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Biochemistry BSc(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time C700 2017
4 years full time including sandwich year C701 2017
4 years full time including foundation year C708 2017
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2017

Why choose this course?

Biochemistry is the 'chemistry of life'. It involves the study of living organisms, from the simplest to the most complex, and seeks to explain how they work at molecular level. This course provides a broad understanding of biochemistry, with the opportunity to specialise as your interests develop.

What you will study

Year 1 will provide you with a firm foundation in the biological and chemical principles on which the life sciences are based. You will gain a comprehensive overview of biochemistry from the molecular level to that of the whole body. Subject areas covered include physiology, chemistry for life sciences, cells and tissues, molecular biology and biomolecules. A practical-based module will also introduce you to important basic laboratory techniques.

Year 2 will introduce you to some of the more specialised aspects of biochemistry and related areas. You will gain a detailed knowledge of protein structure and analysis, and of the structure, organisation and physiology of cells. You will study molecular aspects of gene expression and metabolic biochemistry and pharmacology. You will also explore a range of bioanalytical techniques that are employed in the biochemical and pharmaceutical industries. A research skills module will prepare you for the independent research project during Year 3.

In Year 3, you will take specialist modules in Current Concepts in Biomolecular Science and Molecular Genetics and Bioinformatics, with a choice between Advanced Analytical Science and Chemotherapy of Infectious Disease and Neoplastic Disease. Bioinformatics is a rapidly growing field focusing on the information systems used for biological research; for example, to generate and analyse DNA and protein sequences. An independent research project is an important part of the curriculum, and previous projects have involved cancer biology, coronary heart disease and analysis of data from the Human Genome Project.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1

  • This module introduces basic cell biology of prokaryotes and eukaryotes, molecular, organismal and population genetics, germ layers and basic tissue types in the human body, and a variety of microorganisms. The laboratory work incorporates selected current techniques used to study cells, tissues, chromosomes and microbial organisms.  

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate an understanding of the major cell components and discuss their functions in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts in molecular, population and evolutionary genetics.
    • Perform simple calculations relating to inheritance and population genetics.
    • Display a basic knowledge of the early development and structure and functions of major tissue types in the human body.
    • Recognise and discuss the characteristics of a variety of medically important microorganisms.
    • Demonstrate a comprehension of selected current techniques in light microscopy, histology, cytogenetics and microbiology and explain their relevance in employability.
  • This module introduces basic chemistry from first principles with particular emphasis on application to biology and biochemistry. An introduction to the structure and function of the major classes of biological molecules is also covered.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate knowledge of atomic structure and bonding and how molecules interact with one another.
    • Understand basic chemical reactions including making and breaking of bonds.
    • Understand the conformations and stereochemistry of molecules.
    • Describe, recognise and understand the structural properties and functions of the major classes of biologically important molecules.
    • Summarise general aspects of energy metabolism.
    • Demonstrate the key communication skill of report writing and develop laboratory and independent learning skills.
  • This module introduces fundamental physiological concepts which underpin the co-ordinated functioning of the human body, including homeostasis, cellular communication and movement of molecules through body compartments. The module progresses through to the main physiological systems of the body to include the nervous, muscle, endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular, renal and digestive systems.

    On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate an understanding of fundamental physiological concepts.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the functioning of selected human physiological systems, and an appreciation of some of the experimental observations from which this knowledge is derived.
    • Write clear explanations of physiological mechanisms.
    • Understand how to perform simple physiological experiments and clearly and accurately record, analyse and interpret experimental data.
    • Demonstrate skills that will enhance employability.
  • This module provides a foundation in general scientific and laboratory skills. In addition, the module includes basic research skills such as practical skills in the laboratory, the principles of experimental design and the statistical analysis of data.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Manage their time to become effective independent learners.
    • Exhibit competence in basic numeracy and scientific calculations, and to statistically analyse and interpret data.
    • Use word processing and spreadsheet packages to present text, graphics and data competently.
    • Write succinct scientific reports with appropriate referencing.
    • Locate contemporary research publications both in text and electronic format.
    • Explain the theory behind biological experimental design, carry out basic laboratory procedures safely and accurately, and demonstrate the application of good laboratory practice.

