UCL Summer School


Computational Systems Biology

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session One
Module leader
Dr Philip Lewis
Yes. Please refer to module pre-requisites below.
Assessment method
Practical assessments (70%), Computer based examination (30%)
Download syllabus (PDF)
Computational Systems Biology

Module overview

All biological interactions, whether they take place on a molecular, organism or ecosystem scale, are part of complex dynamical systems. Understanding the behaviour of these systems lies at the heart of many key challenges in biological research. In this module you will have the opportunity to develop and investigate mathematical models of biological systems. You will learn techniques to construct, implement and analyse interaction networks using the Python programming language.

Research in the field of Systems Biology is highly interdisciplinary. It often involves biologists working with colleagues from the fields of physics, engineering, mathematics and computer science. Consequently this module encourages participation from any interested science or engineering student.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Understand the uses of modelling in biology with reference to examples drawn across the spectrum of bioscience research.
  • Be able to understand Python code and write computer programs.
  • Understand how biological models can be constructed using mass action and enzymatic kinetics.
  • Be able to use Python libraries to run simulation of biological models.
  • Have developed skills to investigate and analyse models using parameter scans and investigation of phase space.

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). Students are expected to have a knowledge of basic calculus.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.


  • Practical assessments (70%)
  • Computer based examination (30%)

Module leader

Dr Philip Lewis is an Honorary Reader in the Cell and Developmental Biology department at UCL. His work focuses on mathematical and computational approaches to biological research. He delivers the Dynamic Biological Systems module to UCL undergraduates and the SysMIC eLearning course which provides training in quantitative biology aimed at the postgraduate research community. He is working on a number of projects that aim to utilise web technologies to aid learning and was the recipient of the UCL Provost’s Teaching Award in 2014/2015.

Application information

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