Master's Programme in Biophysics
Academic year 2023/2024
- 120 credits
- Autumn 2023, Uppsala, 100%, Campus
- Programme syllabus and outline
"What is Life?" asked Schrödinger as he was trying to fuse biology and physics. Join the Master's Programme in Biophysics to find out how to understand complex biological systems at the molecular level, using fundamental physics concepts and methods. The cross-disciplinary nature of biophysics has fostered great scientific advances, and it will enable you to create future technologies and gain the skills to explore the mysteries of life.
Why this programme?
The Master's Programme in Biophysics will provide you with an interdisciplinary education at the intersection between physics and biology. You will study the physical processes that underpin biological phenomena, learn how to analyse biological systems and produce elementary models to explain them. You will also gain deep knowledge of a variety of physical techniques to investigate complex biological problems.
Throughout history, scientific discovery has gone hand-in-hand with new advances in methods and technologies: from the first microscopes revealing the existence of microorganisms to X-ray diffraction shining a light on the structure of DNA. This programme provides you with the skills to recognise, use and contribute to the development of cutting-edge new advances.
During the programme, you will
- take part in a programme that is designed from the ground up with interdisciplinarity, and with a tight connection to research at its core
- partake in several projects, which allow you to be a part of an interdisciplinary group of leading researchers of your choice
- participate in daily group activities, from meetings and seminars to the discussion of new ideas as well as putting those ideas to the test.
Through your participation, you will be able to contribute to making state-of-the-art science at the same time as you enlarge your contact network. Uppsala University conducts world-leading research in biophysics in collaboration with top laboratories in Lund, Hamburg, Stanford, and Berkeley, among others.
You are someone who seeks to expand your knowledge and skills in a new setting and is willing to cross the borders of traditional disciplines. With a background in physics, you are interested in learning about the complexities of biology and applying your knowledge in physics to solve biological problems. With a background in biology or chemistry, you are interested to learn the fundamentals of physics and the methods these empower to give answers to your biological questions.
The programme leads to a Master of Science (120 credits) with Biophysics as the main field of study.
Name: Nicusor Timneanu
What do you work with?
I am a researcher and lecturer at the Department of Physics and Astronomy. My interest is in the field of X-ray photon science and molecular biophysics, where I study the ultrafast interactions between intense X-ray lasers and biological matter.
Why is this programme starting?
The master programme was initiated by a collaboration between the teachers and researchers in physics, biology and chemistry, who have realised the benefits of collaboration between disciplines. The current technological progress and the advances in research now require interdisciplinary thinking, which we aim to achieve in this programme.
When we teach Bachelor students and present our current research, they are excited about the opportunity to cross over into another field of their interest and use their knowledge. For example Physics Bachelors will study and analyse complex biological phenomena and Biology Bachelor will study fundamental physical processes behind the biological phenomena.
What will be taught in the programme?
A simplistic answer would be: physics, biology, biochemistry, computer science and all in between. We build on our expertise in investigating macromolecular structure and function, and the goal is to teach physical methods and build models to explore and solve complex problems in biomolecular systems. Apart from introductory courses, there are courses on biophotonics, molecular dynamics, and experimental methods in biophysics, such as microscopy, spectroscopy, tomography, X-ray based methods. There are opportunities to go deeper into the physics of complex systems, the science of X-ray lasers, or how to handle Big Data in life sciences. Our goal is to develop the skills of working and communicating in an interdisciplinary environment, as well as in an international setting.
What do you think of the labour market for the graduates of the programme?
A Master’s degree in biophysics is a great starting point for a PhD degree, and we foresee many opportunities to continue as a post-graduate student in Sweden and internationally. Uppsala has a strong research community in biophysics, and the teachers in the programme are also outstanding researchers with a wide research network. Outside the university environment, there are good opportunities to continue with R&D in biotech companies. Both in our courses and in the programme development, we collaborate with representatives from local biotech companies to find out how we can best prepare the students for the future labour market.
Do you have any advice for those who are thinking about applying to the programme?
Yes. Dare to cross the border between the classical disciplines and pursue your interest in science. If you dream to solve complex problems that require diverse knowledge, you can do that. You can learn new things in a connected field and you can apply your own knowledge to solve them.
The programme has two admission tracks: for students with a physics background and students with a biology or chemistry background.
