Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London

Principles of Protein Structure

The twenty-first century has been described as 'the century of biology', with advances in molecular biology already making an important contribution to enormous gains in health and quality of life over much of the world. Proteins are fundamental to all biology. Structural biology is the science of how the shapes of molecules such as proteins affect their function, and our understanding of it has contributed to the design of drugs against devastating diseases including cancer and HIV/AIDS. This postgraduate certificate in the principles of protein structure explores the structures of proteins at different levels, before applying this knowledge to an understanding of their function in health and disease. On successful completion of this course, you will possess a detailed knowledge of protein structure and its importance in molecular biology. You will develop your understanding of basic bioinformatics and learn to use some fairly simple bioinformatics tools. You will recognise and understand how complex protein structures are made up from simpler components.

Course modules

The programme introduces the structure of proteins, and how that structure is related to both a protein's sequence and its function. It provides a background to the discipline of structural molecular biology. You will learn how: protein structures are built up; the structure of proteins contributes to functions that are common to all living things, as well as differences between them; knowledge of protein structure has led to the development of drugs against diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS; to use software to manipulate and explore 3D models of protein structure, and to view models of molecules in motion.

Assessment methods

1 written paper, which may be taken at an examination centre close to you, and coursework.


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Course duration
Postgraduate Certificate - PgCert Distance learning October 2018 GBP 2,650 per Year 1 (Home/EU) 1 Years
Postgraduate Certificate - PgCert Distance learning October 2018 GBP 3,825 per Year 1 (International) 1 Years

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Key information

Department of Biological Sciences
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