Biochemistry: University of Birmingham

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Biochemistry: University of Birmingham, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, Birmingham, United Kingdom
C700, C720, C7C7, C7J7: 3 years; C701, C702, C703: 4 years
+44(0) 121 414 3344
+44(0)121 414 3971

Courses available

  • Biochemistry BSc
    UCAS code: C700
  • Medical Biochemistry BSc
    UCAS code: C720
  • Biochemistry with Molecular Cell Biology BSc
    UCAS code: C7C7
  • Biochemistry with Biotechnology BSc
    UCAS code: C7J7
  • Biochemistry (Genetics) BSc
    UCAS code: CC74
  • Biochemistry MSci
    UCAS code: C703
  • Biochemistry with Study in Continental Europe BSc
    UCAS code: C701
  • Biochemistry with Professional Placement BSc
    UCAS code: C702

‘Biology in the test tube’: allied with chemistry, biology, medicine and computer sciences, biochemistry makes an impact on many fronts and offers graduates exciting and varied careers.

Our flexible degree programmes offer you the opportunity to specialise in areas such as medical biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology and molecular cell biology, allowing you to tailor your programme of study to your individual interests and goals. The course combines practical work and theory allowing you to develop a wide range of skills and knowledge.

  • About the School of Biosciences
  • Course structure
  • Which courses should You apply for?

About the School of Biosciences

When you join one of our Biochemistry programmes you will become an integral part of the School of Biosciences. We are a large and friendly department made up of research, teaching and technical staff, as well as undergraduate students. Our internationally recognised research groups work on a broad range of topics in the life sciences – from protein structure determination to understanding how cells communicate, and exploiting genome sequences.

Our excellence in both teaching and research is recognised by the Quality Assurance Agency and the Research Assessment Exercise. This ensures that we can offer you a sound training in biochemistry, help you to develop important transferable skills and allow you to gain first-hand experience of research.

First year

You will take core modules including: Cell Biology, Genetics, Chemistry, Enzymes and Metabolism, Physiology, and Experimental Biochemistry. Up to a third of your time will be spent doing practical work; we feel that this hands-on experience of working with living organisms enhances your understanding of important concepts in biochemistry.

Second year

You complete the core of essential training in biochemistry and chemistry, and choose options which allow you to follow your own particular interests. You can choose from: Genes and Genomes, Medical Biosciences, Molecular Cell Biology, and Microbes and Man.

Third year

You choose from a selection of some 20 specialist modules, the topics of which spring from research areas within the department and reflect exciting developments in the field of biochemistry. Choices include: Current Issues in Biomedical Sciences; Mechanisms of Disease Processes; Practical Molecular Microbiology and Fermentation; Structures of Destruction; Gene Expression; and Omics – Exploiting Genomic Data.

Central to your final-year studies is your research project, which makes up one-sixth of your final year. We offer you the chance to join one of our 60 research groups, providing the fascinating opportunity to experience research at first hand and to contribute to the current research projects in the department.

Masters year

The Undergraduate Masters programme is a natural progression from the research-led teaching you will experience in your first three years. If you join our MSci course, you will follow much the same programme as the students on the BSc for your first three years. Half of your Masters year will be devoted to a research project; this is a fantastic opportunity to join one of the research labs in the School of Biosciences and make a contribution to the ongoing research. The rest of your time will be devoted to honing your research skills with modules which will expose you to the latest developments in biochemistry, as well as learning more about how to plan and carry out research and present your findings effectively.

Year abroad

You spend a year studying at one of our partner universities in France, Spain or Germany, and experience European life and culture while acquiring a firm command of the local language. The Erasmus tutor at the partner university will assist you in choosing a suitable set of modules or classes, and in many of the universities you also have the opportunity to carry out a project in a research laboratory if you prefer. You may find that studying biochemistry in France, Germany or Spain is quite different from in the UK. This experience, together with well-developed language skills, greatly enhances your employability and your perspective on your professional and personal life.

Professional placement

The Biochemistry with Professional Placement four-year degree programme offers you a valuable opportunity to apply your knowledge in the workplace and to jump-start your professional career. Your one-year placement will typically be in industry or medical research, working for one of a wide range of companies and governmental and non-profit organisations.

Although you cannot combine the 'with Professional Placement' description with other detailed titles such as Biochemistry (Genetics), or Medical Biochemistry, you can take the same optional courses as students with these degree titles. This will be reflected in the transcript of your degree, which can be presented to potential employers to show which areas you have specialised in.

Teaching and assessment

The opportunity to interact with staff and fellow students, and to question, discuss and explore your subject, is an important part of the course. You will be able to accomplish this in individual and small group tutorials, discussion groups, and problem solving classes. In lectures, staff with specialist knowledge will be teaching you key concepts, which you will follow up with your own reading.

Laboratory-based practical work is an integral part of our degree programme; in the first year you will learn many basic practical skills and have the chance to apply them in a range of investigations. Later, you will gain experience of important research skills.

As well as formal examinations each summer you will do a wide range of assessments including essays or reports, data handling or interpretation exercises, poster presentations, seminar presentations, group work and lab reports.

Career opportunities

Biochemistry is the key player in modern biomedical research and in the innovations of the biotechnology industry. When you graduate you will have the necessary knowledge and skills for a challenging and fulfilling career in a wide range of professions, including working in the pharmaceutical or food industries, medical research, forensic science, toxicology, teaching, business and IT. A growing number of our graduates proceed to graduate-entry programmes in medical schools across the country. (See Birmingham’s Graduate Entry Course in Medicine.)

Which courses should You apply for?

It is not necessary to apply separately for specialisations within the three-year degree programme ( ie, Medical Biochemistry, Biochemistry (Genetics), Biochemistry with Molecular Cell Biology and Biochemistry with Biotechnology) because selection criteria are identical to those for the main degree programme – C700. The design of our courses allows you to delay your choice of specialisation until the second year and to transfer between Biochemistry courses as your interests develop or change.

Their four-year Biochemistry degree programmes offer the opportunity to gain different types of experience while studying your chosen academic specialisation. These include study in continental Europe, a professional placement and our undergraduate Masters programme. If you are considering any of our four-year options 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 degree courses during the second year. For reasons of funding, however, applicants to three-year courses may not be allowed to switch to a longer (four-year) option once accepted on to a three-year course.

The Masters and Professional Placement courses have a higher offer than our three-year degree programmes. However, they have a built-in insurance offer: candidates firmly accepting, as their first choice, an offer for one of these courses are guaranteed a place on the corresponding BSc course if they meet the standard offer for the course.

The Biochemistry with Study in Continental Europe course is not suitable for native or bilingual speakers, as one of the main learning outcomes for the year in Europe is that your language improves. We suggest that students from overseas who would like to spend part of their education in their native country consider the Professional Placement programme. This programme would allow you to apply for work experience in your chosen country.

Entry requirements

  • Number of A levels required: 3
  • Typical offer: AAB–BBB
  • Required subjects and grades: Chemistry A level and one other from Biology/Human Biology, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, Geography, Geology and Sports Science. GCSE Grade C (minimum) in Biology or Double Integrated Science, and Mathematics if not offered at A or AS level
  • General Studies: not accepted, but a good performance may be taken into account if you fail to meet the conditions of the offer
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma: 32–34 points including Chemistry and one other science at HL

Other qualifications are considered – see the entry requirements section for full details

Contact details

For general information about open days

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  • Tel: +44 (0)121 414 3344


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