Research course

Structural Biology

The University of Manchester · Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

Entry requirements

We require applicants to hold, or be about to obtain, an Upper Second class Honours degree (or overseas equivalent) in a related subject area for entry to a PhD programme. A Lower Second class Honours degree may be considered if applicants also hold a Master's degree with a Merit classification.

Months of entry

January, September, April

Course content

Our PhD/MPhil Structural Biology programme enables you to undertake a research project that will improve understanding of Structural Biology.

Structural biology is a rapidly developing area of biology that is aimed at determining the three-dimensional structures of biologically-important macromolecules such as proteins, DNA and RNA and their complexes (i.e. ribosomes, nucleosomes).

Structural biology developed as a field alongside molecular biology in the 1950s and 1960s and almost everyone knows some of the pioneers in this field - Hodgkin, Wilkins, Watson, Crick who determined the structure of DNA. Less widely known are the pioneers of protein structure determination, Nobel Prize winners - Kendrew and Perutz.

Recent developments in computational analysis and the availability of state-of-the-art instrumentation mean that high-resolution structures are now obtained routinely using X-ray diffraction and high resolution cryo-electron microscopy, allowing to reveal structural details of large complexes as well as individual proteins in a faster and more reliable manner.

Structural biology is crucial for the pharmaceutical industry, where identifying drug binding sites to target proteins is a key step in drug development of new medicines and treatments.

Structural biology is also essential in biotechnology where knowing the structure of enzymes allows a better understanding of their mechanism of action and provides a rational basis for redesigning them to optimise their activity or even change it to produce a novel product of commercial interest.

At The University of Manchester we have a superb infrastructure to undertake structural biology projects, which includes state-of-the-art facilities for cryo-electron microscopy, crystallisation robots, X-ray diffraction, NMR spectroscopy and computational analysis.

Structural biology is a multidisciplinary area and pursuing a postgraduate research degree in this subject will allow you to develop skills in biology, biochemistry, biophysics and computer science, as well as the opportunity to undergo rigorous multidisciplinary training.

If you are fortunate, just like Kendrew and Perutz, you will have the unique experience of being the first person on the planet to visualise the new structure of a protein or macromolecule and to have the first insights into its mechanism of action and how it interacts with other molecules to regulate an essential biological process.

Alternatively, your project may generate the structural information needed to design a new drug that will be used to treat human diseases such as tuberculosis or cancer, or to design a new protein to optimise a process in biotechnology.

Information for international students

For applicants whose first language is not English, or for those who have not recently studied in the United Kingdom, you must supply an official IELTS or TOEFL transcript to support your application, or provide a date on which you will be taking a test. Please note IELTS and TOEFL are only valid for two years.

We require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall or TOEFL iBT 90. For the writing component, we expect that you have achieved a minimum of 6.0 (IELTS) or 21-23 (iBT). For each of the other components of the English test you should meet the minimum requirement of IELTS 5.5, TOEFL iBT 18.

For more information about English language tests see English language requirements.

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries. For these and general requirements, including English language, see entry requirements from your country .

Fees and funding

UK students
Standard £4,260, Low £8,500, Medium £15,000, High £20,000
International students
Standard £22,000, Low £23,500, Medium £29,500, High £34,500
Funded programmes and projects are promoted throughout the year. Funding is available through UK Research Councils, charities and industry. We also have other internal awards and scholarships for the most outstanding applicants.

For more information on available funding, please visit the funding opportunities page.

Qualification and course duration


part time
72-96 months
full time
36-48 months


part time
24 months
full time
12 months

Course contact details

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health
+44 (0)161 275 5608