THE GALLERY - Learning Methods

Learning Methods

Page currently under construction!


Each student who registers for the course is assigned to a group under the leadership of a senior scientist. The groups are given the names of the twenty naturally occurring amino acids. One of the tasks given to each group during the course is to assemble a collection of Web pages about "their" amino acid - its structure, chemistry, and important role(s) within proteins - as a learning aid.

Some examples of well constructed group web pages, which also illustrate the chemical variety within the natural amino acids:-

Group members also support each other through the course - some groups even have "virtual meetings" in the BioMOO.


Although the course is free, students are expected to make a contribution in kind in the form of a "project" describing an aspect of protein structure. For very many people, project work is an excellent way to learn. Students' projects will eventuallybe mounted at Birkbeck to form part of future courses - as long as the quality of the material is high enough!

Some examples of projects which are being worked on by the "Class of '95":-

Some of these subject areas are very comprehensive, and students are encouraged to work together wherever possible.


There are no exams. at the end of the PPS course, although students finishing the course will receive certificates. During the course students are expected to complete assignments. These have involved learning to use the biological resources available on the Internet, and then using these to find out about proteins.

Each student was assigned a protein of known structure at the beginning of the course, using the codes assigned by the Protein Data Bank. Several of the assignments have involved finding out about the sequence, structure and function of that protein.

An interface is provided to PROCHECK, a program which checks the overall quality of the crystal structure of a protein.

Students were encouraged to comment on the assignments using a feedback form.

The Glossary

During the course, a glossary of terms relating to protein structure is being constructed. Students are encouraged to submit terms and definitions. This is only one part of the Collaborative Virtual Hyperglossary Project ; a glossaries of terms in Biocomputing is under construction, and there has been interest from other disciplines - notably Art History and Law.

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