Course guide of Physics of Biological Systems (2001112)

Curso 2022/2023
Approval date:
Departamento de Física Aplicada: 11/10/2022
Departamento de Física Teórica y del Cosmos: 13/10/2022

Grado (bachelor's degree)

Bachelor'S Degree in Biology




Materias Básicas Instrumentales para la Biología



Year of study




ECTS Credits


Course type

Core course

Teaching staff


  • Delfina María Bastos González. Grupo: C
  • Diego García Gámez. Grupo: D
  • Mónica Relaño Pastor. Grupo: A
  • Sándalo Roldán Vargas. Grupo: C
  • Tomás Ruiz Lara. Grupo: A
  • Patricia Sánchez Lucas. Grupo: D
  • Bruno Zamorano García. Grupo: B


  • Irene Adroher Benítez Grupos: 1, 2, 3 y 4
  • María del Carmen Argudo Fernández Grupo: 1
  • Diego García Gámez Grupos: 1, 6 y 7
  • Pablo Olgoso Ruiz Grupo: 5
  • Tomás Ruiz Lara Grupos: 3 y 4
  • Patricia Sánchez Lucas Grupos: 2, 3 y 4
  • Laura Sánchez Menguiano Grupo: 2
  • Bruno Zamorano García Grupo: 8

Timetable for tutorials

Delfina María Bastos González

  • First semester
    • Monday de 10:30 a 11:30 (Etsa)
    • Wednesday de 10:00 a 14:00 (Etsa)
    • Thursday de 10:30 a 11:30 (Etsa)
  • Second semester
    • Monday de 12:00 a 14:00 (Despacho 27)
    • Wednesday de 12:00 a 14:00 (Despacho 27)
    • Thursday de 12:00 a 14:00 (Despacho 27)

Diego García Gámez

  • Monday de 10:00 a 13:00 (Despacho A6 Módulo)
  • Wednesday de 10:00 a 13:00 (Despacho A6 Módulo)

Mónica Relaño Pastor

  • Tuesday
    • 11:00 a 13:00 (Despacho 11 Edif.Mecenas)
    • 14:00 a 15:00 (Despacho 11 Edif.Mecenas)
  • Wednesday
    • 11:00 a 13:00 (Despacho 11 Edif.Mecenas)
    • 14:00 a 15:00 (Despacho 11 Edif.Mecenas)

Sándalo Roldán Vargas

  • Monday
    • 10:00 a 11:00 (Despacho 26)
    • 12:00 a 13:00 (Despacho 26)
  • Wednesday
    • 10:00 a 11:00 (Despacho 26)
    • 12:00 a 13:00 (Despacho 26)
  • Thursday
    • 10:00 a 11:00 (Despacho 26)
    • 12:00 a 13:00 (Despacho 26)

Tomás Ruiz Lara

  • Monday de 11:00 a 12:00 (Despacho 9)
  • Tuesday de 11:00 a 12:00 (Despacho 9)
  • Wednesday de 11:00 a 12:00 (Despacho 9)

Patricia Sánchez Lucas

  • Tuesday de 10:00 a 13:00 (Despacho A5 Módulo)
  • Friday de 10:00 a 13:00 (Despacho A5 Módulo)

Bruno Zamorano García

  • Monday de 10:00 a 13:00 (Despacho A05 Modulo A)
  • Wednesday de 10:00 a 13:00 (Despacho A05 Modulo A)

Irene Adroher Benítez

  • Monday de 12:00 a 13:00 (Despacho 36)
  • Tuesday de 12:00 a 13:00 (Despacho 36)

María del Carmen Argudo Fernández

  • Monday de 11:00 a 12:00 (Despacho 13)
  • Thursday de 11:00 a 12:00 (Despacho 13)

Pablo Olgoso Ruiz

  • Wednesday de 10:00 a 11:00 (Despacho 29)
  • Friday de 10:00 a 10:30 (Despacho 29)

Laura Sánchez Menguiano

  • Tuesday de 12:00 a 13:00 (Despacho 13)
  • Thursday de 12:00 a 13:00 (Despacho 13)

Prerequisites of recommendations

Having prior knowledge of Mathematics and Physics at secondary level is highly beneficial. Given the special nature of the group, a good proficiency in English is strongly recommended.

Brief description of content (According to official validation report)

  • The relation between Physics and Biology
  • Force, work and energy
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Diffusion and osmosis
  • Electric field and electric current
  • Sound waves. Sound and hearing
  • Electromagnetic radiation and radioactivity. Applications in Biology

General and specific competences

General competences

  • CG01. Organisational and planning skills 
  • CG02. Teamwork
  • CG03. Applying knowledge to problem solving
  • CG04. Capacity for analysis and synthesis
  • CG06. Critical reasoning

Specific competences

  • CE37. Analysing the physical laws governing biological processes
  • CE75. Knowing the physical and chemical principles of Biology

Objectives (Expressed as expected learning outcomes)

Learning and developing the basic concepts and laws in Physics for their subsequent application to relevant phenomena in Biology:

  • Using the concepts of torque and centre of gravity, learning how the levers that appear in the main joints of animals work
  • Understanding the meaning of energy conservation laws and their importance in Biology
  • Understanding the physical properties of fluids, the characteristics of the surface of a liquid in contact with solids or gases, transport processes in fluids and their application to blood circulation, sap ascent in plants and gas transport through blood capillaries
  • Studying the basic concepts of electricity required to understand ion transport through the cell membrane
  • Understanding the physical basis of hearing and vision
  • Studying the high-energy radiations that are used in various biological and medical applications

