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Study quantitative biology

Studying quantitative biology at UQ

Join the revolution in biological discovery
Published 18 Jan, 2022  ·  6-minute read

In the digital age the ability to combine biological knowledge with high-level data science, programming, and analytical expertise is becoming increasingly important.

At the core of this revolution is the way we use data and models to address some of our most pressing global issues, including:

  • food production and security
  • environmental management and biodiversity conservation
  • the treatment of existing and emerging diseases

With jobs and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) growing significantly faster than in any other sector of the economy, a degree in quantitative biology will make you a highly sought-after graduate in a world with an increasing demand for curious, data-driven scientists.

What is quantitative biology?

Quantitative biology is the application of programming, mathematical and statistical techniques to understand and solve problems in the life sciences. One element of quantitative biology involves managing and analysing large, complex data sets – or 'big data’ – to develop new insights into medicine, genetics, agriculture and the environment.

In the Master of Quantitative Biology, you’ll develop an in-depth understanding of data analytics through the lens of cutting-edge biology. You’ll learn:

  • mathematical and statistical modelling
  • programming, machine learning and high-performance computing
  • data analysis and visualisation.

Associate Professor Jan Engelstaedter from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences describes how developing skills at the interface of biology and data in the Master of Quantitative Biology will allow you to tackle some of our most pressing global issues.

“More and more we’re seeing that graduates need deep biological understanding as well as the skills to analyse large, complex datasets to confidently address global challenges in environmental management, species conservation, agricultural production and public health,” he says.

“Where this program is unique – and really shines – is that it builds on your existing understanding of biology and adds a crucial extra layer to your skillset through training that is far beyond the standard for most biologists.” - Jan Engelstaedter

“Conversely, students with a more quantitative background will learn how to apply their skills to biological problems,” says Jan.

“Our graduates end up with a unique and in-demand skill set that is tailored to today’s job market and is far beyond the training that most scientists receive.”

Watch Tap into the unlimited potential of algorithms with a Master of Quantitative Biology on YouTube.

Make your mark on a whole new world of data-driven biology

By combining programming, mathematics and data science together with traditional biological and life sciences, quantitative biologists are securing highly sought-after jobs in a range of important fields, including:

  • environmental management
  • agriculture, forestry and fisheries
  • biotechnology
  • genetics
  • epidemiology
  • medicine
  • public health.

Traditionally, careers in biology were more often associated with laboratory or field-based studies. By contrast, quantitative biology builds on this knowledge by leveraging the power of big data to solve biological problems.

Quantitative biology student

Explore the unexpected

Lecturer in quantitative biology, Dr Simon Hart, believes the breadth and diversity of opportunities available to quantitative biology graduates goes beyond what students expect. This means most students enter the program with one idea of where they’ll take their career – and come out the other side with a new appreciation of the many career pathways now open to them.

“Some graduates might be working out how to balance how much fishing can be done to meet society’s needs while avoiding the impacts of over-fishing,” he says.

“Others might be using complex satellite imagery data to predict deforestation in the Amazon, or tracking disease and illness through statistical and mathematical modelling.”

“Quantitative biology is a field where you can take your skills and apply them wherever you feel most passionate – it might even lead you down paths you never expected.” - Dr Simon Hart

What our experts are working on

UQ’s quantitative biology researchers are currently working on a wide range of basic and applied problems in the world of biological sciences.

Learn the complex with support from the best

Quantitative biology lab

Dr Anthony Romilio from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences engaging with students

Programming, data analysis, machine learning, mathematical and statistical modelling – the world of data science can sometimes sound a bit overwhelming, even to the most passionate number crunchers. But in UQ’s Master of Quantitative Biology program, the small class sizes mean you’ll have direct and constant access to some of the world’s leading experts in biological and data sciences.

These experts, highly regarded for their continued contribution to research and education within the field, are passionate about providing an inclusive and engaging educational environment. They’re dedicated to enabling the next generation of data-hungry biologists to thrive and succeed in their careers.

UQ is currently ranked #1 in Queensland for biological sciences and #1 in Australia for environmental sciences. You’ll be gaining a qualification from a university that not only equips you with the skills to kickstart a fulfilling career, but also makes you an attractive candidate when you enter the workforce.


Students of the Master of Quantitative Biology who have not already completed a related postgraduate degree could be eligible for a scholarship to help with financial support.

For more information on the scholarships available and how to apply, head to the UQ scholarships site.

Study the Master of Quantitative Biology at UQ

If you’re passionate about carving out a career within an industry that works to solve issues that face the world today and in the future, why not study the Master of Quantitative Biology at UQ?

Programs available:

If you have any questions about the program, contact the UQ Admissions team.

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