Structural Biology (MRes)

Year of entry


Start date

October 2017


Central London


Fully Approved
Applications for this course will open in September


One year full-time


Daytime teaching and some evenings, October to September

Other entry years for this course


This course offers both taught components and extensive research experience for students with backgrounds in biological, chemical and physical sciences. It is particularly suitable for those who wish to gain both theoretical and practical research experience in the techniques of structural biology or biocomputing.

Our research areas include:

  • molecular chaperones, amyloid fibrils, pore-forming toxins
  • M. tuberculosis, cytoskeletal proteins
  • signal transduction, bacterial pathogenesis and DNA replication
  • electron microscopy, cytoskeletal dynamics and function
  • electron cryo-microscopy; electron tomography and image processing; development of methods for recognition and separation of heterogeneous molecular complexes; bacteriophage assembly; structural analysis of the transcription factor p53
  • Hsp90, the kinetochore
  • DNA repair
  • protein folding and misfolding, in particular at the point of synthesis on intact ribosomes
  • viral protein-nucleic acid interactions.
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  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), in a joint submission with UCL, Biological Sciences at Birkbeck were ranked 11th in the UK, with a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
  • Part of the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, a joint initiative with University College London.
  • Birkbeck houses state-of-the-art equipment for X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and tomography and associated image processing. We have excellent facilities for UV and CD spectroscopy, calorimetry, fluorescence spectroscopy, ultracentrifugation, and protein expression and purification in the biochemical and molecular biology laboratories. We have a 158 processor cluster for intensive data processing. All areas have specialised computer equipment for data analysis, molecular graphics and molecular modelling and programming.
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Course structure

You will begin by following taught modules from our web-based courses on Principles of Protein Structure, Techniques in Structural Molecular Biology, or Protein Crystallography. Alternatively, there is the option of taking a biocomputing module from the Bioinformatics with Systems Biology course. You will also attend lectures and practicals on molecular structure and graphics, as well as a weekly course on Principles and Practice of Structural Biology.

During the first term, you will begin your research project, which is the main focus for the rest of the programme. In the second term, you will produce a written dissertation and an oral presentation on the background and plan of the research. You will submit a thesis, which will be orally examined at the end of the academic year.

Training is also provided in searching and evaluating data in literature and online databases, and in the analytical and presentational skills required by the successful research scientist.

Read more about modules
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