Undergraduate study
Life & Physical Sciences

BSc (Hons) Biochemistry

UCAS code: C700 BSc/BioC

Biochemistry brings together biology and chemistry to look at processes at molecular level, and is relevant to a range of disciplines including genetics, microbiology, forensics, plant science and medicine.

Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 including a work placement year)

More full-time details

Part-time

  • 6 years if entering Year 1; 4 years if entering Year 2

More part-time details

  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 738800

Contact details

Further information

  • Facilities

    Microscopy laboratory

    Here at Teesside we have world-class facilities, including our microscopy laboratory, it's a 360 video so have a scroll around.

 

This course will be of particular interest if you want to develop your knowledge and skills in subjects such as biotechnology, molecular biology, biomedical sciences and analytical techniques currently used by the industry, particularly the pharmaceutical and drug discovery sectors. It takes you on a journey of studying chemical compounds and reactions occurring in the cells of living organisms including the molecular and biochemical analysis of life processes. It makes you appreciate how different macromolecules (proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates and lipids) interact to create life.

You learn how gene expression is controlled and how it brings diversity in life, what goes wrong that causes metabolic diseases, how modern genetic tools such as CRISPR and stem cells are at the cusp of bringing revolution in gene therapy and healthcare. You also learn about microbiology, microbial diversity and how we counter infectious diseases. You are introduced to concepts such as drug resistance and its development. Through a carefully curated seminar series you are updated on cutting-edge research.

Graduates with a few years’ experience can expect to earn around £45,000 – £50,000 a year. Employers include hospitals, agriculture, food industry, education, cosmetics and the pharmaceutical sector.

If you take advantage of the optional work placement year during your third year, you get further valuable work experience that will really help you to stand out when applying for your first graduate job. It is your chance to apply your academic knowledge in the work environment – and, in the process, improve your career prospects. A placement could lead to a permanent job with your placement employer.

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Analytical Chemistry

Analytical measurements are required in a range of applications in the chemical, biochemical and pharmaceutical industries. You learn about the introductory principles of a range of analytical techniques and instrumentation that provide qualitative and quantitative information about the composition of a sample.

You cover the fundamentals of chemical analysis including different methods for calibrating and validating analytical methods. You also cover the most important analytical techniques including chromatographic (TLC, HPLC, GC) and spectroscopic techniques (UV-visible, luminescence, FT-IR, atomic absorption, flame photometry), mass spectrometry, electrochemical analysis, extraction methods and analysis of biological samples (electrophoresis). You also develop a range of skills in analytical laboratory techniques and operating analytical instrumentation, as well as data analysis and performing analytical calculations.

This module is delivered through a series of lectures, laboratory sessions and tutorials. It is assessed through a laboratory notebook (50%) and an exam (50%).

Biological Methods

Life sciences is a multifaceted field drawing on knowledge and understanding from the molecular level to whole organisms and ecosystems. Biologists must be able to work in teams, drawing on this vast knowledge to solve problems in the field. In this module, you work in teams to solve a biologically relevant problem, taking into account the principles of health, safety and ethics facing professionals in the workplace. You develop a range of employability skills such as time management and presenting your work. You also gain the research skills needed to support problem solving in the field and to help you become a well-rounded, professional scientist.

Cell Biology and Microbiology

The cellular basis of all living organisms is one of the characteristics which defines life. This module explores the common features and the immense diversity of form and function displayed by cells of organisms. The module will increase your understanding of biological processes at the cellular level. It covers the structure and function of major cellular components and examines how fundamental processes within cells are organised and regulated, such as gene and protein expression. It also addresses the mechanisms by which cells divide, reproduce and differentiate. You study the historical development of cell biology and microbiology advances in theoretical and practical aspects of the discipline. You explore how knowledge of the biology of microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses, has informed the identification and control of infectious diseases. You also examine the beneficial roles of many microorganisms and their utilisation in genetic engineering and biotechnology.

