Introduction

Enhance your undergraduate degree with a year's placement in an industrial, commercial or research environment.

This programme is studied on campus.

Biochemistry lies at the interface between biology and medicine. Whether it be single-celled bacteria or the trillions of cells found in humans, all of the fundamental processes of the cell happen at the biochemical level. Understanding these processes can provide insights into subjects ranging from the evolution of life to developing treatments for common conditions such as diabetes, cancer and obesity.

On any given day people who graduated with an Aberdeen Biochemistry degree will be analysing water samples for pollution, designing new life saving medicines, producing new nanotechnologies, examining nutrient content in food and drink, helping people conceive in IVF clinics or selling scientific equipment to labs around the world.

This degree programme covers many areas of biochemistry at the molecular, cellular and organ system levels. Additionally, you will gain an in depth understanding of selected aspects of biochemistry which will reflect the research expertise and strengths within the University.

In your fourth year you will undertake a year's industrial placement and graduate after five years with an MSci (an undergraduate Masters degree) instead of a BSc. Placements vary considerably but in general terms, you will be placed in an industrial, commercial or research environment where you will obtain a breadth of practical experience to complement your degree programme and enhance your employability.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MSci
Duration
60 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
C701

What You'll Study

A degree in Biochemistry is taught via a selection of compulsory and optional courses to enhance your learning and prepare you for a future career or further study. In each year you will take courses adding up to 120 credits with the exception of year three where you will take an additional 5 credit course in preparation for your placement. Depending on the number of compulsory and optional courses offered by your degree, you can also choose other eligible courses which fit your timetable.

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1 courses include Medical Sciences and Chemistry for Life Sciences plus additional courses selected from science and other areas.

Compulsory Courses

Introduction to Medical Sciences (SM1001) - 15 Credit Points
  • Topics covered in this course span medical science through the ages; from ancient civilizations to the modern day science of genomics and synthetic biology.
  • Alongside lecture material, in depth practical classes will cover biomedical measurement techniques, forensic science and a research-based mini project.
  • Also included in the course is a trip to the Institute of Medical Sciences where you will gain access to cutting-edge laboratories and equipment.
  • Overall, this course is a journey through some of the key milestones that underpin the discipline of medical science we see today.

View detailed information about this course

Chemistry for the Life Sciences 1 (CM1020) - 15 Credit Points

This course covers the foundations of chemistry that underpin the life sciences at a molecular level. The course aims to consolidate a general background in chemistry by putting chemical concepts into a life sciences context. The basic concepts of chemistry will be covered, along with organic molecules, acids and bases, and the basic principles behind the driving forces of reactions.

Laboratory classes introduce important practical techniques, with experiments that reinforce and complement the taught material.

The course will allow students to continue with other chemistry courses as part of their enhanced study by providing discipline breadth.

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The Cell (SM1501) - 15 Credit Points
  • cells are the fundamental unit of life – without them life could not exist, and as such understanding how they function is crucial to our understanding of biology and medical science;
  • this course provides theoretical knowledge in a diverse range of topics covering the fascinating world of cells, from molecules like DNA, to how different cell types function within our bodies;
  • all practical classes are research based and will provide theoretical knowledge and skills training in many areas of molecular and cell biology;
  • employability skills will also be explored through a highly interactive session run by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise

View detailed information about this course

Chemistry for the Life Sciences 2 (CM1512) - 15 Credit Points

Chemistry plays an important role in the life sciences, explaining the shapes and properties of biomolecules, and helping to provide an understanding of how biological processes work at a molecular level.

The shapes and function of important biomolecules will be covered. Organic molecule reaction mechanisms will give insight into how different types of molecules can be synthesised. The energetics and importance of equilibrium in driving reactions will be covered.

Methods of chemical analysis and measurement introduce other important topics linking the chemical and life sciences.

Workshops and labs complement lectures by consolidating learning and developing problem-solving and hands-on practical skills.

View detailed information about this course

Professional Skills Part 1 (PD1001)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year.This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students and above, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

  • Select a further 60 credit points from courses of choice.
Year 2

Year 2

In year 2 you will take a mix of prescribed courses and courses of your choosing to gain a total of 120 credit points.

There are two year 2 Biochemistry courses: Molecular Biology of the Gene and Energy for Life. Year 2 curriculum also includes two courses devoted to development of Foundation and Research Skills in the Life Sciences.

