Fierce competition for MSc (Bioinformatics) research placement projects in 2018

With only 22 students and over 45 projects, competition for Masters of Science (Bioinformatics) students to work on projects across the precinct is evident by the record number of bursaries on offer to students this year – almost half of the projects have offered $5000 bursaries to attract the top students.

This is a terrific outcome for our course, and a real reflection of the unmet need for bioinformatics skills and resources across the precinct, says course convenor, Assoc Prof Andrew Lonie.

April 18 was the deadline for our call for MSc (Bioinformatics) research placement projects for the 2018 semester 1 cohort. The placements start in July 2018 and run part time for 18 months concurrently with coursework, with several assessment points and a minor thesis due on completion. The full research placement guidelines are detailed here.

A typical placement requires a student to learn appropriate bioinformatics techniques and apply them to real data, interpreting the results scientifically, but the scope of projects is flexible as befits the cross-disciplinary nature of the degree – for instance, developing bioinformatics tools or methods is also appropriate. Generally, projects in previous years have had a genomics focus, but other projects are welcome as students have a diverse skill base. Experts at Melbourne Bioinformatics may be able to provide co-supervision for certain projects if required.

This engagement model maximises existing talent in bioinformatics across the precinct, both in our students and our experts at Melbourne Bioinformatics, to develop and spread capability. Combined with our formal training sessions and expert consulting and collaborations we are helping to meet the growing demand for such skills.


The Process

1. Following submission of projects from supervisors by 18 April, a consolidated list of placement projects is given to students in late April.
2. Students directly negotiate placements with supervisors over May and early June.
3. Placements confirmed in June/early July in anticipation of late July start for semester 2.

Note that placements are always at the supervisor’s discretion and students are advised not to apply for a placement if they haven’t talked to the supervisor.

For further information, here is the list of last year’s projects.

Bursary option

Research teams are invited to offer a $5000 bursary in association with a project, and such bursaries have helped in attracting the top students. Note that bursaries are awarded only in the case of appropriate academic performance in the MSc (Bioinf) at the time of the placement, and in the case there there are more applicants than bursaries, of any type, bursaries will be awarded based on ranked performance in the MSc (Bioinf) at the time of the placement.


A/Prof Andrew Lonie
Academic Coordinator, MSc (Bioinf)
Director, Melbourne Bioinformatics & EMBL Australia Bioinformatics Resource
University of Melbourne