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Biochemistry with Professional Training Year (BSc)

Entry year


Our Biochemistry degree offers extensive hands-on training and embraces contemporary research in important new areas such as genomics, synthetic biology and protein engineering.

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Course overview

Biochemistry is the study of the molecular basis of life. It is a subject that has a rich history of scientific discoveries, from enzymology and metabolic pathways to the discovery of genes and the structure of DNA. Today the subject embraces important new areas, such as genomics and genome editing, synthetic biology and protein engineering. 

Through this course, you will learn how biochemistry and biomolecular sciences contribute to advances in all biological disciplines, including medicine and biotechnology. You will receive extensive hands-on training in laboratory techniques, and gain practical experience of widely transferable skills in computing, statistics, data analysis and presentation. 

As part of this course you will spend your third year on placement at an academic, clinical or industrial research laboratory, or other approved establishment. This offers a great opportunity to gain first-hand professional research experience, and it has been shown to greatly enhance your subsequent employment prospects. 

Many placements are in the UK, but in recent years we have had an increasing number of students taking up placements in international locations, including Southeast Asia, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Australia, Madagascar, and the USA. 

Your degree title remains flexible up until your final year, allowing you to either continue with BSc Biochemistry or switch to another of our bioscience courses. Your final degree title will depend on module selection, and your Personal Tutor will guide you through the options available to you. You may also have the option of switching to our MBiochem integrated master’s degree, which forms an excellent basis for a future career in scientific research. 

Our Biochemistry degree provides an excellent foundation for careers within all areas of biological and molecular sciences, and offers strong training for research scientists. Our graduates have gone on to a range of exciting and fulfilling careers in both scientific and non-scientific related fields, including biotechnology research and development, scientific publishing, pharmaceutical industries, molecular biology, journalism, teaching and veterinary science. Many also choose to further their studies by pursuing a master’s degree or PhD.

Distinctive features

  • Enjoy a flexible course structure that enables you to tailor your degree to match your interests and aspirations.
  • Enhance your career prospects and gain professional research experience with a sandwich year placement.
  • Experience the excitement of learning in active research environment, with teaching staff who are leading researchers in their field.
  • Make use of the latest equipment, techniques and facilities in your project work.
  • Develop your field research skills with one of our popular project-based field courses. Opt for one of our UK-based courses or choose to travel further afield to locations such as Tobago or Borneo.
  • The School of Biosciences offers access to a wide range of exciting training opportunities with a field centre in Borneo, and strong involvement in Cardiff University research institutes, including the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute and the Medicines Discovery Institute.

You may also be interested in the following degree programmes:

  • MBiochem Biochemistry (integrated masters degree) with Professional Training Year

  • BSc Biomedical Sciences with Professional Training Year

  • Bsc Biological Sciences with Professional Training Year (including option for Genetics)

  • BSc Biochemistry

UCAS codeC701
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration4 years
ModeFull time with sandwich year
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 415 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 2500 applications.

Our research-led teaching means that you will be learning cutting-edge science and studying under world-renowned researchers, nurturing your talents to become part of the next generation of biochemists.

Entry requirements

AAB-ABB to include Biology or Chemistry. A pass in the practical element of the Science A level is normally required. Please note Critical thinking and General Studies are not accepted

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

DDD in Applied Science, Forensic Science or Animal Management with Distinction in all the Core/Mandatory Units.

IB Diploma with an overall score of 34-32 including grade 6 in Higher Level Biology or Chemistry OR IB Diploma with 655 at Higher Level including 6 in Biology or Chemistry. 

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Biosciences admissions criteria pages.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-score.

TOEFL iBT

At least 90 with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

62 with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

GCSE English and Maths at grade C/4.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Costs for sandwich years

During a sandwich year (e.g. year in industry, placement year or year abroad) a lower fee will apply. Full details can be found on our fees pages.

Additional costs

Field courses which take place abroad will incur an additional cost – primarily to cover student travel and accommodation. We strive to keep these to a minimum, for example we maintain our own Field Station and staff in Borneo, whose costs are not recovered from charges to students. We also offer some excellent Wales-based field courses which do not incur additional costs.

