MRes Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution

This MRes is for students with a passion for the diversity of life on earth, and who wish to be trained in cutting edge biological research. New technologies such as next-generation DNA sequencing are revolutionising biology. There are also huge amounts of biodiversity data to be collated and meta-analysed to respond to urgent research needs in a world of rapid global changes. Uniquely, this MRes will start with seven weeks of intensive training modules in the latest developments of informatics and genomics for whole-organism research, followed by a single nine-month research project in the Division of Ecology and Evolution, which may be jointly hosted by one of our peer-institutes such as the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, or the Natural History Museum. Project opportunities include genetics, conservation, tropical and environmental biology; they will either be purely analytical or have strong field and/or laboratory components.

Course Overview

The MRes in Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution will offer an intensive one-year full-time programme designed to provide students with postgraduate-level training in research skills. It will provide students with a solid grounding in a range of professional and transferable skills and the opportunity to make a more informed decision on the area of research and specific PhD project they wish to pursue in the future. It will be ideal training for those who wish to pursue a career in academic, government or nongovernmental organisations engaged in research into biodiversity.

Taught Elements

The course will include:

  • Two-week module on genomics, including lectures and practicals in molecular ecology.
  • Two-week module on biodiversity informatics, including lectures and practicals in GIS techniques (geographic information system) that will familiarise students with ArcInfo (the most widely-used GIS package) and how it can be used with data from field observation or remote-sensing, and to introduce the topic of spatial statistical analysis.
  • Two-week module in programming, introducing core concepts such as control flow and simulation, R and languages such as perl and python. With the profusion of genomic, environmental and ecological information, data handling is more important than ever. This module introduces programming using the key languages and emphasises an understanding of their relative strengths. The module is split into two separate weeks that integrate with the modules on GIS and molecular ecology and genomics.
  • One-week intensive module in statistics that will introduce students to various key statistical texts as well as statistical computing in R.
    A series of workshops, seminars and guest lectures on research techniques and rapidly-changing fields. Workshops will be scheduled fortnightly throughout terms 2 and 3 to expose students to a wider range of practical issues and approaches. Workshops will be based at Silwood Park and hosted by partner organisations.
  • One-week summer school on ‘Grand Challenges in Biodiversity Research’ (largely organised by the students as a retreat). This summer school will provide a relaxed set-up to run forums on current ‘hot’ topics, such as ‘biodiversity under climate change’, ‘ethics and genomics’, etc.
    Training in complementary skills, personal development and business.

Research Project

One 36-week research project covering different research areas hosted by a laboratory within the Division of Ecology and Evolution, possibly in conjunction with a laboratory at an affiliated institution. The choice of the project will be student-led and the first eight weeks will provide ample time to choose a suitable host. Each project will be written up by the student in the format of a scientific publication. Although not compulsory, the expectation will be that the students will submit their reports for publication by the relevant peer-reviewed journals, e.g. Global Change Biology, Systematic Biology, Molecular Ecology, Genome Research as appropriate.

Further Study/Employability

The course has been designed to be ideal training for those who wish to pursue a career in academic, government or non-governmental organisations engaged in research into biodiversity.

How to Apply

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Key Information

Start date:

3rd September 2018 at 12:00am


Imperial College London


Full Time






London, United Kingdom