Taught course

Principles of Protein Structure

Birkbeck, University of London · Biological Sciences

Entry requirements

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

Months of entry


Course content

The twenty-first century has been described as 'the century of biology', with advances in molecular biology already making an important contribution to enormous gains in health and quality of life over much of the world. Proteins are fundamental to all biology. Structural biology is the science of how the shapes of molecules such as proteins affect their function, and our understanding of it has contributed to the design of drugs against devastating diseases including cancer and HIV/AIDS. This postgraduate certificate in the principles of protein structure explores the structures of proteins at different levels, before applying this knowledge to an understanding of their function in health and disease.

The programme introduces the structure of proteins, and how that structure is related to both a protein’s sequence and its function. It provides a background to the discipline of structural molecular biology.

You will learn how:

  • protein structures are built up
  • the structure of proteins contributes to functions that are common to all living things, as well as differences between them
  • knowledge of protein structure has led to the development of drugs against diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS
  • to use software to manipulate and explore 3D models of protein structure, and to view models of molecules in motion.

On successful completion of this course, you will possess a detailed knowledge of protein structure and its importance in molecular biology. You will develop your understanding of basic bioinformatics and learn to use some fairly simple bioinformatics tools. You will recognise and understand how complex protein structures are made up from simpler components.

Information for international students

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 no less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Qualification and course duration


12 months
part time
12 months
distance learning
12 months

Further details of qualification

Six to 12 hours a week by distance learning.

Course contact details

Student Advice Service
+44(0) 20 3907 0700