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BB2165 Biomolecular Structure and Function 7.5 credits

Structural biology of biomolecules is a cornerstone in modern biotechnology. The principal objective of the course is to provide the students with theoretical and practical knowledge and insight about the foundations of macromolecular structure, how the structure relates to function, and how this knowledge is useful in an applied context.

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For course offering

Autumn 2024 Start 26 Aug 2024 programme students

Application code


Headings with content from the Course syllabus BB2165 (Autumn 2023–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course disposition

The course comprises approximately 200 full-time study hours, which corresponds to 7,5 ECTS credits. The course uses an interactive pedagogical concept to enhance and deepen the perception and understanding of 3D structure and structure-function relationships. To achieve this, lectures are intimately coupled to self-studies using interactive computer exercises known as kinetic images (kinemages) where structures can be viewed and analyzed in 3D. Acquired theoretical and practical knowledge and skills are further consolidated by each student performing a project that runs throughout the course. Additional details about the course disposition can be found in the course memo for this course offering.

Course contents

The structure and function of biomolecules (structural biology) is a cornerstone in modern biotechnology. The course aims offer deepened theoretical and practical knowledge about the relationship between structure and function of macromolecules. The focus is on proteins and nucleic acids, as well as biomolecules that are functionally relevant to the macromolecular systems that are being addressed.

In medical biotechnology, the relationship between the structure and function of proteins is an important basis for modern drug development, and in industrial biotechnology, the use and rational design of enzymes for sustainable bioprocesses are widely implemented approaches.

Structural biology is a young science and research in this area is moving forward rapidly. The precise topics and exercises covered are subjects of change to appropriately reflect the research frontier. Topics covered in the course range from the foundations of macromolecular structure to experimental and theoretical methodology of structure determination and validation, and the application of knowledge about structure-function relationship.

Intended learning outcomes

After completion of the course the student should be able to

  • Explain in detail, formulate, analyze and evaluate fundamental concepts in structural biology. 
  • Based on knowledge and concepts acquired during the course, be able to propose, discuss and evaluate strategies for answering scientific questions in biology and biotechnology related to the structure and function of biomolecules.
  • Use computer software tools and relevant databases to visualize, examine, analyze, evaluate and validate structures and function of macromolecules.
  • Design, plan, implement and present in written and oral form an independent project in the field of biomolecular structure and function. A key aspect is to be able to critically evaluate one's own and others' chosen strategies for solving scientific problems from a biomolecular structure perspective. This also includes being able to evaluate and discuss biomolecular structure based on its importance for sustainable development.

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Bachelor's degree in technology or natural sciences containing 6 credits courses in biotechnology, 20 credits courses in mathematics, numerical methods, computer science or programming, and 20 credits courses in chemistry. English B/6.

Recommended prerequisites

No information inserted


Personal computer


Branden C, and Tooze J., Introduction to Protein Structure, 2nd Ed. Garland Publishing Inc., 1999.

Hand-outs and scientific articles.

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • LAB1 - Laboratory work, 1.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • LIT1 - Literature task, 2.0 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • TEN1 - Written exam, 4.0 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Grading criteria are specified in the course PM.

Other requirements for final grade

The written exam (TEN1) consists of two parts. The first part covers fundamental concepts in structural biology and is examined up to grade E. The second part covers more advanced knowledge that focus on applying knowledge such as strategies, critical analysis and evaluation, and is graded up to grade A. To pass the written exam requires at least grade E on both parts.

The laboratory part (LAB1) is examined by mandatory active attendance during the computer exercises and a written report that is handed in at the end of the exercise, or at the time decided by the examiner.  

The project (module LIT1) is presented at the end of the course in the form of a written report, peer review of another student's report, and a short oral presentation. Parts of the project are expected to be performed outside class.

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

Opportunity for supplementary examination is possible for a student that has received grade FX on the written examination. For computer exercises and project, complementary examination of a failed grade is only possible after consulting the examiner and is conditioned by practical circumstances.

Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

It is possible to raise an already approved grade provided that this is done at a scheduled examination occasion.


Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course room in Canvas

Registered students find further information about the implementation of the course in the course room in Canvas. A link to the course room can be found under the tab Studies in the Personal menu at the start of the course.

Offered by

Main field of study


Education cycle

Second cycle

Add-on studies

The course is mandatory for students admitted to the master's programs Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology and medical Biotechnology.

Supplementary information

If the number of eligible applicants exceeds the maximum number of places for the course, the selection will be based on the number of completed ECTS credits.