BIOSCI 757 : Structural Biology


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Reviews recent studies of biological systems that highlight molecular structure, and its ability to explain cellular biology. Topics may include: protein folding and targeting in the cell, motor proteins, pathogen and immune system molecules, and the inference of protein structure and function from genomic data. A sound understanding of BIOSCI 350 or equivalent is assumed.

Course Overview

The focus of Structural Biology is to understand biological processes at the level of the three-dimensional structures of biological macromolecules. In any living organism, be it a single cell or a multi-cellular organism, proper function requires the interplay of thousands of molecules, each normally folded into a unique 3D structure and each performing its particular biological function efficiently and with great specificity.

In this course, we take an in-depth look at specific topics in structural biology and biotechnology, selected from many. We focus on the latest literature and cutting edge science in topics that have previously included protein assemblies and nanotechnology (inspired by nature), and enzyme/metabolic engineering. These topics are intended to illustrate the unlimited value of visualising molecules in helping us understand complex biological systems. The course is also intended to familiarise you with strategies to assimilate information from research papers focused on structural studies, with a view to identifying key points relating structure to function. This course follows on from the undergraduate School of Biological Sciences, Biochemistry and Cell Biology pathway. The skills developed in this course through your research, analysis, and written and oral presentations, will help you be an effective (science) communicator and will be invaluable transferable skills in your future careers in science and beyond.

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. Interpret summarise, and present both orally and in written reports, concepts from the scientific literature. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Argue one side of a hypothesis based on scientific data. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Demonstrate key methodologies and approaches to the production and characterisation of molecular assemblies and engineered enzymes/pathways by identifying limitations and gaps in knowledge, and proposing solutions. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Formulate a coherent scientific argument through independent research and synthesising data from multiple sources. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Critically evaluate peer presentations by providing insightful and constructive feedback. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  6. Evaluate peer feedback and demonstrate the incorporation of this feedback in future assessments. (Capability 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  7. Extract key information from a journal article and write a concise summary demonstrating the research significance. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Presentations 40% Individual Coursework
Essay 35% Individual Coursework
Assignments 10% Individual Coursework
Peer Review 15% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Peer Review

Student seminars, essay, and peer review are compulsory components of the course and must be completed.


While we have no formal Tuākana programme we can help connect you with other students and Tuākana to support your academic journey with us in the School of Biological Sciences.
For more information about the Tuākana programme, please see -

Key Topics

Module 1. Man-made enzymes and metabolic engineering*
Module 2. Protein assemblies and nanotechnology (inspired by nature)*
* Current topics - are subject to change in any given year.

Special Requirements

This course has no test or exam. Completion of the essay component and participation in seminars including peer review assessment 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 24 hours of lectures and student seminar/discussion sessions, and up to 100 hours of reading and thinking about the content, working on seminar/essay assignments and peer review. 

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

  • Attendance is required at scheduled activities including seminars and group discussions to complete components of the course.
  • The learning activities including seminars and groups discussions will not be available as recordings.
  • The course will not include live online events.
  •  The activities for the course are scheduled as 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

Journal articles or other reading materials will be provided electronically before each seminar session. 

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.

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 will also have an on campus / in person option: seminars and tutorial/drop in sessions.
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 06/12/2020 01:58 p.m.