Medical Biochemistry BSc(Hons) 2017-18This course also available for 2018-19 entry
Find out more about Biological Sciences at Huddersfield
About the course
Biochemistry has made major contributions to medicine as the development of new drugs and the treatment of disease have become more systematic and scientific. Our knowledge and structure of DNA, RNA and proteins has led to an understanding of the mechanisms that cause degenerative disease and cancer, and holds out the promise of novel and improved methods of treatment.
During this course you'll have the opportunity to develop the necessary knowledge and skills which could help to prepare you for careers in medical research, the pharmaceutical industry and many other aspects of health sciences.
All our teaching staff are educated to doctoral level in their respective subject areas and have expertise in most areas of biological sciences.As a student on the course you'll be eligible for student undergraduate Associate Membership of the Biochemical Society and the Physiological Society (UK).
You'll have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience using scientific instrumentation in our modern biological sciences labs. In the third year of your course, you'll also have the chance to benefit from a work placement. This could help you to gain relevant real-world experience and enhance your future employability prospects.
18 / 09 / 2017
3 years full-time
4 years inc. placement year
Full Time inc. placement year
03301 232 277
Watch our Biological Sciences subject area video to hear how student Eleanor has found her course at Huddersfield.
Year 1 enables you to develop a firm foundation in the molecular and cellular aspects of biology in addition to the principles of drug action. Year 2 develops these areas of study with an emphasis on disease processes in modules such as pharmacology and how molecular theory is impacting medical research strategy in modules like Genomes and Evolution. There is an optional placement in Year 3. In the final year you'll have the opportunity to investigate advanced topics such as molecular medicine and metabolic disease.
Molecular and Cellular Biology
The module is designed to give a basic introduction to cellular biology and genetics. You’ll have the opportunity to study the cellular basis of life, comparing the simple prokaryotes with much more complex eukaryotic cells - looking at the structure and function of many of the sub-cellular organelles. You’ll also be introduced to simple Mendelian genetics, together with more complex linkage analysis and its use in identifying genes. You will be assessed by coursework and exam.
This is a fundamental module for all biological sciences courses. Lectures and seminars provide insight into (i) the structure and function of biological macromolecules, including proteins and DNA; (ii) the processes by which the central biochemical pathways make energy, and build new cells from raw materials. Basic concepts in metabolism and metabolic regulation are introduced to show how biochemistry underpins a multitude of processes from athletic performance to human disease. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
Physiology 1: Structure and Function
The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to normal and abnormal human bodily functions. The module introduces basic physiological concepts and the clinical relevance of these will be highlighted using clinical examples. This insight into human physiology is designed to enhance your understanding of related subject areas such as pharmacology . A variety of teaching activities will be used on this module including lectures, tutorials and laboratory classes. The laboratory sessions help you to gain basic laboratory skills in physiological measurement through assessed written practical reports. You’ll also be assessed by a final examination.
Analytical Science 1
In this module you’ll be introduced to analytical science. In the first half of the module you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the basic statistical concepts important in analytical science before going on to an introduction to a series of physical and spectroscopic analytical techniques. The second half of the module focuses on the use of various spectroscopic methods for the characterisation of known compounds and for the identification of unknown compounds. You will be assessed by coursework and exam.
This module enables you to develop the requisite background skills for successful completion of an Honours degree in which understanding of scientific research methods plays an important part. The type of skills that you’ll be encouraged to develop during the year can be divided into two areas, numerical skills and information and communication skills. The numerical skills component begins with some basic mathematical skills such as rearranging equations and working with logarithms and exponential data. You’ll then be introduced to a variety of statistical methods during lectures and tutorials. Assessment is by a series of coursework.
