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Master of Science in Life Sciences - Applied Computational Life Sciences

Life «in Silico».

Due to the developments of the “digital revolution”, the life sciences are undergoing profound changes. Skills in the use of digital tools and dealing with large amounts of data will be central additions to subject-specific competence. Develop these skills and combine them with your subject-specific experience and interests. Become a data scientist or simulation expert in your field.

Best prospects for a successful future!

«The specialisation in ACLS offers students with a background in life sciences the opportunity to explore the potential of digital developments, based on the core discipline from their Bachelor’s programme.»

Thomas Ott

«The programme offers international perspectives as a data scientist in a subject-specific environment, for example, as a bioinformatics specialist or a simulation expert. The programme allows students to further develop in the fields of IT and management.»

Manuel Gil

«The ZHAW offers a programme in an international environment with a familiar atmosphere. When possible, the Master’s thesis is completed in close collaboration with industry.»

Maria Anisimova


The Master's programme in Applied Computational Life Sciences lays the foundation for a career in a fast developing and prospering field. In the biomedical, pharmaceutical and other life sciences industries, there is a growing need for experts who understand the specifics of data management, modelling and computation in the context of a life sciences discipline and the corresponding business environment. The programme equips you with essential expertise in a field where science meets business and opens up career paths in international companies, agile start-ups as well as research institutions.

As a Master's graduate ...

  • you acquire skills for processing and analysing data of various sizes and levels of complexity.
  • you develop the conceptual and technical skills to combine your expertise in a Life Sciences discipline with the potential of computational methods.
  • you become knowledgeable in computational modelling and the simulation of processes in your Life Sciences discipline.
  • you are introduced to programming using modern scripting languages such as Python or R, you understand the basic concepts of software and computer architectures.
  • you will analyse and solve complex problems in a life sciences field, and combine scientific, social and entrepreneurial thinking.
  • you will be able to plan, implement, evaluate and present major research and development projects.
  • career opportunities will open up in a dynamic and future-oriented field of work in international companies, agile start-ups and academic institutions.

    The programme offers you ...

    • a flexible modular structure that allows you to specialise in your preferred field of application.
    • an attractive mix of modules that combine scientific, social and economic topics in theory and practice.
    • an international environment with a familiar atmosphere.
    • a fascinating Master’s thesis on a state-of-the-art topic, and the benefit of individual support from an experienced mentor.
    • The opportunity to gain extensive experience as part of a research group at the ZHAW and in close cooperation with industry partners.

    New from autumn semester 2018

    The cooperation modules will be revised and redesigned.

    In the Master of Science in Life Sciences you benefit from the knowledge and network of the four universities of applied sciences ZHAW, BFH, FHNW and HES-SO. One third of the study takes place across universities - in Wädenswil, Olten and / or Bern.

    • Individual: You can tailor the Master's program to your needs. Modules from different clusters in the fields of Bio / Pharma, Food, Environment, Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science (BECS) can be combined individually.
    • Future-oriented: You adopt competences in "Management, Business and Society" but also in topics that are becoming more and more important in the future, such as "Handling and Understanding Data" (so-called Core Competences).
    • Practical: You are part of a research group at the corresponding institute of the ZHAW in Wädenswil right from the beginning, but you are also in exchange with students from the other three universities.

    «Fact sheet on the ReDesign Master in Life Sciences»

    At a glance

    Degree / Title: Master of  Science (MSc) ZFH in Life Sciences with specialisation in Applied Computational Life Sciences
    Duration: Full-time 3 semesters, part-time possible (recommendation 4-7 semesters)
    Start of studies: twice a year in February (spring semester) and September (autumn semester). If you start in February we recommend to study in part-time due to the structure of the specialisation modules.
    Cooperation: Some modules take place jointly with the universities of applied sciences BFH, FHNW and HES-SO.
    Workload: 90 credits (ECTS), one credit point corresponds to 25 – 30 hours of work
    Teaching locations: Wädenswil and the Berne region, seminar weeks in Spiez
    Language: Englisch 
    Study fees: CHF 720.00 per semester + additional study-related expenses ...»
    Admission requirements / acceptance
    : University of Applied Sciences Bachelor's degree ...»

    Registration deadlines: 30th April and 30th October ...»

    Studies – Structure and Content

    Your studies include different areas of competence plus a Master's thesis, with a total of 90 credits (ETCS).

    Before commencing your studies, you will develop, together with the specialisation team and your supervisor, your personal training goals, define the topic for your Master's thesis and create your individual curriculum from the modules on offer.

    The selected modules are recorded in your Individual Study Agreement (ISA).

    General structure of a full-time Master’s programme. Students determine the actual sequence and focal points themselves.

    Modules, topics and tracks

    The study consists of different categories of modules::

    1. Modules in the specialisation (Specialisation Skills):

    • Core modules:  Competencies in the handling of digital tools, including dealing with data, modeling and simulation
    • Track modules: Preparation for the Master Thesis in a specific field of application
    • Master's thesis: The core of your studies

    2. Modules in combination with the MSc Life Sciences:

    • Advanced Life Science Skills:  Generic modules to deepen topics that are relevant to your studies
    • Entrepreneurial Skills:  Interfaces between the technical and scientific core area and the economic and social environment

    Module descriptions

    Core Modules - 20 credits

    This module group consists of the following 4 modules: Programming, Algorithms and Data Structures, Mathematical Modeling, Databases and Data Architecture Systems, Machine Learning and Data Analytics

    Classes are usually held on Mondays and Tuesdays in Wädenswil.

    Track Modules - 10 credits

    During two modules, you can deepen the thematic scope of your master's thesis. Classes are usually held on Monday and Tuesday in Wädenswil.

    Master's thesis - 30 credits

    On the basis of research you have carried out, you answer a specific question in this field and work out concrete solutions that are relevant for research, industry and society, often in co-operation with national and international partners. Through the thesis you not only demonstrate your knowledge and skills, but also expand the state of research in your specific field of scientific expertise.

    Advanced Life Science Skills - 18 credits

    You visit six modules on two days each week (Thursday and Friday) in Berne. These weeks are a cooperative venture which you attend together with Master’s  students from the BFH, FHNW and HES-SO.

    Entrepreneurial Skills - 12 credits

    In a total of three seminar weeks at the ABZ in Spiez you learn how to understand and use the interfaces between your technical or scientific core area and the economic an social environment. These weeks are a cooperative venture which you attend together with Master’s  students from the BFH, FHNW and HES-SO.

    Study models

    The Master's programme in Life Sciences takes 3 full-time semesters and comprises 90 credits (ECTS). This corresponds to a workload of approximately 2,700 hours. This intensive workload requires good planning and organisation.

    Part-time study opens up numerous ways to achieve the objectives of the programme - adapted to your personal circumstances and needs. We recommend that students do not engage in any additional professional activities that exceed a maximum workload of 50% of a full-time position. You should consult your specialisation team individually about this matter. For administrative questions, please contact the registrar's office.

    How you structure your part-time studies should be discussed and determined before commencement thereof when creating your Individual Study Agreement (ISA).

    Researching for Practice

    During your studies, you will expand your personal skills profile, in terms of your technical and methodological expertise as well as your self-competence. The focus on the Master's thesis encourages creative approaches to problem solving, re-examination of perspectives and a combination of entrepreneurial and scientific thinking.

    Work in the research group will help you develop teamwork skills, initiative, critical thinking and leadership skills We promote independent, research-based learning in small classes with interactive lessons.

    Brochure Master's programme Applied Computational Sciences

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