MMB8023 : Systems Biology

  • Offered for Year: 2014/15
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Daryl Shanley
  • Owning School: FMS Graduate School


Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module aims to provide an overview of systems biology with a focus on dynamic systems. Specifically the module aims to:

1. provide a clear understanding of what distinguishes a systems biology from a traditional reductionist approach to solving problems in the life sciences

2. inform students of the importance of establishing an effective experiment - model prediction cycle

3. inform students of the experimental and computational technologies available

4. inform students of online data and model resources together with their associated standards

5. provide a critical platform to judge where and when a systems biology approach would be particularly useful

Outline Of Syllabus

The module introduces the range of experimental and computational tools and techniques that are available for investigating biological systems. The module will cover how the data generated can be stored, integrated and used to build effective predictive models. An emphasis will be placed on demonstrating that collaboration is essential for working at the systems level. The current focus of systems biology is on investigating cellular components and their interactions, however for systems biology to really deliver it is clear that it must incorporate studies that span biological levels. These ideas will be developed within the course. This module is suitable as an introduction to systems biology for students with a biological background or for advanced researchers approaching systems biology from a different discipline.

The module includes lectures on:

1. An introduction to systems modelling and systems biology

2. Brief overview of essential biology

3. Brief overview of essential mathematics

4. Experimental techniques: ‘Omics’ and specific quantification methods at cellular and physiological levels

5. Currently available database resources and modelling tools

6. Current standards to enable data integration

7. Network and simulation modelling

8. Examples of modelling to include gene expression, biochemical networks and physiological systems

9. From molecules to organisms

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities

Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture171:0017:00Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Preparation and Submission of Essay
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Preparation of Presentation and Presentation
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00Preparation for Examination
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00Seminars and Practicals
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity115:0015:00Additional Reading and Reflective Learning
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00Prepration of Notes from Lectures and Reading

Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will provide the students with expert presentations of key information and as a platform for private study. Seminars (small group teaching) will build on the lectures to help consolidate the information gained and encourage a critical understanding. The tutorial and a computer based practical will be used to develop a balanced and integrative outlook.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners


Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601M60One question to be answered from three

Other Assessment

Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M20N/A
Prof skill assessmnt1M20Oral presentation

Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination is an appropriate way to assess a broad understanding of what constitutes a successful systems biology approach. The written assignment will provide an in depth assessment of a students ability to extract essential information from diverse sources, and present a clear, well structured and well supported argument. The oral presentation will assess a student’s ability to think on their feet and present ideas to peers and the public.

Reading Lists


Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.