Postgraduate taught 

Bioinformatics MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Omics and Systems Approaches in Biology BIOL5174

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Life Sciences
  • Credits: 15
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course will provide 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, metabolomics and systems biology approaches.


This course will take place largely in the second half of Semester 1. Lecture sessions of 1-3 hours duration several times per week; several group work sessions/seminars of 1-2 hours duration; computer practical sessions of 1-3 hours approx. twice per week.

Excluded Courses





This course will be assessed by means of a 1.5-hour examination (50%) and coursework assessment (50%).

The coursework will comprise two assessment components: i) a combined individual essay and group presentation  (worth 25% in total) and ii) an individual set exercise based on computer lab practical work (worth 25%).

Coursework component i) will comprise two items: a) individual written assignment based on a critical analysis of scientific literature (worth 19%); and b) an accompanying group presentation (worth 6%); these two items will be aggregated to calculate the grade for the coursework component.

Main Assessment In: December

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below.


Computer practical set exercise coursework assessments for this course can be reassessed. However, reassessment may not involve re-doing the same exercise for reasons of fairness, but will instead involve doing an alternative piece of work addressing the same intended learning outcomes.


Assessments in the form of group oral presentations cannot normally be re-assessed, as the prep work and presentation cannot be recreated by the group for a single individual in the group. The only exception to this will be where all members of a group are eligible to be re-assessed and have elected to be re-assessed in this item of assessment.

Course Aims

The aims of this course are to equip students with extensive, critical and integrative understanding of how modern 'omics' analysis approaches are used to make inferences about biological functions. 'Omics' includes genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. In addition, it will provide students with a detailed overview of the use of 'omics' data in analysis at a systems level - Systems Biology - and of the relationship between protein structure analysis and the proteome. The course will cover 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.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ critically discuss and solve problems relating to: 

■ the ways in which investigations of the four 'omics' realms (genome, transcriptome, proteome and metabolome) are tackled analytically; 

■ the statistical approaches and workflow practices involved in genomics and in a range of transcriptomic approaches;

■ 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; 

■ the relationship between the proteome and other 'omics' domains, and the ways in which the proteome can be investigated using a variety of technological approaches;

■ the source and variety of components of the metabolome and of their relationship with entities in the other 'omics' domains, and the ways in which the metabolome can be investigated using a variety of technological and statistical approaches;

■ the ways in which biological systems can be understood at a systems or network level, and the ways in which models can be constructed and analyses performed to draw biological inferences about the interactions between different parts of a network.

■ use computers creatively to manipulate omics-level datasets and protein structure files;

■ use computer programs to execute a variety of planned analyses in several areas relating to omics domains and to protein structure;

■ critically evaluate and synthesise the results of omics-level analyses to draw biological inferences. 

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.