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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
KFK022 - Biophysical chemistry
Biofysikalisk kemi
Syllabus adopted 2020-02-18 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPBIO
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Pass with distinction (5), Pass with credit (4), Pass (3), Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering

Teaching language: English
Application code: 08114
Open for exchange students: Yes
Block schedule: A
Maximum participants: 50

Module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0119 Examination 6,0 c Grading: TH   6,0 c   11 Jan 2021 pm J   Contact examiner,  Contact examiner
0219 Laboratory 1,5 c Grading: UG   1,5 c    

In programs

MPNAT NANOTECHNOLOGY, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)
MPBIO BIOTECHNOLOGY, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)


Marcus Wilhelmsson

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General entry requirements for Master's level (second cycle)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Specific entry requirements

English 6 (or by other approved means with the equivalent proficiency level)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Course specific prerequisites

General knowledge in chemistry, including physical chemistry.


By "Biophysical Chemistry" we mean the application of the concepts and tools of physical chemistry, i.e. in the form of models (thermodynamics, quantum mechanics) and analytical techniques (fluorescence spectroscopy, hydrodynamics, microscopy), to problems of biological significance. Biological systems are complex and their function is based on various macromolecules (DNA, RNA, proteins, polysaccharides) and defined aggregates (lipid membranes), and on a wide variety of receptor-ligand interactions. A typical approach to understanding is therefore to thoroughly characterize minimal model systems using biophysical methods and then add increasing levels of complexity to more closely resemble the cellular or biological system that you would like to increase the understanding of. Since it is methods rather than problems that typify the field of biophysical chemistry, we mainly introduce these by illustrating how they can be applied to problems concerning DNA and RNA. However, the principles are general and examples showing how the techniques are equally applicable to proteins are also dealt with. The course is an extension and specialization of general physical chemistry with focus on biophysical and biological applications. It also focusses on fluorescence-based methods and fluorescence theory as a vital basis for further specialization within the expanding field of fluorescence-based microscopy. This knowledge is suitable for those who want to later work in, for example, pharmaceutical industry or with biochemical, biophysical, biotechnical or biomedical research. Together with other courses in spectroscopy and analytical chemistry, surface and colloidal chemistry, organic synthesis, and molecular biology or microbiology, the course will provide a general platform for problem-solving in the bio-science area, but is also useful in nano-science, polymer, energy and soft-matter science contexts.

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

The students get trained in understanding and being able to discuss principles, theories and methods (focus on fluorescence) within biophysical chemistry applied especially on nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) but also other biomolecules. The student should after the course be able to:
  • describe important modern biophysical chemistry and biophysical methods and their applicability within chemistry, biology, physics as well as research within pharmaceutical industry
  • describe characteristics of DNA and RNA that are relevant to understand their biological function
  • theoretically explain and understand the phenomenon of fluorescence
  • theoretically explain and understand electronic states of molecules and their implications for absorption processes, fluorescence and in spectroscopy (including polarized)
  • theoretically explain, understand and utilize fluorescence-based methods (including polarized and time-resolved methods)
  • theoretically explain and in biological and pharmaceutical contexts apply kinetics, kinetic analysis, thermodynamics, molecular recognition as well as intermolecular forces (receptor-ligand interactions)
  • use their theoretical skills in spectroscopy and fluorescence for further efficient specialization within and use as well as development of fluorescence-based microscopy methods
  • theoretically explain and understand design and development of biologically relevant fluorescent molecules including the GFPs (Green Fluorescent Protein and its analogues displaying other colors)
  • perform analysis of biomolecular structure and dynamics in solution using methods in biophysical chemistry
  • understand and in part perform single-molecule biophysics experiments (for example, using nanochannels in DNA-nanotechnology)
  • reach a theoretical level in biophysical chemistry facilitating their involvement in the development of new analytical tools, biotechnological methods and therapeutical strategies for nucleic acid-based drugs
  • practically apply several of the biophysical chemistry methods presented in the course
  • apply knowledge in design of experiments and perform literature studies
  • write a scientific report as well as orally presenting scientific results


The course contains lectures within the following focus areas: a) receptor-ligand interactions (drug-target; intermolecular forces), b) DNA, RNA and nucleic acid based drugs, c) molecular states and absorption/ excitation processes, d) excited states and fluorescence, e) fluorescence-based techniques, f) fluorescent molecules (including GFPs), g) fluorescence-based structure and dynamics studies, h) microscopy, i) single-molecule biophysics studies of DNA/RNA.


Lectures, Tutorials and Laboratory Project


"Principles of Fluorescence Spectroscopy" (Joseph Lakowicz) complemented by material that will be confirmed at the start of the course

Examination including compulsory elements

Written final examination (6 ECTS) and approved project course (1.5 ECTS).

Page manager Published: Thu 04 Feb 2021.