Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular)
|UCAS code||C700||Duration||4 years (MBiochem)|
A*AA including Chemistry and another science or Maths, with the A* in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, or Biology (or a very closely related subject)
|Subject requirements|| Chemistry and another science or Maths|
Biology (beyond GCSE)
|Admissions test(s)||None||Written work||None|
Subject requirements: Essential Recommended Helpful – may be useful on course
Unistats information for this course can be found at the bottom of the page
Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small.
About the course
Biochemistry is the use of molecular methods to investigate, explain and manipulate biological processes.
The study of life at the molecular level continues to undergo dynamic expansion, 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 valuable developments in drug design and synthesis, forensic science, environmental monitoring and a whole range of other areas. Furthermore, advances in biochemistry are largely responsible for the breakdown of traditional disciplinary boundaries between cell biology, medicine, physics and chemistry.
The Biochemistry Department at Oxford is one of the largest in Europe, and is subdivided into the following research areas:
- Cell biology
- Development and genetics
- Chromosomal and RNA biology
- Infection and disease processes
- Microbiology and systems biology
- Structural biology and molecular biophysics.
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 and teaching facilities and excellent digital resources together with access to a wide range of online and print journals.
An important aspect of the Oxford Biochemistry course is its fourth-year project, lasting 23 full-time weeks.
The fourth year project provides an opportunity to pursue an in-depth research project under the supervision of an academic member of staff. You choose a project, plan your research programme, design your experiments and present your results to other researchers 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.
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 and Pathology and Pharmacology.
It is also possible to carry out a self-organised project outside the University or the UK.
'The broad knowledge of biochemistry that I learned has been invaluable as a starting point for learning the more specialist clinical biochemistry that is part of my current training. I learned a lot about being able to work independently and to proactively seek knowledge and opportunities, which is critical when training in a busy hospital department. I also feel lucky to have completed an undergraduate degree with a master’s year included - this has given me invaluable skills in and understanding of research, which is incredibly useful when approaching research in my current role.'
'I really like the way that Oxford teaches. It is very different from other universities where you pick options a lot sooner. The course allows you to see what’s out there and really lays the foundation work that is absolutely needed if you want to go into science careers when you finish. I also like the project in the fourth year. I’m really looking forward to it as I’ll get the chance to work for an extended amount of time in a lab. It will definitely help me to decide whether a job in research/PhD is for me!'
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Please select 'see course data' on the following course option to view the full Unistats data for Biochemistry.
Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small.
Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular)
A typical week (Years 1-3)
During Years 1-3, your weekly timetable will be divided between lectures (typically eight to ten a week), tutorials and classes (1 to 3 a week) and practicals (averaging 1 full day a week). The remaining time will be spent on independent study (set reading or problem-solving exercises).
Tutorials are usually 2-4 students and a tutor. Class sizes may vary depending on the topic but are usually no more than 10-12 students. The ratio of demonstrators to students during practical sessions is usually about 1:12.
Most tutorials and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subjects, many of whom are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research.
Some tutorials and lectures may be delivered by postdoctoral researchers, while tutorials are occasionally delivered by postgraduate students.
Departmental classes and practicals are supervised by a senior member of staff and largely delivered by postdoctoral researchers or postgraduate students who are studying at doctoral level.
In your fourth year, you will choose and complete a project, lasting 23 full-time weeks (plus 2 for writing up), which will allow you to explore in detail, both laboratory-based research and specific recent advances in biochemistry.
Under the supervision of a research group leader, you will design your own experiments, learn to plan research programmes and present your results and ideas – orally and in written form – to other workers in the field. The research project is written up in a dissertation in a form suitable for publication.
Alongside the first 3 weeks of the project there will be some advanced skills training. Apart from the project, you will have the task of writing an extended essay in the form of a review article.
You will need to be in Oxford for 12 weeks in the first term, followed by a two-week break over Christmas. You will continue your project over the 8 weeks of the second term and first 3 weeks of the third term, submitting your project dissertation thereafter. You will also deliver an oral presentation on your project.
While the experience gained is much valued by employers, the project will also give you the opportunity to reflect on your aptitude and enthusiasm for a research career. Alongside the research project you will write a review article in an area of interest to you, with advice from an expert in this area.
