Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London

Structural Molecular Biology

Our modular distance learning programme provides you with a grounding in the structure of proteins, and the main techniques that are used to study protein structure. Structural biology allows you to understand how macromolecules work at the atomic level of detail. This is important, particularly in designing drugs which act at the molecular level to affect macromolecules. Increasingly, research uses a range of complementary biophysical and structural techniques to study protein-protein interactions. This requires that researchers have some understanding of what all these techniques can achieve. This programme is designed to give the theoretical background required to use this range of methods.

Course modules

You must successfully complete modules worth 180 credits (including 60 credits earned through project modules). The programme consists of 3 Postgraduate Certificate programmes (worth 60 credits each). You may choose which 2 modules you wish to study, but we suggest you study Principles of Protein Structure first. Principles of Protein Structure: introduces the structure of proteins and how that structure is related to both a protein's sequence and its function. Techniques in Structural Molecular Biology: gives a wide overview of the theoretical background of all the techniques commonly used in structural biology research. These include protein expression, purification and crystallisation, protein bioinformatics, X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance and electron microscopy. Protein Crystallography: a specialist course for students who are following, or who intend to follow, a career in this area. It is mainly non-mathematical and designed for the biologically-oriented crystallographer (or potential crystallographer). You will complete a computer-based exercise in solving a structure using the molecular replacement method. The projects consist of 30-credit dissertations tied to each of the modules chosen. They are based on literature analysis and use of web resources. Due to the distance learning element there are no wet practicals on this course.

Assessment methods

2 written papers, coursework and 2 web-based dissertations.

Sponsorship information

The government's new postgraduate loan scheme allows you to borrow up to £10,000 to cover the cost of your tuition fees, living costs or other study expenses - and you don't have to start repaying until 2019. Part-time students who are experiencing financial need may apply for assistance from the Birkbeck Alumni Fund Postgraduate Opportunity Bursary.


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Course duration
MSc Distance learning October 2018 GBP 5,750 per Year 1 (International) 2 Years
MSc Distance learning October 2018 GBP 3,975 per Year 1 (Home/EU) 2 Years
MSc Distance learning October 2018 GBP 3,975 per Year 1 (Home/EU) 3 Years
MSc Distance learning October 2018 GBP 5,750 per Year 1 (International) 3 Years

Campus details

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Key information

Department of Biological Sciences
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