Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Bioinformatics for Biologists: An Introduction to Linux, Bash Scripting, and R

Wellcome Genome Campus via FutureLearn


Explore the full range of bioinformatics software through Linux command line

Bioinformatics is a rapidly growing academic field, and one that promises to change how we analyse and compare biological data.

On this course, you’ll get familiar with Linux – the operating system often used to access and analyse biological data. You’ll come away able to navigate it using the command line, understanding how to write scripts and prepare data files for further analysis and visualisation.

Explore basic commands and file system in Linux

Much bioinformatics software is available for use through Linux, via the command line, which many biologists are unfamiliar with.

Alongside international team of bioinformaticians, you’ll learn what the main features of Linux are, and how it’s used in biology. You’ll be able to describe how a Linux file system is structured and learn how to use Linux commands to navigate the file system.

Discover how to work with biological data files

You’ll use Linux commands to manipulate biological data files, preparing them for export into other environments for further analysis. The course will introduce you to the basics of R language and RStudio software environment.

You’ll also learn the basics of writing and executing simple Bash scripts in order to automate data processing.

Learn from an international team of bioinformatics experts

The Wellcome Genome Campus (WGC) is one of the globe’s leading bioinformatics centres, pioneering vital research into genome analysis.

On this course, the educators from WGC Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences are joined by experts from the Institut Pasteur de Tunis, to give you practical training using real biological data in different biological scenarios. This will help you see how you can work with data in your own field of biology.

This course will appeal to students, biologists, and research scientists with an interest in bioinformatics.

Learners are expected to have some knowledge of or experience with life sciences, but no prior knowledge of computing or bioinformatics is expected. There are no formal prerequisites.

Windows users might need to download and install a Unix emulation program. Linux and Mac users can run Unix commands natively in a terminal session. The course examples can also be run using a browser-based online emulator.

For the best learning experience, learners should have a computer available to them, not just a handheld device.


  • Introduction to Linux for biologists
    • Introduction
    • Introduction to Linux
    • Linux File System and Text Editing
    • File content manipulation and processing
    • Introduction to environment variables and sample software installation
    • End of Week 1
  • Introduction to Bash scripting
    • Introduction to Week 2
    • Writing Bash scripts Variables and Arrays
    • Capturing user input
    • Conditional expressions
    • Control flow in bash and Bash functions
    • Writing Bash scripts - Good practices
    • Summary of Week 2
  • Plotting in R for biological scenarios
    • Introduction to Week 3
    • Introduction to R
    • Working with data structures in R
    • Working with data and simple plots in R
    • Working with RStudio
    • Summary of Week 3

Taught by

Rachel Berkson


5.0 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at FutureLearn based on 258 ratings

Start your review of Bioinformatics for Biologists: An Introduction to Linux, Bash Scripting, and R

  • Aniket Singh Lodhi
    My experience through out was absolutely amazing and cheerful. I will definitely recommend this to fellow mates and juniors. I've learnt alot. Big thanks to the teaching team
  • Profile image for Pepe Cano
    Pepe Cano
    small and synthesized course, but it helps a lot to reaffirm knowledge and have general knowledge of Linux, Bash Scripting, and R. I highly recommend it

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.