Compulsory Courses

Genes and Evolution (BI2017) - 15 Credit Points
  • look at how instructions in genes are transformed by natural selection to produce the diversity of life on Earth;
  • learn how species evolve, how we determine evolutionary relationships;
  • why populations change, understand why humans (and other organisms) must carry genetic diseases;
  • meet enthusiastic staff; each teach about areas we are expert on;
  • take 3 Genes & Evolution Practicals to gain hands on experience of approaches used by researchers to map genes, estimate rates of evolution, and determine evolutionary relationships;
  • keep up to speed with in-course tests, understand basic statistics, see why mutations are not the only evolutionary currency

View detailed information about this course

Molecular Biology of the Gene (BI20M3) - 15 Credit Points
  • this course will provide a comprehensive understanding of how genetic information is stored, how it is accessed by the cell to form functional proteins and how the release of this information is controlled to produce a healthy human child;
  • understanding this process is essential to understanding the basis of human disease and the course will examine how genetic differences affect disease susceptibility;
  • this popular, comprehensive and cutting edge course will equip students with the essential knowledge, skills and confidence in molecular biology required to progress on all courses undertaken in the School of Medical Sciences

View detailed information about this course

Foundation Skills for Medical Sciences (SM2001) - 15 Credit Points
  • this course is the cornerstone to all the advanced science courses in later years and provides you with key skills for success in science;
  • feedback from employers drove the course design to give specific and focused science skills to enhance your employability;
  • analytical, professional, data interpretation, experimental design and problem solving skills are core elements that are essential for any graduate career portfolio;
  • this course and the additional specifically developed online resources have been commended by employers and students alike.

View detailed information about this course

Energy for Life (BI25M7) - 15 Credit Points
  • understanding the fundamental workings of cells is important to a wide range of scientific disciplines;
  • this course integrates the key metabolic and biochemical processes that underpin human, animal and plant life in relation to health and disease;
  • this core knowledge prepares you for more advanced study in all areas of life sciences and has wide ranging applications;
  • you will also participate in an award winning practical series focussed on drug discovery which will build essential employability skills in experimental design, data analysis and practical laboratory skills

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Microbes, Infection and Immunity (BI25M5) - 15 Credit Points
  • if you were to count the number of bacteria in your gut, you might be surprised to find that you have 10 times more of them than you have cells in your body;
  • from the moment we are born, we become infested with microbial life that has an enormous impact on our lives;
  • in this course we explore the positive and negative aspects of our relationship with microbes, and how our immune system helps to maintain a fragile peace with our closest neighbours

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Research Skills for Medical Sciences (SM2501) - 15 Credit Points
  • this course cultivates literature research skills, building confidence in team-working and communication through scientific writing and seminar presentation;
  • it encourages student-led learning and organisation in researching a topic on human health or disease of your own choice, with tutors providing guidance;
  • you will learn to use online and library resources to search for information from primary research articles and relay that information in the form of a written report and a Powerpoint presentation to peers and academic tutors;
  • these are all fundamental skills for scientific researchers, but are also transferrable talents for many other career pathways

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

  • Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice.
Year 3

Year 3

In year 3 you will take a mix of prescribed courses and courses of your choosing to gain a total of 125 credit points.

Courses include the Molecular Control of Cell Function which explore the mechanisms involved in controlling cell function, such as protein-protein interactions. In addition, you will also take courses in Genetics or Microbiology.

Compulsory Courses

Molecular Biology of the Cell (MB3006) - 30 Credit Points
  • a course detailing for the first time how a cell really works; we reveal and explain how cell biology is governed by a cell's molecular biology and biochemistry;
  • a course placing a high value on its teaching and learning; all lecture material supported by non-assessed workshops – your chance to team-work, ask questions and enjoy the science;
  • contains an extended research practical; you carry out lab research to understand how cells responds to starvation stress, and write up in research paper format;
  • we teach how to access the scientific literature and write successful essays, preparing you for Honours year

View detailed information about this course

Working Out: Placement & Career Skills (BT3006) - 5 Credit Points
  • A pre-requisite for all students intending to apply for a year’s industrial placement.
  • This course covers the skills necessary to complete placement applications by exploring CV preparation, writing covering letters, completing application forms, identification of your skill sets and good interview technique.
  • The course will prepare you for the workplace by making you aware of general employability skills and by helping you identify your own transferable skills.

