NKEA06015U Crystallography - MSc

Volume 2015/2016

MSc Programme in Chemistry
MSc Programme in Biochemistry

MSC Programme in Nanoscience


Crystallography is the main technique by which the three-dimensional structures of molecules are determined. One advantage of crystallography is that similar methods can be used to determine the structure of molecules ranging in size from just a few atoms to the size of ribosomal particle (in the MDa range).

The aim of this course is to provide the student with fundamental knowledge about the crystallographic methods used to determine the structure of crystalline materials, especially single crystals of bio-macromolecules and small molecules, covering the main aspects of chemical and macromolecular crystallography from crystallization to structure validation.

Considerable weight is given to the practical part, in which the students will gain experience in structure determination and the use of structural databases, through laboratory and computer-based practical classes and an individual research-based project. The students will be trained in critical reading of original articles and written presentation of own results on structure determination by X-ray crystallography, in particular through writing of a report on their individual project.

Learning Outcome


The students must be able to

- Plan and carry out a small crystallographic project within given constraints of time and resources

- Analyze standard crystallographic data

- Evaluate structural models derived from crystallographic data (e.g. from structural databases)

- Evaluate and discuss the quality of crystallographic data and the derived structural information from literature and scientific databases


The student must be able to:

-  plan and set up crystallization experiments

-  process and determine crystallographic space groups from diffraction data

-  determine crystallographic structures

-  read and critically evaluate original articles and literature in the field

-  make use of crystal structure databases for structural comparison and to evaluate structure quality

-  undertake, with some guidance, their own small crystallographic project, including design, performance, interpretation of experiments and written communication of used methods, results and discussion of significance


 The students must demonstrate knowledge of:

- Crystallization and diffraction theory
- Crystal symmetry
- Crystallographic structure determination methods
- Structure validation

In 2014 we have used the following textbooks – however they may be subject to change so please check with the responsible teacher or on Absalon before buying: W. Massa, Crystal structure determination 2nd edition 2004 (chemical crystallography), Springer-Verlag ISBN: 3-540-20644-2; D. Blow, Outline of Crystallography for Biologists, 2002, Oxford University Press, ISBN: 0-19-851051-9. Additional notes, reviews and articles will be available on Absalon.

Students with a BSc-degree in chemistry, biochemistry and nanotechnology have good basis for taking this course. Students with related bachelor degrees (for example biology or molecular biomedicine) are recommended to contact the teacher before registering in order to discuss their background knowledge as compared to the level of the course.
The course consists of a theoretical part (lectures, exercise classes and discussion of original articles) and a practical part (laboratory and computer-based practical sessions). The practical sessions are compulsory. In the latter weeks, a short individual practical project is carried out, and the course maybe supplemented with lectures on specialized topics and a visit to the MAX-LAB synchrotron.
The course is very suitable for Chemistry students, but also for Biochemistry and Nanotechnology students
It's not possible to take this course if you already have taken Crystallography-BSc
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Colloquia
  • 8
  • Exam
  • 25
  • Excursions
  • 6
  • Guidance
  • 3
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Practical exercises
  • 18
  • Preparation
  • 100
  • Project work
  • 12
  • Theory exercises
  • 10
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, A report on the project is submitted on a given date towards the end of the course
Oral examination, 20-30 min under invigilation
The course will be evaluated through a written report on the individual project (with a weight of 30%) and an oral exam covering the content of the course (with a weight of 70 %)
Exam registration requirements

The students must have actively participated in the practical classes (80% compulsory attendance) and written in groups short reports describing the results from their experiments. Up to five group reports must be satisfactorily completed before the final exam.

Only certain aids allowed

The students are allowed to look briefly at short lists of key points they may have prepared at home, once they find out what main topics are to be covered in their oral examination (lottery drawn). They are also allowed to look up information in appropriate tables in the textbooks or International tables provided at the oral exam. No other aids are allowed.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

several internal examiners


Re-examination takes the same form of the ordinary exam. A new project report can be handed it.
All practical reports must be handed in. If the student has not participated in 80% of practical classes, they will have complete the practical work primarily as self-study. If the student has not completed the practical project work, this will have to be primarily completed as self-study. Only minimal supervision can be expected and only when justified by safety considerations.

Criteria for exam assesment

See 'målbeskrivelser'