Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Chemistry : Chemistry

Undergraduate Course: Biophysical Chemistry Level 11 (CHEM11016)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Chemistry CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis is a course of lectures, tutorials and workshops that focuses on the interaction between key biological macromolecules and a wide range of fundamental physical phenomena. The course will describe the means by which these potentially highly informative interactions can be studied, and the data collected and processed. The subsequent exploitation of this data to infer key information concerning the three-dimensional structures, composition, dynamics, spatiotemporal distributions and mutual interactions of biological polymers such as proteins and nucleic acids will be outlined. The benefits to be gained from combined use of orthogonal but complementary techniques in an integrated fashion will be emphasized. The course will also teach how knowledge of the physical properties of biological polymers can be used to predict the way in which they fold, adopt quasi-stable tertiary structures and form complexes with other molecules.

This course (as specified in the degree programme tables) is a compulsory requirement for Year 4 students on MChem degree in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, but can be taken by Year 4 students on any MChem Chemistry degree programme.
Course description The course consists of a series of modules on the following topics: hydrodynamics i.e. the inference of molecular size, shape and association properties based on the movements of molecules with or in relation to aqueous solvent; the application of visible and ultra-violet light to studies of native biomolecules or biomolecules conjugated with chromophores or fluorophores (biophotonics) and fluorescent imaging techniques; nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and its applications to structural and dynamic studies of proteins and protein complexes; X-ray crystallography and high-resolution structure determination of macromolecules; electron microscopy applied to biomacromolecules and composite biological structures; and the use of in silico techniques such as molecular dynamics to predict the structure and behaviour of proteins based on an understanding of their physical properties.

The course will emphasise the physical basis of each technique and how this relates to its limitations leading to an appreciation of why several experimental and computational techniques, applied in combination, provide the most robust information.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Chemistry 3A (CHEM09005) AND Chemistry 3B (CHEM09006) AND Chemistry 3P Practical and Transferable Skills (CHEM09007)
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Biophysical Chemistry Level 10 (CHEM10014)
Other requirements Must include a weighted average of Grade C or higher in all Chemistry 3 courses AND a weighted average of Grade D or higher in Chemistry 3A and Chemistry 3B, at the first attempt; or with the permission of Head of School.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles underlying the interplay between various physical phenomena and the physical properties of biomolecules, along with an awareness of the limitations of current understanding.
  2. Apply this knowledge and understanding to achieve a critical and nuanced appreciation of how the information needed to determine macromolecular structures and properties is acquired, processed, synthesised and assembled.
  3. Review the theory and practices of a range of biophysical techniques and demonstrate an ability to assess the robustness of the hypothetical models and mechanisms that are inferred from the data they generate, exercising an informed and critical judgement of the available data.
  4. In workshops and small-group work collaborate in self-learning exercises and share findings and informed judgements on the orthogonality of biophysical methods with peers.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 30 hours lectures + 6 hours tutorials and one three-hour workshop, at times arranged.
Course organiserDr Julien Michel
Tel: (0131 6)50 4797
Course secretaryMr Craig Smith
Tel: (0131 6)50 4710
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information