Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


Knowledge: biophysics, chemistry, role of biological molecules in the living organism, modeling and simulation techniques, quantum mechanical phenomena in biology, spectroscopy and advance microscopy techniques.

Skills: give presentations and compose essays on multidisciplinary topics spanning physics, chemistry and biology; approach topics with a critical mindset and give appropriate feedback to your peers.

Credits: 5

Schedule: 12.01.2021 - 25.02.2021

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Caterina Soldano, Ilkka Tittonen

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Caterina Soldano, Ilkka Tittonen

Contact information for the course (valid 21.12.2020-21.12.2112):

Ornella Laouadi, ornella.laouadi[at]

CEFR level (applies in this implementation):

Language of instruction and studies (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022):

Teaching language: English

Languages of study attainment: English


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Encompassing annually varying topics in molecular physics, biophysics, and molecular quantum mechanics, this course gives fundamental knowledge of biological molecules and physical insight into biological systems. The course contains lectures, exercises, student presentations, written essays and a final exam. Attendance is rewarded.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    The course starts with 4 lectures by 4 teachers, the topics of which are:

    • atomic and molecular bonds and orbitals
    • the formation of large biomolecules
    • the roles of biomolecules in the living cell
    • microscopy and spectroscopy techniques for the investigation of biomolecules

    The second part of the course is made of student presentations: every student is assigned an article to read and present to the rest of the class. Everyone is also assigned to review the article and the presentation of a fellow student, including asking questions after the presentation.

    Depending on the number of students who enroll in the class, there might be time left for more lectures by the teachers, on recent topics such as biomolecule-based electronic devices, coronavirus spike proteins, artificial photosynthesis and CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    The acquired knowledge is assessed from the contents of the presentation (25%), of the essay (25%) and the exam results (25%).

    The acquired skills are assessed on the presentation performance, the clarity of the essay, the review homework and eventual group work (25%).

  • Applies in this implementation:


    Due to the switch to remote teaching, the workload and grading process have switched to the following protocol:

    Attendance is not mandatory, but highly recommended, and provides extra points.

    Homework is 48% of the grade, and it is assigned partly as at-home and partly as in-class homework; in-class homework is collaborative and it is discussed in breakout rooms by the students in order to find the best answer. Deadlines are such that the all the homework can also be solved at-home, for students who miss the class.

    A presentation by the students, on a scientific article chosen from a list, is 32% of the grade.

    The remaining 20% of the grade is given by peer-review of a co-worker presentation and of the presented article, as well as online moderation of the presentation.

    If a student wants to increase their final grade, an extra essay can be written on a relevant topic.

    There is no final exam.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    This course contains annually slightly varying topics in molecular physics, biological physics and molecular quantum mechanics. The course contains lectures, exercises and individual writing topics.

    Lectures: 24 h

    Student presentation (preparation and performance): 30 h

    Scientific writing (essay): 30 h

    Review exercise: 8 h

    Exam: 2 h

    Independent study: 42 h

  • Applies in this implementation:

    class hoursstudent hours



    (extra, voluntary)




Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Relevant book chapters and recent scientific literature, based on the year's topics.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Basic courses in mathematics and physics on the BSc level. Basic knowledge in chemistry and biology is useful.

SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    15 Life on Land