As a biochemist you study the way living organisms – from viruses and bacteria to mammals, plants and other higher organisms – function at the molecular level. Biochemistry has a major impact on vital areas such as medicine, agriculture and the environment, so you could contribute to positive change.
In the School of Biosciences, we have a community spirit and students learn with and from each other. We are also renowned for our innovative teaching methods, including:
- new ways of using IT in lectures, which allow you to revisit the teaching at a later date
- academic-developed animations to help explain tricky concepts
- final-year communication projects teaching you how to share scientific knowledge with the public.
Our Biochemistry degree is recognised by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB).
Our degree programme
In your first year, your modules give you an insight into various biological and chemical disciplines, including biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, microbiology and physiology. Your second year builds on this knowledge and covers areas such as gene regulation, cell biology and metabolism.
In your first and second years, you also take specific modules to develop your skills as a bioscientist.
In your final year, alongside your compulsory modules, you conduct a research project. There are three types of project: laboratory; literature and data analysis; or communication. From the many areas of research covered in the School, you can choose to focus on an area that interests you. You also choose two optional modules from a range that covers areas such as the biology of ageing, cancer biology and neuroscience.
Your placement year is taken between your second and final years. It provides an excellent opportunity to gain relevant work experience in industry in the UK or abroad. During your placement you are paid by your employer and produce an independent research project.
Alternatively, you can study or work abroad as part of your degree on our Biochemistry with a Year Abroad degree. You can also take our three-year Biochemistry degree, without a year abroad or a sandwich year.
We also offer between 20 and 30 paid Summer Studentships each year. You can apply to work in our research labs during the summer holiday and gain hands-on research experience before your final year of study.
You can join BioSoc, a student-run society. Previous activities have included research talks and social events.
We also encourage our students to attend outside conferences and events. In 2015, Kent students competed with 280 teams and won the gold medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Giant Jamboree in the USA.
Our modern teaching labs ensure you have a state-of-the-art working and learning environment. The School attracts a lot of research funding, and this provides for well-equipped research labs and first-class research facilities.
New Institute for Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine
Biosciences' research excellence will be further enhanced by a new 'Institute of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine' research facility. The new building will be completed in 2020, and will house additional staff and research facilities.
Kent & Medway Medical School
Kent is moving forward with the Kent & Medway Medical School (KMMS), due to take the first cohort of students in September 2020.
The Medical School will be a significant addition to the University, with exciting opportunities for education and research in the School of Biosciences.
Our school collaborates with research groups in industry and academia throughout the UK and Europe. It also has excellent links with local employers, such as:
- Eli Lilly
- Aesica Pharmaceuticals
- Sekisui Diagnostics
- Cairn Research
- Public Health England.
Biological Sciences at Kent scored 93.7 out of 100 and was ranked 17th in The Complete University Guide 2019.
In The Guardian University Guide 2019, over 91% of final-year Biosciences students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.
Of Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Biochemistry students who graduated from Kent in 2017 and completed a national survey, 100% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).
Teaching Excellence Framework
Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.
Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.
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BI300 - Introduction to Biochemistry
This course will provide an introduction to biomolecules in living matter. The simplicity of the building blocks of macromolecules (amino acids, monosaccharides, fatty acids and purine and pyrimidine bases) will be contrasted with the enormous variety and adaptability that is obtained with the different macromolecules (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids). The nature of the electronic and molecular structure of macromolecules and the role of non-covalent interactions in an aqueous environment will be highlighted. The unit will be delivered though lectures, formative practicals and related feedback sessions to ensure students fully understand what is expected of them. Short tests (formative assessment) will be used throughout the unit to test students' knowledge and monitor that the right material has been extracted from the lectures.Read more
BI301 - Enzymes and Introduction to Metabolism
This course aims to introduce the 'workers' present in all cells – enzymes, and their role in the chemical reactions that make life possible.
The fundamental characteristics of enzymes will be discussed – that they are types of protein that act as catalysts to speed up reactions, or make unlikely reactions more likely. Methods for analysis of enzymic reactions will be introduced (enzyme kinetics). Control of enzyme activity, and enzyme inhibition will be discussed.
Following on from this the pathways of intermediary metabolism will be introduced. Enzymes catalyse many biochemical transformations in living cells, of which some of the most fundamental are those which capture energy from nutrients. Energy capture by the breakdown (catabolism) of complex molecules and the corresponding formation of NADH, NADPH, FADH2 and ATP will be described. The central roles of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and oxidative phosphorylation in aerobic metabolism will be detailed. The pathways used in animals for catabolism and biosynthesis (anabolism) of some carbohydrates and fat will be covered, as well as their control. Finally how humans adapt their metabolism to survive starvation will be discussed.Read more
BI302 - Molecular and Cellular Biology I
This course will expose students to key themes and experimental techniques in molecular biology, genetics and eukaryotic cell biology illustrated by examples from a wide range of microbial and mammalian systems. It will cover basic cell structure, and organisation of cells into specialized cell types and complex multi-cellular organisms. The principles of cell cycle and cell division will be outlined. The control of all living processes by genetic mechanisms will be introduced and an opportunity to handle and manipulate genetic material provided in the laboratory. Monitoring of students' knowledge and progress will be provided by a multi-choice test and the laboratory report, with feedback.