No additional charges are made for other aspects of tuition, although some services (such as student printing on demand) may incur a charge.

Course specific equipment

No specific equipment is required. The University will provide IT facilities (in a communal space), laboratories equipped with specialist equipment, and all specialist software required for the course.

Students are advised to have a personal laptop computer or equivalent.

Accommodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This BSc course is full-time over four academic years. Year one is made up of six 20-credit modules, with three 40-credit modules taught in year two. Year three is spent on a professional placement and, in the final year, the research project carries 30 credits and is accompanied by three 30-credit modules.

Year one modules involve lectures and supporting tutorials providing background theoretical knowledge as well as practical classes. Our various degree schemes share a common year one, which covers all aspects of the biosciences and has the big advantage of giving you flexibility of degree choice. Classes provide students with IT skills for biologists and an understanding of statistical analysis of data, and coursework is used to develop written and oral communication skills.

In year two, modules across a wide range of subjects are offered. In all cases, extensive laboratory practicals help to develop practical skills and the ability to critically evaluate experimental data. Set assignments and reading are used to promote self-directed learning and the analysis of primary research literature.

The third year is spent on a work placement related to your degree. During this placement you will undertake all aspects of research, including experimental design, data acquisition and analysis and, data presentation.

The final year requires much more independent study, and all students must produce a substantial research-based (laboratory, literature, pedagogic or scientific engagement) report. We strive to offer as wide a choice as possible to allow you to tailor the degree to your study goals.

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.

Year one

The first year is a common year, covering all aspects of the biosciences. This reflects the increasingly multi-disciplinary nature of bioscience research, and has the added advantage of offering you flexibility of degree choice.

The first year syllabus provides a grounding in essential subjects, including a Biological Chemistry module that present topics at the chemistry/biology interface and explores modern analytical techniques. The Biochemical components of the first year course include topics such as the structure and function of proteins (including enzymes), DNA structure and replication, gene organisation and expression, genetic manipulation techniques, lipid and carbohydrate biochemistry, and key aspects of metabolism.

The modern, modular syllabus is delivered through lectures, tutorials, presentations, and practical classes carried out in spacious, well-equipped laboratories. It provides a firm foundation in all the biological disciplines, including biological chemistry, cell biology, microbiology, genetics, evolution, anatomy and physiology, animal and plant biology, and ecology, as well as focusing on developing practical and academic scientific skills. Modules may begin by overlapping with A-level studies, but will soon progress to greater depth and scope.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Skills for ScienceBI100120 credits
Structure and Function of Living OrganismsBI100220 credits
Organisms and EnvironmentBI100320 credits
The Dynamic CellBI100420 credits
Biological ChemistryBI101420 credits
Genetics and EvolutionBI105120 credits

Year two

Your second year will put greater emphasis on the experimental basis of biochemistry and related areas of the biomolecular sciences such as molecular, cell and developmental biology. You will undertake practicals that cover modern research techniques such as recombinant DNA manipulation and analysis, protein and lipid biochemistry and microbiology, with a strong focus on data analysis and interpretation.

You will also build on your year one knowledge to develop a sound grounding in more advanced areas of gene function, molecular genetics, protein biochemistry, metabolism, cell biology, development, evolution and cell signalling.

This will ensure that you have the necessary skills and awareness of key techniques in preparation for whatever aspect of biochemistry becomes your chosen area of specialisation, both in the final year of the course and in your subsequent career.

In year two, you have a choice of three from up to 12 available modules, giving a total of 120 Credits.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Animal Diversity and AdaptationBI213140 credits
Genetics and its ApplicationsBI213240 credits
Ecology and Conservation - Part ABI213330 credits
Ecology and Conservation - Part BBI213410 credits
Cell BiologyBI223140 credits
BiochemistryBI223240 credits
Developmental and Stem Cell BiologyBI223340 credits
Molecular Biology of the GeneBI223440 credits
PhysiologyBI233140 credits
Concepts of DiseaseBI233240 credits
Practical AnatomyBI233340 credits
Brain and BehaviourBI243140 credits
Fundamental NeuroscienceBI243240 credits

Year three: Sandwich year

The Professional Training Year (PTY) provides you with an opportunity to spend 9-12 months in an academic, clinical or industrial/commercial research laboratory, or other approved establishment, in order to gain first-hand research experience.

