PHYC41070 Techniques in Biophysics

Academic Year 2024/2025

This module is primarily designed for students interested in pursing their research activity in the interdisciplinary field of Biophysics. An introductory cell biology part is followed by a selection of scientific cases of study including biomembranes, membrane proteins, amyloids, and cells. Several physics techniques used in biophysics are discussed. The learning material comprises textbooks and scientific publications. The main assessment component consists of a group project.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the module the student will have acquired basic knowledge of several biophysical approaches and of many of the most fascinating topics in the field.

Indicative Module Content:

After an introductory part devoted to cell biology fundamentals (e.g. lipids, proteins, DNA and RNA, cellular membranes), the module will focus on several cases of study, including: (i) protein amyloidogenesis in health, diseases and material sciences; (ii) structural and mechano-elastical properties of amyloid fibrils; (iii) structure, dynamics and viscoelastical properties of biomembranes; (iv) the functioning of selected membrane protein channels including the Piezo 1 & 2 of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine; (v) cell migration, adhesion and invasion in heathy and pathological conditions, and the role of substrate elasticity. The main techniques that will be considered are: (a) neutron scattering, (b) atomic force microscopy, (c) static and dynamic light scattering, (d) Infrared and Raman spectroscopies, (e) optical and electron microscopies, (f) optical tweezers, and (f) several cell biology approaches including cell survival assays, flow cytometry, western blotting, cell migration and adhesion assays, and patch-clamp. The module is a lecture-based module. The module will be enriched by seminars presented by international experts in the field. An overview of biophysical research carried out in UCD Physics and in the other UCD Schools will be also presented.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures; Seminars by international leading experts; Review of the scientific literature; Group project 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade

Not yet recorded.

Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be provided both individually to students and to the whole class.

1. Physical Biology of the Cell, R. Philips et al. Garland Science
2. Biological Physics, P. Nelson