Organic Chemistry 1
In organic chemistry, the focus is on the element carbon. The chemistry of carbon compounds is central to all living organisms. However, thousands of nonliving things (such as drugs, plastics and dyes) are also carbon compounds. This module focuses on the fundamental principles of organic chemistry including structure, bonding, functional groups and the basic language of chemical change. You'll have the opportunity to enhance your learning in a designated block of practical exercises (this element of the coursework is worth 20% of the module mark), which also helps you to develop your hands-on practical skills. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
This module gives you an understanding of the fundamental processes involved in replicating and expressing genes in all living organisms and how this expression is controlled. You’ll have the chance to learn about the techniques used in biology to isolate and analyse genes for genetic manipulation. You’ll also have opportunities to learn this from a practical point of view, through tutorials based on experiments and by taking part in several practical sessions, involving actual genetic manipulation and analysis techniques. Assessment will be by coursework and exam.
This module expands on your previous knowledge of protein structure and function. This is followed by an account of protein folding and how mis-folded proteins can cause disease. You’ll be introduced to more advanced techniques for studying protein structure such as X-ray crystallography, NMR and circular dichroism. The advantages and limitations of each technique are discussed. The structure and functions of mitochondria and chloroplasts are covered, including respiration and photosynthetic pathways, focusing on electron transport chains. The design of enzyme assays and kinetics of enzyme catalysis are described in lectures and problem based tutorials. You will be assessed by exam and practical laboratory exercises.
Molecular Aspects of Drug Action
The module will provide an in-depth account of drugs that are used to treat disorders of some of the complex systems not covered in Medical Pharmacology I. You'll have the opportunity to study in detail the principles of pharmacology, which underlie the rational use of therapeutic agents in the management of chronic disease of the cardiovascular, endocrine and respiratory systems as well as common antimicrobial agents. The module will enable you to complete your understanding of basic Pharmacokinetics.
Research Skills 2
Understanding and interpreting modern scientific data and literature is an important skill needed for modern careers in biological sciences. This module is designed to help you to develop key research and presentation skills that help prepare you for your final year research project, and also for interviews and careers in science. Topics are individually selected with guidance from the module leader. The main objective is to develop the core scientific skills of researching appropriate peer-reviewed literature, interrogating the primary research, meta-analysis and then building a detailed and focused report and scientific presentation.
Genomes and Evolution
This module aims to provide an understanding of how the eukaryote genome is organized and how the information contained within it has changed and evolved over time. It describes the arrangement of genetic information in the major groups of living organisms, and recent fundamental changes in our understanding of them. The module introduces the concepts of sequence assembly and phylogenetic reconstruction, applying this to problems in molecular evolution, focusing ultimately on human origins. Theoretical aspects include Neutral Theory and some of the difficulties experienced when applying the ‘molecular clock’. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
Option modules: Choose one from a list which may include-
Analytical Science 2
This module builds on your knowledge of molecular and atomic spectroscopy techniques. You’ll have the opportunity to develop more in-depth interpretation skills for spectroscopic data and be introduced to a range of separation techniques. You’ll also examine the principles and applications of a range of instrumental methods such as differential scanning calorimetry, atomic absorbance spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence and polarography. The application of advanced statistical analysis to analytical data will also be introduced. The module is assessed on a mixture of coursework and a final exam.
This module is an extension of the Molecular & Cellular Biology) module. You’ll be encouraged to study both cells and tissues in some depth, paying particular attention to the complex ways in which cells have evolved to communicate with each other at both intercellular and intracellular levels. You’ll also compare connective tissues and epithelial tissues, paying particular attention to the extracellular matrix proteins, which give each type of tissue is own unique properties. The module is assessed by an extended practical report and an examination.
Epidemiology and Public Health
Epidemiology is the study of epidemics in the population. In this module you’ll investigate the extent and distribution of diseases and the factors that influence these distributions. By conducting epidemiological studies we can assess factors that may be causative of diseases in the population and therefore reduce the risk. You’ll look at the different kinds of studies used to obtain such information. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
Year 3 - optional placement year
Supervised Work Experience
This placement year allows you to experience employment within an organisation related to your chosen course. The placement is usually 48 weeks in duration.
This module provides you with the experience of working independently on an open-ended research project depending on your career aspirations or interests. There is a choice available from a wide range of cellular, genetic, physiological and biochemical topics. You’ll be assigned to a supervisor who will give advice on both the day to day running of the project and the writing of the report. Tutorial support covers health and safety risk assessments, project planning, literature searching, writing a report and referencing. The module is assessed by coursework.
