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COMP60532 Principles of Digital Biology syllabus 2021-2022

COMP60532 Principles of Digital Biology

Level 6
Credits: 15
Enrolled students: 27

Course leader: Duncan Hull

Additional staff: view all staff

Additional requirements

  • Pre-requisites

    A knowledge of modern biology is not a course prerequisite.

Assessment methods

  • 100% Coursework
Sem 2 w20-24 Lecture 2.19 Thu 10:00 - 13:00 -
Sem 2 w20-24 Workshop Collab Thu 14:00 - 17:00 -
Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Biohealth Informatics


This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact. Current students should see Blackboard/course unit related emails for any further updates.

Biology is currently undergoing a revolution. The success of the human genome project and other high-throughput technologies is creating a flood of new data. Capturing, interpreting and analysing this data provides real and significant challenges for computer scientists. This course will use biology as an exciting application domain for a wide range of CS techniques that have been developed on the course.

The course is organised in 4 sections:

  1. basic introduction to modern biology and bioinformatics
  2. data capture
  3. data delivery
  4. data analysis

Each section will commence with a short taught component delivered as research seminars. Assessments will be based on a short written report and presentations based on a case study that will be introduced at the start of the course.


  • Intro to Biology
  • Intro to Biology - the central dogma (2 hours)
  • Intro to genomics (2 hours)
  • Biology databases (2 hours)
  • Data capture
  • Capturing microarray data (1 hour)
  • Proteomics seminar (1 hour)
  • The gene ontology (1 hour)
  • Resource meta-data (1 hour)
  • Data delivery
  • HCI and bioinformatics (2 hours)
  • Dealing with heterogeneous, distributed data. (2 hours)
  • Bioinformatics and the grid (2 hours)
  • Data analysis
  • Integrated approaches to post-genome data (2 hours)

Teaching methods


1 day per week (5 weeks)

Feedback methods

Students work on a group based project exploring the application of computer science to an industrially focussed digital biology problem. Every day each group reports back to the class on the work they have completed. Tutors provide detailed formative feedback after each of these presentations. The final assessment is an individual report based on the group work. Detailed individual feedback will be provided on short report plans before the final report is completed.

Study hours

  • Lectures (35 hours)

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Group/team working
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Leadership
  • Project management
  • Oral communication
  • Problem solving
  • Research
  • Written communication

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, a student will be able to:

  • A basic understanding of the computational needs of modern biology.
  • Develop an understanding of the problems inherent in communicating with scientists from a different discipline.
  • Develop the ability to reflect upon and synthesize a range of computational techniques to develop effective problem solving strategies in an unfamiliar problem domain.
  • Develop the ability to communicate these strategies to non-specialists.

Reading list

No reading list found for COMP60532.

Additional notes

Course unit materials

Links to course unit teaching materials can be found on the School of Computer Science website for current students.

Links related to COMP60532