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Scientific Programming

Do you want to learn the fundamentals of programming in a scientific context? This course of the Informatics Institute is a great starting point to learn computer programming in Python, one of the most used programming languages in the world. Python is used for applications such as web development, data science and machine learning. During this 7 week course we focus on the absolute basics of programming, which you will learn by working on programming problems from several scientific areas. After completing the course you will know the principles of programming, be able to apply them to any domain and use them for your own projects.

Why choose the Scientific Programming course?
  • Flexible design of the programme

    The course is primarily self-study. The best way to learn programming is by doing it, not only by listening to someone explaining it. So this course does not contain any on-site lectures except for the kick-off day at the start of the course and the on-campus tutorials.

    The course consists of three levels and a bonus level. For the first two levels you can choose between two different modules (this is not applicable for the third level). This allows you to choose the module that fits your interests best.  

    The total amount of expected hours for this course is 80 hours over the course of 7 weeks. This means that the time investment for this course will average to a little over 11 hours per week.

    The course concludes with a final exam which takes place on site at the Science Park campus. There are two exam opportunities; the final exam and a resit (about two months later) if you did not pass the final exam. 

    We really encourage you to complete the course within 7 weeks, but if you are not able to finish the course in 7 weeks you are able to continue with the course, finish your assignments and join the tutorials to get assistance until the next exam date (resit). 

    Please note that if you have started on March 31st 2023, the exam will take place after almost 9 weeks, instead of 7 weeks. This is due to the fact that no assistance will be available during the months of June, July and August, so we want to give you some extra time before the summer break. This also means that if you do not take the exam on June 1st 2023 you will be able to continue the course (with no assistance during the aforementioned months), but that the next opportunity to take the exam will be in the fall of 2023.

  • Modules

    Level 1     (you can choose one of the modules)

    ALGORITHMS. Learn to think like a computer. Things that we intuitively know how to do, like drawing a pyramid or computing change for a payment, is hard to get a computer to do right. In this module you’ll learn how to break down such intuitive problems into steps that even a computer can understand. or NUMBERS. How do you know if a number is a prime number? Number theory is the science about properties of numbers. In this mathematically oriented module you create a series of programs that compute this and other properties of numbers. No math knowledge required for this module. (You will learn some, though)

    Level 2     (you can choose one of the modules)

    TEXT. Natural language processing is the science of making a computer understand (something about) natural human language. You will learn how you can get a computer to understand the sentiment of tweets. Is the tone of the tweet positive or negative?

    or NUMERICAL INTEGRATION. In many scientific fields you need to determine the surface area under a function. Integration is a mathematical tool for doing so. However this tool doesn't always work and in such cases we can use numerical integration techniques to let the computer do the work for us. You will learn two important techniques for numerical integration.
    Level 3 (there is no choice for this level) BIG-DATA. In this module you will learn to work with data. You will, for example, analyze weather from the Netherlands and answer questions like: When was the first heat-wave? What was the longest freezing period?
    Bonus level (this module is optional) MOVEMENT. What happens if you dig a tunnel from one side to the other side of the planet and you fall in this tunnel? In this module you’re going to simulate that situation. In physics you often run into problems that are too laborious to compute by hand. In this module you’ll learn how to use your computer instead.
  • Assistance

    We are available throughout the week to help you with the programming modules. We offer both online and on campus assistance:

    • Three on campus tutorials (two hours each) every week. You can attend these tutorials at the Science Park campus to work on your assignments and get help when you need it. These tutorials are not compulsory, but we highly recommend visiting them as they provide you with the highest level of engagement. During these sessions we can help you with all of your questions if you get stuck. It has been shown that attending these helps participants of the course a lot with their progress.
    • Online forum: there is a private online forum on which you can post questions about the programming assignments and get help from us or from one of your fellow course participants.

    Schedule tutorials:

    For the course starting 6 September 2023, 4 tutorials per week will be organised. From 11 September until 15 december, the tutorials are scheduled on the following times (with the exception of the week of the exam):
    •   Mondays 17:00-19:00
    •   Wednesdays 15:00-17:00
    •   Thursdays 17:00-19:00
    •   Fridays 15:00-17:00

  • After completing the course...
    • You can transform the description of a simple algorithm into working code by combining basic programme elements.
    • You can track down and fix several common programming errors in simple programmes.
    • You can apply several scientific programming techniques from different fields of study.
    • You can make your programmes simple to understand and easy to read by employing standard tactics.
    • You can use libraries in your programme and know how to find and read documentation on new-found libraries.
LAB42 (Science Park Campus)
LAB42 (Science Park Campus)

For whom?

The course is designed for anyone who wants to learn computer programming in Python and who has some curiosity about different scientific subjects (like natural language processing and data analysis). No prior experience with programming is required. A university/higher education level is recommended.

Kick-off day

The course starts with a kick-off day which will take place at the Science Park campus. The goal of this day is to get started with the course, install all the required software on your laptop, get familiar with the course setup, make a personal plan, and to meet fellow participants.

Course materials

All the reading and video material is available on the website of the course. You do not need to purchase any books or software. You will get access (on the day of the kick-off) to the programming modules online. Every module consists of short explanations (written and in the form of videos) and assignments.


For this course you need to have your own laptop (for the kick-off day and the tutorials on which the software can be installed. We are not able to provide you with a laptop.

Exam and certificate

Every module has an assignment which needs to be completed successfully to pass the course. If your assignment does not get a passing grade you will always be able to revise and resubmit the assignment. The course concludes with a final exam which takes place on campus.

After completing the modules successfully and passing the final exam you will receive a certificate which states you have completed the course.


Start dates (kick-off days):
•    Wednesday September 6th 2023, 10:30-16:00 (registration closed)
•    Wednesday February 7th 2024, 10:30-16:00

Exam dates:
•    Thursday June 1st 2023, 9:00-12:00 (31 March 2023 start)
•    Monday 23 October 2023, 9:00-12:00 (final exam for start date 6 September 2023)
•    Tuesday 19 December 2023, 14:00-16:00 (resit for start date 6 September 2023)
•    March 2024 (final exam for start date February 2024 , exact date tbd)
•    June 2024 (resit for start date February 2024, exact date tbd)

For the course starting 6 September 2023, 4 tutorials per week will be organised. The tutorials are scheduled on the following times:
•   Mondays 17:00-19:00
•   Wednesdays 15:00-17:00
•   Thursdays 17:00-19:00
•   Fridays 15:00-17:00

Practical information

•    Mode of study: self-study, online, tutorials (optional)
•    Duration: 7 weeks
•    Investment: 80 hours in total
•    Capacity: 50
•    Language: the complete course (modules, material, exam) is in English
•    Early Bird price*: € 1.000,- (including all study materials, exam and guidance).
*UvA Alumni get a 10% discount. For UvA employees, the fee is part of the fringe benefits. If this is applicable to you, use the form to register and indicate that you are an employee.
•    Certificate: after successfully completing the course you will receive a certificate.
•    Duration: 7 weeks
•    Location (kick-off day, tutorials, exam): Science Park campus, University of Amsterdam


Do you have questions about this programme? 
Please contact: Liza Lambert Project Manager Lifelong Learning (Informatics Institute)

Facts & Figures
Language of instruction
Starts in
February, September
Science Park