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Basic Statistics for Master students


Admission requirements



Basic statistics for Master students (BSM) will refresh statistics as commonly taught at the bachelor level. BSM starts with a discussion of the fundamentals of statistical inquiry and the motivation for using statistics in research. After that we step away from the purely theoretical and instead take on a pragmatic approach, to quickly get you up to speed with various useful methods commonly used in biological research. In addition, some more advanced methods, like generalized linear models, survival analysis and handling missing data are discussed, as well as how to produce publication-grade figures from data.

Course Objectives

After completion of the course, students can:  
1. The student can 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. The student can explain a programming or statistical problem and solicit help from a statistical consultant.
3. The student can calculate false positive rates.
4. The student can perform basic statistical analyses themselves.
5. The student can interpret output from statistical tests and models.
6. The student can convert data to a tidy format, create subsets and evaluate the quality of collected data.
7. The student can judge the validity of simple statistical analyses used in published articles.
8. The student can design simple studies with maximal power and minimal risk of bias.
9. The student can produce publication-grade figures and tables in R.
10. The student can 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%)

All partial grades need to be greater than 5.5. The graded assignment requires you to program in R-Studio.

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:


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.

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.

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.


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.