Introduction to bioinformatics

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The course provides an introduction to the field of bioinformatics including key concepts and algorithms, the development of the field historically, its applications and relevant ethical considerations. Topics covered are retrieval of information from biological databases, pairwise and multiple sequence alignment, phylogenetic trees, score matrices, sequence search in databases with BLAST, statistical evaluation of alignment scores, and measures of classification performance. The course also reviews the necessary basics of molecular biology in particular the concepts of genomes and genes.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • Has a general understanding of central topics and concepts within the field of bioinformatics
  • has a basic understanding of what genome is and how a genome browser can be used to represent and explore genome level data
  • knows types and examples of biological databases and knowledge bases
  • can explain the theories underlying the most common methods for sequence searches and sequence alignments
  • knows the principles and main steps for parwise and multiple sequenc alignments
  • can explain and is able to apply dynamic programming fo the pairwise alignment of short sequences
  • is able to compare technical aspects of pairwise local and global sequence alignment algorithm
  • can explain basics of molecular and evolution pertaining to sequence alignment and connect them with the various algorithms
  • understands and is able to explain the main steps for the reconstruction of phylogenetic trees
  • knows the algorithms behind sequence similarity search, in particular BLAST
  • knows and is able to apply statistical methods to infer sequence homology
  • is able to create working implementations of basic bioinformatics algorithms and to use such algorithms for analysis of concrete data
  • is able to use and understand different classification performance measures in the fields of biological sequence analysis
  • Has an understanding of application areas of bioinformatics including ethical considerations and aspects


The student can

  • use selected bioinformatics databases, genome browsers, and tools in an informed way
  • create working implementations of basic bioinformatics algorithms and use such algorithms for the analysis of concrete data

General competence

The student is able to

  • work in teams to address biological questions using computational approaches
  • get a general understanding of the underlying principles of newly upcoming online tools



ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
INF100. Be able to implement basic algorithms in a programming language of your own choice. A basic understanding of algorithms and efficiency is required. Basic knowledge in molecular biology and statistics is recommended.
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
INF281: 5 ECTS
MOL204: 5 ECTS
Access to the Course
Access to the course requires admission to a programme of study at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
Teaching and learning methods

The course is given as lectures and mandatory exercises

Lectures, 2 hours per week

Exercises, 4 hours per week

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Compulsory exercises are valid for one subsequent semester.
Forms of Assessment

The forms of assessment are:

  • Compulsory assignments, 30 % of total grade.
  • Written examination (3 hours), 70% of total grade.

All compulsory assignments must be approved before examination.

Grading Scale
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.
Assessment Semester
Examination both spring semester and autumn semester. In semesters without teaching the examination will be arranged at the beginning of the semester.
Reading List
The reading list will be available within July 1st for the autumn semester and December 1st for the spring semester.
Course Evaluation
The course will be evaluated by the students in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the department.
Examination Support Material
Non-programmable calculator, according to the faculty regulations
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
Course Coordinator
Course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB, or contact Student adviser
Course Administrator
The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences represented by the Department of Informatics is the course administrator for the course and study programme.