You will undertake different aspects of research, including experimental design, data acquisition and analysis and, finally, data presentation with the production of a project report and presentation.

Our Professional Training Year Coordinators will support you in finding a suitable position that is relevant to your career aspirations, and a tutor will keep in touch and visit you during your placement.

Many placements are in the UK, but we have also had several placements in other locations, particularly in Europe through the EU ‘ERASMUS’ scheme in which Cardiff is a partner, but also including Southeast Asia, South Africa, Germany, Italy and the USA.

Finding a placement is a competitive process and success cannot be guaranteed. However, we have always been successful in placing the vast majority of our Professional Training Year students.

A placement report, written by you, will count towards your final degree assessment.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Sandwich YearBI9999120 credits

Year four

In your final year, there is a strong emphasis on independent learning, and you can investigate areas of current importance in biochemistry, such as synthetic biology and protein structure, genetic engineering, stem cell biology and tissue engineering. Your research skills will be developed further during your final year project which allows you to investigate a topic in much greater depth.

Tutorials and research seminars on wider aspects of the subject, including medical and industrial applications, will extend the scope of your learning.

As well as a 30-credit research project, you will complete three 30-credit modules (from a choice of 18). Modules cover a range of topics including synthetic biology and protein engineering, advanced cell biology, bioinformatics and functional genomics, and genes and genomes.

At the start of the final year, you will also have the option of applying to transfer to the MBiochem course with integrated Master’s, depending on satisfactory academic progress and space availability.

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?

We provide a student-centred educational experience based on academic excellence, and led by world-leading research.  We seek to support every learner in an inclusive learning culture.

Core knowledge and understanding is acquired via lectures, practical classes or field work, research seminars, workshops and tutorials, while independent study, group work and project work help to promte advanced knowledge and understanding.

You will be expected to undertake independent study, and increasing independence of learning is expected as the course progresses.

Selected elements of the course may be available through the medium of Welsh and you can also request a Welsh speaking Personal Tutor for pastoral and academic support if you wish.

Students with disabilities will be fully supported in co-ordination with the University's Disability and Dyslexia Support Service.

 

How will I be supported?

All of the academic staff in the School of Biosciences are experienced researchers in their respective fields and are passionate about sharing their knowledge and expertise with students.

The primary interaction with academic staff will be during lectures, laboratory practical sessions, workshops or small-group teaching sessions (tutorials). You will also be allocated a Personal Tutor who will provide pastoral support and academic advice throughout the course.

Lecturing staff are contactable in association with teaching sessions or by email, and operate either an ‘open door’ policy for students who have specific queries about course material, or a system of booking meeting times. Each degree also has a degree scheme co-ordinator who can advise on academic issues, whilst each year of study has a year co-ordinator who can advise on administrative issues related to the course. There is also a convenient Education Office with a friendly and experienced team who can answer most administrative queries.

Feedback
Feedback on your study, work, and progress will take many forms, from formal written comments on submitted work to more informal conversations and advice during classes and practicals. Throughout the course, we will provide detailed feedback on all assessed coursework. This is normally provided online through a dedicated online system enabling you to conveniently access your feedback via a computer or tablet device. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your academic and personal development progress with your Personal Tutor, and to discuss examination essay papers in order to improve your performance. During practical work and the research project, you will receive additional regular feedback from the supervising academic.

How will I be assessed?

First and second year modules are normally assessed through a combination of coursework and examinations. All modules include coursework assessments, which may take the form of written practical reports, structured reports, class tests, structured answer tests, group work, poster and oral presentations and computing/statistical problem-solving exercises.  Assessments may be summative and count towards the final module mark, or formative, helping you to learn and practice key skills and knowledge through feedback.  End of module examsn comprise a machine-marked structured answer section (assessing breadth of knowledge) and a written answer section (assessing depth of knowledge in specific topics).   

During the Professional Training Year you will produce a placement report, which will count towards your final degree assessment.

