About the Course
1st year (Preliminary Examination)
The 1st year is essentially a foundation year, when we ensure that all students have the basic knowledge and skills across the scientific spectrum to cope with the more advanced studies in years two and three. Students take three longer courses in Molecular Cell Biology, Biological Chemistry and Biophysical Chemistry, and two shorter courses in Organic Chemistry and Maths & Statistics. Courses consist of lectures, problems classes and laboratory and computer practicals, all based in the Department, and College based tutorials. At the end of the first year there is one written paper in each of the five subjects. These are pass/fail exams and do not contribute to your final degree result.
2nd and 3rd year (Part I)
The second and third years consist of a broad survey of molecular cellular biochemistry. This is organised into four courses:
Macromolecular Structure and Function
Bioenergetics and Metabolism
Genetics and Molecular Biology
Cell Biology and the integration of function
and students have to do all four, although you do get some choice of which topics to cover within each course. As in the first year, these courses are taught through Departmental lectures, practicals and problems classes and College tutorials. There are no 2nd year exams. At the end of the 3rd year students take six papers, one on each of the four courses above, a general paper designed to assess your broader understanding of biochemistry, and a paper to test your ability to deal with the analysis and interpretation of biochemical data.
4th year (Part II)
The 4th year is a research focussed year, in which students can specialise in the areas that interest them most. The whole of the first term and most of the second term consist of a research project. You choose a research group to work in and carry out a twenty week project in that group. You can choose to work within the Biochemistry Department or in a group within another Department (such as Chemistry, Pathology or Clinical Biochemistry) which is carrying out biochemically related research. You can also apply to do your project in one of several universities in Europe under the ERASMUS exchange scheme or in Princeton in the USA, and many students have found this a very valuable experience. After the end of the project you write a short thesis and give a ten minute presentation, both of which are examined and contribute nearly 25% to your final degree.
In the second and third terms, students study two options from a list of advanced topics which is updated at frequent intervals and at present includes Molecular Immunology, Plant Molecular Biology, Neuropharmacology, Membrane Transport, Glycobiology, Human Disease, Bionanotechnology, Systems Biology and Signalling to the Nucleus. At the end of the year you sit one paper in each of your chosen options.
Your final degree result depends upon the performance in both Part I and Part II.