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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Physics and Astronomy : Undergraduate (School of Physics and Astronomy)

Undergraduate Course: Biological Physics (PHYS11040)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Physics and Astronomy CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThere is an increased research effort in the school devoted to problems at the interface between biology and physics. There is also increasing recognition that physics can provide a very real - and very valuable - insight into the behaviour of complex biological systems, and that a physical approach to biological problems can provide a new way of looking at the world. This course will introduce the students to the basics of biological systems, and then provide examples of how familiar physical principles (thermodynamics, statistical mechanics) underlie complex biological phenomena.

This course will introduce you to the wonders of biology: the organisms, cells, and molecules that make up the living world. We will demonstrate the power of physical concepts to understand and make powerful predictions about biological systems, from the folding of a protein into a unique three-dimensional structure within a reasonable timeframe, through the motions of proteins to drive biological processes, to the locomotion of bacterial cells. The physical concepts will be substantially familiar, but their applications will be novel. Where possible, examples will be drawn from the recent scientific literature.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements At least 80 credit points accrued in courses of SCQF Level 9 or 10 drawn from Schedule Q.
Please be aware that this course has a high level of Maths and uses concepts from statistical mechanics and thermodynamics.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesSome knowledge of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics is essential (partition functions, free energies, canonical and grand canonical ensembles, random walks and diffusion).
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 12, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 6, Online Activities 2, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Summative Assessment Hours 3, Revision Session Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 70 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 20% oral assignment
30% written assignment
50% Degree Examination
All components are mandatory to pass the course.
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the structure of cells, and the major components within a cell.
  2. Recognise that biological systems are far from equilibrium.
  3. Understand the importance of diffusion, random walks and entropy in biological systems.
  4. Understand the importance of cooperativity in biology.
  5. Recognise and communicate the different approaches used in Biological and Physical research.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 12 lectures; 6 tutorials; attend 1 hour of oral presentations during which you will present and ask questions on your peers' oral presentations.
Course organiserDr Chris Brackley
Tel: (0131 6)50 8617
Course secretaryMiss Katy Brown
Tel: (01316) 505310
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