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Unit information: Programming in R in 2021/22

Unit name Programming in R
Unit code BIOLM0039
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Clements
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will introduce students to the programming language R, key concepts such as “what is good code?”, the principles of open science and code sharing, and how to generate and analyze biological data.

The aim of this unit will be to:

  1. Provide students with the skills required to use and interact with the R software environment to perform their analyses.
  2. Provide students with an understanding of how to choose and use statistical tests in R, with a focus on analyzing biological data

Intended Learning Outcomes

The Learning Outcomes (LOs) for this unit are:

A: Knowledge and Understanding:

  1. to understand how to code in R, and the logic behind coding more generally.
  2. to develop knowledge on the different data structures used in R and how these data can be manipulated
  3. to acquire the concepts behind the use of libraries in R, data visualisation and presentation.

B: Intellectual Skills/Attributes:

  1. to devise the best statistical design to analyse different biological data.
  2. to design R scripts and critically assess their suitability to different analysis types.
  3. to plan the best use of different resources (modules, libraries, etc.) to solve different statistical analyses.

C: Other Skills /Attributes (Practical/Professional/Transferable):

  1. to acquire proficiency coding in R, and interpreting the output of statistic tests
  2. to demonstrate competence with R to write scripts and data visualisation techniques.
  3. To gain strengths in computer coding, code sharing, and open source programming

Teaching Information

The unit will be delivered through a mixture of short lectures followed by individual exercises with computers. Blackboard will be used to engage students with the unit content

Assessment Information

Formative assessments will occur on a bi-weekly basis. A summative computer assessment will consist of a final computer task integrating all the learning objectives.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. BIOLM0039).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.