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Structural Molecular Biology (MSc)

Course Description

Our modular distance learning programme provides you with a grounding in the structure of proteins, and the main techniques that are used to study protein structure.

Structural biology allows you to understand how macromolecules work at the atomic level of detail. This is important, particularly in designing drugs which act at the molecular level to affect macromolecules. Increasingly, research uses a range of complementary biophysical and structural techniques to study protein-protein interactions. This requires that researchers have some understanding of what all these techniques can achieve. This programme is designed to give the theoretical background required to use this range of methods.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

Study by distance learning, wherever you are in the world, with our internet-based teaching.
Graduates are well placed to study for PhDs, start professional research careers, or change disciplines to encompass this important area of modern molecular biology.
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.

Visit the Structural Molecular Biology (MSc) 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.'


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

Degree in science, computing or mathematics, or equivalent qualification, or relevant work experience. 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

Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa Part-time overseas students: £ 5750 pa

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Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London

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