Biochemistry is a science subject at the interface between Biology, Chemistry and Medicine. If you are fascinated by the molecular world, and wish to pursue a career in an area with a direct and growing impact on key societal issues, Biochemistry is a great place to start.
The Biochemistry degree course, with its specialist degree options, offers a fantastic opportunity to explore living organisms from a molecular and cellular perspective. We start with the foundations of chemistry, cell biology and genetics and lead you right up to cutting-edge research questions in the final year.
With a Biochemistry degree, you will acquire a wide range of skills, with particular emphasis on data analysis, experimental design and problem solving. Skills acquired in this course enable careers not just in the life science, but across a wide range of professions. Most important of all, Biochemistry has many facets. Check out our collection of related research stories.
2013 National Student Survey "100% of students said that overall they were satisfied with the quality of our Biochemistry courses"
Our modular course programme gives increasing flexibility in choosing modules that resonate with your interests. Following a first year where all modules are compulsory, you take a combination of compulsory and elective modules in the second year, while the third year includes only one compulsory module and a broad choice of elective modules covering areas as diverse as cancer biology, immunology, neurobiology and mechanisms of human disease.
In the final year, the Masters year, research training will take centre stage, with an extended research project and a tailored research training module.
For more detailed descriptions of individual modules, download Biochemistry Module Descriptions (PDF 348KB).
The first year offers a set of modules that explores the full spectrum of biochemistry, from the physiology of living organism to the molecular details of particular biochemical reactions and the enzymes that catalyse these reactions. A key element is the Chemistry module.
First year modules
Biochemistry - Fundamental biochemical processes taking place inside cells
Cell Biology and Physiology - Tissues, organelles, reproduction and development
Chemistry I - Inorganic and organic chemistry, including practical training.
Skills for Biosciences - Laboratory skills, transferable skills training including mathematics, IT, literature search and scientific writing.
Genetics I - Storage of genetic information, gene expression and regulation, mitosis and meiosis, gene linkage and chromosome mapping.
Enzymes and Metabolism - Enzyme catalysis and regulation, metabolism of carbohydrates and vitamins, experimental techniques to study metabolic reactions.
Physical Biochemistry - The fundamental laws governing biochemical reactions and how we can explore them experimentally.
For more details on individual modules, follow the links or download a document with short module descriptions for the Biochemistry courses here: (link to Biochemistry module descriptions).
Nora Miroslavova, Biochemistry graduate "The modules were taught by expert members of staff involved in the research field, which I found very interesting and stimulating."
The second year features a combination of core modules that all biochemistry students follow, and two elective modules, where you can start to define your personal direction in the field.
Second year modules
Core modules (taken by all students on the Biochemistry programme)
Proteins and Enzymes – Protein structure and evolution, mechanisms of enzyme catalysis, techniques to determine protein structures.
Membranes, Energy and Metabolism – Biological membranes and their role in energy metabolism, regulation of metabolism by hormones and other factors
Molecular Biology and its Applications – Genetic analysis and gene cloning, DNA fingerprinting and forensics, genomics and computational approaches to genetics
Chemistry II - Spectroscopic techniques, synthesis of peptides, oligonucleotide and aromatic compounds, determining structures of simple organic molecules.
Communications and Skills in Biosciences – Science communication in writing and oral presentations, ethics in science, analysis of the scientific literature.
Choose two elective modules from:
Cell and Developmental Biology - Development of multicellular organisms, interaction between cells and the cellular matrix, regulation of stem cell function.
Topics in Medical Biosciences – Neurobiology and neurotransmitters, pharmacology and anaesthetics, blood constituents and haemostasis, complement and immunity.
Genetics II – Organisation of genes and genomes, generation of genetic diversity, gene transmission and analysis of problems in transmission and molecular genetics.
Microbes and Man – The impact of microbes on humans, bacteria, fungi and viruses, common themes of infectious disease mechanisms.
