Applied Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics is an applied discipline that provides support in analysing and interpreting data from an array of disciplines such as genetics, molecular biology, chemistry etc., thus contributing to solve pressing problems related to human health and environment alike.


Why study Applied Bioinformatics?

This course:
  • Exposes students to theoretical and analytical aspects in the field of bioinformatics.
  • Encourages and guides students to critically examine these topics and develop an appreciation of the integrative nature of biology, especially in its applications through biotechnology, disease biology and metagenomics.
  • Exposes students to the range of experimental and analytical techniques fundamental to research at the molecular and cellular level.
  • Grounds students in the research process, from conceptualisation and design of the project to its execution and dissemination and discussion of its findings.
  • Assists students to become independent researchers and develop professional attitudes and skills.

Students will get hands-on experience in using bioinformatics tools related to following:

  • Major bioinformatics databases and portals
  • searching global alignment
  • multiple sequence alignment techniques and tools
  • an introduction and overview of phylogenetics techniques
  • visualisation techniques
  • pattern matching techniques and applications
  • gene expression
  • microarray data analysis
  • protein analysis

Why study Applied Bioinformatics at Wits?

The School of Molecular and Cell Biology is unique in that it offers excellence in teaching and research at the postgraduate level in the diverse areas of: protein biochemistry, cell and developmental biology, food and industrial microbiology, immunology, microbial biological control, insect pathology, molecular genetics, the biology of mycorrhizas, plant pathology, plant genetic engineering, applied bioinformatics and it contains the Protein Structure and Function Research Unit.

The School of Molecular and Cell Biology is home to the following world-class facilities:

  • Real-time PCR Instruments
  • GelDoc systems with chemiluminescence functionality single crystal X-ray diffractometer and crystal farm
  • Stopped-flow device with absorbance, fluorescence, and circular dichroism functionality
  • Tissue culture laminar flows
  • Spectrophotometers, fluorometers and spectropolarimeters
  • Isothermal titration calorimeter
  • 2D and high resolution SDS-PAGE
  • Nanodrops
  • Automated protein purification systems
  • Ultra-centrifuges
  • HPLC
  • Flow cytometer for fluorescence activated cell scanning
  • Controlled plant growth facilities photobioreactors and nematode bioreactors
  • Scanning & transmission electron microscopes
  • Compound, fluorescent and dissection microscopes.
  • Computational facilities 

Several researchers within the school work at the interface of experimental biology and bioinformatics, therefore, the school provides an ideal environment for students to learn and apply bioinformatics skills on a wide variety of biological data.

Career Opportunities

Some career possibilities after completing honours programme include: Analytical biochemist, Biomedical scientist, Healthcare scientist, Clinical biochemist, Industrial enzymology, Life science research scientist, Plant and Animal breeding, Medical diagnostics, Cryopreservation of cells and tissues, Stem Cell Technology, Agricultural, Medical, Environmental & Veterinary biotechnology, Industrial biotechnology, Insecticides research and production, Water quality research, Production of scientific products, Medicinal products and Pharmaceutical Industry, Food Industry, Biotechnology Industry, Brewing Industry, Science Journalism, Patent Law, Bioinformatics, Bioconsultant.


To obtain an Honours degree in Molecular and Cell Biology, students will need to complete:

  1. A techniques course.

  2. Two current topics.

    The following topics are offered.
    • Protein Biotechnology
    • Systems integration in cell tumour biology
    • Protein structural Biology
    • Hot topics in infectious and non-infectious diseases
    • Omics
    • Plant and insect pathology
    • Microbiology in the age of microbiomes

  3. A research project which will consist of the following components
    • Project proposal
    • Written project report
    • Poster presentation on completion of the project
    • Oral presentation on completion of the project

The subjects of research projects are within the research interests of the academic staff.

List of compulsory courses with course code and name

  • Techniques course MCBG4028A
  • Current topics MCBG4027A
  • Research Project MCBG4030A

Entry Requirements

  • A Bachelor of Science degree or equivalent
  • A pass in the relevant major course at this University or any other university whose programme has been approved by Senate.
  • At least 60% average in the final undergraduate course.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place.  Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

Competition for entry to the course is strong and preference will be given to applicants with a major in the discipline of molecular and cellular biology in areas such as genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, biotechnology, cell development and cell biology.

University Application Process

  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at

University Fees and Funding

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees site also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.