BIOS4000 – Design and analysis of biological studies

Course content

This course is a thorough introduction to design of biological studies and statistical analysis in biology. The focus is on the use of statistical models for analyzing biological patterns and processes. Students are taught fundamental skills in modern biological research through project work, exercises and computer exercises. The statistical environment R is used throughout the course.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you are expected to:

  • Understand the difference between observational studies and experiments, and be able to assess the results from different types of studies in a biological context
  • Understand the importance of the terms pseudoreplication, confounding effects, experimental control, randomization, sampling skewness, stratified sampling and blocking in analysis of biological studies
  • Be able to carry out Monte Carlo simulations to assess different study design and statistical models
  • Be able to fit biologically relevant models based on the normal, binomial, and Poisson distributions (GLM), and calculate linear contrasts and predictions with confidence intervals, as well as evaluate how well these models fit the data (goodness of fit).
  • Know how to fit hierarchical models with normally distributed response variables and interpret these
  • Know how to assess the sources of bias in models fitted to biological data, including the effects of sampling skewness, measurement error in the predictive variables (attenuation) and loss of study units during the course of the study.
  • Be able to comprehend literature based on the contents of the course and be able to present this as a lecture for fellow students.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Priority will be given to students in the master program in Biosciences.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

STK1000 – Introduction to applied statistics or equivalent.

Recommended previous knowledge

A background in elementary programming equivalent to the content of BIOS1100 – Introduction to Computational Modelling in the Biosciences (Introduction to Computational Modelling in the Biosciences) is strongly recommended. 

Other recommended background courses are

BIOS1110 – Celle- og molekylærbiologi (Molecular and Cell biology)

BIOS1120 – Fysiologi (Physiology)

BIOS1140 – Evolusjon og genetikk (Evolution and genetics)


The course includes lectures, tutorials, compulsory exercises with hand-in reports, and a compulsory literature review project resulting in a lecture a short lecture for fellow students (individually or in groups of two). The first lecture is compulsory. All written material is in English, and reports should be written in English.


A final written exam (4 hours) counting 100% of the mark.

Mandatory coursework must be approved before the student can attend the exam.

Digital examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.

Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

Examination support material

Examination support material will be allowed. Information will be provided. 

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

This course offers both postponed and resit of examination. Read more:

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

It will also be counted as one of the three attempts to sit the exam for this course, if you sit the exam for one of the following course BIOS3000 – Design and analysis of biological studies

BIO2150 - Biostatistics and Study Design

BIO2130 - Biostatistics (discontinued)

BIO2110 - Experimental ecology (discontinued)

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course




Every spring

The course is offered for the first time spring 2020.


Every spring

Teaching language