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Biological and Soft Systems


BSS is an interdisciplinary sector covering a diverse range of research. This is reflected in the background of the graduate student and post-docs, and also in the topics covered in seminars (internal and external).

In order for grad students to get the best experience in this context, and enable a good degree of communication between us all, we recommend a working knowledge of Soft Matter Physics (at the level of the Part II course) and of Biological Physics (Part III course). There are also other useful courses that expand on soft matter and biophysics, and courses that cover adjacent areas of interest such as Medical Physics and Fluid Dynamics.   

All courses are free to attend, and for some of them (a necessary requirement in that case is strong proficiency in the material) it might be possible to work as a supervisor.  Some courses are organised and held in the Cavendish, others at the Department of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) and in Engineering. All relevant courses are listed below.

Foundational courses

Biological Physics (Prof Cicuta & Dr Nugent, part III Physics, Michelmas term)

Soft Condensed Matter (Prof Terentjev, part II Physics, Lent term)

Advanced or periphery courses

Biological Physics and Complex Fluids (Prof Goldstein & Dr Lauga, part III DAMTP, Michelmas term)

Medical Physics (Dr Bohndiek, part III Physics, Lent term)

Bionanotechnology (Prof Keyser, nanoDTC MPhil course, Lent term)

Theoretical Physics of Soft Condensed Matter (Prof Cates, part III DAMTP, Lent term)

Mathematical Biology of the Cell (Dr Savin, part IIb Engineering, Lent term)

Mathematical Physiology (Dr Kabla, part IIa Engineering, Lent term)

Cambridge terminology glossary.
Part II/III: 3rd/4th year undergraduate years. Michaelmas term: October to early December; Lent term: January to early March.


Professional Development Workshop

Every year we organise a one day training workshop for the BSS community (particularly for the graduate students and post-docs). This workshop provides training in essential communication skills in research (writing and presenting), as well providing a forum for discussing career options also beyond academia, and more philosophical issues like what makes a good choice for a future research topic.