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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Postgraduate

Postgraduate Course: Bioinformatics Programming and System Management (PGBI11095)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course will provide Bioinformatics MSc (and other postgraduate) students with a working overview of computer systems, programming and software components advantageous to a career in bioinformatics, or graduate research. The course comprises examples of the different ways we could use bioinformatics software and environments and introduces the programming language Python.
Course description (Note that the order of course components given below may change.)
The UNIX environment: system administration, using AWK, accessing ECDF (Edinburgh Compute and Data Facility)
The Bioinformatic web: Databases, servers, web services, file formats, workflow management systems
git and github
BLAST: using BLAST to explore biological data
Relational (SQL) databases
Programming in Python
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Introduction to Bioinformatics for Life Scientists (PGBI11117)
Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  65
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 40, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 136 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 30 %, Coursework 70 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course will be assessed by 2 in-course assessments consisting of directed programming exercises producing working, well annotated code and associated support documentation (2 x 35%) and a written exam in the December diet (30%)
Feedback Written feedback will be given for both assessments. Additional feedback will also be given in week 11. Written feedback will be provided for the exam.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. A knowledge of how computer systems, online tools and high-performance compute interact to enable bioinformatics experiments
  2. A knowledge of the biological and bioinformatic data and knowledge bases "ecosystem", and the application and use of workflow management systems.
  3. A working knowledge of UNIX command line and basic systems administration.
  4. An understanding of the core principles of scientific programming, including an understanding of the importance of code versioning and appreciation of the different kinds of programming language.
  5. An ability to design and write working bioinformatics programmes in Python.
Reading List
It would be helpful if students could ensure they know their way around the Windows or UNIX graphical desktop. Most of the course will be taught using the UNIX command line - we strongly advise students to familiarize themselves with the UNIX command line before the course starts in order to get the most out of the teaching sessions.

You can work through introductory UNIX workbooks online for free:

There is no required text but students may find the following useful:



The NCBI BLAST tutorials at

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Systems administration
Core principles of programming
Working in teams and on shared infrastructures
Time management
Course organiserDr Alasdair Ivens
Tel: (0131 6)513605
Course secretaryMs Louise Robertson
Tel: (0131 6)50 5988
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