The University of Newcastle, Australia
Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


Biophysics deals with the application of physics to biological systems. The concepts and techniques of biophysics find applications in bioelectronics, medicine/health, and population dynamics and are closely related to statistical mechanics and transport processes. Interdisciplinary skills and knowledge have heralded novel scientific outcomes with benefits to society. As such, this course develops foundational thinking and methods that are fundamental to an effective interdisciplinary STEMM workforce.

Specifically, this course provides an introduction to the physics of many body systems, transport phenomena of neutral and electrically charged particles and biological systems. Statistical Mechanics is explored through problem-based learning. Workshops are designed to gain an understanding of transport processes. Topic based assignments are used to learn about three different biosystems. Computer exercises will illustrate some of the common simulation techniques used to model these physical and biological systems.


Not currently offered.

Replacing course(s)

This course replaces the following course(s): PHYS3375. Students who have successfully completed PHYS3375 are not eligible to enrol in PHYS3111.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Explain models of biological systems and models dealing with statistical mechanics and transport phenomena.

2. Solve qualitative and quantitative problems, using appropriate mathematical and computing techniques.

3. Perform experiments which involve making correct and appropriate use of a range of scientific equipment, keeping an accurate record of experimental work and analysing results and reaching non-trivial conclusions from them.

4. Communicate the results of both theoretical and experimental work in various forms including written reports, oral presentations and poster presentations.

5. Contribute to team and group work for scientific investigations and for the process of learning.


The topics to be covered include:

  • Statistical Mechanics: Review of classical thermodynamics and thermodynamic coordinates; Equilibrium statistical mechanics and ensemble theory with application to e.g. ideal gas, heat capacity, magnetism, Bose-Einstein condensation, Fermi-Dirac gases


  • Transport processes: Diffusion of neutral particles – Fick’s law, computational methods; Fluid dynamics – Newtonian fluids, non-Newtonian fluids, hydrodynamic radius, ion motion in a liquid
  • Biosystems: Population dynamics – predicting population growth (prey-predator dynamics) and how lifestyle and external factors affect human population growth in the 21st century and beyond; Bioelectronics – interfacing electronics with living beings; Speech recognition / echo location using Fourier analysis  


Students must have successfully completed MATH2310, and either PHYS2111 or PHYS2250 to enrol in this course. If students have successfully completed PHYS3375 they cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge

PHYS2111 or PHYS2250, PHYS2112 or PHYS2160 and/or PHYS2260, MATH2310

Assessment items

Quiz: Weekly Quiz

In Term Test: In Term Test

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Weekly Tutorial/Laboratory exercises

Formal Examination: Formal Examination