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Interdisciplinary Research Training


Admission requirements

This course is open to all students that have been admitted to the minor ‘Quantitative Biology’.


Under supervision the students work in the (small) teams as in the course ‘Innovative Research Ideas’ to transform the various ideas that were proposed there into one project proposal for experimental research that takes a Quantitative Biology approach, and which could be executed in principle. This requires further literature search and study, formulation and preliminary examination of (an) appropriate mathematical model(s) and analysis techniques as well as an assessment of feasibility of the proposed experimental design. Students bring in their specific skills and knowledge to the team in accordance with their background. Each student writes an individual essay on his or her personal experience and evaluation of the interdisciplinary process and on the particular mathematical, computational or biological input and arguments that they provided during the set-up of the team proposal. For example, particular reasoning based on experimental research papers that were found by the team that lead to particular modeling decisions, or detailed computations that led to a choice for a specific functional form in a model, etc. The team formulates finally a single project proposal, which is presented in a joint presentation to the other teams, and discussed.

Course objectives

The student will reflect on pitfalls, challenges and advantages of interdisciplinary collaboration, from his or her personal perspective. He or she will learn to build on personal skills and expertise in such collaborative effort and appreciate those of others. By doing – under supervision – the students discover what is involved in setting-up a detailed experimental design that takes a Quantitative Biology approach to specific biological research question(s) and formulate this as an interdisciplinary research proposal. They will learn to assess the experimental, mathematical and computational feasibility of such an approach.

Final qualifications:

  • Awareness of challenges, pitfalls and advantages of interdisciplinary collaboration.

  • Ability to assess feasibility of experimental design and mathematical and computational approaches in a specific Quantitative Biology setting.

  • Experience in setting-up an interdisciplinary research proposal

  • Each participant gained insight into his or her personal appreciation of interdisciplinary research

  • Insight into the appropriateness of a Quantitative Biology approach for his or her (future) research agenda.


The time table is provisional and provided times are indicative. A detailed final schedule will become available before the start of the minor. It is foreseen that the course activities and meetings run from week 11 until week 15 of the semester. In the first week of January meetings are foreseen, after which the students can prepare for the final presentations in the third week of January, which finalize the course.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Plenary instructions and meetings for team feedback. Project team meetings. Team meetings with supervisor.

Assessment method

The final grade is determined as weighted average of the result of the plenar presentation of the final proposal (40%) and the written research proposal (60%). The latter is assessed on scientific depth, feasibility, level of innovation, clarity of exposition, persuasiveness.

A retake consists of redoing both presentation (40%) and revising the written proposal (60%).

Reading list

Will be announced.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information. Exemptions are minor students and fall semester for 1st year bachelor students: the student administration will enroll these groups for courses.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.

Exchange and Study Abroad students: please see the Prospective students website for information on the application procedure.


Course coordinator: Dr. S.C. Hille



Brightspace will be used for communication and provision of course material.