Quantitative Biology

Quantitative Biology
Master programme
A.Y. 2021/2022
LM-8 - Industrial biotechnologies
Master programme
Open with entry requirements examination
The Master's degree course in Quantitative biology (QB) prepares graduates in biological and biotechnological disciplines to operate at the intersection between biology and physics. The quantitative approach requires a physical understanding of biological phenomena and the development of mathematical and computational tools for the analysis, understanding, and redesign of biological systems. The aim is to train a new generation of experts with integrated skills in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science, able to perform accurate experimental measurements and apply predictive theoretical models, to explain biological complexity. Quantitative biology uses emerging technological and computational capabilities to model biological processes for biotechnological applications such as protein and metabolic engineering, drug discovery and synthetic biology. It is therefore proposed a path that includes training activities aimed at acquiring in-depth knowledge of:

(a) biochemical and biophysical aspects of cellular processes and molecular interactions;

(b) experimental methodologies for the study and measurement of these processes;

(c) analytical techniques and protocols used in structural biology and molecular and cellular biophysics studies;

(e) technical bases of modelling in systems biology for the study of interactions in complex biological systems;

(f) linear algebra, matrix calculus and its use in the description of dynamic biological phenomena and to understand the basis of artificial intelligence (machine learning);

(g) Python programming language and its use for statistical data analysis;

(h) formal logic elements

Characteristic and related mandatory teachings (72 CFU, of which 6 CFU with guided choice) include teachings on quantitative aspects of the main molecular and cellular biological disciplines, teachings on chemistry involving spectroscopy and its applications in biology; aspects of statistical analysis of data and errors, measurements of nanoscale interactions between biomolecules, programming elements in Python and machine learning aspects, linear and matrix algebra, description of dynamic systems using differential equations.

In addition, 12 CFU will be freely chosen by the students from among all the teachings activated by the University of Milan, provided they are consistent with the training project and 3 CFU for other activities (Italian language skills for foreigner students or seminars and orientation to the world of work).

Finally, the course includes, as a qualifying moment of training and acquisition of skills, an experimental thesis lasting at least 33 CFU. The Thesis Internship must be carried out in research laboratories of the University of Milan or in other public or private institutions, national or foreign, after approval, and provides for the production of a written thesis, in which the original results of the research are reported.
The Master's degree in Quantitative Biology provides employment opportunities in research institutes and industry in the areas of bio-nano-technologies, bio-pharmaceutical research, and in the development of high-tech research instrumentation.

- Primary duties of a graduate in QB can range from analyze and optimize pre/clinical trials and predict outcomes using modeling and simulation, integration and interpretation of data from many sources to help drive project decisions, apply molecular modeling and computer aided drug design techniques, basic use and maintenance of laboratory instrumentation, literature review.

- Skills: Autonomy, precision, ability to synthesize, problem solving through modeling and simulation, goal-orientation and excellent predisposition to work in team, good/excellent level of written and spoken English, good direct intervention capacity on the instrumentation on both, the hardware and the software of the instrument.

- The graduate in QB can be hired as junior research scientist, product scientist, junior research project manager, scientific application specialist, scientific equipment services specialist.

Employment statistics (Almalaurea)
1. Bachelor's Degree
Italian or foreign citizens who have a Bachelor's degree (Italian Laurea Triennale or equivalent) in Biotechnology (L-2 class and previous class 1) and Biological Sciences (L13 class) are admitted.

Italian or foreign citizen with a Bachelor's degree (Italian Laurea Triennale or equivalent) in the following classes:

- Chemical sciences and technologies (L27 class)
- Physical sciences and technologies (L30 class);
- Mathematical sciences (L35 class)
- Food Science and Technology (L26 class);
- Pharmaceutical science and technology (L29 class)
- Agriculture and forestry industry (L25 class)

who have obtained sufficient knowledge, at least 12 University credits (CFU), in the following biological subjects: Cell biology (BIO/06), Biochemistry (BIO/10), Molecular biology (BIO/11), are admitted.

2. Language Requirements
Knowledge of English is a requirement for the access to the QB Master degree. Students should have acquired beforehand a B2 level certification (vantage or upper intermediate, as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment). Students without a B2 level certification may be accepted on condition that their level of English proficiency, assessed during the interview, is evidently good.

