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Unit information: Modern Mathematical Biology in 2022/23

Unit name Modern Mathematical Biology
Unit code MATHM0014
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2D (weeks 19 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Liverpool
Open unit status Not open
Units you must take before you take this one (pre-requisite units)

MATH11300 Probability (or MATH10012 Probability and Statistics), MATH10012 ODEs, Curves and Dynamics, MATH200015 Multivariable Calculus.

Units you must take alongside this one (co-requisite units)


Units you may not take alongside this one
School/department School of Mathematics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Unit Information

Unit Aims

To provide students with the mathematical tools used to study and solve a variety of problems in biology at different scales. Examples will be taken from problems at different length and timescales - from the scale of the cell, tissue to organisms.

Unit Description

Mathematical Biology is one of the most rapidly growing and exciting areas of Applied Mathematics. This is because recently developed experimental techniques in the biological sciences, are generating an unprecedented amount of quantitative data. This new 'quantitative revolution' is changing the way biology is done - requiring methods of generating hypotheses and then testing them that rely heavily on sophisticated mathematical analyses. Biological systems are complex systems and the modern process of studying them requires an iterative process of communication between mathematicians (modellers) and biologists. This starts with making quantitative measurements; second, this biological data is used to develop mathematical models; third, approximate solutions of the models are obtained; and fourth, these solutions are used to make new predictions which can be further tested by new measurements - thus starting the cycle anew. Professionals in the biomedical sector are increasingly using technology that is reliant on sophisticated mathematics. Examples include ECG readings of the heart, MRI brain scans, blood flow through arteries, tumor invasion, drug design and immunology. Therefore research in this area has the promise of quickly finding real world applications with a positive impact on society. Mathematical Biology also encompasses other interesting phenomena observed in nature, such as the swimming of microorganisms, spread of infectious diseases, and the emergence of patterns in the development and growth.

In this unit we shall use a number of fundamental biological problems as the motivation and starting point for developing mathematical models, explore methods for solving these models and discuss the implications of the predictions that can be made based on them.

Your learning on this unit

By the end of the unit the students will be familiar with

(1) the applications of ODE models in a variety of biological systems, (2) Reaction-Diffusion equations and their applications in biology, (3) the use of linear and nonlinear stability analysis to study the dynamics of complex systems, (4) the dynamical systems approach to describing excitable media.

How you will learn

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • synchronous online and, if subsequently possible, face-to-face lectures
  • asynchronous online materials, including narrated presentations and worked examples
  • guided asynchronous independent activities such as problem sheets and/or other exercises
  • synchronous weekly group problem/example classes, workshops and/or tutorials
  • synchronous weekly group tutorials
  • synchronous weekly office hours

How you will be assessed

90% Timed, open-book examination 10% Coursework

Raw scores on the examinations will be determined according to the marking scheme written on the examination paper. The marking scheme, indicating the maximum score per question, is a guide to the relative weighting of the questions. Raw scores are moderated as described in the Undergraduate Handbook.

If you fail this unit and are required to resit, reassessment is by a written examination in the August/September Resit and Supplementary exam period.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. MATHM0014).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.