Student Pages
Postgraduate course

Biophysical methods for molecular biologists

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codeMOL320
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Main content

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Teaching semester


This course has a limited capacity, enrolment is based on application. The application deadline is Wednesday in week 2 for the spring semester. Please see this page for more information. You will receive confirmation of whether you received a seat in Studentweb no later than Monday the week after the deadline.

It is compulsory to attend the first lecture/orientation meeting, or you risk losing your seat. If you are unable to attend the first lecture, you must contact the Study Section (<email>studie.bio@uib.no</email>). The time of the first lecture/orientation meeting can be found in the schedule on the course website or on Mitt UiB.

Objectives and Content


The course aims to provide students with adequate theoretical and practical knowledge sufficient to use a variety of biophysical methods on molecular biology systems. The course will provide an understanding of the physical principles underpinning the techniques, as well as describing their technology and their applications. As this is a practical course, an important goal is to give students practical training through demonstrations, laboratory exercises and data analyses, as well as providing training in presenting the data in the form of report writing.


The course will focus on CW domain, a protein domain which is actively researched at the Department of Biological Sciences and at other research institutes. The CW-domain is part of a larger enzyme that bind to histones and performs specific acetylation. It is an important protein within epigenetic studies. Four methods will be applied to the protein-domain. Thermal stability monitored by tryptophan fluorescence, Surface Plasmon Resonance for quantification of binding kinetics and binding constants, Isothermal Calorimetry for quantitating binding and solving thermodynamic parameters of the system, and finally high resolution NMR for tracking the specific amino acids involved in the binding of the ligand

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student can explain

  • the structural biology and epigenetics needed to understand the system they are working with
  • what that makes the CW domain and attractive scientific study
  • the theoretical foundation of each technique
  • what information one can get from each technique, and what their strengths and limitations are
  • the technological principle that underpins each of the techniques
  • the HSE requirements relevant to the practical parts of each exercises


The students can ...

  • handle reagents, instruments and software well enough to solve each of the four student exercises
  • present and discuss results in the form of reports and also orally in groups
  • put results from individual exercises into context with each other and with existing literature

General competence

The student is able to

  • design and conduct experiments within the four methods taught in the course
  • write reports holding a good scientific standard
  • combine methods in project design and interpretation of results, so that broader conclusions can be reached

Required Previous Knowledge

Basic knowledge in molecular biology (MOL100), organic chemistry (KJEM130), metabolism (MOL202 or MOL221 and MOL222) or equivalent.

Recommended Previous Knowledge

Structural Molecular Biology (MOL310) and MOL300 Practical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

MOL310 can be taken in parallel.

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap

 KJEM233 (1sp), KJEM251 (1 sp)

Teaching and learning methods

Lecture and laboratory exercises.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Laboratory exercises and demonstrations.

Obligatory activities are valid for total six semesters.

The first lecture/orientation meeting is compulsory.

Forms of Assessment

Reports from laboratory exercises and demonstrations (30%) and written exam, 4 hours (70%). Due to coronavirus the exam will be digital written exam taken home.

The written exam and the laboratory exercises and demonstrations must be completed and compulsory activity approved, to obtain a grade in the teaching semester.

For a semester without teaching, the student may take the final exam if laboratory exercises and demonstrations is approved. The result of this exam will constitute 70 % and the laboratory exercises and demonstrations 30 % of the final grade.

Examination support materials: Non- programmable calculator, according to model listed in faculty regulations

Grading Scale

The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.

Reading List

The reading list will be available within June 1st for the autumn semester and December 1st for the spring semester.

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.

Course Administrator

The Faculty of mathematics and nature sciences, Department of biological sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and program.


Department og Biological Sciences, e-mail: studie@bio.uib.no

Exam information

  • For written exams, please note that the start time may change from 09:00 to 15:00 or vice versa until 14 days prior to the exam.

  • Type of assessment: Lab reports and written examination

    Withdrawal deadline
    • Exam part: Written examination

      Examination system
      Digital exam