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Both Bioinformatics and Systems Biology are strongly interdisciplinary fields. This Master's programme combines molecular and cell biology, computer science and mathematical modelling to integrate vast amounts of biological data into fundamental knowledge. You will develop a strong feel for scientific research and high levels of abstraction, and learn to combine the rapid developments in these fields.
Vast amounts of data have been collected through genomics initiatives. They provide a golden opportunity to research the secrets of life, to understand more of its complexities, to improve quality of life and to conquer major diseases. Converting this huge volume of data into real understanding is the basic challenge of Bioinformatics research.
High-throughput methods like massively parallel sequencing and mass spectrometry generate more raw data than conventional computer models can handle efficiently. To process and analyse this data, computational techniques from Bioinformatics – such as sequence alignment, sequence assembly, biostatistics and machine learning – are required in order to make predictions about health outcome and to decide on a personalised treatment for the patient.
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology is a joint degree programme of the University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Courses are taught at locations of both universities. UvA and VU jointly issue a degree certificate to graduates. As a Bioinformatics and Systems Biology student in Amsterdam you benefit from expertise, networks and research projects at both universities and affiliated research institutes.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
The programme in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology welcomes students with a bachelor background in chemistry, biology, informatics, mathematics, physics or any other Bachelor's degree that relates to one of the before mentioned disciplines.
Applications will be reviewed by the exam committee for students with backgrounds that are not considered evidently suitable.
Online application and required documents
After registering in Studielink, within 48 hours you will receive an email with your UvA student number (UvA-net ID) and an email with instructions for the next step of the application process. You need your UvA-net ID to submit your online application via Datanose.
In Datanose, we expect you to upload the following documents:
- A motivation letter
- Your Curriculum Vitae
- A copy of your high school grade list and diploma
- A list of courses of your final year (if you have not yet finished your current academic programme)
- A copy of your Bachelor transcript and diploma, including an explanation of your University’s grading system
- A description of your Bachelor thesis/project
- Two academic reference letters
- Proof of English proficiency
Grade point average
Applicants are expected to have an overall grade point average (GPA) equivalent to at least:
- 3.0 (American system)
- 2.1 (a second class upper/division one degree in the British system)
- C (ECTS-system)
English language requirements
All our international programmes are conducted in English, therefore, applicants must show their ability to write and speak in English on an academic level. Students with a Bachelor’s degree from a Dutch university and students who successfully finished a full academic programme at an esteemed institute in one of the following countries are exempt: UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Please note we only accept the TOEFL Test, the test of the International English Language Testing Service (Academic IELTS) or a Cambridge Examination Score. For Non-EU/EEA students the required English test result should be received on or before 1 February in the year of application by the International Team at the Faculty of Science. If this in any case is not possible, contact the International Team first, before applying. For EU/EEA students the deadline of submitting the test results is 1 July.
The minimum scores required on the TOEFL Test are:
- Internet-based test (iBT): 92 with a minimum of 20 on each subject
- Artificial Intelligence, Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Information Studies: 98, with a minimum of 22 for reading and listining and 24 for writing and speaking
- Software Engineering: 98 with a minimum of 22 on each subject
Please note the TOEFL-code for the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam is: 8628.
IELTS Test (only Academic IELTS is accepted)
- Minimum score 6.5, at least 6.0 on sub-scores (listening/reading/writing/speaking).
- Artificial Intelligence, Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Information Studies> minimum score 7.0, sub-scores on writing and speaking at least 7.0, sub-scores on listening and reading at least 6.5
- Software Engineering > minimum score 7.0, at least 6.5 on each sub-score (listening/reading/writing/speaking)
- The UvA offers the IELTS test for free to current UvA students to assess their English language proficiency.
Cambridge Examination Score
A Cambridge Examination Score with a minimum test result of C1 Advanced (CAE) A or B will also be accepted. For the C2 Proficiency test (CPE) a minimal score of C is required.
Nuffic Certificate for Chinese students
Chinese applicants are required to take an IELTS test or the TOEFL (Internet-based test only). These are the only two tests accepted by the Nuffic, which provides certificates to all Chinese students who wish to study in the Netherlands.
Please note there are some differences between the TOEFL and IELTS test. Available practice material, test dates, prices and locations differ per country.