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Master
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (joint degree UvA/VU)
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Study programme

The Master's Bioinformatics and Systems Biology is a two-year programme taught in English, with an excellent international reputation. Research groups with extensive experience in a broad range of experimental and theoretical research lead the programme.

During the MSc programme, you can choose between two specialisations, Bioinformatics or Systems Biology, or choose both. The programme guarantees that, upon successful completion of the study, you can communicate effectively with your colleagues, irrespective of your focus on experimental or computational disciplines. 

The curriculum

In the first year in particular, much attention is paid to the basic principles of both bioinformatics and systems biology.

Students with a major in Bioinformatics expand their knowledge in sequence analysis, next generation sequencing, prediction and simulation of protein structures and medical applications of Bioinformatics. Students with a major in Systems Biology expand their knowledge with models of biological networks, experimental verification of models, relevance of systems biology for research and synthetic biology.

In the second and final year students will have two research internships, one in the field of bioinformatics and one in the field of systems biology.

Integrated programme

The programme truly integrates a Bioinformatics and Systems Biology perspective. Your compulsory courses will tackle research problems within both fields. You may opt to take elective courses with an in-depth focus on a single discipline, such as molecular biology or machine learning.

You will study current issues, challenges and opportunities in both topics.  There are ample opportunities for interesting and challenging internships, in hospitals (such as in oncology and clinical genetics), at biotech companies, at seed breeding companies, in the pharmaceutical industry, in data science and, of course, at bioinformatics and systems biology groups at universities.

Supervision 

You will be assigned a mentor who will support you during the entire programme. Moreover, one of the staff members will supervise your practical coursework and internships.

Society- or business oriented majors/minors

In general, Master's students are trained to become independent researchers. But you can also choose to complete your Master's programme with a professional major, that focuses on other skills such as entrepreneurship, science communication or teaching. 

Majors and Minors

At the UvA you can choose to do your Master's programme with a society-/ business-oriented major or minor that focuses on other skills than doing research. In this case you will follow the programme of your chosen scientific discipline during the first year of your Master's (although slightly adjusted), and a society-/ business-oriented major or minor during the second year. You will graduate as a Master of Science. If you have the ambition to do a professional specialisation make sure to inform about conditions early in your Master's programme. 

Which specialisation do you choose?

Bioinformatics specialisation

Bioinformatics deals with large-scale data analysis, like DNA-sequencing experiments. Programming, algorithms and machine learning are important elements. Bioinformatics is extensively used within the field of biomedicine, but also in many other areas of molecular biology. 

In the Bioinformatics specialisation track, you will follow three additional profile courses in which you will learn how to write algorithms that can align sequences, design complex bioinformatics workflows to process molecular profiling data, predict how protein folds given only their sequence, simulate protein molecules, and apply machine learning effectively on large-scale molecular profiling datasets in biomedicine.

These profile courses are compulsory for the Bioinformatics specialisation:

  • Algorithms in Sequence Analysis
  • Structural Bioinformatics
  • Bioinformatics for Translational 

Systems Biology specialisation

Systems Biology encompasses modelling large biological networks, in combination with experiments to probe the system. Mathematical modelling, structured large-scale experiments and statistical analysis are important elements in the specialisation. Systems Biology is extensively used in bioengineering and biomedicine.

The Systems Biology specialisation track comprises three additional profile courses. In these courses, you will learn how to model large metabolic pathways, how to deal with large and heterogeneous experimental datasets, how to set up experiments to probe biological systems and how experiment modelling and data analysis should be combined.

These profile courses are compulsory for the Systems Biology specialisation:

  • Basic Models of Biological Networks
  • Systems Biology in Practice
  • Statistics with R

Degree requirements

A Master of Science in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology is awarded upon successful completion of all the core courses in the curriculum and a written Master's thesis based on an independent research project. This translates into a total of 120 ECTS credits.

Accreditation and degree

This programmes has been legally accredited by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). This means that upon successful completion of the programme, students will receive a legally accredited Master's degree in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology and the title of Master of Science (MSc).