1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. Analysis of Biological Data
  4. Print

Analysis of Biological Data (MAST20031)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

You’re viewing the 2019 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks


Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeMAST20031
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

A capacity to interpret data is fundamental to making informed decisions in everyday life. The design of experiments, analysis, and interpretation of biological data also lie at the very heart of the scientific enterprise. You cannot be a scientist without an understanding of data and design. This subject introduces you to fundamental concepts in data science for biology, with emphasis on modern statistical methods. Drawing on real biological problems and datasets, as well as drawing on data collected by the class, the lectures cover foundational concepts in experimental design and statistical modelling. The subject emphasises hands-on problem solving. As well as a solid grounding in statistical methodology, you will also develop practical skills, developing your capacity to design experiments, collect data, and analyse those data using the R statistical environment.

Intended learning outcomes

Students completing this subject should be able to:

  • Evaluate importance of careful design and analysis in scientific enterprise
  • Design biological experiments, build statistical models and sample real biological populations
  • Practically approach problems entailing the collection and analysis of biological data
  • Structure data sheets and enter data
  • Recognise and deal with common data types and models in biology
  • Understand fundamental statistical concepts including exploratory data analysis; basic principles of statistical inference; linear models, likelihood-based methods and re-sampling techniques
  • Execute basic analyses

Generic skills

The subject builds upon generic skills developed in first year level subjects, including the ability to critically assess and assimilate new knowledge. Students will also learn how to:

  • solve practical data analysis problems faced by biologists
  • design experiments and critically evaluate observations
  • evaluate and interpret real data

Eligibility and requirements


12.5 credit points from any of the following:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
BIOL10001 Biology of Australian Flora & Fauna
Semester 2
BIOL10003 Genes and Environment
Semester 2
BIOL10004 Biology of Cells and Organisms
Semester 1
BIOL10005 Genetics & The Evolution of Life
Semester 2
BIOL10006 Systems Biology
Semester 1



Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

25 points of first year Biology subjects

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Additional details

  • 6 x 45min online quizzes, held fortnightly throughout the semester (15%)
  • 3 x 500 word assignments, due weeks 5, 9, 11 (25%)
  • 2 hour exam, held in examination period (60%)

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorPaul Fijn
    CoordinatorJose Lahoz-Monfort
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours2 x one hour online lectures per week, 2 x one hour interactive lectures per week, 1 x one hour computer laboratory class per week.
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

    Semester 1 contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    Whitlock and Schluter, The Analysis of Biological Data.

  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

Last updated: 19 July 2019