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Basic Statistics for Master students


Admission requirements



From medical records to gene expressions to ecological field experiments, biology requires a large variety of possible statistical analyses. Basic Statistics for Master Students teaches you everything from basic comparisons up to multiple linear regression, with a strong emphasis on generalized linear models (GLM). GLMs are a flexible class of models that can be used to analyze all sorts of outcomes, which makes it a useful starting point for various types of biological research. You will also learn how to prepare, visualize and analyze data using the open source programming language R.

Statistical methods covered:

  • Univariate tests (t-test, chi-squared test, F-test)

  • Multiple testing correction


  • Simple linear regression

  • Multiple linear regression

  • GLM

  • Survival analysis

Should I choose Basic Statistics or Advanced Statistics?

Contrary to Advanced Statistics, Basic Statistics assumes little background knowledge of statistics, nor programming. To make the choice easier, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you familiar with most of the statistical methods covered?

  • Do you have previous experience programming in R?

Unless you confidently answered yes to both questions, we recommend taking Basic Statistics first.

If you obtained your bachelor degree elsewhere, Basic Statistics brings you up to speed with the level of statistics and R programming required to follow the Advanced Statistics course.

If you obtained your bachelor degree at the IBL, but are not required to follow Advanced Statistics (for example, because you are following Biology and Business Studies master track), Basic Statistics still has a lot to offer you, because the course takes a different approach than the bachelor course, with more emphasis on GLM, and new topics like publication-grade graphics and survival analysis.

Course Objectives

After completion of the course, students can:  
1. Recognise the correct definition of important concepts in statistics (false positive/negative, p-value) and repeat the basic steps of a typical statistical analysis.
2. Explain a programming or statistical problem and solicit help from a statistical consultant.
3. Calculate false positive rates.
4. Perform basic statistical analyses themselves.
5. Interpret output from statistical tests and models.
6. Convert data to a tidy format, create subsets and evaluate the quality of collected data.
7. Judge the validity of simple statistical analyses used in published articles.
8. Design simple studies with maximal power and minimal risk of bias.
9. Produce publication-grade figures and tables in R.
10. Open, edit and run basic scripts in R, using RStudio, and use literate programming to compile a report that includes code, output and commentary.


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

Lectures, tutorials, and assignments.

Assessment method

The final grade consists of the following partial grades:

  • Written exam (75%)

  • Graded assignment (25%)
    The graded assignment requires you to program in R-Studio.

Minimum grade:
Courses require a minimum, unrounded 5.5 grade to complete.
If a course has 2 or more written partial exams, the minimum grade only applies to the weighted average of the exams.
For partial grades from components other than exams (e.g. practicals, seminars, writing assignments), the bottom grade does apply to the individual components.
Please refer to the Student Charter for an overview of regulations.

Reading list

An online ebook accompanying the course will be published on Brightspace. In preparation, please try to install/update the necessary software as explained here:


All students have 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.

Please note that it is compulsory to register 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. Enrolling 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 more information on how to apply.


Coördinator: F.J. Rodenburg


Inspection and feedback on the examination: exam can be reviewed and discussed during a class session, and assignments can be reviewed in person.
Brightspace will be used for communication, Q&A, lecture summaries, screencasts, and handouts.