Join us at our October Virtual Open Days

Book now

MSci Biochemistry

Start date
September
Duration
4 years
UCAS code
C703
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours
Fees
£9,250 (Home - 2020-21)
£22,260 Fee Band 3a (International Students - 2020-21)
More detail

Our flexible undergraduate Biochemistry MSci masters degree offers you the opportunity to tailor a bespoke programme of study matching individual interests and goals.

At the interface between chemistry, biology and medicine, biochemists seek to explore and understand the molecular underpinnings of living organisms and of disease. Biochemistry makes an impact on many fronts, offering graduates exciting and varied careers.  

This 4-year MSci-level course builds on the framework of the 3-year BSc Biochemistry course. It offers the same flexibility and allows you to tailor a programme of study that matches individual interests and goals. This course particularly emphasises practical training and research skills, as well as the development of transferable skills that can be deployed in a wide range of professional settings. The Masters year, which extends the three-year BSc programme, is devoted to developing research competence through a multi-faceted teaching and research programme.

While the MSci degree cannot be combined with the specialist degree titles in Genetics or Medical Biochemistry, you can attend any of the modules required for the specialist degree titles, and so achieve the same level of competence in any given area of specialisation. We also note that candidates who fail to meet the higher offer for this course, but meet the standard offer of the three year BSc course will automatically be offered a place on the three year course. This includes the opportunity to upgrade to the MSci degree, provided there is capacity† and that you meet the required performance indicators.

†If there is insufficient capacity to accommodate students on this option, preference is given to students who entered the course on the MSci offer grades

 

Royal Society of Biology - Advanced Accredited Degree This programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology following an independent and rigorous assessment. Advanced Degree accreditation highlights the degrees that have the potential to educate the life science leaders and innovators of the future.

COVID-19

Please rest assured that we will make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to COVID-19.

Information for future students and applicants

My four-year course allows for further development of lab, communication, presentation and other key skills, which are important for a variety of working environments. I get to conduct my own research in an area that inspires me, and acquire skills that couldn’t be developed on a three-year course.

Katherine Wood, MSci Biochemistry

Why Study this Course?

  • Tailored options: The Biochemistry MSci degree course offers a fantastic opportunity to explore living organisms from a molecular and cellular perspective.  Our modular course programme gives increasing flexibility in choosing modules that resonate with your interests.
  • Practical skills development: 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.
  • Research excellence:  Our experts are responding to key challenges of global importance. Find out more about research in the School of Biosciences.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest updates and FAQs for future students and offer-holders

Visit our FAQs

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 core and optional modules in the second year, while the final year includes only one core module and a broad choice of optional 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.

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2020. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

First Year

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. You will also have the opportunity to explore the content of other courses offered by this University as part of the Modules Outside the Main Discipline (MOMD) programme.

First year modules

Fundamentals of 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.

Genetics I -  Storage of genetic information, gene expression and regulation, mitosis and meiosis, gene linkage and chromosome mapping.

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.

Personal and Academic Skills: Communication and Data Analysis

Personal and Academic Development

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

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 videography, writing and speaking, ethics in science, analysis of the scientific literature.

Choose two optional modules
Example optional modules may include:

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

Biochemistry samplingA core component of your 3rd year is the library project, which comprises two parts, each accounting for 20 credits. In dialogue with a lecturer or professor you will explore a topic of your choice in depth, working with the recent research literature. You will learn how to analyse and critique scientific papers and you will even write a research proposal of your own.

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.

Third year modules

Core content

Experimental Design, Analysis and Interpretation of Biochemical Data – Lectures and practicals focussing on analysing data from biochemical experiments, from considering experimental design, to preparing reagents to composing an experimental report.

Choose two project modules
Example project modules may include:

Evidence-Based Literature Review

Critical analysis: Developing a research proposal

Laboratory Project

Introduction to Teaching Biosciences in Schools

Choose 3 optional modules
Example optional modules may include:

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.

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.

Omics for Biomedical Research

Current developments and advances in Eukaryotic Genetics

Research Methods in Microbiology

* 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.

Masters Year

The masters year is devoted to developing and honing your research skills. The central element to help you to achieve competence in research is the research project, which extends over both semesters of the year and which takes up about two thirds of the work effort. MSci students negotiate their own project in discussion with staff in the areas that interest them. You will join one of our many research groups, providing the fascinating opportunity to experience research first hand and to contribute to current research projects.

