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Structural Biology (MRes)

Course Description

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.

Visit the Structural Biology (MRes) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Sarah Frodsham

4077.jpg Sarah says: 'Not only was Birkbeck the only place I found which offered the flexibility that I was looking for, they also offered a course where I would be able to study the specific protein that I was interested in. It sounded perfect.'

As a distance-learning student, Sarah was able to access databases and library journals and says that the online access was 'brilliant'. She says: 'I was also able to access other HEI’s library as a Birkbeck student which worked out really well for me.'

'The tutors were also fantastic and incredibly easy to contact. I never had to wait more than 48 hours for a response from them, and they were happy to help with technical or practical queries. The students had a group chat every 6 weeks or so, and also emailed each other with support.'

'I developed a lot of new skills on the course: from learning to use databases, to building web pages and even how to read literature, which sounds basic, but there is a real technique which can help you to get through it because there is so much.'

'Although there is a lot of reading, I didn’t find it difficult to fit in because I was so interested in the subject that it never felt like work. I set aside Thursday afternoons as a regular study period, but I usually ended up doing lots of reading and studying during the week anyway because it was so fascinating.'

Sarah’s research interest when she started the MSc was a protein within an enzyme complex, which is linked to conditions such as cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. Sarah explains: 'When I enrolled for the Master’s I envisaged a future as a research scientist. While I was studying I undertook some work as a teaching assistant in Oxford, where I live, and became very interested in how science is taught and assessed at primary level. This has led to a deviation from the path I thought I would take and I have now won a scholarship to study a PhD about science assessments in primary school.'

Sarah concludes: 'If you’re looking for flexibility then I’d definitely recommend Birkbeck.'


MRC Studentships Available - 2 Awards

Successful students will be awarded an MRC-funded studentship that includes a tax-free maintenance stipend and tuition fees paid in full at the home rate. Please note that we are unable to fund students who do not meet the MRC student eligibility requirements.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Tuition fees and tax free stipend


Only applicants who meet MRC studentship eligibility requirements can be considered. Academic qualifications:
A biological, chemical, computational or physical sciences degree; upper second class or better. Residency requirements:
Applicants should be settled in the UK, without being subject to any restriction on the period for which they may stay. Candidates who are British nationals and who have lived all their lives in the UK will automatically be eligible. Candidates who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years immediately prior to the start date of this PhD programme (including residence for the purpose of full time education) should also be eligible.

Application Procedure

Details of how to apply are available via the departmental/ course webpages below.

Further Information



Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Biological, chemical or physical sciences degree, second class or better. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course Fees

Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa Full-time overseas students: £ 14450 pa

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Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London

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