NKEB13008U Crystallography - BSc

Volume 2015/2016

BSc Programme in Chemistry
BSc Programme in Biochemistry


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. The theoretical knowledge will be reinforced by exercises, including numerical exercises.
The students will also gain experience in practical aspects of crystallography, from crystallization to structure determination and the use of structural databases, through laboratory and computer-based practical classes. A lot of weight is also given to training in critical reading and presentation of original articles where crystallographic methods are used in a variety of contexts.

Learning Outcome


The students must be able to

- Analyze standard crystallographic data

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


The student must be able to:

-  carry out, under guidance, crystallographic experiments and data analysis, such as crystallization, data processing and simple structure determinations, evaluate their results and describe them in writing

-  determine crystallographic space groups from diffraction data

-  read, critically evaluate and explain original articles in English, where crystallography is used as a main method

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

- solve simple quantitative problems in crystallography, e.g. related to diffraction theory


 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.

It is expected that the students are familiar with the content of the courses MatIntro, KemiO, KemiU1, KemiU2, KemiBin, AnvSpek and FysKem1, or similar courses.
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 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. Students from other disciplines 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 gives the necessary background to take on a Project outside course scope, BSc or MSc project in crystallography.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Colloquia
  • 8
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Excursions
  • 6
  • Guidance
  • 3
  • Lectures
  • 22
  • Practical exercises
  • 18
  • Preparation
  • 138
  • Theory exercises
  • 10
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20-30 min
Exam registration requirements

The students must have actively participated in the practical classes (80% compulsory attendance) and written in groups short reports satisfactorily describing the results from their experiments. Additionally the students must have satisfactorily individually presented 1-2 original articles and completed up to 5 short written exercise assignments during the course.

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
several internal examiners

Re-examination takes the same form of the ordinary exam.
All compulsory written assignments must be handed in. If the student has not participated in compulsory article presentation, a powerpoint maust be handed in. If the student has not participated in 80% of practical classes, completion of 80% of the practical work will have to be carried out as self-study. Only minimal supervision can be expected and only when justified by safety considerations.

Criteria for exam assesment

See 'learning outcome'