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The Molecular Control of Cell Function (BC3503) - 30 Credit Points
  • to become knowledgeable about the fundamental roles played by selected proteins or groups of proteins in the working life of cells, tissues and organisms;
  • to experience first-hand some of the laboratory procedures that are used to acquire the information learned about in lectures. This will also serve the general function of increasing students’ level of experience in designing and performing laboratory work and in data interpretation; and
  • to gain experience in preparing and delivering the subject to an interested audience in order to enhance personal communication and presentation skills

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

  • Genetics (GN3502) or Molecular Microbiology (MC3504)
  • Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice.
Genetics (GN3502) - 30 Credit Points
  • this is a comprehensive course, providing an essential foundation for all advanced studies in Genetics and Molecular Biology;
  • the principles of molecular genetics and population genetics will be covered, with an emphasis on their application to the understanding of human biology. The teaching material will integrate information arising from the recent explosion of genome sequence data, equipping students with the necessary skills to engage with this rapidly developing field;
  • a wide range of transferable skills are embedded within the course, including problem-solving, critical analysis of research material, oral and written presentation and subject-specific laboratory and computational skills

View detailed information about this course

Molecular Microbiology (MC3504) - 30 Credit Points
  • this course provides core information to prepare you for advanced studies in the areas of molecular microbiology and infectious diseases;
  • in depth knowledge will be provided for the advanced study of microbes and their impact on all areas of life and society;
  • you will participate in a practical that provides you with an insight into a real-life research project providing skills in experimental design, data analysis, practical laboratory skills and research publication;
  • wider transferrable skills including problem solving and data interpretation are aimed at developing graduate attributes and employability

View detailed information about this course

Year 4

Year 4

You will spend year 4 on placement in an industrial, commercial or research environment.

Compulsory Courses

Industrial Placement (BT5007) - 120 Credit Points
  • an industrial placement allows students to experience workplace culture and makes them more effective employees following graduation;
  • placements vary considerably but in general terms, students are placed in an industrial, commercial or research environment where they obtain a breadth of practical experience to complement their degree programme;
  • students are employed by their host company and can expect to work a normal 40 hour week, possibly on a number of projects, over a full calendar year;
  • tutorial assistance from a member of the University academic staff is available via email and / or telephone throughout the year

View detailed information about this course

Year 5

Year 5

The Honours year aims to explore in depth, specific aspects of Biochemistry. An important feature is the ten-week research project, carried out in research laboratories at the University or in local research institutes.

Compulsory Courses

Honours Biochemistry - Option 1 (BC4014) - 15 Credit Points
  • ability to describe using examples the structure of membrane receptors;
  • understand the various ways in which receptor proteins transmit information from the extra-cellular environment to their intracellular site of action;
  • describe how cross-talk between different signalling pathways can be achieved;
  • understand how signalling pathways are structured and compartmentalised within the cell;
  • understand the scientific methods used to study receptors and signalling pathways;
  • the role of cell signalling in health and disease

View detailed information about this course

Honours Advanced Molecular Biology (MB4050) - 30 Credit Points
  • This course covers four main areas of advanced research-led molecular biology:
    • Genome Organisation and Analysis
    • Evolution of Protein Structure and Function
    • Control of Gene Expression
    • The Dynamic Cell
  • The course also teaches you about the scientific methods and discoveries that lie behind the above topics and covers detailed examples from the current scientific literature

View detailed information about this course

Honours Biochemistry - Option 2 (BC4314) - 15 Credit Points
  • this course module presents an advanced in-depth description of studies on the biochemistry of selected human diseases;
  • the lectures will present fundamental information on human diseases to understand the molecular basis of the disease along with models describing disease progression;
  • based on this biochemical understanding of disease progression practical applications in healthcare will be discussed where appropriate;
  • the course will prepare you with the abilities to understand the biochemical complexities of human disease.

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Biochemistry Honours Research Project (BC4502) - 60 Credit Points
  • development of skills in time-management;
  • development of expertise in experimental design and execution;
  • acquisition of technical skills and the capacity to follow written instructions;
  • acquisition of skills in data analysis and interpretation;
  • maintaining a laboratory notebook;
  • ability to write a concise thesis;
  • ability to present the major findings of the project to a general audience

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Molecular & Cell Biology Honours Exam Data Analysis Paper (MB4901)
  • this is a non-credit bearing course code for the Honours Data Analysis Exam

View detailed information about this course

Molecular & Cell Biology Honours General Essay Exam (MB4902)
  • this is a non-credit bearing course code for the Honours General Essay Exam

View detailed information about this course

Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

You will be taught using a variety of methods and styles and we continually seek to make the teaching engaging, exciting and responsive to the latest research in your subject area. The research we carry out in the School directly informs and guides our teaching, particularly in the final Honours year. Our commitment to teaching is recognised by the range of University of Aberdeen Student-led Teaching Awards given to staff from our School.

As a student, your learning is supported by MyAberdeen, our virtual learning environment from which you can access the lecture PowerPoint slides, online practice tests, links to related reading, and tutorial support material.

We make innovative use of 'educational voting' handsets in class, remote control 'clickers' that allow each and every student to electronically respond in class by anonymous vote to questions posed by the lecturer.

Your academic development is supported from year 1 through to year 5 by an assigned personal tutor, who acts as adviser and mentor throughout your University career.

Learning Methods

  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies learnt on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, year of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Biochemistry?

