Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 18 sessions over 7 weeks, 1 hour / session


Recommended Textbooks

While it is not required to own or read a textbook on crystallography in order to attend 5.069, some of you may still be interested in a list of recommendations. There are many books on the market and everybody has different priorities and preferences, therefore this short list is highly biased and by no means complete.

For starters, the book by Werner Massa (Crystal Structure Determination, English by Bob Gould, Springer) is an excellent choice. Everything important is explained and the book starts from scratch. This book is sufficient as a companion for 5.069.

Buy at Amazon Massa, Werner. Crystal Structure Determination. 2nd ed. Translated into English by R. O. Gould. New York, NY: Springer, 2004. ISBN: 9783540206446.

The somewhat more advanced student may like the Fundamentals of Crystallography by Carmelo Giacovazzo (Oxford University Press). Even though the word "fundamentals" appears in the title of the book, it is very helpful to have prior knowledge, when attempting to read the Giacovazzo. This book covers all the basics and should be sufficient for most PhD students.

Buy at Amazon Giacovazzo, C., ed. Fundamentals of Crystallography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. ISBN: 9780198555780.

If you want to knock yourself out, you may consider reading the four books edited by the master himself: Sir Lawrence Bragg. The books are called The Crystalline State and consist of the following volumes:

  1. The Crystalline State - A General Survey by L. Bragg
  2. The Optical Principles of Diffraction of X-Rays by R. W. James
  3. The Determination of Crystal Structures by H. Lipson and W. Cochran
  4. Crystal Structures of Minerals by L. Bragg, G. F. Claringbull and W. H. Taylor

Bragg, Sir Lawrence, et al. The Crystalline State. Vols. I-IV. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1965.

You may also want to try:

Buy at Amazon Hahn, Theo, ed. International Tables for Crystallography. Vol. A: Space-Group Symmetry. 5th revised ed. Dordrecht, Holland: Springer, 2002. ISBN: 9780792365907.

Lisensky, George C., et al. Optical Transform Kit. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, Institute for Chemical Education, 1994.

Buy at Amazon MacGillavry, Caroline H. Fantasy and Symmetry: The Periodic Drawings of M. C. Escher. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, In., 1976. ISBN: 9780810908505.

Buy at Amazon Schattschneider, Doris. Visions of Symmetry: Notebooks, Periodic Drawings, and Related Work of M. C. Escher. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman & Co., 1990. ISBN: 9780716721260.

Kleber, Will. Einführungin die Kristallographie. Berlin, Germany: Veb Verlag Technik, 1965.

Other Recommendations

For the more biologically oriented student, an excellent "classic" is:


Buy at Amazon Glusker, Jenny Pickworth, and Kenneth N. Trueblood. Crystal Structure Analysis: A Primer. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1985. ISBN: 9780195035438.

Chemists that want it in a nutshell may like:

Buy at Amazon Clegg, William. Crystal Structure Determination New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780198559016. With only 82 pages, this is probably the shortest Crystallography textbook ever published.

The list goes on and on and on…


This class consists of 12 lectures, five problem sessions, one hour devoted to a brief recap and one exam. The problem sessions are structured as follows:

During the Wednesday lecture, a homework sheet is handed out, which consists of several problems (ca. five) that the students are supposed to work out (in writing) during the following nine days. On the next Friday, the answer to each homework question is to be presented by a student or a small group of students in front of the class. Students will know in advance who will be presenting each problem so that they can prepare their presentations. After the presentations and a discussion about the problems, the students are supposed to hand in their problem sets, to be graded (one can get up to five points per set of problems).

Obviously the students can correct their answers during the presentations, which makes it relatively easy to get full points for the homework sets. This is not a problem, as the goal of having homework in this class is to make the students think about the subjects taught, and to do so outside of the classroom and independently. Even if a student comes to the wrong answer for a problem, the fact that he or she thought about it at home for some time will make correcting it during the homework session an educational experience that has nothing to do with cheating to get full points.


The problems and the exam are graded as follows:

A student can get a maximum of 25 points from the problem sets (up to 5 points each) and a maximum of 65 points from the exam. Handing in the homework late results in subtraction of points (more than one week late leads to one point being subtracted, more than two weeks late takes two points away).

Altogether, a student can get up to 90 points. The breakdown into grades is determined after the exam, taking into account the number of points actually accumulated by the students (i.e. if everybody does really badly in one particular exam question, the results for this question can be ignored for the grading altogether, etc.). In any case, it will be possible for a student to pass with the exam alone (at least arithmetically), but not with the homework alone.