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Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences

Third Edition

Peter Atkins, R. George Ratcliffe, Mark Wormald, and Julio de Paula

10 March 2023

ISBN: 9780198830108

544 pages

In Stock

Price: £137.99

The only text to provide a deeper understanding of how life functions at molecular level, by illuminating the physical principles and concepts that underpin the science. If you are a lecturer interested in adopting this title for your course, please contact your local campus representative to arrange a local price.


A balanced presentation of the concepts of physical chemistry, and their applications to biology and biochemistry. Written to straddle the worlds of physical chemistry and the life sciences, it shows how the tools of physical chemistry can elucidate biological questions.

  • Offers a fully integrated approach to the study of physical chemistry and biology; lecturers and students alike have a text that is truly tailor-made for their course.
  • Strong pedagogical approach emphasises biological perspectives and the link between concepts and practical applications through worked examples, exercises, and problems throughout.
  • Every section of the text presents a core physical chemistry concept in tandem with its biological significance; the student is in no doubt as to the relevance of the physical concept to the study of biology.
  • All applications and exercises relate directly to life sciences systems, further contextualising the physical chemistry content for life sciences students.
  • The presentation of maths, and calculus in particular, covers only the essentials and each mathematical step is carefully justified, in order to build the students' confidence in the mathematical concepts underlying the subject.
  • Research-based newly developed structure emphasising in topics and providing a flexible and adaptative approach.
  • The highly visual presentation helps student to understand even the most complex concepts.

New to this edition

  • Two new highly experienced biologists brought on to reinforce the application of physical chemistry concepts in biological contexts.
  • Significant re-working of the book structure in Topics and Focus to improve digestibility and flexibility.
  • New coverage on spectroscopy techniques covering the latest developments and challenges of teaching this topic
  • Updated and revised Chemist's toolkits review mathematical and physical concepts to enhance understanding, and to develop both mathematical skills and problem-solving
  • Newly developed set of exercises, with accompanying solutions manual available for instructors, to provide extra support and teaching resources

About the Author(s)

Peter Atkins, Emeritus Professor, University of Oxford, R. George Ratcliffe, Emeritus Professor, University of Oxford, Mark Wormald, Senior Tutor, University of Oxford, and Julio de Paula, Professor of Chemistry, Lewis and Clark College

Peter Atkins is a fellow of Lincoln College in the University of Oxford and emeritus professor of physical chemistry. He is the author of over seventy books for students and a general audience. His texts are market leaders around the globe. A frequent lecturer in the United States and throughout the world, he has held visiting professorships in France, Israel, Japan, China, Russia, the USA, and New Zealand. He was the founding chairman of the Committee on Chemistry Education of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and was a member of IUPAC's Physical and Biophysical Chemistry Division. Peter was the 2016 recipient of the American Chemical Society's Grady-Stack Award for the communication of chemistry.

R. George Ratcliffe is an Emeritus Professor of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford. He was formerly Head of the Department of Plant Sciences, and throughout his career he was extensively involved in the teaching of undergraduate chemists, biologists, and biochemists. He has received awards for excellence in teaching from the University of Oxford, and he co-authored a successful student text with Mark Wormald. He has long-standing interests in NMR spectroscopy, mitochondrial metabolism, metabolic flux analysis, and metabolic modelling

Mark Wormald is Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford, a University Research Lecturer in the Oxford Glycobiology Institute, and Senior Tutor and Tutorial Fellow in Biochemistry and Chemistry in Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He has received a Teaching Excellence Award and a Teaching Project Award from the University, and has twice been shortlisted for the Most Acclaimed Lecturer in the Medical Sciences Division in the Oxford Student Union Teaching Awards. He has previously co-authored a successful undergraduate biochemistry textbook with George Ratcliffe. His research interests are in the solution structure and dynamics of oligosaccharides and related compounds, glycopeptides, and glycoproteins.

Julio de Paula is a Professor of Chemistry, Lewis & Clark College. A native of Brazil, he received a B.A. degree in chemistry from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and a Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from Yale University. His research activities encompass the areas of molecular spectroscopy, biophysical chemistry, and nanoscience. He has taught courses in general chemistry, physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, instrumental analysis, and writing. Julio was a recipient of the 2020 STAR Award, given by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

Table of Contents

    Focus 1:Biochemical Thermodynamics: The First Law
    Focus 2:Biochemical Thermodynamics: The Second Law
    Focus 3:Water and Aqueous solutions
    Focus 4:Chemical equilibrium
    Focus 5:Ion and Electron Transport
    Focus 6:The Rates of Reactions
    Focus 7:Biochemical kinetics
    Focus 8:Atoms
    Focus 9:Molecules
    Focus 10:Macromolecules and self-assembly
    Focus 11:Biochemical spectroscopy
    Focus 12:Scattering techniques
    Focus 13:Gravimetric methods

Additional Resources

Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences is available for students and institutions to purchase in a variety of formats, and is supported by online resources.

The ebook offers a mobile experience and convenient access: www.oxfordtextbooks.co.uk/ebooks.

The online resources include:

For students:
- Solutions to exercises
- 'A deeper look' online sections which take selected material from the book further to extend your knowledge
- Chemist's toolkit, which remind you of the key mathematical, physical, and chemical concepts you need to understand in order to follow the text
- Group theory tables, available for downloading

For registered adopters of the book:
- Figures and tables from the book, available to download
- Instructor's Solutions Manual
- Editable tables of key equations

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