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Biochemistry (MBiochem)

  • UCAS code: 386N
  • Next intake: September 2021
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Mode: Full time

Entry Year

Why study this course

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.

Our integrated master’s degree in Biochemistry is aimed at aspiring researchers and those seeking a career in science. This four-year undergraduate course enables you to explore the current frontiers of knowledge in your chosen field and provides training in advanced research techniques.

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.

Our Biochemistry programme 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 progress their studies further with a higher degree.

Distinctive features

  • Enjoy a flexible course structure that enables you to tailor your degree to match your interests and aspirations, including the option to take to spend a sandwich year on professional placement.
  • Investigate a topic of your choice and develop your skills as a research scientist with an extended project in an active research laboratory.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gain access to a wide range of exciting training opportunities with a School that houses a permanently staffed Field Station in Borneo and plays a lead role the University's European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute and Medicines Discovery Institute.

You may also be interested in the following degree programmes:

  • BSc Biochemistry

  • MBiochem Biochemistry with Professional Training Year

  • MBiomed Biomedical Sciences

  • MBiol Biological Sciences

Where you'll study

School of Biosciences

We provide a dynamic and stimulating teaching environment with impressive modern facilities, up-to-date equipment and high-calibre staff.

  • icon-chatGet in touch
  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 4296
  • MarkerMuseum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Entry requirements

AAA-AAB. Must include Biology (or Human Biology) or Chemistry. You will need to pass the science practical element of the A-level if this is part of your programme of study.  

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 a BTEC Extended Diploma in Applied Science, Forensic Science, or Animal Management.

36-34 overall or 666 in 3 HL subjects. Must include grade 6 in HL Biology or Chemistry. 

Other UK qualifications may also be accepted, often in lieu of A-levels, but subject requirements must be met. If you are offering non-UK qualifications, our qualification equivalences guide should allow you to calculate what kind of offer you are likely to receive.

Please be aware that this is a general guide, and that some programmes may have more detailed or specific entry requirements which will be reflected in your offer.

GCSE

Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.

TOEFL iBT

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

PTE Academic

At least 62 overall 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.

You must have or be working towards:
- English language or Welsh language at GCSE grade C/4 or an equivalent (such as A-levels). If you require a Tier 4 visa, you must ensure your language qualification complies with UKVI requirements.
- GCSE Maths grade C/4 or equivalent qualification (subject and grade). If you are taking A-level Maths (or equivalent), GCSE Maths is not required. Core Maths may also be accepted in place of GCSE Maths.

We do not accept Critical Thinking, General Studies, Citizenship Studies, or other similar equivalent subjects.
We will accept a combination of BTEC subjects, A-levels, and other qualifications, subject to the course specific grade and subject requirements.

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.

Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2021/22)

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2021/22 academic year. Fees for the previous year were £9,000.

Students from outside the EU (2021/22)

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2021/22 academic year.

Additional costs

All field courses which take place abroad 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 MBiochem course is full-time mode over four academic years (five including the Professional Training Year option), with 120 credits attained in each year. Year one is made up of six 20-credit modules, with three 40-credit modules taught in year two. In your third year you will study three 30 credit modules, along with a 30 credit Advanced Research Techniques module which encompasses advanced bioinformatics training and an integrated practical project.  Your final year is made up of two 20-credit modules and a research project which carries 80 credits.

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.

Alongside three subject-specific modules, the third year provides training in advanced research techniques and bioinformatics, ensuring that you are fully prepared for the extended research project in your final year.

Final year taught modules focus on further developing advanced research techniques, literature searching and analysis skills, discussion and group-based critical appraisal of work, as well as planning of experimental work. The research project module will be a fully-immersive experience within a research laboratory over a 6-month period.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.

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.

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.

During year two, you can also opt to switch to the five year Master’s degree with a Professional Training Year, which is taken after the second year, subject to an appropriate training place being identified.

Year three

Our third year curriculum enables you to specialise in more detail within one of the major research themes of the School.  This approach immerses you in the research culture of the biosciences, by means of research-driven teaching and a project that allows you to investigate a topic in much greater depth.

Application of core knowledge to the solving of problems and critical evaluation of models, ideas and current debates is a primary focus of the third year.  This stage of te course will involve an extensive degree of self-directed study in order to develop skills in independent work and lifelong learning, which will help to prepare you for the professional environment.

As well as a 30-credit Advanced Research Techniques module (encompassing bioinformatics training and integrated practical project), you will also complete three 30-credit modules.  Available topics include synthetic biology and protein engineering, advanced cell biology, bioinformatics and functional genomics, and genes and genomes.

Year four

The final year of the Master’s course consists of an extended project conducted in an active research laboratory, together with further training in advanced research techniques and a 'Frontiers in Bioscience' module.  Your individual research project will be novel and the results may even be complete enough to be published in a scientific journal, contribute to a publication or trigger a whole new avenue of subsequent research. You will be trained and supported in carrying out your project by researchers, helping you to develop your skills as a practical research scientist. The high degree of subject specialisation and knowledge gained during this year will contribute to making you highly employable in both research and commercial bioscience sectors.

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

We provide a student-centred educational experience based on academic excellence and informed 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, research seminars, workshops and tutorials while independent study, group work and project work help to develop 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 should 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 our staff 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 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 regular feedback from the supervising academic.

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, arriving at a considered critical judgement;
  • synthesise an argument or point of view, based on solid data and evidence;
  • determine the validity and rigour of statistical outcomes;
  • integrate concepts and ideas to make predictions and formulate and evaluate new hypotheses;
  • conduct a range of field and practical laboratory skills in an accurate and consistent manner;
  • integrate empirical observation with theory, extrapolating information from laboratory to field;
  • apply contemporary research techniques to solve biological problems;
  • demonstrate the skills necessary for independent lifelong learning (for example working independently, time management, organisational, enterprise and knowledge transfer skills).

Careers and placements

Career prospects

Our integrated master’s degree in Biochemistry forms an excellent basis for a future career in scientific research. It also gives you the opportunity to develop science-specific and more general transferable skills which will be attractive to a wide range of both scientific and non-scientific employers.

Our Biochemistry graduates have gone on to a range of exciting and fulfilling careers in a variety of different fields, including biotechnology research and development, scientific publishing, pharmaceutical and biological industries, molecular biology, journalism, public service, and management. A Biochemistry qualification 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.

Placements

This four-year course does not include any formal work placements. However, we strongly encourage students to undertake informal work placements during the summer vacations in order to enhance employability.

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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