University of Oxford Undergraduate Prospectus 2015 entry

Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular)

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Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular)

An MBiochem in 4 years

UCAS code: C700

Course statistics for 2013 entry

Interviewed: 79%

Successful: 27%

Intake: 90

Entrance requirements

A-levels: A*AA with A* in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Biology, or a closely related subject

Advanced Highers: AA/AAB

IB: 39 (including core points) with 7 in HL Chemistry and 6 in two other relevant subjects at HL or SL

Or any other equivalent

Candidates are expected to have Chemistry to A-level, Advanced Higher, or Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent, plus another science or Mathematics. Biology and Mathematics to at least AS-level, Scottish Higher or Standard Level in the IB (Mathematical Methods, not Mathematical Studies) or any other equivalent can be helpful to students in completing the course, although they are not required for admission. More detailed information is available on the department website.

How to apply (see page 118) [Transcriber’s Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

Tests: None required

Written Work: None required

Tuition Fees for 2014

Home/EU: £9,000/year

No upfront costs: you can get a loan for the full amount

Grants, bursaries and scholarships available

More on student finance: p 120 [Transcriber’s Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

More Information

Oxford Open days

2 and 3 July, and 19 September 2014

What is Biochemistry?

The study of living things at the molecular level has undergone tremendous expansion in recent years, leading to ever increasing insights into topics as various as the origin of life, the nature of disease and the development of individual organisms. Powerful new techniques, such as those of molecular genetics and NMR spectroscopy, enable us to analyse biological phenomena in more and more precise molecular terms. These studies have led to commercially valuable developments in drug design and synthesis, forensic science, environmental sensing and a whole range of other areas. Furthermore, advances in biochemistry are largely responsible for the breakdown of traditional boundaries between cell biology, medicine, physics and chemistry as their applications become increasingly wide reaching.

Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry at Oxford

The Biochemistry Department in Oxford is one of the largest in Europe, and includes academic divisions of: Cell and Chromosome Biology; Genes and Development; Molecular Biophysics; Molecular and Systems Biochemistry; and the Glycobiology Institute/Drug Discovery Research Unit. The department is extremely active in research, with about 300 postgraduate students and research staff. The breadth and excellence of these activities are reflected in the scope of the undergraduate course and underpin the teaching.

The department has superb research facilities – having moved into our brand new building in September 2008 – and excellent teaching facilities, computer network and access to a wide range of online and hard-copy journals.

An important aspect of the Oxford Biochemistry course is its fourth-year project, lasting 18 weeks full-time, which allows you to explore both laboratory-based research and specific recent advances in biochemistry in detail. You choose the project yourself. Under the supervision of a group leader, you will design your own experiments, and will learn to plan research programmes and present your results and ideas - orally and in written form - to other workers in the field. The experience gained is much valued by employers. The project also gives you the opportunity to reflect on your aptitude and enthusiasm for a research career.

Research placements/ international opportunities

A wide choice of fourth-year research projects is available both within the Biochemistry Department and in related departments, such as Molecular Medicine, Clinical Biochemistry, Pathology and Pharmacology. About ten students each year can carry out their project in selected European universities under the ERASMUS exchange scheme, and at Princeton University in the USA.

A typical weekly timetable

During years 1-3, your work is divided between lectures (about ten a week), tutorials (one or two a week) and practicals (averaging one full day a week). The remaining time is spent on private study (set reading, or problem-solving exercises). In the fourth year, the project occupies you in full-time research for 18 weeks, and the remainder of the year is spent in writing up your research project and studying specialist option topics. Your final degree class is derived from a combination of marks from second-, third- and fourth-year courses.

What are tutors looking for?

As Biochemistry is not taught as an A-level subject, tutors will not expect you to have a detailed knowledge of the subject. However, if you are shortlisted for interview, tutors will be looking for an informed interest in the subject (originating from news items, books, magazine articles, etc), together with an ability to use information (from other school or college subjects, particularly Chemistry) to analyse and solve problems and to construct your own opinions. For further information about the selection criteria see:


Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry or Human Sciences.


Biochemists are playing an increasingly wide role in biological, environmental and clinical fields, with employment areas stretching from healthcare to agriculture. Biochemical analysis is used in clinical and forensic science, such as DNA fingerprinting, and in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Other areas of employment include biotechnology and bioinformatics. Typically about 60% of our biochemistry graduates go on to do research or further study, mostly in the biochemistry field, while others find employment in industry, commerce or other areas, such as finance. Further details of careers in biochemistry can be found on the UK Biochemical Society website

Kathryn, who graduated in 1984, has worked internationally as a molecular biologist and currently teaches in China. She says: “My tutor at Oxford helped me see beyond the obvious career in science in the UK and I was fortunate to be able to ride the Biotech wave in the US in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then, everywhere I have travelled and worked I have met helpful and supportive alumni. Oxford is a truly global university.”

Recent Biochemistry graduates include a PhD researcher in clinical medicine, a financial analyst, a market research executive, and a research assistant at a Chinese university.

Erin, who graduated in 2010, is a clinical scientist for the NHS. She says: ‘My degree not only gave me the knowledge and qualification necessary for a career in Clinical Biochemistry, but the methods of teaching employed at Oxford University have helped me develop an investigative and independent way of thinking, perfect for this career which applies scientific principles to clinical situations.’

For more information about careers after Oxford, please see p 122 [Transcriber’s Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note].


Please see for details of Erasmus opportunities for this course.

1st year


Five courses are taken:

  • Molecular cell biology

  • Biophysical chemistry

  • Organic chemistry

  • Elementary maths and statistics


First University examinations: Five written papers; satisfactory practical record

2nd and 3rd years


Five courses are taken:

  • Structure and function of macromolecules

  • Energetics and metabolic processes

  • Genetics and molecular biology

  • Cell biology and integration of function


Final University examinations, Part 1: Six written papers; satisfactory practical record

4th year (extended first term)


A research project (full-time, 18 weeks), plus two courses taken from a list of options.

The list typically includes subjects such as:

  • Bionanotechnology

  • Cancer biology

  • Clinical and applied immunology

  • Membrane transport

  • Neuropharmacology

  • Signalling and coordination in plants

  • Structural proteomics

  • Virology


Final University examinations, Part 2: Project dissertation and oral presentation Two written papers

Student statement

I came on the UNIQ Summer School here the year before I applied to university. The whole Oxford education system really appealed to me. Gareth

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