BSc minor Systems Biology (WUSYB)

Systems Biology is the field in which an integrated, quantitative analysis is performed to study the mechanisms by which cellular components, cells, organisms and communities interact in space and time.

Continue to an overview of the courses in this minor

A central concept in Systems Biology is that biological systems consist of dynamically interacting networks. This holds true for different levels of organization, from gene and protein interaction through microbes interacting with a host and up to species in large ecosystems. At each level there are networks which interact through feedback and crosstalk. Remarkably, interaction networks at different levels can often be described with similar mathematical and computational tools. Systems biology requires close interaction between dry modelling and wet experimentation. Mathematical models help to identify key elements that describe and predict the biology of real organisms in real environments. The models seek simplification and explanation of biological processes and serve to formulate new hypotheses and design new experiments. The minor Systems Biology covers this 'wet - dry cycle' from gene to ecosystem.

The minor starts in period 1 with compulsory introductory courses on systems biology and bioinformatics. In period 2, various alternative courses offer a systems biology view into cellular, organismal, and ecological/agronomic processes. The iBiosystems course combines lab experiments and computational prediction for a range a systems. The 'Modelling Biological Systems' option deals with small scale models for processes at different levels of organization. The course Systems Analysis, Simulation and Systems Management addresses in particular agricultural and ecological processes, whereas Applied Molecular Microbiology deals with engineering methods that gain fundamental insight and tackle biotechnological problems. In period 3, the focus will be on the generation and analysis of large-scale omics data and their integration with hypothesis driven research (course 'Molecular Systems Biology').

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this minor students are expected to be able to:

  • understand the basics of Systems Biology approaches in biological systems;
  • understand how the whole of a biological system exceeds the sum of the parts;
  • apply systems approaches to the analysis of biological systems;
  • apply model driven experimentation to solve biological questions;
  • analyse biological systems in a systems-wide manner
  • evaluate and describe results concisely in an oral and written presentations

Target group

This minor offers an overview of systems biology approaches for WU-students of the Life Science BSc-programmes:

  • BBI Biology
  • BDW Animal Sciences
  • BPW Plant Sciences: Students of BPW-A should contact the minor coordinator to select an alternative course for SSB-20306
  • BML Molecular Life Sciences
  • BBT Biotechnology

Also for non-WU students, Dutch or international, who are interested in a systems biology approach to the Life Sciences.

Assumed Knowledge

Basic courses in Cell Biology, Microbiology and/or Biochemistry.


English (most courses) and Dutch (EZO-23306)


First semester (period 1, 2 and 3)

Programme or thematic

Thematic minor