Core Skills in Chemical Sciences

Knowledge of the degree subject is not the only thing you learn whilst at university and it’s not the only thing that potential employers are looking for after graduation. You also need to develop a range of skills applicable for a variety of career pathways These include your ability to articulate yourself clearly, confidently and effectively to different audiences; to work independently or on your own initiative demonstrating creativity and adaptability when tackling problems where you don’t have all the necessary information available; to locate information and critically assess its usefulness; and to make efficient and effective use of the latest information technology.

You also learn to assess your own performance, giving you the chance to recognise and build on your strengths, and identify and improve your weaknesses as a way to raise your aspirations. This module also introduces you to basic principles and good practice in collecting, recording and evaluating data, and using information resources and referencing. You also consider the assessment and handling of scientific errors. You review a range of basic mathematical skills and introduce statistical methods that are essential in a wide range of scientific endeavour. Emphasis is placed on using spreadsheets for data recording, presentation and statistical analysis.

General Chemistry and Biochemistry

This module reviews and extends your knowledge of fundamental chemical concepts and demonstrates how they are applied to enable us to understand biological molecules.

Introduction to Organic Chemistry

You learn to combine multiple sources of information, for example pKa and electronegativity, to predict and explain organic reactivity, and how to apply spectroscopic techniques, for example nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The module is delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials and laboratories. It is assessed through a laboratory notebook (50%) and a two-hour exam (50%).

 

Year 2 core modules

Genetics and Molecular Biology

This module introduces you to a range of modern molecular biology concepts and techniques. It addresses general molecular biology, molecular biology of genetic diseases and using molecular biology for producing recombinant proteins and forensic applications. The new age of molecular biology is underpinned by gene and genome sequencing, sequence analysis and sequence manipulation. You are introduced to the principles of sequence analysis and how these techniques have revolutionised all areas of molecular biology, particularly the technique of polymerase chain reaction (PCR). You learn through lectures and tutorials that allow you to gain insight into the theoretical aspects of molecular biology. A series of laboratory practical sessions introduce the basic techniques at the heart of modern molecular biology such as DNA purification, PCR, restriction digestion, control of gene expression, nucleic acid analysis through agarose gels and sequencing.

Human Diseases and Immunology

Infectious diseases are responsible for a third of global mortality and have a significant impact on quality of life on a worldwide basis. This module examines the organisms able to generate pathogenic interactions with human populations and takes a systems-based approach, for example gastrointestinal, respiratory and genitourinary tract, to examine the virulence determinants, pathology, characteristics and epidemiology of selected pathogens. You are also introduced to the current molecular and cellular biology of pathogen interactions and co-evolution with host cells, and their relevance to human diseases. And you consider the factors contributing to the emergence of devastating pandemics and new diseases, in particular the significance of zoonotic diseases. The module reviews the extensive array of protein and cell-based responses which are typically launched against microbial pathogens as part of the innate and acquired immune response. You analyse the effectiveness of strategies used to treat and control the transmission of infectious diseases.

Human Metabolism and Clinical Biochemistry

This module provides you with a broad understanding of the linked themes of metabolism and endocrinology. Metabolism, the chemical processes that occur in living organisms, is examined in the context of cellular respiration, and the metabolism of exogens such as drugs and vitamins. Endocrinology, the study of the physiological role of hormones, is covered in detail, including review of the mechanisms underpinning hormone action, the roles of second messengers, and endocrine system disorders. This module also explores the methods used for collecting, measuring and analysing clinical samples.

Organic Chemistry

You build on your prior knowledge of organic chemistry and learn the concept of retrosynthetic analysis and develop the skills you need to synthesise molecules. You also learn strategies to combat or control regio- and chemoselectivity. You consider more advanced areas of organic chemistry, for example pericyclic processes and the synthesis and reactions of heterocycles.

The module is delivered through a combination of lectures, laboratories and tutorials. It is assessed through a laboratory report and results (40%), and a two-hour exam (60%).