Functional Geography of Cells: Introduction to cell organisation, variety and cell membranes. Molecular traffic in cells. Organelles involved in energy and metabolism. Eukaryotic cell cycle. Chromosome structure & cell division. Meiosis and recombination.
Molecular biology: The structure and function of genetic material. Chromosomes, chromatin structure, mutations, DNA replication, DNA repair and recombination, Basic mechanisms of transcription, mRNA processing and translation.
Techniques in molecular and cellular biology: Methods in cell Biology - light and electron microscopy; cell culture, fractionation and protein isolation/electrophoresis; antibodies, radiolabelling. Gene Cloning – vectors, enzymes, ligation, transformation, screening; hybridisation, probes and blots, PCR, DNA sequencing. Applications including recombinant protein expression, trangenics/knockouts, RNAi, genome projects, DNA typing, microarray and '…omics' studies (genome, proteome, interactome, metabolome etc).
Laboratory: PCR amplification of DNA and gel analysis.Read more
BI307 - Human Physiology and Disease
This module will consider the anatomy and function of normal tissues, organs and systems and then describe their major pathophysiological conditions. It will consider the aetiology of the condition, its biochemistry and its manifestation at the level of cells, tissues and the whole patient. It may also cover the diagnosis and treatment of the disease condition.
Indicative topics will include:
Cells and tissues
Cell communication and homeostasis
Introduction to the nervous system
The cardiovascular system
The respiratory system
The immune system and inflammation
Blood cells and clotting
The Urinary system
The digestive system, liver and pancreasRead more
BI308 - Skills for Bioscientists
Subject-based and communication skills are relevant to all the bioscience courses. This module allows you to become familiar with practical skills, the analysis and presentation of biological data and introduces some basic mathematical and statistical skills as applied to biological problems. It also introduces you to the computer network and its applications and covers essential skills such as note-taking and essay writing.
Topics covered in lectures/workshops:
How biosciences is taught at Kent - lectures, supervisions, problem solving classes, practicals. Effective study and listening skills, note taking and use of the library. Support networks.
General principles of analytical biochemistry - quantitative/qualitative analysis, making and recording measurements. The quality of data - random and systematic error, precision, accuracy, sensitivity and specificity.
The manipulation and presentation of data - SI units, prefixes and standard form
Molarities and dilutions -concentration (molarity) and amounts (moles), dilutions.
Acids, bases and buffers in aqueous solutions - Definition of pH, acid and bases (including a revision of logarithms). Acid-base titrations. Buffer mixtures, buffering capacity and the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation.Dissociation of polyprotic, weak acids. Biochemical relevance of pH e.g. pH dependant ionisation of amino acids.
Spectroscopy - The range of electromagnetic radiation. Absorption and emission of radiation. Molecular absorptiometry - the use of the Beer-Lambert relationship for quantitative measurements using absolute or comparative methods (molar and specific extinction coefficients).
Reaction Kinetics. Reactions and rates of change: Factors affecting the rate of a reaction. Zero, first and second order reactions. Rate constants and rate equations (including integration). Worked examples of rates of reactions.
Statistics Descriptive statistics: definition of statistics, sampling, measurement scales, data hierarchy, summarising data, averaging, mean, mode, median, quantiles, graphical methods, displaying proportions, charts and chart junk. Parametrising distributions: coefficient of variation, normal distribution, properties of the normal curve, skewness and kurtosis, accuracy and precision.
Probability: definition, events, exclusivity and conditional probability, throwing dice and tossing coins, independent and dependent events, permutations, multiplicative rule, binomial distribution, unequal probabilities, Pascal's triangle, factorials and combinations.
Hypothesis testing: null hypothesis, p-value, normal curve, z-score and t-score, t values and confidence interval, t-tables, comparing two samples, degrees of freedom, t-tests for same and different sample sizes, paired samples, difference between means.
Correlation and covariance: two-dimensional distributions, scatter diagram, degree and limits of correlation, spurious correlation, correlation and causality, time correlation, normalising the covariance, covariance in spreadsheet calculations.
Regression: the regression line, slope and intercept parameters, regression in spreadsheet calculations, history of regression, assumptions in regression, effect of outliers, how not to use statistics.
1. Introduction to basic laboratory techniques-
a) preparation of buffer solutions and
b) determination of accuracy
2. pH and buffers
3. Colorimetry and SpectrophotometryRead more
BI3220 - Biological Chemistry B
Students without A2 Chemistry (equivalent) on entry take Phases 1+2+3
Students with A2 Chemistry (equivalent) on entry take Phases 2+3+4
N.B. Students with A2 Chemistry or equivalent below grade C will follow Phases 1+2+3
This approach allows fundamental concepts (Phase 1) to be taught to non-A2 Chemistry students. Biology students with A2 Chemistry (or equivalent) will obtain additional chemical concepts (Phase 4) as their chemistry qualification at A2 will already furnish them with concepts from Phase 1. All students will participate in the core section: Phase 2.
