Introduction to R for Life Sciences (2023-II)

Course description

Due to technological advances in molecular biology (genomics, large-scale systems biology) research in the life sciences is becoming increasingly data rich. Currently, appropriate analyses of large-scale datasets (proteomics, genomes, Htseq, RNA-seq, ChIPseq, etc.) are a limiting factor. R is a widely used software environment for statistical computing and provides a wide variety of libraries for data manipulation, modeling and visualization. The aim of this course is to give a basic training in R for scientists working in life sciences.

Important: for this course you need to bring your own laptop.

Learning objectives

Working with R (and R-studio)

  • Data types and structures
  • Using functions
  • Importing and manipulating data
  • Plotting, making figures
  • Basic statistics
  • Become self-sufficient

Basic programming skills (in R)

  • Flow control
  • Writing functions
  • Packages/libraries

Instructional method

For this course you will work on your own laptop. The course will give an introduction to R and Rstudio, an integrated development environment for R. The course starts with an email with the instruction on how to install the software followed by an online introduction lecture. Next will be a combination of self-study exercises and in-class lectures and hands-on questions and answers sessions.

At the end of the course a final assignment is given to test your progress. It is mandatory to attend the final assignment.


You will be trained by one of the professionals of Utrecht Bioinformatics Center, Utrecht University.

Group size            

25 to 35 participants

Number of credits                                 

3.0 EC

Course schedule

Mon06-03-202313:0015:00Intoduction, R-studio, Access I
Tue07-03-202314:0017:00Access II and I/O
Wed08-03-202314:0017:00Plotting and Statistics
Thu09-03-202314:0017:00Iteration and Loops
Wed15-03-202314:0016:00Q & A
Fr17-03-202313:0016:00Final Assignment

Selfstudy: 13-03-2023, 14-03-2023, 16-03-2023

Study load

In addition to the scheduled sessions, you should take into account an extra study load of approximately 65 hours in total. This study load generally consists of exercises and assignments in preparation for the next session.

Course certificate                                

You will receive a course certificate after actively participating in all course sessions and passing the Final Assignment.

Cancellation and No-show policy

This course is free for GSLS PhD candidates. However: free of charge does not mean free of responsibility. Once you have signed up for a course, we expect you to attend. For every late cancellation or no-show we have had to disappoint others who would have liked to attend. This is our policy:

  • You may cancel free of charge up to 4 weeks before the start of the course. After this date you can only cancel if you have a GSLS PhD candidate to replace you in the course. Send the name and contact information of your replacement to, at least 2 working days before the start of the course;
  • We expect that you actively attend the full course, but at least 80%. It is mandatory to attend the first session. If you are absent the first session you cannot follow the remaining of the course;
  • Not meeting the above requirements means you will be charged a no-show fee (€ 105). We will send the invoice after the course has ended. We are unable to make any exceptions, unless you have a valid reason (i.e., illness or death in the family 1st/2nd degree or partner). Your supervisor has to send an e-mail to indicating the reason.

Unfortunately we don’t offer this course for participants not part of the GSLS. Our courses tend to be fully booked by GSLS PhD candidates.

Start date and time
End date and time
Utrecht Science Park
Entrance fee
This course is free for GSLS PhD candidates

Registration for this course opens 2 months before the course start. You can register via our course portal. After opening, the portal shows how many spots are still available.

More information
PhD Course Centre