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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
FKA116 - Biological physics
Syllabus adopted 2015-02-20 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPAPP
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Fail
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 7,5 c Grading: TH   7,5 c    

In programs

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


Professor  Fredrik Höök


In order to be eligible for a second cycle course the applicant needs to fulfil the general and specific entry requirements of the programme that owns the course. (If the second cycle course is owned by a first cycle programme, second cycle entry requirements apply.)
Exemption from the eligibility requirement: Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling these requirements.

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 successful completion of the course you should 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 for example DNA, protein, enzymes, cell membranes and live cells.
  • Relate fundamental physical forces to biological function and structural complexity of live cells
  • Better plan and perform experimental biological physics experiments that give qualitative insight in some of the main concept of the course


The theory part focuses on the following aspects:

Molecules that are the building blocks of living organisms
Physical models to describe life Hierarchy of length and time scales
Mechanical and chemical (non)equilibrium in the living cell
Random walks and dynamical molecular machines
Biological membranes and transport into and out of cells Life in crowded and disordered environments
Biological electricity and photosynthesis

An important aspect of the course is to utilize the tools and knowledge you have from before in thermodynamics, statistical physics, solid state physicsm soft matter physics (or chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry if your background is not physics). The experimental part of the course consists of i) one short introductory experiment in which you get used to handling buffers biomolecules and perform experiments and ii) a larger project focusingon some of the fundamental concepts in the course.

An important aim with the experimental part is that you will get training of working in a wet-chemistry biological laboratory with biological molecules and solvents. The main experimental techniques that will be used are fluorescence microscopy, optical (UV-VIS),fluorescence spectroscopy and surface-sensitive tools.

An additional aim of the project labs is to give experience in planning and performing a biological physics experiment from the beginning to the end and to analyze and present the results in a written report and in an oral seminar.


The course consists of around 12 lectures, focusing on theoretical models applicable to Biological Physics, and how the experimental methods used in the laboratory exercises and projects related to the theory part, including additional applications of biological physics.
It also included an experimental part consisting of both short training experiments and a challenging experimental project to be run in groups of 3-4 students during the entire course.


Course book: Physical Biology of the Cell, 2nd edition, Rob Phillips, Jane Kondev, Julie Theriot and Hernan Garcia; Garland Science 2013.


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.