Science Research Methods and Proposal

You will take this module if you are studying a science degree and complete a hypothesis-driven research project at Level 6 of your degree studies. It is delivered though lectures, tutorials and workshops.

You develop a proposal for your research project, which includes an explanation of the project targeted at both a specialist audience and the general public, and details of experimental design and statistical analysis to be employed. The proposal considers academic beneficiaries and economic, environmental and societal impacts. Project costs are estimated on the basis of a full economic costing model. In addition, the proposal is supported by a targeted CV.

A short lecture series at the start of the academic year provides you with an introduction to the module and advice on completing the research proposal documentation, followed by a series of assessment centre-style workshops and tasks which help assign you to a specific research project area and supervisor. These tasks familiarise you with the type of activities you might face during the application, interview and selection procedures.

You must produce a research proposal for your individual project. You are supported by a series of meetings with your supervisor to provide feedback on your progress.

For the proposal to be considered you must acquire ethical clearance from the School Research Ethics Committee. Once you are allocated a project you join discipline-based tutorials with other students. Each discipline operates tutorial sessions, which are used to provide academic guidance and support for completing ethical clearance documentation and the proposal. A series of research methodology-based workshops introduce you to various experimental designs and statistical techniques relevant to your discipline. These sessions also demonstrate how you can use software such as Minitab, SPSS and Excel to present and analyse datasets. These workshops help you decide on the design and analysis of the data associated with your project.

The module is assessed by you successfully acquiring ethical clearance (pass/fail) and submitting a completed research project proposal and supporting CV (100%).

Structure Determination

All research, analytical and industrial laboratories require a range of techniques that allow you to determine and predict the chemical structure of molecules and biomolecules. This module covers the most significant molecular structure determination techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance, mass spectrometry, UV-visible and infrared spectroscopies, elemental analysis and crystallography.

This is a group project module – you select and use appropriate techniques to determine the composition, purity and molecular structure of a series of organic and inorganic samples.

The module is assessed by an oral presentation (30%) and a written report (70%). The individual marks of each member of the group are moderated by peer-assessment and by the module tutors by observing formal group meetings.

 

Year 3 optional placement year

Final-year core modules

Biotherapeutics

Biotherapeutics are medicinal products derived from living organisms. This module looks at the role of a biologist in the upstream and downstream aspects of a typical bioprocess. You cover the molecular and cell biology techniques required during the upstream part of the process including selecting suitable production organisms, recombinant DNA technologies and synthetic biology. You cover the different fermentation strategies and how these relate to the product being manufactured, economics and sustainability of the process. You learn about controlling and monitoring the fermentation process using analytical methods and process analytical technology.

For the downstream processing aspects, you focus on the different separation and purification strategies used for isolating the target product. This module highlights the regulatory and quality management aspects that impact on a bioprocess at all of these stages, in particular the roles of good laboratory and manufacturing practice. You develop an understanding of the multidisciplinary nature of the bioprocessing industry and how a biologist is required to have an appreciation of the engineering, chemistry, economic and regulatory aspects of a bioprocess.

Health Product Development

This group-work module provides you with the necessary entrepreneurship skills to understand the process of business start-up and learning to manage life science and healthcare ventures. It allows you to connect to the real-world experience of launching a new business venture and product development. You experience challenges similar to those encountered in the launch of a healthcare product from laboratory bench to the bedside. You learn about healthcare product development, regulatory control and intellectual property rights. As part of this learning you learn how to write and produce a business plan including where to raise finance.

Science Research Project

You bring together a range of practical and academic skills, developed in previous years of study, to interrogate a particular aspect of your field of study. You specialise in a particular area of science, supported by an appointed research supervisor who will act as a mentor and guide you through the development and completion of your research project.

You are required to present a poster and abstract at the School’s annual Poster Day event, which is attended by academics of the School, external examiners, and professionals from the region. The poster contributes to your final project mark. Throughout the project you are expected to maintain systematic and reliable records of your research which are reviewed on a regular basis by your supervisor and assessed at the end of the project. You submit your research in the style of a paper which could be submitted to an appropriate scientific journal related to your discipline.

