MSc/Diploma in Evolutionary Genetics
Evolution lies at the core of Biology and genetics is central to the modern understanding of evolution. The discipline of population genetics has for nearly a century occupied a preeminent role in defining the theoretical framework for understanding evolutionary change which since the advent of nucleotide sequencing has been applied to all forms of life from humans to viruses. In recent years the technological developments which allow whole genome sequencing have given rise to the new area of population genomics. Concurrent theoretical developments in quantitative genetics have allowed it to be applied to wild vertebrate populations, opening new areas for research in complex traits relevant to conservation genetics and climate change. Complex traits are determined by the combined action of several genes and the environment. Characterised in quantitative terms using statistical methods, most of the traits of greatest interest in evolutionary biology such as fitness, viability, and reproductive success are now accessible to analysis in wild populations.
The development of genomic technology in recent years has had an immense impact on all areas of genetics and evolutionary biology. Genetic mapping and genome sequencing programmes of human, mouse and other organisms have generated many markers for mapping genes influencing complex traits in human populations as well as those of wild animals and model organisms. These developments have led to a requirement for training young researchers working in the area of genome studies in population and statistical genetics, quantitative genetics and bioinformatics in an environment which exposes them to state-of-the-art science.
This programme is based in the internationally renowned Institute of Evolutionary Biology. It provides training in genetics and quantitative skills which are increasingly required by industry and research to exploit the explosion of information in genomics. Students gain the knowledge and skills required to apply quantitative genetics theory to undertake research in evolutionary and quantitative genetics, population genetics and genome analysis.
Students selecting the Evolutionary Genetics option start by acquiring core skills in quantitative genetics and genome analysis as described in the Programme Overview. In the second half of Semester 2, students take at least one of two specialist courses in evolutionary genetics: Molecular Evolution (Prof Paul Sharp) and Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics (Dr Jacob Moorad). Each of these courses has a prerequisite course which runs in the first half of Semester 2: Quantitative Genetic Models (Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics) and Molecular Phylogenetics (Molecular Evolution). As in the other specialisations, students also prepare a written project proposal based on the subject of their forthcoming 3-month research project. To fulfil the requirements for the MSc degree, students then proceed to a full-time research project over the summer, culminating in a dissertation.
Students who successfully complete the appropriate period of study can elect to graduate with a Diploma or MSc in Quantitative Genetics and Genome Analysis or with a Diploma or MSc in Evolutionary Genetics.
For more information about this programme, click the links below:
Evolutionary Genetics Topics
Course Handbook (pdf - contains teaching schedule)