Bio143 (Physical Biochemistry) seeks to establish an understanding of the fundamental physical laws that underpin biochemical reactions and processes. Why does a reaction go forward? How much substrate is left 10 sec after starting the reaction? How does pH influence enzyme-catalysed reactions and how does the rate of turnover relate to concentration of enzyme and availability of substrate? These are some of the questions examined in this module.
Of equal significance is to gain a sense of how properties of proteins and enzymes can be examined experimentally. Therefore, this module will introduce students to spectroscopic techniques and to the basics of quantifying enzyme activity.
Central topics of this module include effect of pH on biological systems, thermodynamics of biochemical reactions, kinetics of chemical reactions, enzyme kinetics, structure-function relationships in enzymes. These topics are explored through a combination of lectures, workshops and practicals. The module discusses abstract concepts and mathematical approaches that will not be familiar to the students from their A-level courses. Therefore, weekly workshops are a key element of this module, where students have the opportunity to explore in depth the respective topics through problem solving and supervised self-study. The four laboratory practicals offer exposure to relevant experimental techniques and the module seeks to closely connect these practicals to lectures and workshops.