Sensing and Signalling in Biology and Physics

Module code: NS3018

Module co-ordinator: Dr Sarah Gretton

In this module you will study communication within and between biological cells as well as electromagnetic signals. Cell signalling is a frontier area in biological science research and electromagnetic communication is a key developing technology. We will also apply information theory, originally developed for electronic communication, to chemical signalling in the cell.

Topics covered

  • General principles of cells communication
  • Membranes and receptors
  • Intracellular signalling
  • Protein-protein interactions
  • The modular nature of signalling pathways
  • Surface receptors
  • General principles of cell signalling
  • Revision of capacitance and resistance
  • Electrical circuits
  • Transmission line
  • Revision of reflection and refraction
  • Properties of light
  • Maxwell’s equation


  • 5 one-hour workshops + 4 two-hour workshops
  • 8 one-hour lectures
  • 4 two-hour tutorials


  • Exam (35%)
  • Continual Assessment (65%) - including 4 sets of core learning exercises, group grant application and group technical report