Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Pre-requisites: BI2BC17 Biocybernetics
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites: BI2SP16 Signal Processing
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof William Harwin


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module introduces students to mathematical concepts in biomedical engineering. In particular the module introduces the concept of Cybernetics and how it can be applied in animals, humans and machines. The lectures will develop mathematical techniques introduced in the first year including constructing and solving differential equations, feedback,   learning and adaptive systems, and optimization.  Both linear and nonlinear mathematical techniques will be explored.  Lectures will be supplemented with two Matlab/Simulink based assignments and exercises to help reinforce the concepts and allow rapid visualisation of ideas.


This module will consider a variety of artificial and biological systems as feedback systems. It will introduce ideas in cybernetics and build on the associated underpinning mathematics. This module aims to introduce student to block diagram representations, differential equations:  derivation and solution of first and second order equations, applied in various engineering systems. Module will reinforce Laplace transform taught in signal processing BI2SP16

Examples might include dynamic systems such as drug infusion, homeostasis, mass spring damper networks, and resonance systems.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Students completing this module should understand how to set up differential equations to describe a set of variables, and visualise the behaviour of these equations using a range of methods including Using the Laplace transform, numerical simulations and time/frequency domain responses.

Additional outcomes:

By the end of the module students will be expected to

  • Understand the differences between linear and nonlinear systems

  • Use standard techniques to assess stability and behaviour

  • Understand concepts such as resonance and time constant

  • Use numerical techniques such as Euler and Runge-Kutta integration to solve systems of differential equations

  • Have a basic concept of state space

  • Understand learning techniques such as MLP and radial basis functions, use these to model nonlinear signals or learn patterns

  • Apply concepts to mechanical, biological or electrical systems.

  • Consider

  • Examples, include modelling neurons (integrate and fire), diffusion and homeostasis

  • Practical laboratories: Simulink block diagrams, stiff PDE solvers

Students will be familiar with tools for analysis Students should also appreciate the breadth of the subject of Cybernetics and see that techniques described in one application can often be used in others.

Outline content:

Block diagrams and differential equations (e.g. resonance circuits and mass spring damper systems). Stability analysis using root locus and Bode plots. PID controllers. Properties of first and second order systems. Applications to biological systems.                            

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures, laboratory practicals, and flipped classrooms

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 20
Practicals classes and workshops 8 8
Guided independent study 66 66 12
Total hours by term 94.00 94.00 12.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Practical skills assessment 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:
3 hours

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:

Students will be encouraged to complete examples sheets that highlight aspects of the course. These will be discussed during lectures and practical classes

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 7 August 2018


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