The module is assessed by a poster presentation (20%) and the submission of a journal paper supported by a research diary and/or laboratory notebook (80%).

Trends in Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Biological sciences is probably the most researched area in the world. This module, by connecting you with researchers in the field across the globe working in various areas of life sciences, allows you to stay at the forefront of the latest innovations and trends. You learn through robust discussion around various developing areas in biochemistry and biotechnology.

Assessment is through a presentation (30%) and a three-hour written exam (70%).

 

and two optional modules

Biosensors and Bioelectronics

You are introduced to the design of biosensors which are analytical devices that combine a biological or biomimetic sensing element with a signal transducer system. Their applications range from medical treatment and biological research to environmental monitoring. You learn about the engineering of the sensing component and how it can be linked with various transducers.

You learn through robust discussion around the need for point-of-care testing in comparison to economies of centralised laboratory testing, contextualising detection limits of various transduction systems in terms of real-world applications and scenarios. You are introduced to concepts such as specificity and sensitivity through the discussion of carefully curated case studies on medical devices such as glucometers, point-of-care blood analysers (for example, i-STAT system by Abbott) and low-cost diagnostics (for example, liver function test from Diagnostics for All).

Assessment is through a presentation (30%) which requires you to identify knowledge and skills which have been developed during the module and a written exam (70%).

Clinical Genetics

You are introduced to the organisation of diagnostic hospital laboratories offering genetic services. Methods such as cytogenetics, molecular genetics and clinical genetics are used for identifying and mapping genes on human chromosomes which are related to the pathology and genetics of a number of diseases. You critically evaluate the importance of family history in recognising patient symptoms, the role of animal models, ethical issues and gene therapy approaches to disease.

Forensic Medicine

You examine some of the common procedures and applications used in clinical forensic medicine, forensic pathology and the investigation of suspicious deaths. It includes an overview of human anatomy to expand your existing knowledge within the subject area. You are required to evaluate ethical issues, legal issues and the appropriateness of scientific techniques. Analysis, interpretation and evaluation of scientific procedures relevant to the subject area will also be required.

Medical Microbiology

The module helps you explore how modern clinical microbiology can be used to detect, diagnose and control infectious diseases. You extend your understanding of the molecular basis of microbial pathogenesis and it allows you to explore how modern molecular biology techniques have been employed to define the nature of host-pathogen interactions.

 

Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

This course aims to produce graduates who are competent in a range of knowledge, understanding, experience and skills appropriate to biochemistry. The learning and teaching strategy encourages a progressive acquisition of subject knowledge and skills by moving from study methods that have a greater degree of support and assistance towards more independence and self-direction. Each programme and module is supported by a specific virtual learning environment (VLE) site.

You learn through a range of teaching and learning methods including:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars and workshops (including oral presentations and poster sessions)
  • laboratory work
  • computer laboratory-based sessions (simulations, structure drawing)
  • group projects
  • research projects.

How you are assessed

The programme assessment strategy tests your subject knowledge, independent thought and skills acquisition. It is also robust, equitable and manageable and incorporates both formative and summative assessment opportunities.

You may be assessed through:

  • formal exams including 'unseen' exams
  • laboratory and/or fieldwork skills and reports
  • computer-based assessments
  • problem-solving exercises
  • data interpretation exercises
  • critical analysis of case studies
  • oral presentations and technical interviews
  • essays, literature surveys, evaluations and summaries
  • collaborative project work
  • preparation and display of posters
  • planning, conduct and reporting of project work
  • reflective statements or diaries
  • peer assessment.

You are presented with an assessment schedule providing details of the submission deadlines for summative assessments.