The module discusses our current knowledge on the process of cancer development. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about mechanisms that drive the cell cycle, including the role of key regulatory proteins that control specific checkpoints and DNA damage surveillance mechanisms. Other aspects you’ll become familiar with include the tumour microenvironment, deregulation of death, evasion of immunosurveillance and the role of stem cells. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
The module continues the theme of control mechanisms introduced in the module Physiology 2 whilst studying some physiological systems first encountered in the module Physiology 1. Major topics include renal physiology and in-utero programming of disease; the physiological basis for angiogenesis and; the regulation of transport across the gut. The module is assessed by coursework and an exam.
The module starts with an overview of the different forms of enzyme inhibition with particular reference to their use as antimetabolites and drugs. The higher levels of organisation and evolution of enzymes are then illustrated by a study of complex protein structures such as multienzyme complexes and polypeptides. Enzyme mechanisms will be scrutinised with respect to protein structure and the role of coenzymes and prosthetic groups in catalysis will be described. Allosteric and covalent regulation of enzymes is then covered, including the physiological significance of these mechanisms in the control of metabolic pathways. The consequences of the genetic deficiency of enzymes and cofactor deficits will then be discussed. The application of enzyme measurements in clinical diagnosis will then be covered. The module will end with a description of the role enzymes play in xenobiotic and drug metabolism including the toxicological and pharmacological significance of their action. Problem based tutorials and lab practicals will be used to illustrate key aspects of the lecture course and to develop problem solving skills.
Option modules: Choose one from a list which may include-
Applied Molecular Genetics
This module provides an in-depth description of many of the current applications of molecular genetics. Major areas covered are expression vector systems, next generation DNA sequencing techniques, advanced PCR methods and site-directed mutagenesis techniques. The application of molecular genetic techniques for medical research, the production of pharmaceuticals, the generation of transgenic organisms, metabolite engineering and protein engineering are described with illustrations of current research in these areas. Tutorials reinforce salient points in lectures and help you to develop problem solving and investigative skills. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
Immunology and Infection
After a brief introduction to the nature of the immune system, you’ll have the opportunity to study the different ways in which the body has evolved to deal with infectious organisms. You’ll pay particular attention to the function of both B and T lymphocytes and their role in fighting of bacterial and viral infections. You’ll also have the chance to study some selected infectious agents including a range of bacteria, viruses, prions, protozoa and parasites, looking at the ways that these organisms have evolved to overcome detection by the immune system. Assessment is by coursework and exam.
This module provides you with the opportunity to develop an in depth understanding of how genome, proteome, transcriptome and metabolome data are integrated into modern molecular biology research. The use of X-ray crystallography, NMR and mass spectroscopy to solve chemical and macromolecular structures are described. Training is provided on the use of computer software and databases for sequence alignment, restriction mapping, phylogenetic analysis and 3D molecular modelling. Assessment is by an exam and computer based assignments.
The module introduces you to molecular genetic and cytogenetic techniques. You'll start with DNA technology in disease, gene mapping, cloning and sequencing, and the latest modern methods for disease diagnosis, including DNA chips. You'll then move onto prenatal diagnosis, population screening and developmental mutations, and will consider the current state of gene therapy and animal models for human disease. The module focuses on two particular diseases - cystic fibrosis and diabetes. Finally, you'll have the opportunity gain further understanding of the role of ethics in medical genetics. Understanding/problem solving will be assessed by examination (and via an in-class problem solving assessment).
We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.
We review all optional modules each year and change them to reflect the expertise of our staff, current trends in research and as a result of student feedback. We will always ensure that you have a range of options to choose from and we will let students know in good time the options available for them to choose for the following year.
We will only change core modules for a course if it is necessary for us to do so, for example to maintain course accreditation. We will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before you begin the relevant academic year.
Sometimes we have to make changes to other aspects of a course or how it is delivered. We only make these changes if they are for reasons outside of our control, or where they are for our students’ benefit. Again, we will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before the relevant academic year. Our regulations set out our procedure which we will follow when we need to make any such changes.
When you enrol as a student of the University, your study and time with us will be governed by a framework of regulations, policies and procedures, which form the basis of your agreement with us. These include regulations regarding the assessment of your course, academic integrity, your conduct (including attendance) and disciplinary procedure, fees and finance and compliance with visa requirements (where relevant). It is important that you familiarise yourself with these as you will be asked to agree to abide by them when you join us as a student. You will find a guide to the key terms here, where you will also find links to the full text of each of the regulations, policies and procedures referred to.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.
The optional placement year (48 weeks) offers you the opportunity to apply what you have learned in Years 1 and 2 to the workplace. This can help you to relate theory to practice and develop skills in a real-world environment. Biological Sciences students have undertaken placements within the pharmaceutical sector as well as in hospitals and schools.
Recently students from the subject area of Biological Sciences have completed placements with Bradford University, University of Leeds, Prince Charles Hospital and Protein Technologies Ltd.
We encourage you to gain this real-world experience as it may help to enhance your employability after graduation. We also provide guidance and support to help you secure a placement.
80% of graduates from this course go on to work and/or further study within six months of graduating.
Previous graduates from this course have gone on to roles such as Biochemist, Research Assistant and Freelance Medical Writer in organisations including Prime Medica, H2Energy Ltd, and Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine.*
Professional links and accreditations
Teaching and assessment
35.3% of the study time on this course is spent in lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions etc. You will be taught through a series of lectures, tutorials and laboratory work. Assessment will include written exams, multiple choice questions, problem solving exercises, oral presentations and assessment of laboratory skills. The final year research project contributes to your degree classification.
Your module specification/course handbook will provide full details of the assessment criteria applying to your course.
Feedback (usually written) is normally provided on all coursework submissions within three term time weeks – unless the submission was made towards the end of the session in which case feedback would be available on request after the formal publication of results.Feedback on exam performance/final coursework is available on request after the publication of results.
Huddersfield is the UK's only university where 100% of the permanent teaching staff are fellows of the Higher Education Academy.*
*permanent staff, after probation: some recently appointed colleagues will only obtain recognition in the months after their arrival in Huddersfield, once they have started teaching
How much will it cost me?
The full-time undergraduate tuition fee for 17/18 entry is £9,250.
Tuition fees will cover the cost of your study at the University as well as charges for registration, tuition, supervision and examinations. For more information about funding, fees and finance for UK/EU students, including what your tuition fee covers, please see Fees and Finance. Please note that tuition fees for subsequent years of study may rise in line with inflation (RPI-X).
If you are an international student coming to study at the University of Huddersfield, please visit the International Fees and Finance pages for full details of tuition fees and support available.
Please email the Student Finance Office or call 01484 472210 for more information about fees and finance.
Progression to a postgraduate course is dependent on successful completion of your undergraduate studies. There may also be minimum qualification requirements such as a first class or higher second (2.1) degree. Please check the course details to confirm this.
Upon successful completion of your undergraduate studies, you may also be interested in training to become a secondary school teacher by taking a PGCE. Look at further details and entry requirements for Science with Chemistry.
If you're an international student (including EU) you can check if you meet our entry requirements (both academic and English language) by visiting our country pages.
If you do not meet the entry requirements you can consider completing a degree preparation programme (if you are from a country outside of the EU) at the University's International Study Centre (ISC). You can call the ISC on +44 (0) 1273 339333 to discuss your options. You can also complete the online application form or to ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers.
If your English language is not at the required level (IELTS 6.0 overall), we have a range of Pre-Sessional English programmes that you can enrol on before starting your degree course. You will not need to take an IELTS test after completing one of our Pre-Sessional English programmes.
Research plays an important role in informing all our teaching and learning activities. Through research our staff remain up-to-date with the latest developments in their field, which means you develop knowledge and skills that are current and highly relevant to industry. For more information, see the Research section of our website.
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Here's what student Nadia has to say about her course in the subject area of Biological Sciences.
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