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The University of Edinburgh: Animal Breeding and Genetics

Institution The University of Edinburgh View institution profile
Department School of Biological Sciences
Study type Taught


We offer a suite of programmes to deliver the knowledge and skills required to:

  • apply quantitative genetic theory to practical problems in both the biomedical and animal science industries

  • undertake research in a wide range of fields such as evolutionary genetics, animal breeding, human genetics and genome analysis

All our programmes offer the same core content, but you can tailor your degree to reflect your interests.

This programme is specifically for those interested in the application of quantitative genetics to animal breeding. If you are interested in other applications you could consider our alternative programmes in:

  • Quantitative Genetics and Genome Analysis

  • Evolutionary Genetics

  • Human Complex Trait Genetics

Why study animal breeding and genetics?

This degree could be for you if you are interested in:

  • food security

  • the health of companion animals

  • the conservation of animals in the wild

We will provide you with the theory and knowledge of analytical tools so that you can tackle a wide range of problems.

This programme provides essential skills in:

  • quantitative genetics

  • population genetics

  • data analysis

  • statistical methods

  • genome analysis

As an Animal Breeding and Genetics student, you will focus on the application of quantitative genetics to animal breeding.

You will learn about the:

  • structure of breeding programmes for the improvement of production and health-related traits

  • genetic evaluation of livestock and the role of genomic information

  • use of new technologies, such as metagenomics and gene editing

The core course of this specialism is Animal Genetic Improvement, which is taught by colleagues from Scotland’s Rural Colleges (SRUC) and the Roslin Institute as well as having industry input.

Additional courses can be selected from any offered within the suite to build a degree to suit your interests.

Why study here?

Our programme offers a small course experience taught by active members of the quantitative genetic research community.

We are based in the Institute of Ecology and Evolution, part of the School of Biological Sciences, and for this programme we bring together expertise from across the University and SRUC.

We will cover applications to various livestock and aquaculture and look at health and production traits. In addition, this programme will emphasise the conceptual underpinnings of the field, with rigorous training in statistical genetics and exposure to other applications of quantitative genetics.

You will study alongside students with a broad spectrum of interests using quantitative genetic tools, including human genetics and evolutionary biology. Likewise, the staff involved in teaching will come from different disciplines.

The University has an international reputation as a leader in quantitative genetics. The first genetic department was set up in the University of Edinburgh in 1919, and the postgraduate Diploma in Genetics was offered to students beginning in 1949, with a substantial component of quantitative genetics. The MSc in Animal Breeding started in 1975 through a collaboration with the Agriculture Department.

Edinburgh continues to be at the forefront of research in the genetics of animal breeding, evolution, and human health. Many past students hold positions within the animal breeding industry.


Postgraduate Diploma - PgDip

Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities, consistently ranked in the world top 50, and placed 22nd in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.

Our position as one of Britain’s leading research universities was reaffirmed by the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, ranked 4th in the UK for research power (Times Higher Education, Overall Ranking of Institutions), with 90% of our research activity classified as world leading or internationally excellent in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

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