Our Disability Services team helps students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia
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Career opportunities

The UK is home to some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostics and food companies. Biochemists work in areas such as research, product development, quality assurance and analytical science, marketing and sales within these sectors and in specialist roles in the hospital. Biochemistry had underpinned cutting-edge research for quite sometime now. They have the highest proportion of Nobel Prizes awarded to people in the category of chemistry and medicine.

Teesside University takes advantage of its unique positioning and close proximity to institutions such as the James Cook University Hospital, Centre for Process Innovation and biopharmaceutical manufacturers such as Fujifilm Diosynth and Cobra.

Work placement year

You have the opportunity to spend one year learning and developing your skills through work experience. A dedicated work placement officer and the University's award-winning careers service help you with applying for a placement. Advice is also available on job hunting and networking. Employers are often invited to our School to meet you and present you with opportunities for work placements.

By taking a work placement year you gain experience favoured by graduate recruiters and develop your technical skillset. You also obtain the transferable skills required in any professional environment. Transferable skills include communication, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, organisation, confidence, self-reliance, problem-solving, being able to work under pressure and commercial awareness.

Throughout this course, you get to know prospective employers and extend your professional network. An increasing number of employers view a placement as a year-long interview and as a result, placements are increasingly becoming an essential part of an organisation's preselection strategy in their graduate recruitment process.

Potential benefits from completing a work placement year include:

  • improved job prospects
  • enhanced employment skills and improved career progression opportunities
  • a higher starting salary than your full-time counterparts
  • a better degree classification
  • a richer CV
  • a year's salary before completing your degree
  • experience of workplace culture
  • the opportunity to design and base your final-year project within a working environment.

Entry requirements

Eligibility for entry to Year 1 of this programme requires study of either Level 3 chemistry or biology. A subject with a significant content of chemistry or biology will also be considered.

The most common acceptable Level 3 qualifications and typical minimum grades required include:

  • A levels (grades BBC)
  • BTEC Extended Diploma (grade DMM including merit in the mandatory subjects)
  • Access to HE Diploma (with 30 Level 3 credits from science units including 12 Level 3 credits in the mandatory subjects, awarded at merit or higher)

If your qualification is not listed contact our admissions office for advice. We accept many alternative UK and international qualifications.

Interviews
After applying you may be invited to attend an interview. The interview is to help us tailor your offer to your individual circumstances to ensure that you join the right course for you. The interview process also enables us to consider applicants from a range of backgrounds and those with non-traditional qualifications, including individuals who may be returning to study after a period of employment.

During your visit you are offered a tour of our campus and laboratory and teaching facilities, and an opportunity to meet our staff. You also learn more about your course and the range of scholarships, bursaries and grants you may be eligible to receive.

Although we strongly encourage applicants to attend an interview, if you can't come for an interview we will still consider your application based on the information you provide.

English language requirement
Entry to a degree programme requires you to have a good command of spoken and written English. An example of an acceptable qualification is GCSE English language at grade 4.

Non-EU international students who need a student visa to study in the UK should check our web pages on UKVI-compliant English language requirements. The University also provides pre-sessional English language courses if you do not meet the minimum English language requirement.

Alternative progression routes
If you are not eligible to join Year 1 of this course, you have some other options to consider:

  • You may wish to consider the same course with an added foundation year - BSc (Hons) Biochemistry (Extended)
  • It may be possible to fill any gaps in your qualifications and save a year of additional study by studying an appropriate pre-degree Summer University module.

Please contact us to discuss the alternative progression routes available to you.

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Guaranteed Place Scheme (for UK/EU students only)

If you have completed Level 3 qualifications (for example AS Levels, BTEC Nationals) and have at least five GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including English and Mathematics, you may be eligible for a guaranteed place on an Extended degree course in your chosen subject whilst still working towards meeting the conditions required for a course with higher entry requirements.
Find out more and check your eligibility

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country


You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL

Part-time

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Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 including a work placement year)

More full-time details

Part-time

  • 6 years if entering Year 1; 4 years if entering Year 2

More part-time details

  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 738800

Contact details

Further information