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Spectroscopy of Biological Molecules

Spectroscopy comprises several widely applicable methods. In the life sciences, they provide important puzzle pieces for our understanding of biological molecules. Apart from theory and applications, you will also learn problem solving strategies and will be trained in avoiding common mistakes.


This course teaches theory and life science applications of several spectroscopic methods. Examples are spectroscopy in the ultraviolett and visible spectral range, infrared and Raman spectroscopy, fluorescence, and circular dichroism. It includes also advanced variants of these methods like ultrafast optical spectroscopy, infrared difference spectroscopy and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. Laboratory course work provides hands-on experience with some of the most common spectroscopic methods. No high-resolution methods are discussed in order to avoid overlap with the Structural biochemistry course.

The course is at the advanced level and should usually be taken after a bachelor's degree in Chemistry or Physics. Knowledge of biological molecules is required. Knowledge of quantum mechanics is advantageous but not a requirement.

  • Course structure

    On campus activities are

    • Lectures
    • Tutorials, exercises
    • Laboratory exercises
    • Seminars
    • Individual discussions

    Off campus activities include

    • Self-studyW
    • riting of laboratory reports
    • Preparation for the oral presentation

    Teaching format

    • Lectures (provided as videos or held in class)
    • Self study (using provided material)
    • Tutorials (which discuss non-standard applications, problem solving strategies, and common mistakes)
    • Exercises (where you interpret and evaluate spectroscopic data)
    • Laboratory exercises (which focus on interpretation and evaluation of spectroscopic data)
    • Seminars (where students can choose between the following types: "find the mistake", use of spectroscopy to understand neurodegenerative diseases, to solve a societal problem, or to answer a cultural question)

    After completing the course you will be able to

    • discuss the principles of the methods and be able to explain experimental results with help of these principles
    • discuss structure, function and dynamics of the biomolecules reviewed in the course
    • evaluate, analyze and draw correct conclusions from experimental results
    • suggest suitable methods to study biological molecules and processes




    • Written examinations
    • Laboratory report
    • Exercises
    • Oral presentation



    Andreas Barth

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    Will be provided.

  • Course reports

  • Contact

    Course responsible:


    Chemistry Section & Student Affairs Office:

    Office:        Chemical Practice Laboratory M345