MRes Biosystematics

Leaf-cutter ants

Broaden your understanding of taxonomy and systematics and gain practical experience in the field.

Course description

Gain a broad perspective of taxonomy and systematics as well as relevant practical experience on this Master's course.

Available full-time or part-time and run jointly with Imperial College, London, the programme will prepare you for further PhD study or a future career in systematics research.

You'll carry out two hands-on research projects at the Museum and Imperial's Silwood Park Campus under the supervision of acknowledged international experts at both institutions.

You'll also improve your knowledge of biosystematics through regular academic tutorials, attendance at lab meetings, and external lectures and seminar series.

Examples of previous projects

Aims and objectives

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.

Course content

Research projects

You’ll complete one research project in each of the Spring and Summer terms from one of the following topics:

  • Specimen-based phylogenetics
  • Molecular systematics and genomics
  • ‘Big-data’ bioinformatics and biodiversity informatics

At least one project must be carried out at each of:

  • the Natural History Museum
  • Imperial College London Silwood Park campus.

Training in scientific methods

  • 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
  • specimen handling and collection management.

Where applicable, there is also protected time for PhD project discussion and development.

Other components

Students can attend any of the lectures and practicals of the associated MSc course, and are encouraged to participate in:

  • group discussions
  • seminars
  • work-in-progress lab meetings
  • journal clubs
  • selected lectures and seminars
  • key lectures of the MSc course Taxonomy, Biodiversity and Evolution

They are also required to undertake a number of transferable skills courses run by Imperial College London:

  • scientific writing
  • presentation skills
  • experimental design
  • statistics
  • science and ethics
  • computing
  • science career guidance
  • time management.


  • Individual research project
  • Presentations

How to apply

Applications are processed through Imperial College London.

Application deadlines – Round 2 closes on Friday 19 January 2024.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 in a biological or environmental subject. We also accept a wide variety of international qualifications. For guidance see Imperial’s accepted qualifications page

Key information

Duration: 1 year full-time
Start date: October 2024
Location: South Kensington

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Home and EU students

Full-time (1 year) £15,150 per year

Overseas and Islands students

Full-time (1 year) £30,600 per year

Postgradute Master’s Loan: 

For more information visit Imperial's website