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Studium Biologie Master Studies

Quantitative Biology and Systems Biology


Contact: Prof. Dr. Christof Aegerter

The increasing role of quantification in biology, and particularly in the field of systems biology, makes it essential for students to be capable of describing biological phenomena in quantitative terms. These basic skills are covered in two complementary areas. Firstly, students are taught computer-aided and mathematical skills – including, in particular, the standard statistical analysis methods employed in bioinformatics and the computer-aided evaluation of data by means of image recognition, etc. Mention should also be made here of (non-computer-aided) data analysis of the kind employed in physics. Complementary problems, such as working out a quantitative model and solving it (on the computer), provide the basis for acquiring mathematical skills. The modeling methods used here are not only of fundamental importance for systems biology but also for evolution, ecology and immunology. Secondly, students are familiarized with experimental methods and their backgrounds. These include the latest quantitative methods in genomics and proteomics, as well as physical methods and the background to these. Particular mention should be made here of the imaging methods (microscopy and fMRI); this area also takes in the methods used in biomechanics and crystallography and, in the case of ecology and behavioral research, state-of-the-art tracking methods too.


The program is centered around the two complementary blocks described above. A wide range of block courses and special lectures are provided, and students can focus on different aspects (modeling/experimental methods/genomics and proteomics) depending on the topic chosen for their Master's thesis.


BIO 513 Master's thesis (60 ECTS); BIO 520 (10 ECTS).

Students must obtain at least 16 ECTS from the following list, choosing at least two modules from each of the following two blocks. In addition, the module BIO 338 Introduction to Scientific Writing (0 ECTS, one day in September or February) is mandatory for all Biology Master’s students. The module should be taken before writing the Master’s Thesis. Furthermore, the students must discuss the modules selected with their supervisor and include them in the learning agreement.

Block 1, computational methods:

BIO 206 Modelling Cultural Evolution (6 ECTS)
BIO 219 Biomedical Imaging and Scientific Visualization (2 ECTS)
BIO 220 Linear Models in R: from LM to GLMM (6 ECTS)
BIO 390 Introduction to Bioinformatics (3 ECTS)
BIO 445 Quantitative Life Sciences: from Infectious Diseases to Ecosystems (6 ECTS)
ESC 201 Einsatz der Computersimulation in den Naturwissenschaften I (5 ECTS)
ESC 202 Einsatz der Computersimulation in den Naturwissenschaften II (5 ECTS)
MAT 141 Lineare Algebra für die Naturwissenschaften (5 ECTS)
PHY 231 Datenanalyse (3 ECTS)
STA 121 Statistical Modeling (5 ECTS)
STA 402 Likelihood Inference (5 ECTS)
STA 426 Statistical Analysis of High- Throughput Genomic and Transcriptomic Data (5 ECTS)
UWW 270 Quantitative Analysis (7 ECTS)

Block 2, experimental methods:

BCH 304 Protein Biophysics (6 ECTS)
BCH 404 Advanced Proteomics (Blockkurs ETHZ) (4 ECTS)
BIO 208 Morphometric Analysis (6 ECTS)
BIO 254 Functional Genomics (3 ECTS)
BIO 294 Bioinformatics for Comparative and Evolutionary Genomics (6 ECTS)
BIO 321 Microscopy in Cell and Developmental Biology (6 ECTS)
BIO 325 Systems dynamics in cell and developmental biology (6 ECTS)
BIO 407 Practical Microscopy (6 ECTS)
BIO 416 Microscopy (2 ECTS)
PHY 212 Physik der weichen Materie (6 ECTS)
SPI 301 Computergestütztes Experimentieren I (5 ECTS)
SPI 302 Computergestütztes Experimentieren II (5 ECTS)

Other recommended modules:

BCH 420 Advanced Protein Engineering (2 ECTS)
BCH 630 Protein crystallography and electron microscopy (3 ECTS)
BIO 348 Concepts of Modern Genetics (6 ECTS)
BIO 351 Principles of Evolution: Theory (6 ECTS)
BIO 364 The Physics of Life (3 ECTS)
BME 361 Randomised Trials (6 ECTS)
ETH 636-0007-00L Computational Systems Biology (6 ECTS)
ETH 551-1402-00L Biophysics and Macromolecular Mechanisms (4 ECTS)
ETH 701-1418-00L Modeling Course in Population and Evolutionary Biology (4 ECTS)


Weiterführende Informationen

Recommendation for interested BSc students:

Recommended core elective modules during your Bachelor's degree program if you plan to take the Master's degree course in "Quantitative Biology and Systems Biology":

MAT 141*, STA 120* (*highly recommended), CHE 153, CHE 154, CHE 155, BCH 202, BCH 205, BIO 390, PHY 118, PHY 128