is taught with a mix of theory and practice, with a typical day including roughly two hours of theory instruction in the morning followed by a practical session in the afternoon, often involving hands-on analysis of real experimental data sets.
  • Post-genomic Bioinformatics: This module provides an introduction to bioinformatics, focusing specifically on the management and analysis of data produced by so-called post-genomic methods such as transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics. Lectures cover the bioinformatics methods, algorithms and resources used for tasks such as the identification and quantitation of transcripts, proteins and metabolites, and analysis of the interactions between these key biological molecules. Practical exercises are used to gain experience with bioinformatics tools, data formats and databases that have been developed for this field.
  • Research Frontiers in Evolutionary Biology: This module will explore 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 method being used to tackle these areas will be taught, with an emphasis on DNA sequence analysis and bioinformatics. This module aims to inspire students to seek a career in scientific research, and equip them to choose areas of research that are of current interest. Whereas undergraduate degrees commonly focus on what we know, this Master's course will shift the focus onto what we don't know. Students will explore the current frontiers of knowledge, and the questions that currently lack answers, or whose answers are currently debated. Students will learn to ask relevant questions themselves, and design approaches to seeking answers to those questions.
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Field Course - The module comprises a residential field course lasting approximately 12 days, designed to allow students to develop their field skills in situ. Teaching will comprise a combination of lectures, demonstrations and practical assignments. These will span topics in taxonomy, ecology, biogeography, conservation and evolution. Students will also undertake their own mini-project. This field-based module will include coverage of ecological processes in tropical rainforests (decomposition, pollination and seed dispersal), rainforest structure and defining characteristics (including the importance of rainforests as centres of biodiversity), and anthropogenic factors affecting rainforests (including disturbance, forest fragmentation and agriculture).

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)

The final dissertation is your chance to conduct in-depth and independent research on a topic that is of direct interest to you and your career goals. Recent dissertations include:

  • Identifying the genes and evolutionary mechanisms involved in the evolution of social behaviour
  • The systematics, phylogeny and phylogeography of neotropical bats and uses molecular methods for dietary analysis
  • Effects of nitrogen and phosphorus on genome evolution in angiosperms
  • The evolution of giant genomes

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: 6.5 overall including 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in Reading, Listening and Speaking
  • TOEFL: 92 overall including 21 in Writing, 18 in Reading, 17 in Listening and 20 in Speaking
  • PTE Academic: 62 overall including 57 in Writing and 51 in Reading, Listening and Speaking
  • Trinity ISE: Trinity ISE II with a Distinction in Writing, Reading, Listening and Speaking, or Trinity ISE III with a minimum of Pass in Writing, Reading, Listening and Speaking
  • C2 Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE): 176 overall including 169 in Writing, and 162 in Reading, Listening and Speaking
  • C1 Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE): 176 overall including 169 in Writing, and 162 in Reading, Listening and Speaking  

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:

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. 


You will also undertake a supervised research project and dissertation.


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2020/21 Academic Year

Full time £12,950
Part time £6,500

Tuition fees for International students

2020/21 Academic Year

Full time £22,750
Part time £11,400

Part time fees are charged per annum over two years for a two year programme and per annum over three years for a three year programme. A percentage increase may be applied to the fees in years two and three.

This increase is defined each year and published on the intranet and in the Tuition Fee Regulations. A 3% increase was applied to the unregulated university fees in 2019/20. Further information can be viewed on our University Fees webpage, including details about annual increases.


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 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

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.

What are our graduates doing now?  

The range of skills gained through our programmes, coupled with opportunities for extra-curricular activities, has enabled students to enter careers such as:

  • Software Engineer/Bioinformatician at European Bioinformatics Institute
  • Informatics Assistant at Blizard Institute
  • PhD Student at Queen Mary University of London
  • Bioinformatics PhD Researcher at UCL Cancer Institute
  • PhD Student at the University of Reading
  • Technology Consultant at IBM
  • Lab Technician at Queen Mary University of London
  • Aquatic Ecology PhD student at Bournemouth University
  • NERC-funded PhD Student at Queen Mary University of London
  • Marine and Freshwater Intern at Zoological Society London (ZSL)
  • Assistant Ecologist at Atkins
  • PhD Student at Queen Mary University of London
  • Assistant Ecologist at RammSanderson Ecology
  • PHD Candidate at The James Hutton Institute 
  • Botanical Horticulturalist at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 
  • Plant Science Content Editor at Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International 
  • PHSI Plant Health Import Inspector at Animal and Plant Health Agency

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.