Detailed syllabus



  • UNIT 1: The relation between Physics and Biology. Measurement standards and unit systems. Dimensional analysis. Size, form and life. Scaling laws. Vectors


  • UNIT 2: Newton's Laws. Fundamental and derived forces. Torque. Centre of gravity. Equilibrium. Forces in muscles and joints
  • UNIT 3: Work done by a force. Kinetic energy and potential energy. Conservation of energy. Power. Efficiency. Metabolic rate. Elasticity. Muscle energy


  • UNIT 4: Hydrostatics: Density and pressure. Hydrostatic pressure. Archimedes' principle. Hydrostatic examples in Biology
  • UNIT 5: Hydrodynamics of an ideal fluid. Continuity equation. Bernoulli's equation. Biological examples
  • UNIT 6: Hydrodynamics of a real fluid: Viscosity. Poiseuille's Law. Blood circulation. Stokes' Law. Sedimentation
  • UNIT 7: Surface phenomena: Surface tension. Laplace's law. Contact angle and capillarity. Biological examples


  • UNIT 8: Flux. Fick's laws. Mean squared displacement. Osmosis. Osmotic pressure. Transcapillary substance transfer


  • UNIT 9: Coulomb's law. Electric field. Electric potential. Electric dipole. Capacitors. Current intensity. Resistance. Ohm's law. Electric properties of membranes. Ion transport through membranes. Action potential. Nerve impulse


  • UNIT 10: Properties of waves. Sound waves. Sound velocity. Stationary waves. Sound and its perception by living beings


  • UNIT 11: Nature of light. Electromagnetic spectrum. Reflection and refraction. Snell's law. Lenses. Axes and principal planes. Focal and nodal points. The eye as an optical system. Fundamentals of optical instruments. Principles of radiation. Radioactive decay. Half-life. Interaction of radiation and matter. Biological effects. Usage of radioactive isotopes in Biology



  • Problem solving of the different topics
  • Seminars or presentations


Students will carry out 4 sessions out of the following:

  1. Precision measurements
  2. Static equilibrium. Torque
  3. Newton's laws
  4. Elastic constant
  5. Archimedes' principle
  6. Viscosity determination with the Stokes' method
  7. Surface tension
  8. Multimeter. Ohm's law
  9. Determination of gravity's acceleration with a simple pendulum


Basic reading list

  • "Physics for the life sciences", A.H. Cromer. McGraw-Hill
  • “Physics in Biology and Medicine”, P. Davidovits. Academic Press
  • "General Physics", J.W. Kane and M.M. Sternheim. Wiley

Complementary reading

  • "Physics for Scientists and Engineers", P.A. Tipler y G. Mosca. WH Freeman
  • "Physics for Scientists and Engineers", R.A. Serway y J.W. Jewett. Cengage Learning
  • "University Physics", Sears, Zemansky, Young y Freedman. Addison-Wesley-Pearson
  • "Physics: Principles with Applications", D.G. Giancoli. Pearson
  • "What is Life" E. Schrödinger. Cambridge University Press
  • "Chance and necessity: an essay on the national philosophy of modern biology", J. Monod. HarperCollins

Recommended links


Teaching methods

  • MD01. Lección magistral/expositiva 
  • MD03. Resolución de problemas y estudio de casos prácticos 
  • MD04. Prácticas de laboratorio y/o clínicas y/o talleres de habilidades 
  • MD11. Realización de trabajos individuales 

Assessment methods (Instruments, criteria and percentages)

Ordinary assessment session

Assessment in the ordinary session will take place via two written tests, with problems and questions covering the relevant material that's been reviewed up to that date. The final marks in the continuous evaluation system of the ordinary session will have the following weights:

  • First written test: 35-40%
  • Second written test (same date as the ordinary exam session): 40-45%
  • In order to pass the subject via continuous evaluation, a minimum score of 3 points over 10 must be obtained in both written tests
  • Lab sessions: 20%. In these, the competency will be assessed by a practical test and/or through the lab reports. In order to pass the whole subject, it is mandatory to pass the lab sessions (5 or more points over 10), successfully complete all the sessions and submit all the corresponding reports

Students will pass the subject by continuous evaluation when their final mark exceeds 5 points (out of 10) according to this weighting scheme.

Extraordinary assessment session

In the extraordinary session there will be a single final exam representing 80% of the final mark and an additional exam covering the concepts of the lab sessions, weighting 20%. This lab exam will take place on the same date but at a different time than the written exam of the extraordinary session.

Single final assessment

Students who, in accordance with the UGR guidelines, terms and deadlines, opt for this form of evaluation, will take an exam covering the theoretical part of the subject. Another exam will be required in order to assess the practical part. The aforementioned weights will be applied to this evaluation, being again compulsory to pass the lab exam in order to pass the whole subject.

Additional information

  • Use of mobile phones is not allowed during lectures and lab sessions
  • Following the advice from the CRUE and the diversity and inclusion office of the UGR, the assessment and learning evaluation will be designed following the principle of accessibility for everyone, making the necessary adaptations that enable the learning process and the demonstration of knowledge regardless of special needs and limitations of individuals