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Institute of Applied Simulation

Prof. Marcel Burkhard

Why do algorithms improve our quality of life?

"Industry focused, creative, passionate and reflective; we think beyond institutional boundaries."

Prof. Marcel Burkhard, Director of the Institute

Dive into the world of Big Data with the Master in Applied Computational Life Sciences!

Brochure "Future Jobs in Digital Life Sciences" (PDF 12,0 MB)

Information and Registration: Applied Computational Life Sciences


Computational science (CS), or simulation science, with the central topics of modelling, simulation, optimisation and data analytics are the focus of work and research at the Institute for Applied Simulation (IAS).

Computational science is an interdisciplinary approach to dealing with complex problems and developing new solutions in the key areas of health, society and the environment. The IAS thus makes an important contribution to solving societal challenges and improving quality of life.

Our society's problems are becoming more and more complex and require dynamic investigation methods, a good understanding of systems and new problem-solving approaches. These approaches must be based on accurate forecasts and precise planning, (while) taking into account both spatial and temporal dimensions.

We use different modelling techniques to identify and describe interactions in systems.

In addition, we apply various simulation techniques to make complex dependencies and temporal progressions visible and understandable. Modelling and simulation form the basis for further analyses and optimisation.

Modelling and simulation are essential in our work of transferring theoretical knowledge into practice and developing intelligent and sustainable solutions. We use research methods and algorithms from basic science to develop and implement new solutions to current problems using modern techniques and tools.

We see ourselves as mediators between basic university research and practical applications in business and society. Our team of approximately 40 employees has a wealth of experience in running interdisciplinary projects with other teams within the ZHAW, other universities of applied sciences, and national and international universities.

Our research and development projects take into account the applied context of our business and research partners, which also benefits our students. We pass on the knowledge gained in our research and development in our Bachelor's, Master's and further education programmes.


Our institute brochure

The IAS at a glance

47 employees

6 research groups


The institute of Applied Simulation’s teaching responsibilities cover a broad range of degree courses and subjects. At the Bachelor’s level, we teach in the natural resource sciences, food technology, biotechnology, chemistry and facility management Programmes. At the Master’s level, the IAS is responsible for the Computational Life Sciences specialisation in the Master of Life Sciences Programme. The teaching at the different levels includes fields such as physics, mathematics, applied computational statistics, data analysis, data visualisation, forecasting, supply chain management, modeling and simulation, machine learning and pattern recognition, optimisation methods, systems engineering, project management and innovation.

Master's programme «Applied Computational Life Sciences»

There is a growing need in the biomedical, pharmaceutical and other life sciences industries for experts who understand the specifics of data management, modelling and computation in life sciences and the connected business environment. The specialisation in Applied Computational Life Sciences lays the foundation for a career in a rapidly developing field of research and business. This programme provides you with essential knowledge in a field where science meets business, and opens up career paths in international companies, agile start-ups and research institutions. Life Sciences are undergoing a profound change as a result of the developments of the digital revolution. Expertise in dealing with digital tools and large amounts of data will be key additions to subject specific skills in the future. In this Master’s programme, you will acquire these skills and combine them with your subject-specific experience and interests from your Bachelor’s degree. Become a data scientist or simulation expert in your field!

The programme offers international perspectives as a "data scientist" in a subject-specific environment, e.g. as a bioinformatician or a simulation expert. The programme also provides opportunities for further development in IT or management.

The internationally oriented programme is taught solely in English but in an informal atmosphere. When possible, Master's theses are completed in close cooperation with a company.

The Master of Science in Life Sciences (MSLS) is a Master’s programme that is run in partnership by a network of four universities of applied sciences: ZHAW, BFH, FHNW and HES-SO. The Institute of Applied Simulation is responsible for the specialisation in «Applied Computational Life Sciences» .

Benefits for Companies

The future of the life sciences is digital. This is also reflected in the job market. As we offer our Master in Applied Computational Life Sciences on a part-time basis, this is an ideal opportunity for the industry. You can hire our students on a part-time basis, benefit from the institute's expertise and tackle current challenges as part of their Master's thesis. The other way round, you can also invest in your established employees by offering them the opportunity to study part-time with us.

Learn more about it here: Brochure "Transforming Students and Employees into Digitisation Experts (PDF 2,5 MB)"

The video of the Master's programme in Applied Computational Life Sciences: this is how to study at the ZHAW in Wädenswil (1:49 min.)

Study fees: Semester fee CHF 720; for students whose place of residence is not Switzerland when starting the Programme, an additional CHF 500 is charged.


The IAS's teaching activities include a wide range of subjects in the fields of environmental engineering, biotechnology, chemistry, food technology and facility management. All of our lecturers are involved in research. Research methods and results are incorporated into our teaching and ensure that our lessons are unique, relevant and practical. Our courses cover a variety of mathematical/logical topics, in particular mathematics, statistics, physics, computer science and supply chain management. We also provide support to new students with preparatory courses that enable them (to have) a successful start to the Bachelor’s programme. During students' studies, we also offer a range of additional and support Services.

Continuing education

The IAS offers a CAS in Digital Life Sciences. Digitization is changing all aspects of life and work at an ever-increasing pace and the life sciences disciplines are particularly affected.  Experts should be empowered to exploit the potential of digitization in their fields of expertise. 

Our CAS programme is not only aimed at graduates in all areas of life sciences who would like to develop their skills in digital data processing, but also to practitioners with comparable professional competence, are also considered.

In addition to the CAS, the IAS also organises specialist conferences and courses. As part of these events, complex research fields are examined in greater detail and consequently made more accessible to research and industry partners.

Further information concerning the continuing education