Biochemistry BSc

The point where chemistry, biology and medicine meet, biochemistry deals with the molecular nuts and bolts of living organisms and diseases. Advances in the biosciences are having a profound impact on our daily lives, from human health to conservation, making it a hugely rewarding area to study and work in. With 95% of our graduates in employment or further study 6 months after completing their studies with us, biochemistry provides the foundation for many disciplines, including botany and zoology, genetics, surgery as well as anatomy, pharmacology and pathology, opening up huge potential for your future career path. Studying at Birmingham means you'll benefit from high-technology facilities and teaching from world-renowned experts in their field. You'll also be able to tailor your course to match your own interests and goals, and have the unprecedented opportunity to join one of our research groups, working on live research projects.

2013 National Student Survey "100% of students said that overall they were satisfied with the quality of our Biochemistry courses"

Society of Biology logoWe are proud to have been awarded formal Accreditation by the Society of Biology for the 4-year MSci Biochemistry course. This recognition rests on the same elements of training that are integral to the 3-year BSc Biochemistry degree.

Course fact file

UCAS code: C700

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 205 (Total number of places for all undergraduate courses in the school)

Applications in 2012: 1399

Typical Offer: AAB-ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

Our flexible degree programme offers you the opportunity to specialise in areas such as medical biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology and molecular cell biology. We put a particular emphasis on practical training and developing transferable skills that will be invaluable in a wide range of professional settings. We are also proud to have been awarded formal Accreditation by the Society of Biology for our four-year MSci Biochemistry course, the foundations of which are the same elements that are integral to our three-year BSc Biochemistry degree.

Course structure

First Year

In the first year you will study key areas such as Cell Biology, Metabolism, Chemistry, Physiology and Genetics. In practical classes you will get hands on experience of a wide range of Biochemical techniques.

Second Year

At this more advanced level, you complete the core of essential training in biochemistry and you begin to specialise. Students on the BSc Biochemistry with Professional Placement will prepare their placement year, while those on the Year in Europe version of the course will explore and apply to the European host university.

Final Year

This is the year of specialisation as you devote most of your time to specialist modules. No matter which Biochemistry degree you choose there will always be a choice of exciting final-year modules. These modules integrate different aspects of biochemistry and illustrate the relationships between these and their applications to industry and medicine. In addition, all students hone their data analysis and experimental design skills in a core module taken by all final year biochemists.

Central to your final year studies is your research project, which makes up one-third of your final year. We offer you the opportunity to join one of our research groups, of which there are almost 60, providing the fascinating prospect to experience research first hand and to contribute to the current research projects in the department. Project work does not necessarily mean you are in the laboratory; some students will do computer-based projects, others carry out a detailed analysis of the research literature in a particular area.

Your final year project is one of the most exciting parts of your degree. You choose from a very broad range offered by the staff according to ongoing research activities. You may opt for a laboratory project, a literature review project or a computing project. Most students enjoy project work as a highlight of their academic training and experience.

Why study this course

Biochemistry students in the lab We have a large and internationally recognised School of Biosciences offering expertise that is the foundation of our research-led teaching.

You will encounter a broad range of topics on our courses, ranging from studies on the three-dimensional structure of individual molecules through to the study of whole ecosystems. We pride ourselves in our ?enquiry-based learning? strategy that will equip you with the skills to achieve full potential in your future career.

We increasingly incorporate new areas of science relating to biology, such as bioinformatics, and the School has major high-technology facilities for research in genomics, structural biology and optical imaging.

2013 National Student Survey "100% of students said that overall they were satisfied with the quality of our Biochemistry courses"

Modules

Biochemistry students in laboratoryOur 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. 

The syllabus is designed to furnish graduates with relevant expert knowledge and skills, but equally to provide thorough training in transferable skills, including data analysis, scientific communication, and your ability to work and communicate effectively with others.

If you have chosen one of our specialist degree programmes in biochemistry the second and third year options allow you to choose an appropriate pathways through the degree. For more detailed descriptions of individual modules, download Biochemistry Module Descriptions (PDF 348KB).

First Year

Modules

  • Genetics I
  • Cell Biology and Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Enzymes and Metabolism
  • Physical Biochemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Skills for Biosciences

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."

Second Year

Choose optional modules that allow you to follow your own particular interests.

Core modules

  • Proteins and Enzymes
  • Membranes, Energy and Metabolism
  • Molecular Biology and its Applications
  • Chemistry
  • Communications and skills in Biosciences

Optional modules - choose 2 from:

  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Topics in Medical Biosciences
  • Genetics II
  • Microbes and Man

Final Year

Core modules

  • Project
  • Experimental design, analysis and interpretation of biochemical data

Optional modules - choose 3 from:

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: AAB-ABB

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.

Additional information:

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (Applied Science) is accepted only in combination with a science subject at GCE A2 level at grade B or better. Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34-35 points excluding bonus points from TOK and Extended Essay. 6, 5, 5 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.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com
Learn more about applying

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic research elite and will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent thinker, discussing, analysing and evaluating various aspects of Biology in partnership with the staff who will be involved in every step of your learning.

