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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
FKA116 - Biological physics
Syllabus adopted 2012-02-22 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPAPP
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Engineering Physics
Department: 16 - PHYSICS

Teaching language: English
Open for exchange students
Block schedule: A

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0104 Examination 7,5c Grading: TH   7,5c   Contact examiner,  Contact examiner

In programs

MPAPP APPLIED PHYSICS, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)


Forskare  Sofia Svedhem


For single subject courses within Chalmers programmes the same eligibility requirements apply, as to the programme(s) that the course is part of.

Course specific prerequisites

A basic understanding of thermodynamics and statistical physics is advantageous.


The course is aimed at 1) providing the basic theoretical tools and understanding of central concepts in biological physics and 2) providing an enhanced capability of conducting and presenting experimental work in biological physics.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)


After successfully completing the course, you will be able to:

  • Understand and use the key vocabulary of biological physics

  • Describe and utilize the basic physical concepts of importance in biological systems

  • Explain different physical aspects of biological molecules such as DNA

  • Relate fundamental physical forces and biological function on various levels of structural complexity of the cell

  • Plan and perform experimental biological physics experiments that give qualitative insight in some of the main concept of the course

  • Present the results of an experimental biological physics project in a written project report and at a seminar.



The theory part focuses on the following aspects:


·       The stuff of life and physical model building in biology

·       Hierarchy of length and time scales

·       Mechanical and chemical (non)equilibrium in the living cell

·       Random walks and dynamical molecular machines

·       Biological membranes, skeletons and networks

·       Life in crowded and disordered environments

·       Biological electricity


An important aspect of the course is to utilize the tools and knowledge you have from before in thermodynamics, statistical physics, solid state physics, soft matter physics and alike.


The experimental part of the course consist of two shorter introductory experiments (eg.  extraction and spectral characterization of myoglobin from hamburger)  and a larger  project focusing on some of the fundamental concepts in the course:


  • What determines the structure of a protein?

  • How does a yeast cell respond to stress?

  • What determines the mobility in membranes?

An important aim with the experimental part is that you will get basic training of working in a bio-lab with biological molecules and solvents. The main experimental techniques that will be used are fluorescence microscopy and optical (UV-VIS) and fluorescence spectroscopy.


An additional aim of the project labs is that you will gain experience in planning and performing a biological physics experiment from the beginning and to analyze and present the results in a written report and at a seminar with opposition.


The course consists of 12 lectures, focusing on the basic theory of Biological Physics (10), and basic experimental methods (2) and an experimental part consisting of both short training experiments and an experimental project in groups of 2-3 students during the entire course.



“Physical Biology of the cell”, Rob Phillips, Jane Kondev and Julie Theriot, Garland Science 2008.


Weekly home problems and oral exam covering theory part. Written and oral presentation of the experimental project at the end of the course. The theoretical and experimental parts will have an equal weight in the final grade.


Page manager Published: Thu 04 Feb 2021.