Systematics and the evolutionary understanding of biological phenomena have also come to underpin ever wider areas of biology, from developmental biology and immunology to microbiology and parasitology.
Students on the MRes course are trained in research techniques in systematics, taxonomy, evolutionary biology and bioinformatics as a stepping-stone to a PhD or research-related career.
After completing the MRes course, students will have:
- a good understanding of the state of knowledge of the field, together with relevant practical experience in three areas of biosystematic science in which the student has expressed an interest
- a broad appreciation of the scientific opportunities in biosystematics and associated fields and the many exciting developments in phylogeny reconstruction, bioinformatics, genomics and biodiversity research resulting from novel computer technology, molecular biology and theoretical advances
- where applicable, the ability to contribute to the formulation and development of ideas underpinning potential PhD projects in areas of interest, and to make an informed decision on the choice of potential PhD projects
- knowledge of a range of specific research techniques and professional and transferable skills.
This will be achieved by:
- training through research in a wide range of the appropriate scientific methods and techniques, including for example theory and philosophy of phylogenetic reconstruction, morphological character analysis, microscopy and image analysis, molecular systematics, taxonomic revisions, phylogenetics computing, genomics, bioinformatics, statistical approaches to biodiversity, GIS, population and conservation genetics, and specimen handling and collection management.
- participation, as Research Group members, in all group discussions, seminars, work-in-progress lab meetings, and journal clubs, as well as selected lectures and seminars chosen from the wide range of weekly IC and Natural History Museum seminar series and other specialist subject seminars. Participation in key lectures of the MSc course in Advanced Methods in Taxonomy and Biodiversity will also underpin the research-based training.
- training in core transferable skills, including scientific writing, presentation skills, experimental design, statistics, science and ethics, computing, science career guidance and time management
- three 15-week research projects in different Research Group laboratories, at least one of which will be based at the Natural History Museum and one at Imperial College at Silwood Park. Each project is assessed by a thesis, an oral presentation and a viva voce
- where applicable, protected time for PhD project discussion and development
Suitable candidates for this course
This course is specifically targeted at excellent students who plan on a career in biological research, but who feel that a standard three year PhD programme is insufficient, or who are uncertain about their specialisation. The course is likely to be most attractive to high quality biology graduates with interests in organismal and evolutionary biology, either to lead to a career in research, or to provide those opting for a career in biosystematics research with a better appreciation of the nature of laboratory-based research.
The course will also appeal to those with a mostly molecular approach to systematics, or those interested in the new possibilities of genomics and evolutionary approaches to understanding the genome. Students may have the opportunity of undertaking their subsequent PhD at either of the host institutions.