BI1EPM-Fundamentals of Physics for Medicine

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Lindsey Thompson


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module is designed for students with little or no recent background in physics and will provide students with basic knowledge of physics and its applications in biology. Lectures will provide a broad base of fundamental principles of Physics while practical sessions will give students a chance to gain some ‘hands on’ experience. 


Lectures will provide an opportunity for students to understand fundamental concepts and relate them to a range of biological contexts. Associated practical/tutorial sessions will allow students to apply their knowledge and combine this with skills such as scientific calculations, experimental design, data collection and analysis. 

Further aims include:

  • To provide an opportunity to develop problem solving skills.

  • To provide an illustration of the link between physics experimentation and scientific understanding.

  • To provide students with experience in scientific laboratory report writing and interpretation of simple statistical tests.

  • To provide students with a deeper understanding of biological relations.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • Understand how forces interact and compare materials in terms of strength and elasticity.

  • Describe and interpret graphs of a range of motions, calculate and predict motion including linear and accelerated motion, describe resonance and the applications and dangers.

  • Explain electricity in terms of charge and energy, interpret a range of circuits and explain resistance and resistivity in terms of current and voltage.

  • Recognise various types of waves and their characteristics, understand how waves transfer energy, compare and contrast regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, describe the nature of a photon and understand how movement of electrons between energy levels in atoms can be applied to absorption and emission spectra and fluorescence.

  • Describe kinetic theory, link kinetic theory to temperature and use the simple kinetic model to describe changes in pressure, volume and temperature of ideal gases.

  • Understand the nature of radioactivity, compare and contrast various types of radioactivity and use the term half-life appropriately in descriptions and calculations.

Additional outcomes:

Students should obtain an understanding of the application of mathematical concepts, they will gain practical experience of experimental design and analysis and will have the opportunity to work as part of a team.

Outline content:

This module will provide a fundamental understanding of the role of basic physics in Biological sciences. Basic key ideas and skills will be considered and related specifically to Biological concepts. Students will engage in a series of lectures, tutorials and practicals that will provide a basic level of competence in fundamental principles that will relate to subsequent modules. Students will have the opportunity to apply the principles they have learnt to in practical contexts. There will be approximately 20 hours of practicals with calculation, analysis, writing and planning sessions provided throughout the course to support training of students in these areas.

Sample lecture content includes:

  •   Forces

  • Materials

  • Motion

  • Electricity

  • Waves

  • Thermal Physics

  • Radioactivity

Sample practical content covers:

  • Calculation workshops.

  • Comparisons of materials.

  • Measurements of various types of motion and application of mathematics.

  • Practical circuit construction.

  • Comparisons of radioactive sources.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

There will be lectures each week for a period of 10 weeks. Practical classes will be a mixture of performing experiments, as well as calculations and analysis sessions to support students prior to assessment. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Practicals classes and workshops 15
Guided independent study 65
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Set exercise 40

Summative assessment- Examinations:

One-and-a half-hours 

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Late arrivals may not be allowed to join practicals for reasons of safety.

Formative assessment methods:

An MCQ Blackboard test will be released in the 6th week of the course.  Full feedback on each answer is given so students can understand the principles behind each answer.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall 

    Reassessment arrangements:

    August - September re-examination 

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 31 August 2018


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