Postgraduate Certificate:
Protein Crystallography

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bullet MSc structural biology
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Current PX students
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bullet 2009/10 course access
bullet 2008/9 course access


Protein Crystallography (PX)

Postgraduate Certificate


This Postgraduate Certificate is an excellent introduction to protein crystallography. The course is designed for those who are interested in pursuing a career in this exciting and rapidly expanding field, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, or for those who would like to expand and update their existing scientific knowledge.

The Protein Crystallography course provides an insight into how protein crystal structures are determined and how results should be judged. Up-to-date descriptions of the background, methods and techniques of protein crystallography are explained and the course gives the biologically orientated scientist a mainly non-mathematical insight into how structures are determined and how results should be judged. As a student, you will learn:

  • The fundamentals of protein structure
  • X-ray diffraction and symmetry
  • How to determine structures using protein crystallography
  • How to assess crystallographic papers and judge the quality of co-ordinates
  • To complete an independent project based on these skills

Distance learning course

PX is a distance learning course. All teaching is carried out via the internet. The only equipment required is a standard PC or workstation and an Internet connection.

Modular structure

PX may be taken as a stand-alone postgraduate certificate or as part of the School of Crystallography's innovative distance learning MSc in Structural Molecular Biology.

The programme of study has a modular structure and operates under the Birkbeck Common Awards Scheme, one module being worth 30 credits. Students gain 60 credits on completion of the PX Postgraduate Certificate. In order to gain an MSc in Structural Molecular Biology students must earn 180 credits.


Why study Protein Crystallography?

Protein crystallography is no longer solely the domain of the mathematician and physicist, but that of the biologically orientated scientist. It is a multidisciplinary technique which overlaps with biochemistry, molecular biology, bioinformatics, biophysics and organic chemistry.

For proper understanding of biological function a detailed knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules and their interactions with ligands and the aqueous environment is required.

Protein crystallography (or structural molecular biology) is powerful in that it can identify the residues determining substrate specificity and interactions with other macromolecules at the atomic level, allowing the targeting of site-directed mutagenesis experiments and the design of selective inhibitors, so important in industry.