Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module CHEM40415.: Protein Crystallography

Department: Chemistry

CHEM40415.: Protein Crystallography

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.
Tied to


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Excluded Combination of Modules

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  • To introduce students to theoretical aspects of protein structure and function.
  • To provide a thorough understanding of the physical basis of diffraction experiments.
  • To provide the fundamental background required to determine macromolecular crystal structure.
  • To enable students to critically evaluate the quality and correctness of published structures.


  • Fundamentals of structure and function of macromolecular structures.
  • Crystallographic symmetry and space groups.
  • Basic diffraction physics.
  • Theory and praxis of macromolecular crystallisation.
  • The phase problem and its solution in chemical and macromolecular crystallography.
  • Structure interpretation and validation.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Ability to use appropriate programs to determine a protein crystal structure.
  • Interpret experimental results in macromolecular crystallography: Understand the limitations and possibilities of new technologies in this analysis.
  • Critically analyse protein structure-function relationships.
  • Recognise apparent contradictions in the field and suggest areas for further investigation.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Interpret experimental results in areas of macromolecular crystallography.
  • Understand the limitations and possibilities of new technologies in analysis of biomolecules.
  • Rationalise approaches that can be used to solve a biochemical problem dependent on the knowledge base available.
  • Use appropriate bioinformatics procedures to retrieve and interpret biological data.
Key Skills:
  • Acquire, interpret and critically analyse experimental data and present the results effectively.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures will provide the means to give concise, focussed presentation of the relevant subject matter of the module. They will be supported by reference to suitable text books and where appropriate by the distribution of written material or through links on DUO (on-line learning resource).
  • Problem sheets will be given regularly in lectures to help students gain an understanding of the concepts presented. These will be assessed formatively.
  • Workshops in which students work through problems will be used as support teaching.
  • Seminars will be used to present students with current research in protein crystallography.
  • Student performance will be assessed summatively through examination.
  • Formative assessments will provide the means for the student to demonstrate their acquisition of subject knowledge and the development of their problem solving skills. The tests will also provide opportunities for feedback, for students to gauge their progress, and for the Management Committee to monitor progress throughout the duration of the module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 16 1 16
Seminars 2 1 2
Workshops 8 4 32
Self Study 100
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Coursework 3 100% Y
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 1 100% Y

Formative Assessment:

Problem sheets distributed in lectures.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University