  • You will spend the fourth year of your degree in paid employment and graduate after five years with an MSci (an undergraduate Masters degree) instead of a BSc.
  • Current innovations in biochemistry run through the entire programme, coupled with flexible teaching, which allow you to follow your specific interests.
  • The programme provides you with a skill set that gives you self-discipline and drive so that you can pursue a lifetime of learning, whether in the sciences or beyond.
  • Excellent teaching; 92% of our students were satisfied with teaching on courses in the School of Medical Sciences, and 91.8% of our students were satisfied that staff made the subject interesting (2014 National Student Survey).
  • Modern teaching facilities and laboratories which will enhance your learning and provide you with an opportunity to experience working in a research focussed laboratory environment.
  • Training provided in both science and employment-related skills.
  • JJR Macleod studied at the University, winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923 for the discovery of insulin. He later joined the Rowett Institute and then became Regius Professor of Physiology. Diabetes remains a subject in which the University excels, from the clinical treatment to the molecular understanding of the disease.
  • Hans Koserlitz began work in Aberdeen as an assistant to JJR Macleod and later won many awards as the discoverer of the enkephalins (opiate-like chemicals found in the brain). His legacy lives on in the Kosterlitz Centre for Therapeutics, which is currently involved in designing the drugs of the future.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

SQA Highers - AAAB*
A Levels - ABB*
IB - 34 points, 6 at HL*
ILC - 5H with 4 at H2 AND 1 at H3, with H2 and H3 from Chemistry and Biology, OR AAABB including AB from Chemistry and Biology. The grading within band B must be at B2 or above. *

*Including good performance in Chemistry and Biology

Advanced Entry - Advanced Highers AAB or A Levels AAB, or IB 36 points (6 at HL), including Biology and Chemistry, one of which must be an A-grade.

Further detailed entry requirements for Sciences degrees.

English Language Requirements

To study for a degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee Waiver

For international students (all non-EU students) entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study; however, most international students will be eligible for a fee waiver in their final year via the International Undergraduate Scholarship.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU £1,820
All Students
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year
International Students £18,400
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Undergraduate Open Day

Our next Open Day will be on

Find out More

Careers

Graduates today will likely be employed in a variety of sectors and careers over their lifetime. A degree in Biochemistry provides you with opportunities to be broadly educated as well as gain specific skills in problem solving and independent thinking – all of which set you up for a future in which science and technology, as well as the career landscape, are undergoing rapid change.

Our degree programmes are built to enhance your employability and three flagship distinguish our degrees from many others. This MSci degree offers you:

  • A 10-week full time research project in the final year which will provide you with valuable experience of working in a medical science research environment
  • An industrial placement year and graduation with an undergraduate MSci
  • Highly relevant and sought after experience in bio-business aimed at giving you an understanding of the commercialisation of scientific ideas and an opportunity to learn about the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries

You will also have opportunities for work experience, summer placements (both scientific and non-scientific) and access to many professional societies and subject-specific seminars and symposia.

Professional Links

Biochemistry in the UK is promoted and advanced through the work of the Biochemical Society (www.biochemistry.org). Undergraduate students can join for a small membership fee, which provides access to various forms of financial support, careers advice and discounts on journals or textbooks related to the discipline.

Our Experts

  • Dr Berndt Muller - Programme Co-ordinator
  • Dr John Barrow - Lecturer (featured expert)

Dr John Barrow is a Senior Teaching Fellow who specialises in biochemistry. As a student studying biochemistry you will see him in classes from day one of your degree through to your final year project. John did his undergraduate degree in Aberdeen so he is ideally placed to offer advice and support on any issues both academic and personal throughout your degree.

Other Experts
Professor Kevin Docherty
Programme Coordinator
Dr Berndt Muller

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

9th Globally for Biomedical and Health Sciences

Ranked 9th in the World for international research collaboration in Biomedical and Health Sciences with a heritage of major innovations including Insulin

Facilities

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Dedicated teaching labs

Dedicated teaching labs

Our commitment to teaching is underscored by our recent rebuild and modernisation of the teaching lab space dedicated to practical teaching at years 1, 2 and 3.

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The Institute of Medical Sciences

The Institute of Medical Sciences

Focused on developing future effective therapies, the Institute of Medical Sciences houses nearly 400 researchers and support staff working on cutting-edge biomedical subjects aimed at understanding the human body's response to infection and disease.

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Library facilities

Library facilities

A dedicated Medical Library on the Foresterhill Health Campus and the fantastic facilities in the Sir Duncan Rice Library at King’s College, are complemented by online access to the key medical and health sciences journals and textbooks.

Key Information Set (KIS)

Unistats draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Key Information Set.

You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX