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Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (joint degree UvA/VU)

Study programme

You can choose to complete your programme either with a more theoretical focus on the computational aspects of systems biology and on bioinformatics, or with a more experimental training relevant to systems biology. However, all students will be provided with a programme that guarantees cross-over to such an extent that the successful student can communicate with his colleagues irrespective of his focus on experimental or computational disciplines.

All students will get a basic introduction to biomathematics, biostatistics and programming. Aside from this, there are two tracks to choose from: Bioinformatics or Systems Biology, each with its own focus.

Bioinformatics specialisation

The Bioinformatics specialisation has a theoretical focus on the computational aspects.

Topics that are covered in the programme are:

  • Algorithms in sequence analysis
  • Protein structure prediction and simulation
  • Next Generation Sequencing
  • Medical applications of Bioinformatics

Systems Biology specialisation

The Systems Biology specialisation has a strong experimental focus.

Topics that are covered in the programme are:

  • Modeling techniques
  • Experimental verification of models
  • Relevance of Systems Biology to cancer research
  • Synthetic biology (possibility to join the iGEM competition)

General outline

In the first year each student should complete four compulsory courses, and has to choose two optional courses depending on their field of interest. There is a large number of advanced courses offered by the participating institutes of the University of Amsterdam and the VU University Amsterdam. See for an overview of the course the Course Catalogue

Research training

The second year is primarily devoted to individual research training resulting in a Master's thesis. After that students work on a smaller research project conducted in a different research group. A literature study concludes the programme.

Usually the research project(s) will be carried out at one of the participating institutes of departments of either the VU University Amsterdam or the University of Amsterdam.


Each student is assigned a mentor for the entire programme. Moreover, practical coursework and traineeships are supervised closely by one of the Bioinformatics staff members. 

Society- or business oriented majors/minors

In general, Master’s students are trained to become independent researchers. But you can also choose to complete your Master’s programme with a professional major, that focuses on other skills such as entrepreneurship, science communication or teaching. 

Bring your own device

All students enrolled in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology are requested to bring their own laptop, due to the nature of the programme. More information on specific system requirements can be found here.