For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!
You are using a browser that is no longer supported by Microsoft. Please upgrade your browser. The site may not present itself correctly if you continue browsing.

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.

The course starting March 31st 2023 is full.
This course will start again in September 2023. The exact date and other new start dates for the next academic year 2023-2024 will be announced in the Spring 2023 on this website.

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 lab sessions.

    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. You are free to follow the course at your own pace* but we encourage you to complete the course within 7 weeks which averages to a little over 11 hours per week.

    *If you start 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 lab sessions (two hours each) every week. You can attend these sessions at the Science Park campus to work on your assignments and get help when you need it. These sessions 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 the sessions helps participants of the course a lot with their progress.
    • Video meeting: you can make an appointment for a video meeting with one of our teachers. There are three helpdesk moments throughout the week.
    • 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 lab sessions:

    From February 8th till March 24th the lab sessions take place each week on:
    •    Mondays 17:00-19:00
    •    Wednesdays 15:00-17:00
    •    Fridays 13:00-15:00

    From April 3rd till May 25th the lab sessions take place each week on*:
    •    Mondays 17:00-19:00
    •    Tuesdays 13:00-15:00
    •    Fridays 13:00-15:00

    * During April 3rd to May 25th some lab sessions will be canceled due to holidays. Please check the online syllabus (to which you will get access on the kick-off day) for the most recent schedule and room numbers of each lab session.

  • After completing this 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 lab sessions) on which the software can be installed. We are not able to provide you 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):
•    Friday March 31st 2023, 10:30-16:00 (Full)
•    September 2023: the exact date will be announced here on the website in the Spring 2023

Exam dates:
•    Wednesday March 29th 2023, 9:00-12:00
•    Thursday June 1st 2023, 9:00-12:00

Practical Information

Mode of study: Self-study, online, on campus lab-sessions (optional)
Duration: 7 weeks
Investment: 80 hours
Maximum number of participants: 10
Location (kick-off day, lab-sessions and exam): Science Park Campus, Amsterdam.
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 for this course is part of the fringe benefits. Please sign up (using the sign up button) and indicate that you are an UvA employee. 

STAP Budget

You can request a STAP budget for this programme. Please note that next application period for the STAP budget starts 28 February 2023, which means that you can apply for the STAP subsidy for this programme starting 31 March 2023. Unfortunately, that also means it is NOT possible to apply for the STAP subsidy for this programme starting 8 February 2023.

To be eligible for the subsidy you need a STAP proof of enrolment. To get this, tick the STAP budget box in the application form. Take into account that there are deadlines for registration and receiving the necessary STAP proof of enrolment. You can find more information about the STAP Budget here.


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


Feiten & cijfers
Vorm Kortlopend
Voertaal Engels
Start Februari, april