BIOSCI 737 : High Resolution Imaging of Biological Molecules


2021 Semester One (1213) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy are two of the principal techniques used by biologists to determine molecular structure. The theory and practice of X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy, including a laboratory component where 3D structure are determined from experimental data, are addressed. Accessible to students with a variety of backgrounds, including Biology, Bioengineering, Chemistry and Physics. This course complements CHEM 738 and BIOSCI 757.

Course Overview

X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy are two of the principal techniques used by biologists to determine molecular structures. Taken together, their applicability extends over many orders of size – being capable of visualizing individual amino acids as well as the gigantic molecular complexes found within the cell. This course addresses the theory of these two disciplines, and also includes a practical component, where 3D structures are determined from experimental data. 

This course leads on from the undergraduate Biochemistry and Cell Biology Pathway in Biological Sciences, and is designed to be accessible to students with a variety of backgrounds. 

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

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

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand and explain the principles of X-ray diffraction and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and their application to the study of biological system (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Demonstrate a practical ability to perform the basic steps involved in biological structure determination (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 40% Individual Coursework
Tests 30% Individual Test
Written Reports for the Practical Sessions 30% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2
Written Reports for the Practical Sessions
The breakdown of marks for the course as a whole is 70% Theory (Assignments and Tests) and 30% Practical (Written reports for the Practical Sessions). 

In order to pass the course, students must individually pass both the theory and the practical components, as well as achieve an overall passing mark.

Special Requirements

Attendance at the Practical Sessions is Compulsory

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 30 hours of lectures (15 x 2 hours), 10 hours of practical work (5 x 2 hours), 50 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 70 hours of work on assignments, practical sessions and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

The course lectures and tutorials will not be recorded. Lecture slides and other learning materials will be posted to Canvas.

The course will not include live online events 

Attendance on campus is required for the tests and practical sessions. Attendance at the practical sessions is compulsory.

The activities for the course are scheduled according to a standard weekly timetable

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

Learning Resources

There is no single textbook which is used throughout the course. Staff will discuss papers, and provide limited readings from textbooks as appropriate.

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.

COVID19 considerations

Alert Level 1: Course delivered normally, as specified in delivery mode
Alert Levels 2-4: You will not be required to attend in person. All teaching activities and assessments will be 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 29/01/2021 09:42 a.m.