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CSC8321 : Computing for Digital Biology

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Pawel Widera
  • Owning School: Computing
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To identify the appropriate manner with which biological data and services may be provided by a variety of different enabling technologies and presented in a cohesive manner to users. The module provides an elementary introduction to some important topics of computer science that are relevant for biological data science and software development. These topics include Computer Architecture, Data Representation and Storage, and Systems Administration.

Outline Of Syllabus

Introduction to Computer Architecture,
Networks and Distributed Computing,
CPU/Memory/HD/Network bound computation,
Data Modelling (including Object-based data representation),
Data Storage (including relational databases, and SQL, and other databases such as RDF),
Data Transfer, Web Services, and DATA sharing (XML, JSon, REST),
Data Standards,
System Administration.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion124:0024:00Assessment preparation and completion
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion46:0024:00Lecture follow-up, including time for practical exercises
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials81:3012:00Asynchronous online materials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture81:008:00Synchronous present-in-person sessions.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery42:008:00Synchronous present-in-person sessions.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study46:0024:00Background reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will be used to introduce the learning material and for demonstrating the key concepts by example. Students are expected to prepare for lectures using asynchronous online material and to follow-up lectures within a few days by re-reading and annotating lecture notes to aid deep learning.

Students are expected to spend time on coursework outside timetabled practical classes.

Students aiming for 1st class marks are expected to widen their knowledge beyond the content of lecture notes through background reading.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M100A written report demonstrating understanding of the theory and computational technologies behind biological data organization.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises1MA short piece of writing on biological data organisation. Equivalent to 500 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assessment consists of a single piece of academic writing. The written report assesses the student’s understanding of the theory of computational technologies for digital biology, as delivered in the lecture material of the module. A formative writing exercise is provided to help students gauge their performance against teaching expectations.

Reading Lists