Foundations of Bioinformatics: an Introduction to Computational Biology and Omics Analysis BIOL5382

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Molecular Biosciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course provides the theoretical underpinnings required to engage with modern bioinformatic techniques and approaches, including the basis for omics approaches, and an introduction to computing practices commonly employed in this field. It also provides a detailed introduction to the experimental design and practice employed in modern 'omics' approaches to biology and to ways in which data generated in such experiments are analysed. This will cover genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics approaches.


This course will take place throughout Semester 1 and is made up of lectures and computing practical sessions.

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses



The course will be assessed by a 1-hour examination (35%) and coursework assessment (65%).

The exam will assess ILOs 1, 2, 3, 4.

The coursework will comprise three assessment components:
i) a written assignment (1000 words) based on a computer lab practical (worth 25%; this component will assess ILOs 4, 5). 
ii) a se
t exercise (worth 20%; this component will assess ILO 5).
iii) a written assignment
 (800 words) based on a computer lab practical (worth 20%; this component will assess ILOs 1, 3, 5).

Main Assessment In: December

Course Aims

The aims of this course are to foster extensive, critical and integrative understanding of the core concepts of molecular biology and DNA/protein sequence analysis as applicable to the field of bioinformatics, and of how modern 'omics' analysis approaches are used to make inferences about biological functions. 'Omics' includes genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics (including protein structure analysis), and metabolomics.

The course will provide students with a detailed overview of data representations, including tree thinking, and approaches for manipulating data, as well as covering experimental design and the practicalities of analysing large 'omics' datasets. Students will have the chance to put these analysis concepts into practice during extensive computer lab practicals, which will also cover core computing practices of use in the bioinformatics field, including connecting to servers, use of Unix/Linux and command line interfaces, and the use of scripts to enact simple instructions.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Critically discuss, evaluate and compare molecular characteristics of, relationships between, and technological and analytical approaches to studying the omic realms using evidence from the literature; 

2. Assess and critically compare the ways in which trees can be used to show relationships between entities, the ways in which protein functions can be understood in terms of their structures, and the relative advantages of different analytical approaches in protein structure determination;  

3. Critically discuss the experimental, analytical and workflow practices involved in genomics and in a range of transcriptomic approaches, and how the results of omic-level analyses can be synthesised to draw biological inferences;

4. Creatively interact with a computer operating system, and analyse, construct, use or creatively solve problems relating to (or any combination thereof), computer operating systems/filesystems and/or computer programs designed to organise, manipulate, transfer and display files, data and analyses;

5. Execute and communicate the results of a variety of planned analyses in several areas relating to DNA and protein sequence analysis, to protein structure and to omic realms.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.