skip to content

Department of Genetics


Welcome to MCB

Part IB MCB lectures will be taught on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 9am in the Plants Sciences Lecture Theatre. Practicals will take place on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons in the Bioinformatics Training Room, Craik Marshall Building.

If you are a Part IA student and interested in taking Part IB Mathematical and Computational Biology (MCB), please take a look at the the publicity leaflet below or download our Course FAQs


The Mathematical and Computational Biology course is taught by the Departments of Genetics, PDN, Pathology, Zoology, Plant Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Bioinformatics and Christ’s College. It can be taken in combination with any other subject in Part IB of the Physical and Natural Sciences Triposes, except Physics B and Earth Sciences B, with which it clashes in the Lecture Timetable.

Students will develop a strong background in modelling, statistics, fitting models to data, algorithms, simulation, bioinformatics, “big data” and computer programming.

The M&CB Course will equip students with a comprehensive suite of quantitative and computational skills that will be useful at Part II, Part III and beyond (in paid employment as well as in research). 



At the end of the course students should:

  1. have knowledge and understanding of a range of advanced mathematical techniques and their application to biological systems;
  2. have an understanding of the fundamental concepts behind some mathematical techniques which can be used to understand biological systems.

Students should also:

  1. be able to implement and use common bioinformatics algorithms;
  2. be able to develop and analyse mathematical models;
  3. be able to use computer and numerical methods related to the course material;
  4. be able to develop their own computer programs in Python

The course syllabus is defined by the lecture content, but you are encouraged to explore the lecture topics in more depth by reading at least some of the references provided in lecture handouts. You won’t have time to read all of these, but the additional reading introduces you to how science is done before it makes it to the textbooks. It provides useful material for discussion in College supervisions, and help in writing supervision essays and in the examinations at the end of the year.

Moodle and Course Handbook

Lecture resources and course handbook will be available on the Moodle Site. You will automatically be subscribed to this site as part of the NST subject choice procedures but if you join the course after the start of term, send an email to  (Course Administrator), requesting that you are added to the course. You will need to use your Raven ID and password to log onto Moodle, which you will also be able to access during the vacation


Committee and Student Reps

The course is run by a Management Committee, consisting of the lecturers in the course. The committee decides broadly on the content of lectures and practicals, and has the responsibility for organising and delivering these. The day-to-day running of the course is devolved to a small section of the Committee, who act as course organisers. This group meets with student representatives (chosen by you) and lecturers at the end of every term (the Consultative Committee) to look at the results of questionnaire returns and find out your views about the course. Please use the student representatives to feed back any comments that you have about the course to the MCB Management Committee!

The course is revised on a yearly basis in the light of comments made by you in online questionnaires and by your representatives on the Consultative Committee, which meets each Term.

The minutes of Consultative Committee meetings and analysis of student questionnaires will be available on the Moodle site.