Project work is not limited to the laboratory; some students will do more ecology- based projects involving field work. In addition, MSci students take a bespoke module: Research Developments and Funding as well as a module drawn from the elective modules of the third year.

Fees

Standard Home student fees 2020-21

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2020, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Standard international student fees 2020-21

International fee
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 3a (Laboratory) £22,260

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

 


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

EU Referendum

Answering your questions and concerns about the outcome of the EU referendum.

How To Apply

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

NB. You should apply through UCAS for your preferred four-year option at the outset. You will still retain the flexibility of switching your registration to one of our three-year BSc degree courses during the second year. 

Standard offer

International Requirements



Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
AAA
Required subjects and grades:
A level Chemistry and a second science°. Minimum of five GCSEs to include Mathematics, English and double award science at grade 4/C

°Subjects accepted as 'second science': Biology, Human Biology, Mathematics (or Further Mathematics, or Statistics), Physics.

Specified subjects excluded for entry: 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 Extended Diploma in Applied Science with sufficient Biology and Chemistry content is only accepted when combined with an A level in a required subject. Grades D*D*D* required in addition to grade A in a required subject A level

BTEC Diploma accepted when combined with two acceptable A levels (Chemistry plus a second science°)

BTEC Subsidiary Diploma is not accepted

Access to HE (Science) with sufficient Biology and Chemistry content is considered. Contact Admissions Team for details.

Applicants who take the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and meet our offer criteria will be made the typical offer for the programme, plus an alternative offer, which will be one grade lower plus a grade A in the EPQ.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

 

International Students

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6, 6, 6 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall. Higher level subjects need to include the required subjects as defined for the A-level qualification.

Standard English language requirements apply
Learn more about international entry requirements

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

The Collaborative Teaching Laboratory is a brand new state-of-the-art facility designed to support the latest methods in laboratory teaching for STEM subjects.

Collaborative Teaching Laboratory

You’ll be taught using a combination of lectures, practical sessions and tutorials with lecturers using innovative teaching techniques where possible.

At Birmingham, research and teaching go hand-in-hand. Lecturers and professors contribute to scholarship in their fields and, as academic teachers, are keen to introduce you to what intrigues them.

From discovering the mechanisms underlying metabolism in healthy ageing to aiding the future of drug design, our research has the potential to both enhance and save lives. Antimicrobial resistance, brain development, and finding new ways to cure blood cancers are just some of our major research topics.

Our research informs and inspires our teaching, so you will benefit from the cutting-edge work of some of the world’s leading biochemists. In fact, sometimes our past experiments form the basis of our practical teaching sessions. You will also have the exciting opportunity to join one of our research groups, working on live research projects during your final year.

Find out more about research in the School of Biosciences.

Our spacious state-of-the-art teaching laboratories are the training ground for your skills development, and you will have access to high-technology facilities during your final-year project.

  • Lectures - At Birmingham, we support lectures through recordings of the session, so you can revisit and review parts of the session as needed. Lectures frequently include interactive elements, for instance by using instant polling. Occasionally, we use 'flipped' lectures, asking you to study a particular topic prior to a session, and using the contact time to explore the topic in more depth through problem solving exercises, question-and-answer sessions or lecturer-led group discussions. Student interaction using discussion boards, social media is expressively encouraged.
  • 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.

Support

You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Wellbeing officers - We have dedicated wellbeing officers who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
  • Academic Skills Centre - The centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - Our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

Contact Hours

Throughout your Biochemistry degree you can expect an average of about 15 hours of contact time per week over the two teaching terms (autumn and spring). This will be made up of lectures, practical laboratory workshops and seminars. The proportion of time spent in each will vary depending on which year you are in and the optional modules you choose.

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 ultimate 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 one quarter to one third of the mark for a given module, while the remainder is 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 three 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.

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. Our graduates have done consistently well over the last several years, ranking 5th in the Russell Group in terms of Graduate Prospects. 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, known as Careers Network, can help you achieve your goal.

Typical Careers

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 postgraduate 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.

Developing your career

Careers Network, 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 mentoringglobal internships and placements available to you.  Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs 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.

Professional Accreditation

Royal Society of Biology - Advanced Accredited Degree This programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology following an independent and rigorous assessment. Advanced Degree accreditation highlights the degrees that have the potential to educate the life science leaders and innovators of the future.

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities