This course provides you with a thorough, modern training in both biochemistry and genetics, emphasising common areas such as molecular biology, genetic engineering and biotechnology.
You will study fundamental aspects of cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, cellular control and experimental design and data handling, together with essential chemistry, including molecular structure, bonding and reactivity of organic molecules. This course is supported by practical studies in cell biology, biochemistry and genetics, with optional courses in biology, microbiology and physiology.
Your studies continue at greater depth covering protein and gene structure and function, genomes and chromosomes, molecular evolution, extracellular signals, metabolic regulation, and oxidative phosphorylation. The course also includes laboratory classes in analysis of proteins and enzymes, and practical gene cloning plus optional courses including medical molecular genetics, molecular embryology or a dissertation.
A major feature is an individual project which may be lab-, bioinformatics- or literature- based. You will take courses in gene control, advanced gene cloning, cancer and other diseases and protein life cycles along with a course developing transferable skills of presentation, interpretation and criticism of scientific data. Optional courses in developmental biology, cancer genetics, ageing, sex and DNA repair and evolution are available.
You will take a set of modules which will expose you to the latest developments in biochemistry and genetics and equip you with the tools to plan and carry out research and present your findings effectively. The learning style will be strongly student-centred, culminating in a substantial research project where you will work alongside experts, receive one-to-one supervision and benefit from state-of-the-art facilities.
See also the Centre for Genetics and Genomics
A levels: AAB, including chemistry and at least one other science subject at A level (maths and biology preferred); also GCSE maths grade C
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
TOEFL iBT 87 (minimum 19 with 20 in speaking)
Pearson Test of English Academic 62 (minimum 55)
For details please see alternative qualifications page
Foundation year - a foundation year is available for some of our courses
Flexible admissions policy
We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result, may change from year to year. The following list is therefore subject to change but should give you a flavour of the modules we offer.
Typical Year One Modules
Cell Structure and Metabolism
This lecture-based module aims to introduce you to the structure and function of significant molecules in cells, and the important metabolic processes which occur inside them. You will study, amongst other topics, protein and enzyme structure and function, the biosynthesis of cell components, and the role of cell membranes in barrier and transport processes. The module aims to prepare you for any biological degree programme with respect for the need for an understanding of basic biochemical processes. There will be three hours of lectures a week.
This module offers an introduction to the basic biology and genetics of micro-organisms, their impact on human health and the environment, and their use in biotechnology. By the end of the module, you should be familiar with pedigree analysis and have an in-depth understanding of the principles involved in gene identification. You will spend around three hours per week in lectures and three hours per week within practical sessions.
Biochemistry and Genetics Tutorial and Study Skills Module
This module will introduce you to major themes in the study of biochemistry, such as biochemical data analysis, reading scientific papers, and preparing and delivering a scientific talk. This module is delivered through a single 1-hour tutorial each week, which will include a mixture of lecture and small-group discussion.
Molecular Structure and Bonding
In this module, you will build on your knowledge gained during A2 Chemistry in order to take in a wide variety of topics including, amongst others, a survey of atomic structure, electron configuration, periodicity and molecular symmetry. On completion of the module, you should have a fundamental understanding of the basics of organic chemistry relevant to the biological and life sciences.
Introductory Human Physiology and Pharmacology 1
In this module, you will be introduced to the physiology and pharmacology of the central nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory and urinary systems in man, including aspects of drug action. By the end of the module, you should understand, among other principles, the control of skeletal muscle function, the regulation of blood pressure, and breathing and hydration in normal, healthy man. There will be three hours of lectures a week.
Fundamentals of Biochemistry
This module offers an overview of structural and chemical principles underlying the functions of proteins and nucleic acids. During this time you will look at the influence of the molecular structure on the behaviour of these macromolecules by analysing how they are used in both the body and the laboratory, as well as how the properties are altered in human diseases. There will be two hours of lectures a week.
This module offers an introduction to animal design and the way evolution allows animals to exploit their environments. You will study topics such as diversity and order in animal design, as well as strategies for movement and support in invertebrates and vertebrates. You will spend around one hour each week in lectures and around two hours each week undergoing practical work.
Genetics, Ecology and Evolution
In this module, you will considers the genetics, evolution, and ecology of living organisms, extending from the basics of genetics through evolutionary genetics and molecular evolution, to behaviour and population and community ecology. This module consists of around three hours each week spent in lectures.
Chemical Equilibria, Rate Processes and Spectroscopy
This module aims to introduce you to some key areas of physical chemistry relevant to the life sciences, including thermodynamics and equilibria, the language and basic ideas of chemical kinetics, and an examination of widely-used spectroscopic methods in the life sciences. This module consists of one hour of lectures or workshops each week.
Immunity, Parasites and Control of Parasitic Diseases
This module offers an exploration of infection and the defence against parasitic organisms. You will study major themes such as the immune system, as well as the biology of some representative parasites and the reasons why they have been so successful. You will also consider the problems of controlling infections and the biology of free-living roundworms. This module involves three 3-hour lecture sessions and a single 3-hour practical session per week.
Typical Year Two Modules
Proteins: Structure and Function
This module considers, among others, general protein structure, enzyme kinetics and catalysis, and the properties and purification of membrane proteins. By the end of the module, you should be able to describe the structure and function of soluble proteins, explain how individual proteins can be explained in molecular detail, and understand the problems associated with studying membrane-bound proteins. This module consists of two hours of lectures each week.
Genes, Genomes and Chromosomes
This module takes a survey of the structure and function of the genes, genomes and chromosomes of eukaryotic cells. Emphasis is placed on understanding the molecular organisation of these elements and the experimental approaches that have led to this understanding. This module consists of a single 2-hour lecture each week.
Medical Molecular Genetics
During this module, you will be presented information on the Human Genome Project and the methods employed in disease gene identification. You will cover topics including, among others, the identification of the genes responsible for some of the most common inherited disorders, cytogenetic and molecular genetic diagnoses of inherited disorders, and the development of strategies for treatment. The teaching is delivered through a series of single 3-hour lectures each week.
Bacterial Genes and Development
This module aims to describe, in detail, the molecular events which occur during the control of gene expression in bacteria. Beginning with simple control circuits, the module will go on to investigate case studies demonstrating how complex development programmes can occur in response to environmental stimuli. The teaching for this module is delivered through a single 3-hour lecture each week.
Introductory Signals and Metabolic Regulation
This module aims to develop an understanding, at the molecular level, of the ways in which extracellular signals are transmitted into cells and mechanisms, by which intracellular metabolic reactions respond. You will study, among other topics, the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism, cell-cell signalling and the extracellular matrix (ECM), and the regulation of cellular activity by changes in protein amount. This module consists of two hours of lectures each week.
Molecular and Developmental Neurobiology
During this module, you will consider how the brain develops and connects, how the connections work, are maintained and repaired, how information is stored in the form of memory, and how our knowledge of neurobiology can be applied. This module involves spending 3 hours each week in practical sessions, alongside a single 3-hour lecture each week.
Typical Year Three Modules
This module enables you to experience contemporary research methods first-hand. There will be at least three options available, including: (1) performing a laboratory-based research project on a topic related to the interests of a member of staff and producing a dissertation, (2) producing a group lab-project with open-ended aims and outcomes, to be decided by the group, including the design and conduct of the experiment with a dissertation, or (3) selecting a topic of interest to you and a member of staff, and producing an in-depth literature survey on the knowledge state of the topic decided upon.
This module examines the mechanisms through which eukaryotic genes are expressed and regulated, with emphasis placed on recent research on transcriptional control in yeast and post-transcriptional control in eukaryotes. The teaching on this module consists of a single 3- hour lecture each week.
Biochemistry of Disease
This module begins with a review of the hormonal control of metabolism, before moving on to a description of how fasting and overfeeding affect human biology. In particular, the module aims to use biochemical knowledge to explain two classes of important biochemical diseases: inborn errors of metabolism, and neurological disorders. This module consists of one hour of lectures each week.
In this module, you will take different approaches and techniques to present and discuss scientific data. Following a lecture-based introduction to methods, you will apply your knowledge to prepare and present talks and a scientific paper. By the end of the module, you will be able to present scientific data in a clear and concise way, use Beer’s Law to solve spectrophotometric problems, and understand the use of radioactivity in biochemical experiments. This module consists of one hour of lectures or workshops each week.
This module is split into three main components: firstly, the application of genetic engineering to construct vectors that maximise the expression of protein from cloned genes in heterologous systems will be discussed. Secondly, the module will look at some of the biochemistry behind the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells. Finally, you will look at the life history of a protein from birth to death. This module consists of two hours of lectures each week.
This module covers genetic variation in humans, including variation at the DNA level, and the study of human population history using genetic methods. It will go on to cover recent advances in the analysis of human variation and will describe both the patterns of genetic diversity within and between populations, as well as the mechanisms which create them. The module consists of weekly three hour lectures.
During this module, you will consider the history and practice of population genetics research, with a focus on a quantitative approach to the subject, whilst further developing your problem-solving skills. You will spend around 4 hours within lectures per week studying this module.
This module describes the genetic effects of reduced population size, especially in relation to the conservation of endangered species. Topics will include, among others, random genetic drift and inbreeding, the importance of heterozygosity and the consequences of a loss of genetic variability, and methods of alleviating these factors. This module consists of a 2.5-hour lecture each week.
Typical Year Four Modules
Research Presentation Skills
This module offers an introduction to the skills required in a modern scientific career. Through a series of lectures, you will become familiar with the best practice in oral, written and internet-based communication skills. This will be supplemented by tutorials, in which you will discuss recent key papers with peers, and write for a lay audience. Workshops will give you the opportunity to produce materials such as a web-page and poster. This module consists of one 2-hour lecture each week, and a series of single 6-hour workshops over six weeks.
Biochemistry Research Project
This module will give you the opportunity to use contemporary research methods in order to design and carry out an experiment aimed at solving a particular biochemical problem. You will collect, analyse, and interpret data, alongside researching previous results relevant to your study and writing up a clear and concise report. You will also discuss your work with academic members of staff in a viva voce (oral exam), as well as present a short talk on your work to peers. You will complete around 20 hours each week, on a computer or in the laboratory, for each semester.
This module aims to develop your understanding of a range of inherited and acquired cancers, along with an understanding of the role of genes involved and how they can be analysed. By the end of the module, you will be able to demonstrate, among others, a knowledge of the implications of genetics tests, the ability to interpret a range of genetic testing relevant to cancer, and the ability to perform mutation scanning and sequencing of large genes. This is a distance-learning module, delivered through a series of single 30-minute podcasts each week, plus problem-based exercises and relevant extra material.
You will have a thorough understanding of the fundamental aspects of cell biology, biochemistry and genetics. You will have undertaken practical studies in cell biology, classical and molecular genetics, analysis of proteins and enzymes, and gene cloning. Through a major individual project, which may be lab-, bioinformatics- or literature- based, you will have carried out your own research and developed transferable skills in presentation, interpretation and criticism of scientific data. Your research skills will have developed to a level that allows you to compete for the best postgraduate positions.
Average starting salary and career progression
In 2012, 92.2% of first-degree graduates in the School of Biomedical Sciences who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £18,500 with the highest being £26,000.*
* Known destinations of full-time home and EU graduates 2011/12.
Biochemistry graduates are very employable and national figures show that shortly after graduation only 2.8% are without employment. This is half the number of biology graduates and graduates generally without employment. There are many opportunities for Biochemistry graduates; below are some of them:
A third, or more, of our graduates carry on their training to complete a higher degree by research (a “Doctor of Philosophy” or PhD) at Nottingham or at other universities. The fact that many of our graduates are able to find PhD studentships elsewhere shows how well thought of our courses are by other universities. After completing their PhD studies many of these students will carry on with a research career in universities, research institutes and industry.
An increasing number of our graduates obtain places on Graduate Entry Medical (GEM) courses. These courses are becoming an increasingly popular route to attain a medical degree and enter the medical profession. Nottingham University offers a Graduate Entry Medicine course at Derby . If you are currently unsure that medicine is a career that you wish to pursue, or if you are looking at alternative ways to enter the medical profession, then an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry will place you in a strong position to achieve this. Of course Biochemistry graduates can also apply for places on undergraduate medical courses.
Biochemistry graduates enter many professions including research in industry (especially the pharmaceutical industry), clinical science in hospitals, forensic science, bioinformatics , information science and technical writing, patenting, marketing, and teaching. In addition, some of our graduates choose to enter very different careers such as banking, accountancy and management.
Here are some success stories from our Biochemistry graduates which illustrate the careers opportunities that are possible with a Biochemistry degree from Nottingham University:
Recent PhD graduate
"My time as a Biochemistry undergraduate at Nottingham was extremely enjoyable. I found the biochemistry modules I studied, taught by researchers in the respective fields, to be varied, interesting and above all up to date. This gave a first hand feel to the course material and was a strong influence on me to pursue a career in research."
Biochemistry & Genetics graduate (2003) now completed a PhD in tissue engineering
"I found the Biochemistry & Biological Chemistry course immensely rewarding in its diversity and applicability, building my confidence and knowledge in areas I found interesting and exciting. This encouraged me to pursue a career in science. I completed a PhD in Protein Chemistry at Nottingham and then moved to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, following the Human Genome Project, to work in the rapidly expanding field of Bioinformatics. Still building on my time in Nottingham, I am thoroughly enjoying my work as a Project Leader in RNA informatics."
Biochemistry & Biological Chemistry graduate (1997)
Chief Technology Officer
"The Biochemistry and Biological Chemistry course provided the foundation and stimulation to go on to a PhD in Biochemistry at Nottingham. Together these convinced me that my career should be built on developing techniques in Molecular Biology, combining the personal pleasure of making techniques work with seeing how this enabled others to do great science. The experimental skills and scientific judgement gained at Nottingham have been key to my success. My career has involved 20 years at Amersham plc., culminating in the role of Vice President for R & D in the UK, and Director-level positions at two start-up companies. I am currently Chief Technology Officer at Solexa Ltd where we are seeking to revolutionize sequencing of the human genome".
Biochemistry & Biological Chemistry graduate 1976
Careers Support and Advice
Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.
Have a look at our Careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.