In the final year, taught modules are assessed by examination and extended analytical coursework. Your final year research project is assessed by a supervisor’s evaluation and a written report.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Throughout the course, you will develop scientific competencies as well as key transferable skills that will be invaluable whatever your future career choice. These include:

  • independent learning and self-directed study;
  • collating, organising and analysing information to create logical and persuasive arguments;
  • analytical thinking and problem solving;
  • communicating complex ideas in a clear, effective way (using all media);
  • working effectively in a team and as an individual;
  • IT competency, including presentation, graphics and statistics packages;
  • performing and interpreting statistical analyses of data;
  • effective time management and organisational skills.

As a result of engaging fully with this course, you should be able to:

  • critically analyse, synthesise and summarise information from a variety of sources;
  • discuss the relationships between structure/formation and function/regulation of molecules, organelles, cells, tissues, organisms and populations;
  • effectively communicate scientific, and other, information to a variety of audiences, including the general public, using a range of formats and approaches;
  • discuss current issues of research, investigation and/or debate;
  • synthesise an argument or point of view, based on solid data and evidence;
  • determine the validity and rigour of statistical outcomes;
  • build on knowledge and understanding of the role and impact of intellectual property (IP) within a research environment;
  • work effectively within a group-based environment, both as a leader and a member of a team;
  • demonstrate the skills necessary for independent lifelong learning (for example working independently, time management, organisational, enterprise and knowledge transfer skills);
  • identify, and work towards, targets for personal, academic, professional and career development;
  • demonstrate leadership and planning skills for setting, and meeting, achievable goals within the workplace.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

Our Biochemistry qualification provides an excellent foundation for careers within all areas of biological and molecular sciences. It offers strong training for research scientists and a significant proportion of our BSc Biochemistry graduates go on to study PhD or master’s degrees. Many others have successful careers in science-related fields such as biotechnology research and development, medical or scientific publishing, pharmaceutical industries, and molecular biology, amongst many others.

Through your degree you will also develop transferable skills that are attractive to a wide range of employers in more general areas of industry, commerce, public service, administration and management. A degree in Biochemistry can also act as a stepping stone to further training in professional areas including teaching, medicine, dentistry, nursing, veterinary science and accounting.

In 2016/17, 93% of the School’s graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduating. Experience has shown that students who have completed a Professional Training Year are particularly well-placed to obtain degree-related employment at the end of their studies.

Placements

This course includes a Professional Training Year (PTY) which gives you the opportunity to spend a period of 9-12 months in an academic, clinical or industrial research laboratory, or other approved establishment, in order to gain first-hand research experience.

Many placements are in the UK, but we have also had several placements in other locations, particularly in Europe through the EU ‘ERASMUS’ scheme in which Cardiff is a partner, but also including Southeast Asia, South Africa, Germany, Italy and the USA.

Finding a placement is a competitive process and success cannot be guaranteed. The process is driven primarily by the student since most placements depend on application and selection by the partner company or organisation. However, we provide advice and support, as well as organising the ERASMUS scheme, and to date we have been successful in placing the vast majority of our PTY students.

Should a placement not be available, or should you change your mind, you can switch from the four-year degree with PTY to a three year BSc degree. Alternatively, after the second year and subject to academic progress and space availability, you may apply to change to the integrated Master’s MBiochem degree.

Fieldwork

Direct experience of plants and animals in their natural habitats is an important part of modern biology, and, at Cardiff, we run an impressive range of field courses to give you essential hands-on experience of modern techniques and practical skills in field biology, such as bird-ringing, microbial analysis, small mammal trapping, pit fall trapping and surveying for bats.

Depending on module choices, availability and timetabling constraints, Biochemistry students may have the option of taking one of our field courses.

In the second year, students on the Ecology and Conservation module can choose from several specialised, project-based courses that run in a variety of locations throughout the world.  Our field courses typically include Tropical Ecology (Borneo, Malaysia), Marine Ecology (Caribbean and Malaysia), Island Ecology (Wales), River Ecology (Wales) and Woodland Ecology (Wales).

Field courses can on occasion be affected by travel constraints, staff availability or numbers.

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