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Module titleBioinformatics
Module codeBIOM516
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Dr Rhys Farrer ()

Dr Ryan Ames (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Research in the biological sciences is increasingly dependent on large datasets such as those generated by DNA sequencing. This is also true for medical diagnosis and prognosis. Analysis of these datasets requires a range of skills and knowledge drawn from computer science, physical sciences and mathematics and statistics as well as biological sciences. Bioinformatics is the discipline that integrates algorithms and methods from these disciplines to model biological systems and infer patterns hidden in complex data.

This module requires you to have a working knowledge of the R programming language and statistical computing package. If you have no prior R knowledge you are encouraged to use the additional supporting documents on the module’s ELE page to learn R during guided independent study.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module’s main aim is to help to equip the next generation of biological scientists with a sufficient working knowledge of bioinformatics methods and concepts such that they can understand and critically evaluate the computational methods used in cutting-edge genomics and other biomedical sciences. Where possible and appropriate, the application of these bioinformatics methods will be illustrated with biological or biomedical examples from the recent peer-reviewed scientific literature.

The module also aims to equip the biologist with sufficient comprehension of the subject to effectively communicate and collaborate with specialist bioinformaticians in handling and analysing large scale biological data and as such will  provide a foundation for those wishing to go on to postgraduate study in bioinformatics and related fields.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Perform basic analyses on large-scale biological data
  • 2. Select proper data analysis tools to analyse biological data

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Analyse biological data in a systematic way including data uploading, data organisation, data pre-processing, data analysis, results summary and data analysis reporting

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Communicate effectively arguments, evidence and conclusions using written means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 5. Analyse and evaluate data with limited guidance

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

  • Basic tools used by bioinformaticians: R programming
  • Methods for genomics: alignment, assembly, variant calling, annotation
  • Methods for phylogenetics: phylogenetic tools and algorithms
  • Methods for transcriptional analysis: RNAseq, gene expression enrichment, data visualisation

Workshops to cover: sequence alignment, variant calling, phylogenetics, gene annotation and RNAseq methods. 

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching20Workshops
Guided Independent Study120Guided reading of literature, literature research and revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Feedback during workshopsAd hoc1-5Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Genomics503000 words1-5Written
Transcriptomics503000 words1-5Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
GenomicsEssay (3000 words)1-5August Ref/Def
TranscriptomicsEssay (3000 words)1-5August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment. Each re-assessment coursework requires 30 hours for 3000 word essays.   

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit an essay. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 50%. Each referral coursework requires 30 hours for 3000 word essays. 


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Most of the concepts and methods are covered in these textbooks. However, we will also use examples from scientific journals such as Nature, Science, Genome Research, etc. and these materials will be provided via ELE.

  • Zvelebil MJ and Baum JO, Understanding Bioinformatics, Garland Science, 2007 (Exeter library: 570.285 ZVE)
  • Agostini M, Practical Bioinformatics, Garland Science, 2012 (Exeter library: 572.86330285 AGO)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Bioinformatics, next-generation sequencing

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date