University of Manchester

University of Manchester

Structural Biology

PhD/MPhil programmes are based on individual research projects that last 3-4 years (PhD) or 1-2 years (MPhil), working with a specific Primary Supervisor and Co-Supervisor(s). Applicants are specifically matched with a Primary Supervisor and individual project based on their research interests and background. Structural biology is a rapidly developing area of biology that is aimed at determining the beautiful three-dimensional structures of biologically-important molecules such as proteins, DNA and RNA. Structural biology developed as a field alongside molecular biology in the 1950s and 1960s and almost everyone knows some of the pioneers in this field - Hodgkin, Wilkins Watson, Crick who determined the structure of DNA. Less widely known are the pioneers of protein structure determination - Kendrew and Perutz. Developments in computer software and instrumentation mean that structural biology is rapidly expanding and soon structure determination for some proteins will be a routine operation. The spectacular recent advances in cryo-electron microscopy of biological macromolecules mean that structures of large complexes can be obtained in days rather than the years that were previously needed. Structural biology is crucial for the drug industry for identifying drug binding sites in target proteins. It is also used for drug optimisation where the structure of the protein/drug complex is studied. Structural biology is also vital in biotechnology where the knowing the structure of enzymes allows their mechanism of action to be determined and their activity to be optimised or even changed to produce a novel product. At The University of Manchester, infrastructure for structural biology is superb and includes state-of-the-art facilities for cryo-electron microscopy, crystallisation robots, X-ray generators, NMR and computation. Structural biology is a multi-disciplinary area and within the University it spans across two faculties, with teams and facilities in both the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health and also within the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Pursuing a postgraduate research degree in structural biology will allow you to develop skills in biology, biochemistry, biophysics and computer science and will give you a rigorous multidisciplinary training. If you are fortunate, just like Kendrew and Perutz, you will have the unique experience of being the first person on the planet to visualise the structure of a protein or macromolecule and to have the first insights into its mechanism of action. Alternatively your project may generate the structural information needed to design a new drug that will be used to treat human disease or to design a new protein to optimise a process in biotechnology.

Entry requirements

A 1st or 2.1 Honours degree, or the overseas equivalent, in a relevant subject; 2.2 Honours degree supplemented by appropriate relevant experience may be acceptable; IELTS 6.5, TOEFL 577 (paper based), TOEFL 233 (computer based) or TOEFL 90 (internet based) required.

Sponsorship information

Funded programmes and projects are promoted throughout the year. Funding is available through UK Research Councils, charities and industry. We also have other internal awards and scholarships for the most outstanding applicants. For more information on funding available please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health website for more information.


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Course duration
PhD Full-time September 2016 - 36 months
PhD Full-time July 2017 - 36 months
MPhil Full-time September 2016 - 12 months
MPhil Full-time July 2017 - 12 months

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
University of Manchester Manchester M13 9PL North West

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Key information

FMBE- Doctoral Academy
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