The final degree class is derived from a combination of marks from courses taken in the second and third years, the assessment of the research project and the review article in the fourth year.
This additional work in your final year means that you will graduate with an MBiochem – a master's degree – as well as invaluable research experience that will be excellent preparation for further study or a range of careers.
The final degree class is derived from a combination of marks from the assessment on the work done in the second, third and fourth years.
To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.
Five courses are taken:
First University examinations: five written papers; satisfactory practical record
Years 2 and 3
Teaching is done along five themes:
Summative assessments (four, two-hour assessments)
Year 4 (extended first term)
Assessment of the research project, along with broader research skills displayed in the written work - the project dissertation and the review article.
The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.
|A*AA including Chemistry and another Science or Mathematics. The A* must be in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Biology, or a very closely related subject|
|For those taking three Advanced Highers, AAB including an A in Chemistry and an A or B in another science or Mathematics, or for those doing two Advanced Highers and one Higher, AAA, including A in AH Chemistry and A in another Science or Mathematics at AH or H level.|
International Baccalaureate (IB):
|39 (including core points) with 7 in HL Chemistry and 6 in two other relevant subjects at HL or SL|
Any other equivalent qualification:
|View information on other UK qualifications, and international qualifications|
Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.
Read further information on how we use contextual data.
|Chemistry to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent, plus another science or Mathematics.|
|Mathematics to A-level or the equivalent is recommended to students in completing the course and, although not required for admission, may make an application more competitive.|
|Biology beyond GCSE or the equivalent (eg AS-level, Scottish Highers, Standard Level in the IB) can be helpful to students in completing the course, although is not required for admission. More detailed information is available on the department website.|
If a practical component forms part of any of your science A‐levels used to meet your offer, we expect you to pass it.
If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.
All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown on our Applying to Oxford pages.
The following information gives specific details for students applying for this course.
Written work and admissions tests
You do not need to take a written test or submit any written work as part of an application for this course.
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). They will also be looking for an ability to use information (from other school or college subjects, particularly Chemistry) to analyse and solve problems and to construct your own opinions.
Visit the Biochemistry website for more detail on the selection criteria for this course.
Biochemists play an important role in biological, environmental and clinical fields, with employment areas stretching from healthcare through forensic science to the food and pharmaceutical industries.
Typically about 60% of our biochemistry graduates go on to do research or further study, mostly in biochemistry related subjects, while others find employment in industry, commerce or other areas, such as finance and the law.
Further details of careers in biochemistry can be found on the UK Biochemical Society website.
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.’
We don't want anyone who has the academic ability to get a place to study here to be held back by their financial circumstances. To meet that aim, Oxford offers one of the most generous financial support packages available for UK students and this may be supplemented by support from your college.
Note: These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2023. Course fee information for courses starting in 2024 will be updated in September.
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.
Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.
Living costs for the academic year starting in 2023 are estimated to be between £1,290 and £1,840 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.
A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK, Irish nationals and other eligible students with UK citizens' rights - see below*) students undertaking their first undergraduate degree**, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.
In 2023 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to Home students with a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £27,500 or less. The UK government also provides living costs support to Home students from the UK and those with settled status who meet the residence requirements.
*For courses starting on or after 1 August 2021, the UK government has confirmed that EU, other EEA, and Swiss Nationals will be eligible for student finance from the UK government if they have UK citizens’ rights (i.e. if they have pre-settled or settled status, or if they are an Irish citizen covered by the Common Travel Area arrangement). The support you can access from the government will depend on your residency status.
Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.
Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:
Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.
**If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding
Additional Fees and Charges Information for Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular)
In the final year of the Biochemistry course, students work an extended first term to begin their research project. You will need to be in Oxford for 12 weeks in the first term, followed by a two-week break over Christmas.
The extended terms mean that you will need to budget for higher living costs in the final year, as you will be required to be in Oxford for longer than the standard terms.
Unistats course data from Discover Uni provides applicants with statistics about a particular undergraduate course at Oxford. For a more holistic insight into what studying your chosen course here is likely to be like, we would encourage you to view the information below as well as to explore our website more widely.
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During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your tutorials will be doing the same course as you. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.
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