A core component of the third year is a research dissertation, divided up in a literature review, an in-depth analysis of selected research papers and composing a proposal for a new piece of research. The Biochemistry programme also includes one core module focussing firmly on analytical skills. Finally, a diverse spectrum of elective modules allows you to explore individual facets of biochemistry according to your personal preference and interests.
Third year modules
Choose three elective modules* from:
Structures of Destruction - Bacterial and viral pathogens explored from the perspective of their molecular structures, protein misfolding and amyloid diseases.
Bacterial Gene Regulation - How genes are switched on or off in response to external stimuli, how control of gene expression can be explored experimentally.
Cellular Signalling - Signal transduction in and between cells, G-protein coupled receptors, phospholipid and Ca2+ signalling, ligand-gated ion channels and electrical responses.
Mechanisms of Toxicity and Disease – Metabolic detoxification, chemical carcinogenesis, genetic toxicity.
Cancer Biology – Regulation of cell division and aberrations in malignant tumours, genetic bases of tumourigenesis, programmed cell death.
Molecular and Cellular Immunology | Watch video - Evolution of the immune system, innate immunity, cell biology of immunity, structural basis of discrimination between self and non-self.
Molecular Basis of Bacterial Infection | Watch video - Evolution of bacterial virulence, antibiotics and antibiotics resistance, genomic data in analysing pathogenicity.
Genetics III - Genetic variation in humans and model organisms, dynamics of chromosome organisation during mitosis and meiosis, genome instability.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology - Microbial communities, how they compete, and behave socially.
Cellular Neurobiology | Watch video - Neuronal function and neural development, synaptic function, transmitter receptors and ion channels.
Eukaryotic Gene Expression - Control of gene transcription, chromatin structure, pre-mRNA processing, mRNA translation and degradation.
Plant Sciences in the 21st Century | Watch video - Plant growth and development in relation to food supply, biofuels and climate change. Research-based module with emphasis on analysis of the current research literature.
* Modules run either in Semester 1 or Semester 2. Particular combinations of modules may not be advisable, especially if all 3 choices were to run in the same semester.
Fourth year (Masters year)
The final year is devoted to developing and honing research skills. The central element to achieve competence in research is the research project, which extends over both semesters of the year and which takes up the majority of your work effort. In addition, you will attend a research training module, as well as a taught module drawn from the specialist modules of the third year.
The programme involves mandatory attendance at research seminars given by external researchers visiting the School, which are documented through extended summaries, and data handling and problem solving sessions, including the development of a grant proposal and business plan.
Dr Eva Hyde, Leader of the Undergraduate Masters programme "The MSci course was inaugurated in October 2009 and, with my colleagues, I have tried to create a course in which individual students can largely pursue their own biological interests. At the same time, we aim to further develop skills that are important not only for scientific research but in a wide range of careers."
Number of A levels required: 3
Typical offer: AAA
Required subjects and grades: Chemistry A level and one other from Biology/Human Biology, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Geography, Geology, ICT, Maths, Physics, Psychology or Sports Studies/PE. Five GCSEs at grade C (minimum) in Double Award/Integrated Science, English and Mathematics.
General Studies: We do not accept General Studies, Critical Thinking, Citizenship Studies, Applied Science, Communication and Culture, Critical Studies, Global Perspectives, Science in Society and World Development.
The typical offer for the MSci course is higher than that for the corresponding three-year BSc degree programmes. However, all candidates who firmly accept the offer, as their first choice, will automatically be offered a place on the corresponding BSc course if they fail to meet the MSci offer while meeting the standard offer.
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (Applied Science) is accepted only in combination with a science subject at GCE A2 level at grade A. Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements
International Baccalaureate Diploma: 36 points excluding bonus points from TOK and Extended Essay. 6, 6, 6 at HL to include Chemistry and one other science at HL. 5 points in each of SL English and Maths if not offered at GCSE or equivalent.
Standard English language requirements apply
Learn more about international entry requirements
Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.
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