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.
A particular bonus is the opportunity to work in a professional setting for 10 – 11 months, which will not only provide invaluable training, but to demonstrate to future employers that you offer both: academic training and professional experience
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.
2014 National Student Survey "97% 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 final 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.
For a description of modules see Biochemistry Module Information. The modules described here are the ones that we currently offer and will give you a good idea of the range of subjects that we teach. However as our undergraduate teaching is research led and we constantly review our teaching to ensure that the modules that we offer are up to date there may be changes to module titles and content.
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, while the ‘Module Outside the Main Discipline’ will allow you to explore content from other, non-Biosciences courses offered by the University.
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.
Module Outside the Main Discipline (MOMD) - allows you to explore content from other academic programmes of this university in the form of a stand-alone module. More information on MOMD can be found here.
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. In the second year you will begin to organise your placement year. You will attend a number of briefing and training sessions, and you will get tailored advice on how to apply for placements. Training on CV and cover letter writing, plus interview training are all part of the package.
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.
Third year (Placement year)
We have a sizeable database of organisations that accept placement students, and are frequently approached by companies or organisations offering placement opportunities in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. In addition, our students often discover and take advantage of new employers – an excellent preparation for the time when you apply as a graduate. Companies and organisations you might be able to work for during your placement include:
Pharmaceutical industry and consumer goods
- Basilea Pharmaceutica, Basel, Switzerland
- Reckitt Benckiser (RB)
Biotechnology and medical research
- LGC Forensics
- The Binding Site
- Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association
- DSTL, Porton Down
Ecology and field work
- Warwick HRI
- The Field Studies Council
- Yorkshire Water
Dr Rick Dunn, Leader of the Professional Placement Programme "I am keen to offer students the opportunity to experience, first hand, how their chosen degree relates to the work environment and to acquire skills valued by employers."
The core component of the final year is the Project, which covers 40 of 120 final year credits. In dialogue with a lecturer or professor, you will do your own research and be led to independence as a biochemist. 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.
You may choose between a laboratory project, a two-part library research or a computing-based project. Students choose their project from an extensive list near the end of their 2nd year. Some even arrange a project independently in collaboration with an academic member of staff. Whichever path you choose, you will find that the project is particular highlight of your academic training and experience.
Final 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.
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.
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 Professional Placement course is higher than that for the corresponding three year BSc degree course. However, all candidates who firmly accept the offer as their first choice will be automatically offered a place on the corresponding three year course should they miss the higher, but meet 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: minimum 32 points. 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.
Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.
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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