Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

MSc SIS Edinburgh Course - BioSensors and Instrumentation PHYS5075

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Physics and Astronomy
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

There are two lectures each week. The main body of the course will run from weeks 1-10 with the lecture slots taken up with coursework presentations in week 11. 2-3 guest lectures are planned during the semester with timings to be determined. These will cover active research in the field of biosensing and in previous years have looked at: "cantilever based biosensors", "advanced photodetector arrays" and "electrical cell impedance sensing".

The following subjects will be covered during the course, most of these will take more than one lecture slot:

L1. Transducer Basics: Sensors and Actuators

L2. Sensor Amplification: Op-amps, basic circuits

L3. Instrumentation for Electrochemistry: Potentiostats, impedance measurements, bridge circuits

L4. Temperature measurements

L5. Mechanical sensor instrumentation: Strain gauges, piezoelectric sensors and actuators, capacitive sensor interfaces

L6. FET based sensors: MOSFET revision, FET based biosensors, nano-wire sensors.

L7. Overview of optical biosensors: Fibre-optic sensors, fluorescence

L8. Neural sensors and actuators: Microelectrode arrays, neural implants

L9. Implantable medical devices: Biofouling, materials and regulation

L10. Wireless sensor interfaces: Sensor networks and wireless power



Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses



PHYS5044 Fundamentals of Sensing


60% Written exam + 40% Coursework comprised of 3 executive summary assignments totalling 10%, a report worth 20% and a presentation worth 10%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Edinburgh University does not provide resit examinations for MSc students. In cases where an assessment is affect by reasons of good cause a revised mark, based on other completed assessments, may be substituted.

Course Aims

The Biosensors and Instrumentation course examines the methods used to interface sensors for biological and biomedical applications with electronics. One focus will be on transducers, meaning devices which convert information from one form of energy to another. In this case the final form for the information will be an electrical signal but the transducers themselves could be optical, mechanical, etc., and operate in a number of different ways (eg.,capacitive, potentiometric, photonic). The objective is to build upon the knowledge the students will have gained in the introductory courses in semester 1 on bioelectronics and biosensors but with more of an electronics and electrical engineering focus. This course will also go beyond sensing to look at methods of actuation for closed loop "smart" systems. Examples from the state of the art in biosensor research will be provided and a number of guest lectures from active researchers in this field will provide context. Students will undertake a "horizon scanning" research exercise to investigate the industrial and research potential of a specific type of biosensor. This will be

assessed by both formal reports and a presentation given to and marked by the whole class.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Understand the concept of transduction and methods of extracting information from biosensors

2. Analyse sensor outputs through the use of analogue circuit concepts

3. Understand typical electronic instrumentation for biosensors and important concepts such as calibration and references

4. Demonstrate knowledge in the state of the art of biological and medical sensors both in research and commercial products

5. Demonstrate familiarity with a wide range of sensors and instrumentation from electrochemical to optical

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.