What is Bioinformatics?

Bioinformatics is a discipline at the convergence of computing and the life sciences aimed at the development of technologies for storing, extracting, organising, analysing, interpreting and utilising the incredible amount of information being generated by new biological technologies (for example genes, proteins and whole genomes). Not only have advances in computing helped accelerate the process of data generation, but the need to process and analyse this vast amount of information has led to advances in both software technologies (databases, algorithm design, machine learning and visualisation) and hardware architectures. Additionally, there is considerable interest in Bioinformatics from researchers in medicine and mathematics.

The Bioinformatics program covers the foundation disciplines of bioinformatics, including biology (biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics), computing (algorithms, databases, programming) and mathematics and statistics. In addition, dedicated bioinformatics subjects bring together these various fields to demonstrate the use of computational methods in the analysis of high-throughput biology data including the human genome.

Bioinformatics graduates will be able to:

  • Carry out sophisticated data analysis, particularly in the area of biology, which will be of the benefit of society.
  • Undertake the development of high quality software, particularly in the area of data analysis.
  • Make significant contributions to the development of computing technology, particularly for use in biological data analysis.

Career Opportunities

The importance of Bioinformatics to drug discovery has resulted in significant growth in the use of Bioinformatics in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. There is a growing niche for professionals with a strong foundation in both computing and life sciences. Potential employers for graduates of these programs include:

  • Specialised Bioinformatics companies.
  • Pharmaceutical and biotech companies employing Bioinformatics technology in all stages of the drug discovery process.
  • Agrotech/industrial biotech companies using Bioinformatics for study of crops and livestock.
  • Computing companies building specialised hardware and software for Bioinformatics.
  • Biological, medical and computer science research organisations

In addition to Bioinformatics employment, graduates are qualified for employment in both biotechnology and IT/software development industries, and they have proven to be popular with financial institutions for their data analysis skills.

Program Content and Flexibility

The degree's courses can be roughly broken down to 35% computing, 35% biosciences, 15% maths and 15% specialised Bioinformatics. The students will be made aware of the context in which the commercial Bioinformatics industry is evolving. The program has a strong laboratory focus as a majority of courses have laboratory components aimed at the engineering of complex Bioinformatics systems.

Students have a choice of electives in the latter stages of the program that allows them to focus on specific areas of interest in both computing and biological sciences. Some computing specialisations include advanced programming, artificial intelligence, computer networks, e-commerce and databases. Biological specialisations include genetics, molecular biology, microbiology and biotechnology.  Electives are reduced when student enrol in a dual degree program to make room for the second discipline.

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Assumed Knowledge

Maths Ext 1, English Standard Band 3 or English (ESL) Band 4.

Students who do not meet these levels should contact our Student Office about alternatives, including bridging courses and alternative program structures.

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Advantageous Knowledge

Chemistry or Biology, Maths Ext 2.

Obtaining a result in Band E4 in Maths Ext 2 allows students to take the higher level maths course MATH1141.