BIOL5301 Big Data, Modelling and Meta-analysis in Biology, Conservation and the Environment

6 points
(see Timetable)

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face Predominantly face-to-face. On campus attendance required to complete this unit. May have accompanying resources online.
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Honours option in Zoology [Bachelor of Science (Honours)]
Large data sets, modelling, and meta-analysis are essential components of modern science. Scientists of all types (e.g., biologists, ecologists, conservation scientists, environmental scientists and marine scientists) now generate and/or use large amounts of observational or derived data, and the ability to find, explore, check, clean, gap-fill, cross-link, combine, harmonise, analyse and interpret such datasets is more and more important in developing new knowledge and science. Meta-analysis allows scientists to synthesise the data obtained from systematic literature reviews, or other collections of data from different studies. Dynamic models help scientists understand, predict and manage biological systems, by simulating how the most important components of the system interact to affect the overall behaviour of the system.

In this unit, students will be introduced to the theory and practice of dynamic modelling, big data science, and meta-analysis, via a series of discussion workshops and hands-on lab sessions. There is a focus on developing highly-valued skills and experience in data handling, data exploration, modelling and meta-analysis, as well as higher-level general understanding of the challenges, considerations and opportunities of these increasingly important scientific approaches.
Students are able to (1) explain and discuss the general challenges, considerations and opportunities involved in dynamic modelling, big data science, and meta-analysis; (2) design computational scripts to manipulate, check, clean, investigate, visualise, analyse, summarise and interrogate large biological datasets; (3) conduct a meta-analysis of data obtained from systematic literature reviews, or other collections of data from different studies; (4) create simple dynamic simulation models of biological systems and use these models to conduct virtual experiments to address specific hypotheses and questions. ; and (5) na.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) assignments/reports and (2) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Michael Renton and Prof Dirk Zeller
Unit rules
SCIE4402 Data Management and Analysis in the Natural Sciences
Advisable prior study:
SCIE4402 Data Management and Analysis in the Natural Sciences
Contact hours
(possibly) 10 half days of contact
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.