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Module BSM-4121:
Bioinformatical Analysis Tools

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Prof Peter Golyshin

Overall aims and purpose

The purpose of this module is to teach postgraduate research & master students how to utilise online bioinformatics tools to analyse (i) DNA & RNA, (ii) genomes and (iii) proteins. These skills are essential for the successful completion of modern research projects and provide PG students with transferable employable skills.

The teaching strategy uses problem-based-learning in combination with three workshops. These workshops take place in a computer room allowing students instant access to the software tools. They are structured according to the three main biological topics (DNA & RNA, genomes, proteins) and equip students with the tools required to solve a set research problem.

Students are offered two drop-in sessions to resolve any issues they may encounter during the problem solving exercise.

At the end of the module, each students will present the results in a 15 min oral presentations as part of a scientific symposium. This will teach students how to prepare professional presentations for scientific meetings or interviews.

Students will also sit a practical test at the end of the module (2hrs, supervised in computer room) in which they have to apply the acquired skills to an unseen bioinformatics problem.

Course content

This module teaches PG research & master students how to apply open-access databases and bioinformatics programmes to biological problems.

The module starts with three workshops in which students are introduced to bioinformatics tools designed to study (i) DNA & RNA, (ii) genomes and (iii) proteins.

At the end of the third workshop, each student will get a set problem that can be solved using the available internet resources. Help will be provided in two drop-in sessions.

The problem solving process has to be summarized in a 15min oral presentation at a scientific symposium.

The acquired skills have to be applied to an unseen problem in a 2h supervised practical test in a computer room at the end of the module.

Assessment Criteria


Category C (50-59%) Knowledge of key tools & principles only. Understands main areas with limited evidence of background study. Presentation is focussed on problem but also with some irrelevant material and weaknesses in structure. Acceptable slide design. Arguments presented but lack coherence and have several factual errors. No original interpretation. Limited response to questions.


Category B (60-69%) Strong knowledge, understands most but not all key tools. Only tools presented in the workshops were used. Evidence of limited background study. Focussed presentation with good structure. Good slide design. Reasonable response to questions. Scientific argument is coherent, mostly free of factual errors. Some limited original interpretation.


Category A (70-100%) Comprehensive knowledge of the taught bioinformatics tools. Ability to identify additional tools which were not presented. Detailed understanding of the research problem and its solution. Extensive background study. Highly focussed and well prepared presentation (background, hypothesis, research approach, research data, conclusions). Very good response to questions. Scientific argument logically presented and well supported by data. New links between topics are developed. Professional slide design.

Learning outcomes

  1. Apply online bioinformatics tools to the advanced analysis of genes, transcripts, genomes and proteins.

  2. Demonstrate a professional ability to solve research problems.

  3. Report the results of the problem-solving process in an oral presentation to fellow students and researchers in a format that could be given at any research meeting.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Presentation 50
In Class Analysis Test 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Private study to cover the materials taught in the module


Three 2h workshops (6 hours)


Two 1h drop-in sessions (2 hours)


One day scientific symposium (8 hours)


One 2h supervised practical test (2 hours)


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations
  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Engagement with current developments in the biosciences and their application.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Undertake practical work to ensure competence in basic experimental skills.


Resource implications for students


Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: