Scientific content

Bachelor program “Frontiers in Life Science” should not be seen as a degree program in biology, but as an interdisciplinary training for students who are curious about science in general. Even though the living world is at the heart of the studied systems, the teaching is balanced between biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science.

Organization of semesters

In the first year, the two weeks of immersion enable the students to familiarize themselves with the program, to get to know the teaching staff and other students. The choice of learning topics is fixed, so that all students obtain the basic knowledge from the main core, including the basics of mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, biology and science methodology and philosophy. In the second year, students have more flexibility in choosing the subjects according to their interests, and project-based learning becomes more important. Just as in the first year, learning is organized around themes and approached in an interdisciplinary manner.

The last year of studies is not a classical specialization year: we offer the students a possibility to explore new interests or deepen their existing interests through a semester of studies in a French or foreign partner institution, and through a semester-long internship. To prepare their third year, the students are offered help with career choice options, their scientific interests, and guided through the admission process in our partner institutions. During the third year, students have regular progress reports, where they discuss their projects with their peers, in person and via teleconferencing if they are abroad. The third year ends with a final get-together, where each student presents their experience in front of their peers and teachers.

  • Semester 1/ Observing and describing life, matter, motion
  • Semester 2/ Stability and change in living systems
  • Semester 3/ Living world and bio-inspired systems
  • Semester 4/ Interactions and communication
  • Semester 5/ Specialization (in a partner institution)
  • Semester 6/ Practice ( pre-placement orientation, internship, restitution)


The objective is to prepare students for the program, from a personal and scientific a point of view. Students try themselves through a short research process. The teaching team take the opportunity to these activities to identify problems and potential of each student.

Refresher Courses

This optional cours allows students to start the year without important gaps  in physics, chemistry, biology or mathematics. After the introduction week  a quick assessment combined with a self-assessment is the opportunity to encourage students to follow this optional course which allows to guide them on one of the courses.

Mathematics: logics, arithmetics and linear algebra

Boolean operators, quantification, elements of set theory, proof by induction, tautologies (implication, equivalence, contrapositive) continuity, derivatives, linear approximations, integral calculus, numbers complex usual functions (log, exp, cos, sin), vector spaces, functions linear arrays, etc..

Physics: What is movement? What is energy?

Teaching of mechanics (motion, Newton’s laws, work, inertia, collisions, rotation, elasticity, harmonic oscillator, fluid mechanics).

Chemistry: chemicals players

The course begins with an introduction to the atomistic, where we discover the concepts of quantization energy, energy levels and where they explores the periodic table. The concept of binding is then introduced (strong or weak bonds). Explores different families of molecules.

Unity and diversity of  the living

Students are asked to describe and observe the living at different scales spatio-temporal (cell cycle, heredity) and organizational (organic molecules, cell, cell-cell communication, organization, ecosystem). The aim is to equip students with reading guides in order to embrace the complexity of life in all its unity and diversity.

IT: discovery of computer science

IT is introduced through the history of the discipline and techniques related to it. Students are also accompanied to carry a reflection on the role of IT in the scientific world contemporary, addressing through supervised research work of issues related to databases, AI, advanced scientific computing

Scientific methodology, current practice and ethics

It aims to familiarize students with the concepts of experimental science and ripen the report data, their measurement and presentation, as well as modeling. The ethical issues of experimental research are studied here. Also, the basic rules of hygiene and safety are presented.

Scientific methodology, historical and philosophical approach

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Professional development and career planning

The objective of this course is to make students start to reflect on their career prospects. A short training period (2-5 days) is achieved in a research laboratory or a company, preferably a start-up or department of research and development. Students expand the choice of professions they were considering before their arrival in the bachelor.

Transition week

At the end of semester 1, students should be able to make an assessment on the major changes in their relationship to science, university, to learn. Occasional reinforcements in terms of methodology work can be addressed, especially in view of growing each individual to rely on the community of learners to progress.

Assessment of competences

If a student has a facility and its availability in agenda, the optional embodiment of a short internship can be offered to him/her. it can be during university holidays, or a one week full time internship divided into half-days throughout the semester.

Short internship

Through the realization of a research project involving the entire group, on a short time and form of “challenge” this week activities can take stock of skills. Before the holidays we make explicit the contribution of training content through school and professionales projects of each students.

Mathematics : Probability & Statistics

Discrete probabilities related to independence, conditional probabilities, continuous distributions (Bernoulli, binomial, Poisson, Gaussian, geometric), fundamental theorems limits. statistical applications (confidence intervals or tests), random walks, statistical (regression, correlation and causality). ANOVA, R, Scilab, Matlab, Python.

Physics : thermodynamics and transport phenomena

The diffusion of particles allows to link the phenomena of transport biology. We study the reversibility of perspective thermodynamics, we study the first and second principle, irreversible and cyclic phenomena.

Chemistry : How molecules transform themselves

It begins the semester with organic chemistry (esterification, chirality, control reactions, specificity) and extends on the kinetic aspects and thermodynamics that govern reactions. It then focuses on catalysis, which can address more realistic examples of reactions whether industrial chemical or enzymatic catalysis.

Biology: cell development and function

The bases of cell function are addressed with changes paradigm for the operation of the living, particularly for heredity (Mendel, chromosomal and molecular basis of heredity). The gene expression and cellular metabolism are taught. The diversity of the living  across unicellular is studied.

Computer science: Basic programming

Computer architecture (processor, memory, I / O, etc..) introduction to algorithms and complexity, Introduction to a programming language.

Laboratory life, science and society

How science are involved and integrated in a social world? The courses cover scientific topics which are discussed themes of values, norms and controversies. This approach allows to train reading academic texts, understanding their function in scientific practice and writing an argument.

Philosophy of science

A series of major issues in the philosophy of current science , and in particular the philosophy of biology are discussed through readings of articles, the work supervised research and lively discussion group: realism reductionism and emergence; causality, luck, uncertainty and probability, feminist epistemology.

Interdisciplinary seminar

A phenomenon is studied from the perspective of several disciplines. It promotes illustrations from research or technological innovation. Skills in terms of use of models, experimental measurements, reading articles, bibliographic research and scientific presentation to an uninformed public are consolidated.

Scientific project

To customize their path L1, students choose an issue in life sciences they wish to deepen, etc..). Project, we mean a dynamic original response to a question, with a clear produce a limited time available. These projects should foremost be the opportunity to explore a scientific question.

Internship (4 to 8 weeks)

In cases where a student has facilities and availability on its agenda, the optional implementation of a internship can be offered him. This internship is conducted in a line, upstream of the third semester during the summer holidays. Presentation of the results of these courses is done during two days

Interdisciplinary seminar

A phenomenon is studied from the perspective of several disciplines. It promotes illustrations from research or technological innovation. Skills in terms of use of models, experimental measurements, reading articles, bibliographic research and scientific presentation to an uninformed public are consolidated.

Mathematics : multivariate functions, graph theory, network

Multivariate functions (derived from first and second order gradient Laplacian, divergence …). The theory of graphs and networks are discussed from biological issues of dynamical systems (network of interaction between proteins, phylogeny, neural networks) with extensions to research questions in epidemiology.

Physics: waves and optics

An emphasis is placed on the light, with its double aspect wave / corpuscule and its interaction with matter (color and fluorescence). The study of light is also discussed in terms of geometrical optics.


Students are introduced to conventional bioinformatics tools, among others, use of databases, sequence analysis, phylogeny, modeling of protein structures

Biology: life in its environment

This course proposes to address the functioning of living in interaction with its environment, whether material and energy cycles or changes in populations and species in the short and long term, or mechanisms that influence individual development (Evo-Devo).

Chemistry: oxidoreduction, inorganic chemistry, polymers

This module begins with redox elements. We present applications to biological systems: synapses, membrane potential … After discussing elements of inorganic chemistry, the module continues the study of polymers with industrial and biological illustrations.

Scientific english

Training in English scientist aims to achieve a level of fluency in English to easily consider internships research in foreign laboratories for the third-year student and exchanges with foreign universities. At the end of this course students will be oriented according to their level of qualifications (IELTS or other).

Science education

Students (in pairs) construct a course (short-term) for the rest of the class on a specific point in connection with the past six months and their choice. The evaluation focuses on the course developed by the pair, but the participation of each student in a demonstration of communication of knowledge to the general public is also necessary to validate the module.

Engineering : signal processing and data visualization

We start by defining systems, natural or artificial, in which signals are propagated, and the nature of the analog signals. We then studied the electronics required for the shaping of a signal sensor behind. The digital signal is approached. From the data produced by students at TP in other EU data visualization working.

Introductory level or advanced level courses  (students choose between different options)

Students choose one course from the following options: –  Student engagement – Specialized courses, together with the license of Biomedical Sciences at the University Paris Descartes – Other scientific courses outside of the license

Assessment od comptetencies

It is proposed to consolidate the community of learners so that they can establish fruitful exchanges even during the third year, while students will be scattered. This week is also the opportunity to examine more widely social dynamics in the world of research.

Transition week

At the end of the third semester, students have now three semesters of training, many projects and some have completed internships long enough. This is to examine the complementary skills that students will need to achieve their bachelor. Projects for students are interviewed during this week of transition, adapted, consolidated and validated.

Interdisciplinary seminar

The sessions are grouped into an intensive period equivalent to 2 full weeks of training, during which a phenomenon is studied from the perspective of several disciplines. It promotes illustrations from research or technological innovation.

Group project:

It may include research projects, industrial projects or projects at the interface between science and society, for example. This project must accurately reflect the perspectives of the student orientation. A detailed written report is systematically requested, in addition to another handing form more personal (video, articles, interviews, etc..)

Computational biology:  models and simulations in biology

Students are supported in the development of projects simulation in conjunction with the living (evolution, population dynamics, kinetic simulations, stochastic and deterministic models).

Biology: interaction networks and evolution of biological systems

Flows of matter, energy and information are the mediators of interaction networks: metabolic networks, gene networks, dedistributions networks (blood, sap, etc..) neural networks. The course builds on the tools and concepts from other disciplines to implement simple models (nonlinear dynamical systems, stochastic processes, etc..).

Biochemistry and bioengineering

The course develops the concepts and theoretical and experimental tools of bioengineering that allow a rational construction of artificial systems. Technological and medical applications are illustrated throughout the course: drug design, GMOs. Ethical reflection on issues of such research and applications is discussed.

Physics: electricity and magnetism

This module begins with concepts of electricity. Students learn to recognize the classic basic circuits. The study of electrical systems is implemented in electrophysiology. Examples of solving physical or technological problems is mentioned by bioinspirées methods. The course extends over a study fields and magnetic forces.

Mathematics: Markov process and modeling population dynamics

This course teaches the chains and Markov processes. Subsequently a variety of commonly used models in biology are taught: Boolean models, differential equations, stochastic models, etc..


We encourage students to do it abroad

Module A: Introduction to interdisciplinary life science research

Programming and modeling for biology

This module will introduce programming applied to biology. the students will learn how to read code and understand algorithms. They will also learn how to translate a problem description into code allowing them to stimulate a model and/or analyze and visualize their data.

Experimental design, data analysis and analysis of research articles

In this module, student will learn to design experiments, use statistical methods to analyse data sets, use visual methods to present data, interpret the results of the analysis (including under graduating controls, measurement errors, sample size, probability and hypothesis testing). The students will also learn how to reading and analyse  research articles, as well as how to propose relavant continuation of research.

Research project

Group research project is proposed by the students to address a relevant scientific question. Project module consists of a preparatory phase where students design the project and experiments, a hands-on phase where the students gather their data, and analysis phase where students analyse the data and write a report.

Module B : Innovative science research methods

Systems ecology

Systems ecology module explores the interdisciplinary field of ecology using a systems level approach. Topics will be chosen based on the interest of students, and may include exploration of ecosystems from global to cellular scale, populations ecology and coevolution, climate change and biodiversity.

Diversity of Microorganism

This intensive two-weeks module will cover topics in modern microbiology, including microbial ecology and genomics, microbe interaction with plants, microbial symbiosis and human microbiota, as well as interactions between microbes and the immune system, epidemics, vaccines and antimicrobials.

Physical and chemical limits of living systems

Interface between biology, physics and chemistry will be a theme of this module. The limits of life will be illustrated through studies of amphibian insects in field work.

Interdisciplinary look at evolution

Revisiting evolution of life on earth is the goal of this module. Taking into account all physical and chemical constraints of major evolutionary transition will aim at offering a novel interdisciplinary view of yet unexplained concepts of evolutionary biology.