The adequate personal preparation of the candidates, their ability to communicate in English and their motivation are decisive elements for the admission and they are going to be verified and tested during an admission interview. Knowledge of Italian is not required for attendance.
Particular attention will given to the knowledge in Biological subjects of candidates with non-biological backgrounds. In this case, the admission interview will identify gaps requiring extra study to be leveled off by the student with the support of tutors, before the official start of the courses.
The QB degree program supports the international mobility of the University program: professor Marco Buscaglia (for the academic year 2021/2022) acts as a tutor for students interested in the Erasmus + program, in order to guide students in their choice of the most suitable program for their formation. Every January, the Erasmus + program is presented to the QB students through a local event organized by the coordinator of the Erasmus + program of the Industrial Biotechnology area (Prof. Veronica Gregis).
In the framework of the Erasmus+ program, the QB Master course has in place agreements with Universities in Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, Norway, and The Netherlands, all offering courses in English. Calls for participation can be found at the following link: https://www.unimi.it/en/international/study-abroad/studying-abroad-eras….
The time spent abroad can be used to attend courses and pass the relative exams, thus collecting credits towards the Master degree, as well as to carry out the experimental project for the dissertation. The student admitted to the mobility program must submit a study plan detailing the training activities that he/she plans to carry out, with the corresponding credits. The number of credits should correspond as much as possible to the number of credits that the student should acquire in a similar time at the home University. The proposed activities must be consistent with the goals and the contents of the Master degree. The study plan must be approved by the QB Student Mobility Committee, which can request changes or integrations. At the end of the mobility program, according to the guidelines provided by the University of Milan, the courses attended (with a passed exam) by the student are registered in his/her career, preferably with its original name and with an indication of the ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) and their conversion in CFU (usually
1 ECTS= 1 CFU). The students willing to carry out their dissertation work as part of a mobility program abroad must have an internal supervisor (chosen among the QB lecturers) and the study plan must be approved by the QB teaching board.

Courses list

First semester
Courses or activities ECTS Total hours Language SSD
Cell biophysics 6 64 English BIO/04 BIO/09
Mathematical modeling for Biology 6 56 English MAT/05 MAT/06 MAT/07 MAT/08 MAT/09
Measurement of nanoscale interactions in biological systems and data analysis 6 64 English FIS/01 FIS/02 FIS/03
Principle of spectroscopy and applications to quantitative biology 10 104 English CHIM/01 CHIM/02 CHIM/03 CHIM/06
Second semester
Courses or activities ECTS Total hours Language SSD
Advanced molecular biology 9 80 English BIO/11 BIO/18
Integrated structural biology 6 64 English BIO/10
Molecular biophysics 6 56 English FIS/07
Programming in Python 6 56 English INF/01
First semester
Courses or activities ECTS Total hours Language SSD
Imaging in living cells 5 56 English BIO/04 FIS/07
Introduction to Logic 6 48 English M-FIL/02
Non linear dynamics in quantitative biology 6 64 English BIO/11 BIO/18 BIO/19
Structural bioinformatics 6 64 English FIS/07
Second semester
Courses or activities ECTS Total hours Language SSD
Cell population dynamics 6 64 English BIO/06 BIO/13 BIO/17
Conclusive activities
Courses or activities ECTS Total hours Language SSD
Other training activities 3 0 English
Thesis project and final dissertation 33 0 English
Head of study programme
Academic guidance tutor
Erasmus and international mobility tutor 
Study plan tutor
Internship tutor
Master's degree admission tutor
Quality Assurance Delegate

The tuition fees for students enrolled in Bachelor's, Master's and single-cycle degree programmes are divided into two instalments with different calculation methods and payment schedules:

  • The amount of the first instalment is the same for all students
  • The amount of the second instalment varies according to the ISEE University value, the degree programme and the student status (on track / off track for one year or off track for more than a year) 
  • An additional fee is due for online programmes

The University also offers:

  • Concessions for students meeting high merit requirements
  • Diversified tuition fees according to the student's home country for international students with assets/income abroad
  • Concessions for international students with refugee status

Scholarships and benefits

The University provides a range of financial benefits to students meeting special requirements (merit, financial or personal conditions, international students).

Learn more

First year enrolment:
Open with entry requirements examination


Application for admission: from 12/03/2021 to 27/08/2021

Application for matriculation: from 01/04/2021 to 30/09/2021