Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Menu Search


Human genetics

B.A.; 4 years full-time; 15 places; 560

What is Human genetics?

Human Genetics is the study of genes – or heredity – in humans. It also examines the effects of these genes on both individuals and societies. It has developed rapidly in the last decade as new technology has made it possible to study genes in much greater detail. Examples of remarkable advances in knowledge include:

  • The discovery of the molecular basis of many inherited disorders
  • The development of genetic and stem-cell-based therapies for inherited disorders
  • The ability to trace the evolution of mankind
  • The application of DNA finger-printing to forensic science

Is this the right course for you?

Human Genetics is a knowledge-driven, dynamic and exciting field. As most graduates of this programme go on to careers in research, you should be prepared to consider this route as one career option.

What will you study?

This course provides you with a strong base in the basic sciences of biology, chemistry and mathematics, as well as in the classical principles of genetics – molecular, population and quantitative genetics, bioinformatics and molecular evolution.

Over the four-year period of your degree programme, the course will also demonstrate the importance of studies in model organisms, especially the mouse. Seminar and tutorial programmes, organised with staff from various disciplines, are an integral part of your studies, and encompass such subjects as the interactions between genetics and the social sciences, ethics, linguistics, philosophy and law, and the general relationship between genes, society and culture.


In the first and second years you will concentrate on the areas of biology, chemistry and mathematics, and will also be introduced to the principles of genetics in separate tutorials.

In each of the first two years you will take some of the same courses as Science (TR071) students: Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics in the Junior Freshman year and Biology modules BY2201, 2203, 2204, 2205, 2208 and 2209, Chemistry and Mathematics in the Senior Freshman year. In addition you will have a weekly genetics tutorial with faculty from the Department.


In the third and fourth years you will undertake specialised studies in areas such as:

  • Medical Genetics: includes the identification of genes causing various clinical disorders and the development of genetic and stem-cell therapies to treat them.
  • Neurogenetics: studies how genes control development and function of the nervous system and their influences on behaviour and psychiatric disease.
  • Molecular and Cell Biology: explores the control of gene expression and function of genes in various cellular processes, such as cell death, proliferation or differentiation.
  • Computer Programming: provides an essential skill for this field, where large amounts of data must be analysed, and one which is easily transferable to other careers.
  • Population Genetics and Human Evolution: deals with genetic variation in populations and the role of this variation in evolution, especially in humans.
  • Cancer Genetics and Mutation: studies the mechanisms of mutation and its role in cancer.

Subjects are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and practical courses.

In the Senior Sophister year, you will be able to specialise in areas of particular interest and will carry out an original research project in an area such as: Hereditary Blindness, Cell Death, Neural Development, Stem-Cell Biology, Human Evolution and Psychiatric Genetics. Specialist lecture courses include Cancer Genetics, Genetics of Vision, Behavioural Genetics and Human Evolutionary Genetics.

Why study Human Genetics at Trinity?

  • Human Genetics is housed in the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, with state of the art research facilities.
  • Ireland was ranked number 1 in Europe in the 2010 national rankings for research in molecular genetics and genomics (source: Thomson Scientific Essential Science indicators), ahead of countries such as the UK and Germany. This ranking is based on the high numbers of citations received by research papers in genetics published from Ireland, primarily by scientists at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics – the only dedicated genetics research institute in Ireland. The institute has an outstanding reputation for producing high-quality research and holds two of Ireland’s three European Research Council Advanced Grants in biology – the most prestigious research awards in Europe.


You will be assessed by a combination of continuous assessment and end-of-year examinations.

Study abroad

At the end of the third year, you may be able to spend the summer months working in a human genetics research laboratory. This is often in the USA, with some financial assistance provided.


Many Human Genetics graduates go on to study for a higher degree or to a career in research, whether in a university, research institute, or in industry. Opportunities exist in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, agricultural organisations, medical or clinical diagnostic laboratories, forensics, public health and epidemiology programmes, and in teaching. Genetic counselling is a rapidly expanding field that might also interest you. Other graduates have gone into careers such as medicine, patent law or science journalism. Even if you choose a career not directly related to the scientific subject, the skills of critical thinking and problem solving provided by the Human Genetics degree will put you in high demand.

Further information

Tel: +353 1 896 1140

Graduate Profile

Aoife Murray: Human Genetics

I became interested in genetics in 5th year in school, after we covered the genetics section of the Leaving Cert biology course. It was easy to choose which college to apply to - Trinity is the only college in Ireland to offer a Human Genetics degree. In first and second year of the course we did a lot of general biology, as well as Chemistry and Maths. We also had a weekly genetics tutorial which was a chance to hear a little bit about the work that's going on in the genetics department and gave a small taste of the subjects we'd study in 3rd and 4th year. The last two years were focused completely on different areas of genetics, of which I was particularly interested in medical genetics and neurogenetics. A large part of 4th year was spent working on an individual research project in one of the labs in the genetics department. I spent the summer after 3rd year working in a lab in California which was a fantastic experience and helped me decide that after college I definitely wanted to pursue a career in research. Next year I'm going to Cambridge to start a PhD in the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research.

This course is funded by the Irish government under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 and aided by the European Social Fund (ESF) under the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme 2007-2013.




Course Options




4 years full-time

Points Required


Number of Places


CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is


Minimum entry points required are 560
More information on minimum entry points


Human genetics (TR073) focuses on the genes of humans, while the Genetics option in Science (TR071) examines plant, human and other animal genes.

Students who apply for the general entry science course (TR071) have the option of selecting genetics as their specialist subject for the Sophister (third and fourth) years of the course. See Genetics.

Admission Requirements

For general admission requirements please click here

Leaving CertificateOC3 or HD3 Mathematics HC3 In two of physics, biology, chemistry, physics/chemistry, mathematics and applied mathematics
GCSEGrade B Mathematics
Advanced GCE (A-Level)Grade C In two of physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics and applied mathematics
Combinations of subjects not permitted:
Physics/chemistry with physics or chemistry
Applied mathematics with mathematics
Other EU examination systemsSee


To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO.

Mature Student – Supplementary Application Form

Read the information about how to apply as a mature student then select the link below to complete the TCD Supplementary Application Form for mature students.

Human Genetics, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 01/FEB/2016

Non-EU Applicants

  • Human Genetics, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 30/JUN/2016
  • CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is



    Human genetics (TR073) focuses on the genes of humans, while the Genetics option in Science (TR071) examines plant, human and other animal genes.

    Students who apply for the general entry science course (TR071) have the option of selecting genetics as their specialist subject for the Sophister (third and fourth) years of the course. See Genetics.