Year 2

  • This module provides the knowledge of the structure and methods of analysis of proteins, with particular emphasis on enzymes. The module includes the study of the major catabolic and anabolic pathways and investigates how organisms obtain and use energy. These processes and their regulation in health and disease are considered at the molecular level which involves many proteins including enzymes.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the structure of proteins, including enzymes, and have a comprehensive knowledge of practical and graphical methods involved the investigation of enzyme activity.
    • Understand the principles of methods involved in the analysis of proteins.
    • Define free energy and describe the relationship of the chemiosmotic theory to mitochondrial electron transport.
    • Identify and describe the major pathways of carbohydrate, amino acid and lipid metabolism and comprehend the role of compartmentation, allosterism and covalent modification in metabolic regulation.
    • Develop practical skills involved in protein biochemistry and metabolism.
    • Manipulate and critically interpret data related to methods covered in this module.
  • This module further develops the knowledge of genes, cells and tissues and explores more advanced concepts in cell and molecular biology. The module provides an insight into the structure and function of cells, and takes an integrated approach to looking at how cells respond to changes in their environment - from receptor interactions and intracellular signalling pathways through to the regulation of gene expression and changes in cellular processes.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Explain cell structure and function and the techniques that have allowed them to be determined.
    • Describe in molecular detail cell cycle processes and cell death.
    • Discuss the structure and function of receptor proteins and mechanisms of intracellular signal transduction.
    • Evaluate the role of DNA packaging, chromatin modification and epigenetic mechanisms in the regulation of gene expression.
    • Discuss processes involved in DNA replication, transcription, translation and the regulation of gene expression.
    • Interpret data related to practical and theoretical aspects of the module.
  • This module further develops the scientific and research skills to enable the study of research methods deployed in pharmacology and associated industries. The module introduces basic concepts of pharmacodynamics (how drugs take their effect at given targets) and drug disposition/pharmacokinetics (the effect the body has on administered drugs) whilst considering outcomes that lead to individual variability in drug response. The principles of toxicology, how drugs are discovered and developed; the role of the pharmaceutical sector/regulatory bodies in this process are also covered.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Appreciate the importance of experimental design in pharmacological research, and select, apply and interpret appropriate statistical tests for data analysis.
    • Locate, analyse and critically evaluate research papers, and demonstrate an awareness of ethical issues relating to biological and pharmacological research.
    • Present concise, analytical and objective scientific information relating to pharmacology in the form of essays, reports, scientific literature reviews, posters and/or oral presentations.
    • Reflect on your personal and academic skills, and to research potential employment opportunities in the pharmacological and related industries, demonstrating an awareness of the attributes and skills needed to achieve your aspirations.
    • Describe the general principles of pharmacology and toxicology, indicating the targets for drug and toxicant action, and the processes by which the body can affect the fate of such agents.
    • Discuss the factors leading to individual variability in drug / toxicant response altering therapy outcomes and adverse drug events.
    • Describe how pre-clinical and clinical evaluation of new drugs is conducted, including ethical considerations, and to be able to critically evaluate data from such studies.
  • This module introduces the applications of analytical science within analytical biochemistry and builds upon the knowledge, practical skills and interpretation of skills whilst implementing the analytical process with scenario-based learning. The module deals with understanding sampling methods, sample preparation, errors and statistics and data recording as well as providing a theoretical understanding  and practical experience of the underlining principles of a range of analytical techniques instrumentation.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Use the application of the analytical process model, including method development to solve analytical problems.
    • Describe and explain the various chromatographic separation techniques (GC, LC, TLC and electrophoresis), as applied to pharmaceutical, life sciences and forensic applications.
    • Describe and explain the various spectroscopic and spectrometric techniques (IR, UV-VIS, and NMR).
    • Understand the principle of absorption and emission of light as applied to AES and AAS to carry out elemental analysis of samples.
    • Understand the importance of hybrid techniques within analytical science.
    • Produce clear and comprehensive (unambiguous) raw data by working safely in a laboratory, carry out calculations from those results and draw valid conclusions to present a report carrying out the necessary statistical analysis.