Phases 2+3+4 students will use the Phase 1 coursework test as a formative assessment to recognise their required chemical knowledgebase as obtained at A2 level. This provides an opportunity to identify students requiring additional support.
This module links to Biological Chemistry A with identically designed phases (1, 2 and 3) to maximise teaching efficiency across all programs in the School of Biosciences.
Phase 1: Autumn Term (5 lectures, 6 x 2 hr Workshops)
Basic chemical concepts for biology will be taught and applied through examples in a workshop atmosphere. The five workshop topics covered are: (i) Atoms and states of matter (ii) valence and bonding (iii) basic organic chemistry for biologists (iv) molecular shapes and isomerism in biology and (iv) chemical reactivity and chemical equations.
Assessment feedback of basic chemistry (1 session/lecture)
Phase 2: Autumn Term (9 lectures, 2 x 2 hr Workshop, 3 extra support lectures)
Chemical and biochemical thermodynamics. Topics covered are: (i) energetic and work, (ii) enthalpy, entropy and the laws of thermodynamics (iii) Gibbs free energy, equilibrium and spontaneous reactions, (iv) Chemical and biochemical equilibrium (including activity versus concentration and Le Chatelier's principle). The two hour workshop is designed to be delivered as small group sessions to cover the applications and practice of thermodynamics concepts.
Chemistry applied to biological concepts: bonding, valence, hybridisation as well as biological applied thermodynamic process (biomolecular association/dissociation).
Assessment feedback (1 session/lecture)
Phase 3: Spring Term (17 lectures, 2 x 2 hr workshop)
Fundamental organic chemistry with biological examples. Topics covered: (i) Introduction and basic functional chemistry, (ii) Isomerism and stereochemistry, (iii) Reaction mechanisms, (iv) Alkanes/alkyl halides/alkenes/alkynes, (v) Aromatic compounds, (vi) Heterocyclic compounds, (vii) Amines and alcohols (viii) Carbonyl compounds and carboxylic acids and (ix) Biological inorganic chemistry. The two workshops is designed to be delivered as small group sessions to cover the applications of reaction mechanisms and reaction schemes.
Phase 4: Spring Term (8 lectures, 2 x 1 hr workshop)Read more
BI324 - Genetics and Evolution
This module is an introduction to Mendelian genetics and also includes human pedigrees, quantitative genetics, and mechanisms of evolution.Read more
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BI501 - Gene Expression and Its Control
The module deals with the molecular mechanisms of gene expression and its regulation in organisms ranging from viruses to man. This involves descriptions of how genetic information is stored in DNA and RNA, how that information is decoded by the cell and how this flow of information is controlled in response to changes in environment or developmental stage. Throughout, the mechanisms in prokaryotes and eukaryotes will be compared and contrasted and will touch on the latest developments in how we can analyse gene expression, and what these developments have revealed.Read more
BI503 - Cell Biology
The cell is the fundamental structural unit in living organisms. Eukaryotic cells are compartmentalized structures that like prokaryotic cells, must perform several vital functions such as energy production, cell division and DNA replication and also must respond to extracellular environmental cues. In multicellular organisms, certain cells have developed modified structures, allowing them to fulfil highly specialised roles. This module reviews the experimental approaches that have been taken to investigate the biology of the cell and highlights the similarities and differences between cells of complex multicellular organisms and microbial cells. Initially the functions of the cytoskeleton and certain cellular compartments, particularly the nucleus, are considered. Later in the unit, the mechanisms by which newly synthesised proteins are secreted or shuttled to their appropriate cellular compartments are examined.Read more
BI505 - Infection and Immunity
This module will consider the anatomy and function of the immune system and immunopathology and then consider the diseases and microorganisms that affect the different organs and tissues of the human body. Indicative topics will include inflammation, innate and adaptive immunity to pathogens, immune defence mechanisms against bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, antibody classes and functions, antigen processing and presentation, complement, the generation of antibody diversity, cell communication and immunopathology, including autoimmunity, hypersensitivity and transplant rejection. In the medical microbiology section of the module, indicative topics will include epidemiology, virology, parasitology, fungal infections, skin infections, GI tract infections, CNS infections, respiratory tract infections, UTI and STD infections.Read more
BI513 - Human Physiology and Disease 2
Reproductive System: Male and female reproductive systems; Endocrine control of reproduction; Fertilisation; Early embryogenesis; Pregnancy and Parturition; Reproductive disorders.
Muscle: Muscle types: skeletal, smooth and cardiac; Structure of muscle; Molecular basis of contraction; Regulation of contraction including neural control; Energy requirements of muscle; Types of movement: reflex, voluntary, rhythmic; Muscle disorders.
Nervous System: Cells of the nervous system- neurons and glia; Electrical properties of neurons- action potential generation and conduction; Synaptic structure and function- transmitters and receptors; Structural organization of the central nervous system (CNS) and function of individual regions; Organization and function of the peripheral nervous system (PNS)- somatic motor, autonomic (sympathetic and parasympathetic) and sensory; Sensory systems- vision, hearing, taste, smell, pain. Disorders of the nervous system.
Endocrine System: Endocrine glands; Classes of hormones; Mechanisms of hormone action; Regulation of hormone release; Endocrine disorders.Read more
BI520 - Metabolism and Metabolic Disease
Electron transport and oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria: The chemiosmotic hypothesis, mechanism of ATP synthase, ATP yield, disorders associated with mutations in the mitochondrial genome.
Overview of inherited metabolic disease processes: Accumulation of substrate; Accumulation of a normally minor metabolite; Deficiency of product; Secondary metabolic phenomena. Relation to genetics: Autosomal recessive disorders; X-linked recessive disorders; Autosomal dominant disorders; Mitochondrial inheritance.
Metabolism of amino acids and nucleotides: Amino acid metabolism involved in the production of neurotransmitters, role of amino acids in phenylketonuria, purine/pyrimidine degradation, and the onset/treatment of Gout.
The urea cycle: The link between nitrogen and carbon metabolism, and diseases associated with enzyme deficiencies. Treatments for defects in urea cycle enzymes.
Cholesterol metabolism: Biosynthesis and transport of cholesterol, regulation of cholesterol synthesis, hypercholesterolemia/atherosclerosis, and the use of statins to control cholesterol levels.
Vitamins and malnutrition: Vitamin requirements with a metabolic focus of the roles of vitamin A in the visual cycle, vitamin C in connective tissue, vitamin D in bone formation, and vitamin K in blood clotting.
Sugar metabolism: Glucose transporters and disease; Glycogen storage diseases; Pyruvate dehydrogrenase complex defects.
Diabetes and insulin: Diabetic ketoacidosis.
Heme synthesis and breakdown in health and disease: Metabolic defects in heme synthesis and the porphyrias.Read more
BI521 - Metabolism and Metabolic Regulation
This module describes the integration of the many chemical reactions underpinning the function of cells. For example, how cells make ATP and use it to drive cellular activities, and how plant cells harvest energy from the sun in the process of photosynthesis.
Part A: Principles of metabolic regulation
Metabolic regulation maintains molecular homeostasis. Metabolic controls that lead to changes in output of metabolic pathways in response to signals or changes in circumstances.
Common points of regulation: reactions far from equilibrium. Examples from carbohydrate metabolism of relationship between equilibrium constants, mass action coefficients and free energy changes.
Metabolic control analysis.
Mechanisms of regulation: examples from e.g. carbohydrate metabolism. Timescale; transcriptional regulation; post-translational modification; signalling via e.g. Ca2+ and metabolites especially AMP.
Part B: Plant metabolism
C3 and C4 pathways
Secondary metabolites: morphine, quinine, nicotine, caffeine and others
Part C: Microbial metabolic adaptations
Microbial genomics: analysing metabolic pathways using genomic information
Microbial metabolism in the nitrogen cycle
Examples of specialised metabolism: Salmonella, Campylobacter and others
Secondary metabolites: certain antibiotics
Part D: Metabolism in biotechnology
Manipulating microbial metabolism for the production of useful compounds: citric acid, amino acids etc.
Manipulating mammalian cell metabolism in biotechnology: production of complex molecules by animal cells in culture, and its relation to metabolic processes.Read more
BI532 - Skills for Bioscientists 2
A. Communication Skills in Biosciences: Essay writing, oral presentations, laboratory reports, the scientific literature and literature reviews. Working in groups.
B. Techniques in Biomolecular Science: Immunochemistry. Monoclonal and polyclonal antibody production, immuno-chromatography, ELISA and RIA. Electrophoresis, Immunoblotting, Protein Determination, Activity Assays, Purification.
C. Computing for Biologists: Bioinformatics, phylogenetic trees, database searches for protein/DNA sequences.
D. Mini-project – introduction to research skills: Students will work in groups of eight to undertake directed experimental work (Group Project) before extending the project further through self-directed experiments working as a pair (Mini Project).
E. Careers: The programme will be delivered by the Careers Advisory Service and will review the types of careers available for bioscience students. The sessions will incorporate personal skills, careers for bioscience graduates, records of achievement, curriculum vitae preparation, vacation work, postgraduate study, interview skills and action planning.Read more
BI546 - Animal Form and Function
You study the diversity of animal life throughout evolution, including elements of functional anatomy and physiology such as circulation and gaseous exchange, the digestive system, the nervous system and reproduction.
A. Comparative physiology - in this section the diversity of different physiological systems will be studied including circulation, gaseous exchange, feeding and digestion, excretion, nervous tissue and the senses, reproduction and immunology.
B. Form and Function - in this section a diverse range of taxonomic groups and their characteristics will be studied to understand the relationship between structure and function. How these characteristics equip the animal to survive and succeed in its particular environment will be explored.Read more
BI548 - Microbial Physiology and Genetics I
Introduction: The ecological, medical, scientific and commercial importance of bacteria. Bacterial evolution and taxonomy.
Microbial biodiversity at the structural level: Composition of the average bacterial cell and basic bacterial cell structure. Gram positive and gram negative. Archea. Organisation of DNA. Membranes and the transport of small molecules into and out of the cell. Peptidoglycan and LPS and their importance in pathogenesis. The location and function of proteins. Capsule, flagella and adhesins.