  • Lectures - Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning. As well as traditional whiteboard and pen, our lecture theatres are equipped with the latest technology including movies and animations, molecular graphics and ?ask the audience? style electronic voting systems. Student interaction with staff is encouraged before, during and after lectures particularly using social media.
  • Practical classes - Laboratory-based practical work is an integral part of our degree. A typical practical session will last 3 hours allowing you to complete the work at your own pace. In addition to gaining important transferable skills, experience of practical work is essential if you wish to move into a research career and is valued by a wide range of employers. You will engage with academic and postgraduate researchers who will help you during these practical sessions.
  • Tutorials - A personal tutorial system is an essential feature of our degree programme and your tutors will help you in three important areas: supporting your academic progress, developing transferable skills and helping with any welfare issues. From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

To begin with you may find university level education challenging, but we will support you to enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system in the School, including personal tutors and welfare tutors, who can help with both academic and welfare issues throughout your course. You will have a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and identify areas where you may need some additional support, and the School's academic small group tutorial system will provide you with skills based support throughout the course.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from one-to-one support with mathematics and statistics based problems from experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note talking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to develop in different ways from your previous experience of learning and teaching. As well as remembering biochemical facts you will learn how to demonstrate real understanding as you apply your knowlege to analyse and evaluate scientific information. Our ulitmate aim is to help you develop into a skilled and creative biochemist. Each module is assessed separately and you will be assessed in a variety of different ways. All modules contain some continuous assessment, that is, assessment taking place during the teaching period. Continuous assessment generally accounts for over one-third of the mark for a given module, while the remainder are contributed by the end-of-year examination in the summer term. A subset of modules are assessed through course work, without an end-of-year examination.

At the beginning of each module, you'll be given information on how and when you'll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You'll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You'll be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

More information about assessment methods and feedback is given below:

    ?
  • Feedback - Feedback - You will be able to track how your learning is developing by using a wide range of types of feedback. These include: written feedback on your scripts, formative tests (these do not count in your final degree mark), class feedback question sessions, discussions with each other and your tutor. .
  • Examinations ? The formal end-of-year examinations (in May/June of each year) are complemented by course work in the form of essays or reports, data handling or interpretation exercises, poster presentations, seminar presentations, group work and lab reports.
  • ?
  • Projects and dissertations ? You will choose the topic of your project from a wide range of titles. We offer a range of projects including practical work in the laboratory, field work, computer based projects, or literature reviews. Projects allow you to demonstrate the full range of academic and transferable skills you have developed and provide a stepping stone to into research and other careers.

Employability

 

Our Biosciences Graduates enjoy excellent prospects - 3rd among Russell Group Universities.

First destinations of University of Birmingham Biosciences graduates six months after graduation

Bioscience UG students career destinations 2011/12

Destinations of Leavers of Higher Education report (DHLE) 2011/12

Graduates of the University of Birmingham are highly regarded among employers in the UK, and a Biochemistry degree from Birmingham is an excellent qualification for securing your future career in a diverse range of industries and employment sectors. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers and Employability Service can help you achieve your goal

Advances in the biosciences are having a profound impact on our daily lives in areas from human health to conservation. Biotechnology, biological pharmaceuticals, and personalised medicine are key growth areas in the health sector. Over the next decade our increasing understanding of how genomes are regulated will revolutionise how we interact with the natural world. Environmental remediation, climate change and related themes pose multi-faceted challenges for the coming decades. Expert knowledge in biology and the life sciences will be in high demand for the foreseeable future, with excellent prospects for exciting and rewarding careers in research, education, media, industry, the NHS and the public sector.

A significant number of our graduates choose to take a further degree, a Masters or PhD. For many career paths, a further degree is an essential stepping-stone, including (but not limited to) careers in research. While many of our graduates remain in Birmingham and join one of our prestigious research groups, they are also highly sought after by universities around the world.

In order to help you build an attractive CV, bursaries from the University can help fund a summer internship in a research laboratory or in a company. Also, you can apply for one of the highly prestigious (and competitive) Alumni Leadership Mentoring or Global Challenge programmes of the University, which provide unique opportunities to see top notch organisations from an inside perspective. Furthermore, the Personal Skills Award (PSA) scheme gives formal recognition to skills you acquired outside the course, for instance when volunteering for a charity or taking on responsibility within the Guild of Students. We also offer 4-year course options (MSci, Professional Placement, Year Abroad) which are key to giving you a professional edge in a highly competitive job market.

Helping you find the right career

The University and the School of Biosciences provide a range of services to support you in finding a career and to build a CV that stands out from the crowd. Our skills modules and tutorials develop your career skills and are fully integrated with the Careers Network. During term time, professional career advisers hold weekly drop-in sessions, discussing with you how to prepare a CV and cover letters, the graduate application process and how to explore possible career paths. An annual Biosciences Careers Fair brings employers from the life sciences sector to our School for networking and discussions, while in the Biosciences Insight series, professionals highlight the diverse employment opportunities in the life sciences in weekly sessions throughout the term.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you.  Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV?s and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.