Optional sandwich year

Year 3/4

  • This module considers the scientific basis of recent technological advances in biomolecular science through selected example of contemporary scientific research and its impact on society. The module consolidates previous knowledge in order to demonstrate the application of theory to current research, developments in the bioindustry and the effect of advancements on society. In addition, the module looks at the interaction of science and the media, public engagement and how this can guide scientific policy and the challenges facing the bioindustry, including intellectual property rights, bioethics and enterprise.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the scientific basis underlying selected recent advances in biomolecular science.
    • Identify and critically evaluate the impact of selected recent advances in biomolecular science on society and the challenges facing the bioindustries.
    • Interpret and critically assess the role of intellectual property rights, bioethics and enterprise in translational research.
    • Recognise the role of communicating scientific information to the public and its effect on public engagement and scientific policy.
    • Develop and apply scientific and professional skills to enhance employment opportunities along with a demonstrated knowledge of the diverse employment opportunities within the biomolecular sciences.
  • This module introduces the processes involved in maintaining genome stability, causing genome variability and controlling the coding potential of the genome. Mutation, recombination and transposition, and the interplay between them, are examined as causes of genome instability. The two main themes of the module are the impact of genome instability/change upon gene expression, and its control. An introduction to bioinformatics and sequence analysis with the use of sequence databases and analysis tools permits the analysis of gene/genome variability with an introduction to the importance of bioscience research, including molecular diagnostics and drug development.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Describe the processes by which genetic information may be altered, including by mutation, recombination and transposition.
    • Discuss and explain the regulation of gene expression.
    • Demonstrate practical skills involved in the investigation of the genome and analysis of the regulation of gene expression.
    • Identify and discuss basic bioinformatics databases, including their structures, properties and relationships.
    • Critically evaluate the key techniques used to search databases, to carry out pairwise and multiple sequence alignment and to predict protein or gene structure.
    • Demonstrate appropriate IT skills to enable students to research the theoretical aspects of the module.
    • Produce detailed, coherent, scientific reports.
  • This module forms a major part of the degree; involving several types of projects that may be offered; a laboratory project, a library-based dissertation, or the production of a multimedia resource from blended learning or a website contributing to public engagement with science or public health awareness, with accompanying documentation. The project will require a review and critical evaluation of data generated from the determined research sources and culminating in a written report.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Devise, develop and implement a plan of research.
    • Undertake a critical and analytical evaluation of research literature; acquire primary and/or secondary sources of information and data; analyse and evaluate data and other sources of information.
    • Prepare a structured, critical evaluation of a research topic in the form of a written report.
    • Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of a selected research topic both orally and in writing.
    • Demonstrate key communication skills (written and oral) and appropriate ICT skills. Present scientific information in a variety of contexts and to different audiences. You will be expected to demonstrate independent learning skills throughout the course of the module.  Numeracy skills will also be required to successfully acquire, analyse and/or evaluate data.
  • Advanced Analytical Science
    This module deals with the themes of spectroscopy in the development of a more rigorous theoretical footing and advanced applications. In parallel to this, there is an introduction to  analytical themes covering radiochemical analysis, electroanalysis and thermal analysis.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of quality management systems relating to the analytical laboratory.
    • Apply the techniques and methods studied to routine and non-routine chemical problems, in various situations.
    • Critically compare and assess a variety of analytical techniques with regard to performance and applicability.
    • Design and carry out experiments to measure and subsequently interpret data, using techniques and concepts directly or indirectly related to those developed elsewhere in the module.

    Chemotherapy of Infectious Disease and Neoplastic Disease
    This module provides an opportunity  to learn about the various chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of both infections and neoplastic disease. Treatments for infectious diseases will cover drugs that have actions on bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, while neoplastic disease therapy will include a range of different cancers, including both solid and blood cancers.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Critically analyse the rationale for the choice of chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of specific infectious/neoplastic diseases.
    • Describe the side effects associated with the use of chemotherapeutic agents.
    • Discuss the theoretical and practical considerations relating to the use and testing of chemotherapeutic agents.
    • Discuss the mechanisms thought to be responsible for resistance to chemotherapeutic agents in micro-organisms and cancers.
    • Demonstrate the ability to acquire, evaluate and communicate information from a variety of sources.
    • Perform and evaluate appropriate practical microbiological skills.

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Study abroad as part if your degreeMost of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

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Key information set

The scrolling banner(s) below display some key factual data about this course (including different course combinations or delivery modes of this course where relevant).

We aim to ensure that all courses and modules advertised are delivered. However in some cases courses and modules may not be offered. For more information about why, and when you can expect to be notified, read our Changes to Academic Provision.

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