Python: the Swiss Army Knife for Researchers

python-logo swiss-army-knife

Tutor: Dell Zhang
Date/Time: Saturday 16th March 2019 (10am--12pm, 1pm--3pm, and 3:15pm--5:15pm)
Room: MAL 407, Birkbeck Main Building [BBK Maps]
Birkbeck Graduate Research School (BGRS) [for research students studying at Birkbeck]
Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network (BPSN) [for research students from other institutes]

If you would like to bring your own laptop for the course, please consult your institution's IT department to install and configure eduroam in advance so that you can use Birkbeck's WiFi network.


Python is a scripting language that makes programming easy, fun, and most importantly, productive. Like a Swiss Army knife, Python is small but amazingly sharp and versatile. It enables you to write compact and clean code for almost everything you want your computers to do for your scientific research: from numerical computation to statistical analysis, from plotting graphs to providing web services, from natural language processing to social network visualisation; you name it. It is no surprise that Python is becoming the most popular programming language for data science. By the way, Python is free, as in "free beer", and as in "free speech" too.

This six-hour crash course aims to introduce the basics of Python programming, explain its advantages compared with other popular programming languages (e.g., C++/Java, Matlab, and R), and illustrate its usage in a number of different domains. The course will be taught in a practical hands-on lab setting. No prior knowledge of computer programming is assumed, but you need to be computer literate in order to follow the demonstrations and participate in the practical sessions.


The provisional list of topics to be covered includes:

Lecture Notes




For beginners:

For programmers:

For scientists:

Further Readings


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