Introduction to growth, fuelling and biosynthesis: Division by binary fission, including growth equations. Growth in batch and chemostat cultures; liquid vs. solid media. Nutritional and non-nutritional factors affecting growth (temperature, osmolarity, pH and antibiotics). Physiological state and balanced growth. Adaptation to extreme conditions.
Microbial biodiversity at the physiological and biochemical level: The diversity in bacterial metabolism (nutrient sources (particularly carbon and nitrogen)), photosynthesis, aerobic and anaerobic growth and alternative terminal electron acceptors. Fermentation. The inverse relationship between growth factor requirements and biochemical complexity. The ecological significance of bacteria.
Synthesis, localisation and assembly of macromolecular structures: DNA replication and transcription. Translational and protein localisation, assembly of flagella and adhesins. Membranes, including LPS. Peptidoglycan. Antibiotics that inhibit peptidoglycan biosynthesis. Capsules.
Microbial communities and ecology: growth and survival in the real world (e.g. soils and sediments), studying populations and individuals. Biofilms and complex communities. Diauxie and growth.
Signalling and physiological control: Introduction to bacterial genetics. The regulation of gene expression at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level in response to environmental factors Chemotaxis.
Practical: "Antibiotics" in which students follow the growth of bacteria upon treatment with bacteriostatic and bactericidal antibiotics and answer questions about data concerning the mode of action of antibiotic resistance presented in the laboratory manual.
Workshop: "Growth and viable counts" in which the students are given numerical data + growth equations and have to define factors such as (i) dilutions needed to give specific cell numbers, (ii) generations of growth to achieve specific cells numbers (iii) growth rate/doubling time. Designed to give students the skills required to manipulate bacterial cells to achieve correct cell density and growth phase for practical work.Read more
BI514 - Pharmacology
Introduction and basic principles of drug action: key drug targets including major receptor subtypes, ion channels, transporters, and structure-function relationships
Systems pharmacology: the biological basis of diseases states affecting different physiological systems, therapeutic approaches to treating these diseases, and the cellular/molecular mode of action of drugs used. Indicative diseases may include hypertension, asthma, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, infertility, depression and anxiety.Read more
Year in industry
Biochemistry offers the possibility of doing a one-year placement away from the University between Stages 2 and 3. Sandwich placements provide an excellent opportunity to gain relevant work experience, usually in the pharmaceutical industry or a research institute. These placements can be in the UK or abroad. You are paid by your employer and produce an independent research project.
On a sandwich placement you acquire additional skills and gain first-hand experience of a particular type of work, which will help to inform your career decisions at the end of your degree. Previously, our students have worked at companies including: GlaxoSmithKline, MedImmune, Lonza, BASF, Eli Lilly and Bayer Crop Science.
Progression: To progress to Stage 2 you must achieve an overall average of 65% in Stage 1 unless you applied through UCAS for the sandwich year option and met the conditions of the entry offer made. If the 65% requirement is not met, you will be transferred to the equivalent three-year programme which is identical except for the year spent away from the University.
Visit the School of Biosciences web pages for more information about the sandwich year option, including comments from past students.
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BI797 - Sandwich Year Assessment
A placement typically is a 9-12 month internship with a commercial or public sector or charity organisation which provides opportunities for the student to develop graduate level subject-specific and generic employability skills. Choice of placement by student will be guided and facilitated at UoK with the learning outcomes listed above in mind. It is requested by UoK that the student be closely guided in work (usually with a named supervisor) involving specialist training. Placements are expected to have a scientific research focus and incorporate a project element that may be written up as a scientific report, however, the specific type of work undertaken may vary significantly from placement to placement. The research project should occupy not less than thirty percent of the sandwich year.Read more
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BI600 - Research Project
Early in the Autumn term, projects are assigned to students by the project co-ordinator (a member of academic staff), where possible in accordance with student choice. Students then meet with their project supervisor to discuss the objectives of the project and obtain guidance on background reading. During the Autumn term students write a brief formative literature review on the project topic providing them with a good background before embarking on the project work.
The main project activities take place in the Spring term. Students taking laboratory projects spend 192 hours (24 hours per week for 8 weeks) in the lab planning, carrying out and documenting experiments. A further 108 hours are allowed for background reading and report writing. There are informal opportunities to discuss the project work and relevant literature with the supervisor and other laboratory staff. Formal meetings may be arranged at the discretion of the student and supervisor. Students undertaking non-laboratory projects are based in the library or, occasionally, in the laboratory; they are expected to dedicate 300 hours to their project work. Non-laboratory students are strongly encouraged to meet with the supervisor at least once a week to discuss progress and ideas and to resolve problems. At the end of the formal project time, students are allowed time to complete the final project report, although they are encouraged to start writing as early as possible during the Spring term. The supervisor provides feedback on content and style of a draft of the report. In addition, students are expected to deliver their findings in presentation lasting 10 minutes with 5 minutes of questions.
