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Biological Chemistry (MSc)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

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Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

The chemistry of biological processes is the basis of all life on planet Earth, and an ideal subject for those wanting to make discoveries in the pharmaceutical field.

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Industry connections

Our research partners range from local and national SMEs to some of the world's largest multinationals.

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Research facilities

Following over £20 million investment, our facilities provide a superb environment for excellence.

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Continue towards a PhD

This course provides a strong base for pursuing a research career.

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9th in the UK for research output

In the REF 2014 research assessment.

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Professionally accredited

Accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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Real-world study

Explore real-life biological systems as well as applications of biological processes, for example in catalysis.

Biological Chemistry is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms.

On this course, you will learn to recognise and solve current problems in bio-molecular design, engineering, and analysis. You’ll develop an understanding of biological processes at a molecular level, as well as techniques in the discovery and development of safe and effective drugs. Topics include biosynthesis, retrosynthetic analysis and molecular biology. Our students also have the unique opportunity to apply biological chemistry in catalysts, synthetic methods and spectroscopy. 

Examples of our latest research include the generation of new antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and pest control agents, and innovative molecular tools.

Accreditations

Qianlun He, Biological Chemistry
My undergraduate degree is in medicinal chemistry, but I applied for the MSc in Biological Chemistry at Cardiff University, because I am really interested in drug synthesis for biochemical pathways. It’s a cross-disciplinary field, so I wanted to learn more about biochemistry for my master’s degree.Cardiff University is well-known for its chemical research and the only Welsh member of the Russell Group of leading British research universities. Additionally, the academic links between Cardiff University and Chinese universities are growing. Studying my MSc in such a well-respected department means that I have had excellent professional guidance and systematic training. It was definitely the best option for me.
Qianlun He MSc Biological Chemistry

Where you'll study

School of Chemistry

We are focused on tackling the important scientific challenges of the 21st century though internationally recognised education and research.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 4023
  • MarkerPark Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT

Admissions criteria

We invite applications from graduates in chemistry or a related discipline, such as chemical engineering, physics, pharmacy, pharmacology and biochemistry, with a minimum 2:2 degree or equivalent. Applicants with a degree in a subject other than chemistry will be required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key chemical topics prior to an offer being made.

Please note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

Additional Information

Please include in your personal statement why you are applying for this course, with specific details such as what your future aspirations are, how your educational or professional background makes you a suitable applicant and what interests you about the course. Generic statements will not be accepted.

When you are applying for this course, please include information on why you are interested in biological chemistry in your personal statement. Specific details such as your future aspirations, and how your educational or professional background makes you a suitable applicant are welcomed. We do not accept generic statements.

 

 

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.  

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to lab facilities including chemicals
  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

This course may be taken on a one year full-time or three year part-time basis.

There are two parts to the degree. Part one comprises core and optional taught modules which you will take during the autumn and spring semesters. In these modules we will provide you with an understanding of the biological problems and processes at the interface of chemistry and biology. We will study real life systems and explore aspects such as natural product synthesis, biocatalysis, molecular biology, synthetic biology, enzymology, medicinal chemistry and molecular modelling.

Upon successful completion of part one of the degree you will progress to part two, the summer research project. We will make a range of project options available to you from the field of biological chemistry. For this project you may work with a research group in the School of Chemistry. You may also be able to complete this project with one of our academic partner institutions overseas.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

If you are on the one year full-time degree option, you will undertake all modules and your research project in one year.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

The methods of teaching we employ will vary from module to module, as appropriate depending on the subject matter and the method of assessment. We teach using a mixture of lectures, workshops, computational sessions, laboratory practicals and tutorials.

Your research project will be carried out in one of our laboratories under supervision of an academic member of staff with interests in a similar field, unless you choose to complete your project during a placement with one of our academic partner institutions overseas, depending on availability.

Modules relating to computing frequently take place in our computer rooms, while practical work will be undertaken in our laboratories. We frequently invite external academic speakers and industry experts to the School for seminars, which our postgraduate students are encouraged to attend.

How will I be assessed?

Taught modules are assessed in a variety of ways depending on the module content and learning outcomes (found in the module descriptions). We use course work, assessed workshops, posters and oral presentations or a combination of these to assess your progress on the course.

Your research project at the end of the course will be assessed through a dissertation, a presentation, and an oral exam.

How will I be supported?

All of our students are allocated a personal tutor when they enrol on the course. A personal tutor is there to support you during your studies and can advise you on academic and personal matters that may be affecting you. You should have regular meetings with your personal tutor to ensure that you are fully supported.

You will have access to the Science Library, which holds our collection of chemistry resources, as well as to the other Cardiff University Libraries.

Feedback

We offer written and oral feedback, depending on the coursework or assessment you have undertaken. You will usually receive your feedback from the module leader. If you have questions regarding your feedback, module leaders are usually happy to give advice and guidance on your progress. We aim to provide you with regular feedback on your work after assessments have been submitted.

 

What skills will I practise and develop?

On completing the course you will have developed key skills which can be applied to a variety of industrial and academic working environments. You will have gained learning skills including:

  • Knowledge of the fundamental molecules of living systems, proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates and their importance.
  • Mechanistic aspects of biological catalysis.
  • Methods and techniques involved in the preparation and purification of biological macromolecules.
  • Modern techniques for the assay of biocatalysed reactions and measuring protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interaction.
  • Application of biological catalysts to industrial problems.
  • Molecular biology, synthesis and handling of DNA, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), insertion into vectors and mutation of DNA using site directed mutagenesis, error prone PCR and directed evolution.
  • Practical techniques in various areas of biological chemistry including a wide variety of analytical techniques, e.g. NMR spectroscopy, UV-vis and CD spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, electrophoresis.
  • Computational modelling of biological systems including enzyme active sites.
  • A broad knowledge of medicinal chemistry from the lab to the marketplace.
  • Information handling, report preparation and presentation skills.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Tuition feeDeposit
£9,700None

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

EU students entering in 2020/21 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. The Welsh Government has not yet confirmed fees and funding for EU students starting in 2021/22. We will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Tuition feeDeposit
£21,950£1,000

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

The School covers the cost of everything that is an essential part of the programme, this will be clearly detailed in all programme information and in any verbal instructions given by tutors.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

We will provide all specialised equipment that is essential to the course. However, we recommend that you bring a laptop computer with appropriate software (e.g. word processing), USB or a hard drive, general stationary and some basic drawing equipment.

The chemical drawing software used in our teaching (ChemDraw) is available on university networked computers, and will be made available to you for download free of charge.

During the course, you will have access to the Science Library, and other University libraries, and study spaces across campus. Within the School, you may work in our laboratories and computing suites. We have a University-wide unlimited license for the ACS Scifinder Scholar database as well as other online literature search databases.

Careers and placements

This course will give you research experience and professional skills in contemporary biological chemistry, opening a future career in industry or academic research.

Our students go on to work in a wide range of positions within the chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Typical career paths include product development, production and quality control, intellectual property and patents, consulting and public administration.

This course is also particularly suitable for those wishing to pursue further study at PhD level at Cardiff University and other top universities.

Placements

For the end of course research project we may have some placements available with one of our academic partner institutions overseas. Please enquire early for further details.

Funding

Master's Excellence Scholarship

This award worth £3000 is open to UK and EU students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate Master’s Finance

If you’re starting your master’s degree in September 2020 or later, you may be able to apply for postgraduate student finance to support your study at Cardiff University.

Next steps

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