BIOSCI 350 : Protein Structure and Function


2021 Semester One (1213) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The relationship of molecular structure to protein function will be emphasised. Techniques for the purification, characterisation, production of native and recombinant proteins and three-dimensional structure determination will be combined with a description of protein structure. Specific groups of proteins will be selected to illustrate structure/function relationships and protein evolution.

Course Overview

The aim of BIOSCI 350 is to provide an understanding of the experimental approaches needed to move from the genome (DNA sequence information) to studies of protein structure and function. The paper will examine experimental methods for purifying, and identifying proteins as well as approaches to study protein function and protein-protein interactions. You will learn about the ways proteins fold to form three-dimensional shapes and ways to determine protein structure by X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and cryo-electron microscopy. Finally, you will study the uses of structural information to undercover biological function.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 201, 203

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Recognise and describe that proteins are dynamic molecules whose structures are linked to their environment. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Apply bioinformatic algorithms to analyse protein sequence and structure. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Differentiate and explain methods for recombinant protein production, purification and characterisation. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  4. Critically evaluate the physical principles underpinning absorbance, circular dichroism and solution Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, the practical difficulties in making spectroscopic measurements on proteins, and the application of those measurements. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  5. Define or explain how protein structure can be interrogated using mass spectrometry, X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy. (Capability 1 and 2)
  6. Explain and apply the physical and chemical principles underlying macromolecular interactions to proteins. (Capability 1 and 2)
  7. Explain how thermodynamic principles underpin protein folding and stability. (Capability 1 and 2)
  8. Explain how the principles of protein structure drive the molecular functions of proteins. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  9. Develop the analytical and practical skills to define a research question in a group-based learning environment, and use these skills to answer that question and communicate the answers in a lab report. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 25% Individual Coursework
Quizzes 5% Individual Coursework
Test 35% Individual Test
Final Exam 35% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Final Exam

Key Topics

The in vitro study of proteins
Protein sequence bioinformatics
Protein production, purification and characterisation
Molecular spectroscopy of proteins
Methods of protein structure determination
Principles of molecular recognition
Protein energetics and stability
The utility of protein structural information

Special Requirements

Students must pass both the practicals (laboratories) and the theory (quizzes, test and exam) independently to pass the course overall.
Evening Test 6.30-8.30pm

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 3 hours of lectures and/or tutorials per week and 3 hours of labs per fortnight. This means you should plan to spend 5.5 hours of work per week on reading and thinking about the content, on assignments and lab reports, and/or test and exam preparation. If you choose to not attend lectures you miss out on active learning and discussions held in the lectures.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including labs to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings.
The course will not include live online events.
Attendance on campus is required for the test and exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

A remote version of the course may be made available to students located overseas because of border restrictions, or to those with an exemption to study remotely only

Learning Resources

Text Book: "The Molecules of Life." by Kuriyan,  Konforti &  Wemmer.  (Garland Science 2013) (ISBN: 0815341881)
Lab coat and safety glasses.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

This course will be delivered in the following way under the different COVID-19 Alert levels: Level 1: Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person. All teaching and assessment will have a remote option. The following activities may also have an on campus / in person option: Lectures, labs, office hours. Level 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 23/09/2021 06:20 p.m.