Organisation and Content:
Projects are designed by individual members of staff in keeping with their research interests and fall into one of four categories:
• Wet/Dry Laboratory and Computing: practical research undertaken in the teaching laboratories, or on computers followed by preparation of a written report.
• Dissertation: library-based research leading to production of a report in the style of a scientific review.
• Business: development of a biotechnology business plan.
• Communication: similar to dissertation projects but with an emphasis on presenting the scientific topic to a general, non-scientist audience.Read more
BI604 - Biological Membranes
Cells and subcellular compartments are separated from the external milieu by lipid membranes with protein molecules inserted into the lipid layer. The aim of this module is to develop understanding of both the lipid and protein components of membranes as dynamic structures whose functions are integrated in cellular processes.Read more
BI629 - Proteins: Structure and Function
The module will cover the structural analysis of proteins and protein assemblies using techniques such as fluorescence, circular dichroism, mass spectrometry, atomic-force microscopy, cryo-EM, X-ray crystallography and NMR. It will also look at protein folding, molecular processing, de novo design, engineering and modelling. The module will also investigate the relationship between protein structure and function and cover the principles and practice of enzymology, ligand binding, and enzyme catalysis.Read more
BI638 - Bioinformatics and Genomics
Bioinformatics Data sources & Sequence analysis: Databases and data availability. Using sequence data for analysis – sequence searching methods, multiple sequence alignments, residue conservation, Protein domains and families.
Protein Bioinformatics Methods: Protein structure and function prediction. Prediction of binding sites/interfaces with small ligands and with other proteins. Bioinformatics analyses using protein data.
Genomics: An introduction to the analysis of genomic data, primarily focussing on the data available from genome sequencing – how it can be used to study genetic variants and compare genomes (i.e. comparative and functional genomics).Read more
BI639 - Frontiers in Oncology
This module introduces the basic principles of cancer biology and cancer therapy. It will explain the characteristics of cancer and why the development of more effective anti-cancer therapies is so extremely challenging. The module includes interactive discussions on a number of recent scientific publications that highlight the relevant and important issues at the frontiers of cancer research today.
Part A: Survey of the leading issues in oncology
Origin of cancer
Part B: Fundamental methods applied in oncological research
Key historical methods
Current standard techniques
Part C: Oncology research design
Research review and evaluationRead more
BI642 - Cancer Biology
The Molecular Biology of Cancer: Regulation of gene expression; Growth factor signalling and oncogenes; Growth inhibition and tumour suppressor genes; the Cell Cycle and apoptosis.
Cancer stem cells and differentiation: chemo-resistance and metastasis.
DNA structure and stability: mutations versus repair.
Tumour immunology: targeted cancer therapies and clinical trial design.Read more
BI643 - Neuroscience
The module is divided into three roughly equal sized units, each dealing with a specific aspect of neurobiology. Throughout, both the normal system and diseases and disorders that arise as a consequence of abnormalities will be covered.
Unit 1: Development of the Nervous System
Looks at how the complex and intricately wired nervous system develops from a simple sheet of neuroepithelial cells by addressing the cellular and molecular basis of neurulation (formation of the brain and spinal cord), neurogenesis, differentiation and survival of nerve cells, axon growth and guidance, synapse formation.
Unit 2: Signalling at the Synapse
Considers the molecules and mechanisms involved in transmission of signals between nerve cells: neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, molecular mechanisms of transmitter release, neurotransmitter receptors and transporters.
Unit 3: The Brain and Behaviour
Explores how the nervous system controls a variety of behaviours including learning, memory and sleep.Read more
BI644 - Biology of Ageing
The module overviews the importance of studying ageing, the organisms and methods used to do so and considers how organisms age together with providing a detailed understanding of the processes and molecular mechanisms that govern ageing.
Importance and principles of ageing research
Why do organisms age and theories of ageing: e.g. Damage theory, telomeres, genetics and trade off theories.
How ageing and lifespan is measured
Overview of processes and pathways controlling ageing
Methods in ageing research
Model Organisms: Benefits and problems associated with studying ageing in model organisms. Including: Yeast, worms, flies, mice, primates.
Systems approaches to studying ageing: e.g. high throughput DNA/RNA sequencing, high throughput proteomics and, metabolomics. Pros and cons of these methods, what we have learned from them.
Signalling pathways that control ageing
Insulin signalling pathway and Target of Rapamycin (ToR) pathway
Organisation of pathways and the molecules involved, how they were discovered to be implicated in lifespan and ageing, ways of modelling and studying their molecular detail in animals e.g. genetic/ epistasis analysis
The processes downstream of these pathways that allow them to control lifespan/ageing e.g. stress resistance, autophagy, reduced translation, enhanced immunity etc…
Cross-talk between pathways.
Dietary restriction, lifespan and ageing
How dietary restriction works in different organisms, what signalling pathways and processes it affects.
Diseases of ageing
What these are e.g. Alzheimers, Huntington's
Overview of 'normal ageing’ associated processes e.g. muscle weakening.
How they can be studied in model organsims and the importance of ageing research for treating these disorders.
Ethics of ageing research
Pros and cons of studying ageing with a goal of extending human lifespan e.g. insurance, health system, social, psychological implications.
Workshop 1: Group discussion of key ageing research paper(s) (small groups).
Workshop 2: Data analysis session (whole class or 2-3 groups).
Workshop 3: Overview of the module in preparation for revision/exam (whole class).Read more
CB612 - New Enterprise Development
This module is designed to provide students across the university with access to knowledge, skill development and training in the field of entrepreneurship with a special emphasis on developing a business plan in order to exploit identified opportunities. Hence, the module will be of value for students who aspire to establishing their own business and/or introducing innovation through new product, service, process, project or business development in an established organisation. The module complements students' final year projects in Computing, Law, Biosciences, Electronics, Multimedia, and Drama etc.
The curriculum is based on the business model canvas and lean start up principles (Osterwalder and Pigneur 2010) on designing a business plan for starting a new venture or introducing innovation in an established organisation.Read more
BI610 - The Cell Cycle
The module introduces the student to cell cycle and teaches how its precise regulation is essential for all life. The course will introduce to the students the current understanding of cellular reproduction and how it emerged. The initial lectures will describe the important breakthroughs in cell cycle research in their historical and experimental context. The course will go on to give the students a detailed understanding of the key events that occur and how they are regulated by mechanisms conserved from yeast to man. Key topics that will be discussed include:
• Mitotic kinases (including Cdks, Polo, aurora).
• Microtubule reorganisation (including spindle formation and regulation).
• Actin reorganisation (including regulation of cell growth, endocytosis, and cell division)
• Checkpoints (including Spindle assembly checkpoint, DNA damage checkpoint).
• Organelle reorganisation (e.g. nuclear and golgi reorganisation).
• Cancer and the cell cycle.
• Cell cycle related pathologies.
The final lectures will then introduce the students to how generating computer models of the cell cycle are playing a crucial role in defining novel avenues for research into therapies for cell cycle related diseases.Read more
BI620 - Virology
This module surveys the full replication cycle of a broad range of viral families, including newly emerging infectious diseases. The module includes interactive discussions on a number of recent scientific publications that highlight the relevant and important issues in the field of virology today.
Part A: survey of viral families and their properties
Virus families and taxonomy
Virus replication (overview)
Viral diseases and host interactions
Anti-viral therapeutics and vaccination
Part B: detailed examination of the different mechanisms of viral replication
Part C: fundamental methods in virus research
Key historical methods
Current standard techniques
Part D: virology research design
Research review and evaluationRead more
BI622 - Advanced Immunology
The aim of this Advanced Immunology module is to review topical aspects of advanced immunology with emphasis on the regulation of the immune response, and the role of dysfunctional immune systems in the aetiology of a variety of disease states. Indicative topics include antigen processing and presentation, transplant rejection, autoimmunity, hypersensitivity, cell migration homing and extravasation, cytokines, tumour immunology, mucosal immunology and autophagy.Read more
BI626 - Integrated Endocrinology and Metabolism
This module focuses on the endocrine system, which in conjunction with the nervous system, is responsible for monitoring changes in an animal's internal and external environments, and directing the body to make any necessary adjustments to its activities so that it adapts itself to these environmental changes.
The emphasis will be on understanding the underlying principles of endocrinology, the mechanisms involved in regulating hormone levels within tight parameters in an integrated manner and the central importance of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis.
During the lectures each major endocrine gland or functional group of glands will be explored in turn and specific clinical disorders will be used to illustrate the role of the endocrine organs in the maintenance of whole body homeostasis. The systems studied will include the following: thyroid gland, parathyroid gland and bone metabolism, adrenal gland, renal hormones (water and salt balance), pancreatic hormones, gut hormones and multiple endocrine neoplasia, gonadal function and infertility.
Consideration will be given to the methods available for the diagnosis of specific endocrine diseases, including the measurement of electrolyte and hormone levels, and the role of dynamic testing.
The role of the endocrine system in integrating metabolic pathways will be emphasised throughout the module and particular scenarios such as infertility, diabetes mellitus.Read more
BI602 - Cell Signalling
The module begins by overviewing the diverse mechanisms used by cells to communicate, considering the main modes of cell-cell communication, the major classes of signalling molecules and the receptor types upon which they act. It then focuses on nuclear, G-protein coupled, and enzyme linked receptors covering in molecular detail these receptors and their associated signal transduction pathways.
Principles of Cell Signalling.
Cell Adhesion and Cell Communication (adhesion and gap junctions).
Signalling Molecules: Hormones, neurotransmitters, growth factors.
Receptor Types: Nuclear, G-protein coupled, Ion-channel linked, Enzyme-linked.
Cellular location and molecular organisation of receptors. Structure/function/activity relationships. Receptors as sequence-specific DNA binding proteins.
G-Protein Coupled Receptors:
Receptors coupled to heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide binding proteins (G proteins). Composition and classification of G-proteins, their activation and modulation by toxins and disease.
Second Messengers and Protein Phosphorylation (kinases and phosphatases).
Cyclic Nucleotide-Dependent Systems: G proteins in regulation of adenylyl cyclase-cAMP-protein kinase A (PKA) and guanylyl cyclase-cGMP pathways. Physiological roles e.g. in visual transduction and glycogen metabolism.