The first year is dedicated to introductory courses to complement your existing knowledge depending on your admission track. These will prepare you for the specialised courses and provide you with a theoretical and practical basis for the interdisciplinary courses that will follow. You will use light to explore biological systems, understand the physical principles behind biochemical reactions, and employ molecular mechanics and quantum calculations. The programme also offers a few optional courses which you can choose according to your interest and career plan.
In the second year, you will gain a strong basis in techniques such as microscopy, spectroscopy, tomography, X-ray crystallography and light scattering. You will then apply all the previously acquired knowledge in a biotechnical project that will immerse you in a research environment to study the dynamics, interactions or structure of biomolecules.
The last semester ends with a Master's degree project of 30 credits, which can be conducted in a research group at the university or a biotechnology company. At the end of this project, you will produce a Master's degree thesis and defend it with an oral presentation.
Courses within the programme
See complete outline of the programme.
The teaching involves lectures, lessons, seminars, group exercises and presentations, practical laboratory work, interdisciplinary projects and research work. You will read textbooks, compendiums and scientific literature. As a part of your studies, you will be able to visit and create networks with research groups on physics, biology and chemistry.
The teachers in the programme are active researchers in natural sciences and will contribute with their depth of knowledge, visions for the future and experience in mentoring. The teachers are responsible for establishing the framework for individual and collective learning, enabling a respectful dialogue between teachers and students, and creating an environment where everyone can contribute and learn.
The programme puts great importance on training you in a scientific way of working: solving complex problems, thinking critically and analytically, and independently planning and performing research. You will train to communicate in oral and written presentations and to work in an international and interdisciplinary environment.
The Master's Programme in Biophysics builds upon your prior knowledge and experience. You are expected to participate and actively contribute to the teaching sessions, pursue your own learning outcomes and also to share your knowledge and contribute to the learning of others.
The language of instruction is English and the teaching takes place in Uppsala.
A Master's degree in biophysics from Uppsala University is attractive both nationally and internationally and will put you at the forefront of research and development in academia and the industry. The degree provides you with a fundamental understanding of the physical mechanisms and technologies, and skills to investigate and manipulate life at a molecular level. This makes it particularly attractive to research in a university environment, where you can pursue a PhD degree and a research scientist career track.
With a degree in biophysics, you can master the intersection of the worlds of physics, biology and chemistry, and have the training and skills to work in a cross-disciplinary environment. This is extremely sought after in the industry, in particular biotech companies that engage in research and development of new technologies. Examples of such companies are Cytiva, Thermo Fisher, and countless start-ups and spinoffs, with positions ranging from technicians and product developers to junior scientists or market specialists.
During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career. Learn more about UU Careers.
Below you will find details about eligibility requirements, selection criteria and tuition fees. For information on how to apply and what general documents you need to submit, check the application guide. Besides the general supporting documents, you also need to submit one programme-specific document: a statement of purpose (1 page).
Master's Programme in Biophysics
Autumn 2023, 100%, Campus
Application deadline: 16 January 2023
Application code: UU-M1350 Application
Language of instruction: English
A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university.
Also required is:
- 90 credits in biology and/or chemistry including 10 credits in biochemistry and 10 credits in molecular biology; and 15 credits in mathematics and/or mathematical statistics; or
- 90 credits in physics; 5 credits in programming; and 25 credits in mathematics and/or mathematical statistics.
Proficiency in English equivalent to the Swedish upper secondary course English 6. This requirement can be met either by achieving the required score on an internationally recognised test, or by previous upper secondary or university studies in some countries. Detailed instructions on how to provide evidence of your English proficiency are available at universityadmissions.se.
Selection: Students are selected based on:
- an overall appraisal of previous university studies; and
- a statement of purpose.
If you are not a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, you are required to pay application and tuition fees. Fees cover application and tuition only and do not cover accommodation, academic literature or the general cost of living. Read more about fees.
Application fee: SEK 900
Tuition fee, first semester: SEK 72,500
Tuition fee, total: SEK 290,000
Contact and further resources
Programme responsible, physics: Nicusor Timneanu
Programme responsible, biology: Filipe Maia
For admissions-related or general information, please contact our applicant support team:
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1
Box 516, 751 20 UPPSALA