Inositol lipids in signal transduction: Regulation of phospholipase C. Inositol polyphosphates (e.g. IP3) and diacylglycerol (DAG) in regulation of Ca++-dependent kinases. Roles in specific cellular responses e.g. regulation of protein kinase C.
Interactions of Signalling Pathways:
'Cross-Talk' between different pathways and messenger molecules.
Enzyme Linked Receptors:
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), e.g. epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF) family and insulin receptor, and their varied roles in cellular metabolism, cell behaviour, development and disease.
Molecular organisation of receptors, autophosphorylation of intracellular domains.
Intracellular signalling pathways: activation of monomeric G-protein Ras, leading to activation of the mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase cascade.
Integration of signalling components: Role of adapter proteins (e.g. GRB2) and their protein-protein interaction domains (SH2, SH3 etc.) in linking ligand-receptor complexes to intracellular proteins.
Practical: Characterisation of G-protein coupled receptors using a cAMP-linked reporter gene assay.Read more
Teaching and assessment
Teaching includes lectures, laboratory classes, workshops, problem-solving sessions and tutorials. You have an Academic Adviser who you meet with at regular intervals to discuss your progress, and most importantly, to identify ways in which you can improve your work further so that you reach your full potential.
Most modules are assessed by a combination of continuous assessment and end-of-year exams. Exams take place at the end of the academic year and count for 50% or more of the module mark. Stage 1 assessments do not contribute to the final degree classification, but all Stage 2 and 3 assessments do, meaning that your final degree award is an average of many different components. On average, 29% of your time is spent in an activity led by an academic; the rest of your time is for independent study.
The Sandwich Year is assessed by a presentation and a written report, and contributes 10% to your overall mark.
The programme aims to:
- instil a sense of enthusiasm for biochemistry, confront the scientific, moral and ethical questions raised by your studies and engage in critical assessment of the subject material
- provide a stimulating, research-active environment for teaching and learning in which you are supported and motivated to achieve your academic and personal potential
- educate you in the theoretical (subject-specific knowledge) and practical (laboratory skills and methods) aspects of biochemistry
- facilitate your learning experience (integration and application of knowledge) through a variety of teaching and assessment methods
- provide experience of undertaking an independent research project whether laboratory, library, computer, business or school based
- prepare you for further study, or training, and employment in science and non-science based careers, by developing transferable and cognitive skills
- provide access to as wide a range of students as practicable
- provide the opportunity to gain experience as a biochemist working in a professional environment such as industry, hospital research laboratories and government research laboratories
- develop employment-related skills, including an understanding of how to relate to the structure and function in an organisation, via a sandwich year.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- the main metabolic pathways used in biological systems in catabolism and anabolism, understanding biological reactions in chemical terms
- the variety of mechanisms by which metabolic pathways can be controlled and the way that tissue specific functions can be co-ordinated with the needs of the rest of the human body
- the genetic organisation of various types of organism such as microbes and humans, and the way in which genes can be expressed and their expression controlled
- the structure and function of the main classes of macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids and polysaccharides
- protein structure and function, especially enzymes
- the structure and function of biological membranes
- the main mechanisms by which cells in the human body can communicate with each other
- the main principles of cell and molecular biology
- the way a professional biochemist can contribute to the organisation in which they work
- the basic principles of microbiology
- the main experimental techniques used in the study of biochemistry
- the principle methods for communicating aspects of biochemistry.
You gain the following intellectual abilities:
- understand the scope of teaching methods and study skills relevant to a biochemistry degree
- understand the concepts and principles in outcomes, recognising and applying biochemistry specific theories, paradigms, concepts or principles, for example, the relationship between genes and proteins
- acquire the skills for analysis, synthesis, summary and presentation of biochemical information
- demonstrate competence in solving extended biochemical problems involving advanced data manipulation and comprehension using biochemical specific and transferable skills
- integrate scientific evidence, to formulate and test hypotheses
- structure, develop and defend complex scientific arguments
- plan, execute and interpret the data from a short research project
- recognise the moral and ethical issues of biochemical investigations and appreciate the need for ethical standards and professional codes of conduct.
You gain subject-specific skills in the following:
- handle biological material and chemicals in a safe way, thus being able to assess any potential hazards associated with biochemical experimentation
- perform risk assessments prior to the execution of a biochemical experimental protocol
- use basic and advanced experimental equipment in executing the core practical techniques used by biochemists
- find information on biochemical systems from a wide range of information resources such as journals, books, electronic databases and maintain an effective information retrieval strategy
- plan, execute and assess the results from biochemical experiments using acquired subject-specific knowledge
- identify the best method for presenting and reporting on biochemical investigations using written, data manipulation/presentation and computer skills
- awareness of the employment opportunities for biochemistry graduates with a Sandwich Year.
You gain transferable skills in the following:
- the ability to receive and respond to a variety of sources of information including textual, numerical, verbal and graphical
- communicate effectively to a variety of audiences using a range of formats and approaches
- problem solve by a variety of methods, especially numerical, including the use of computers
- the ability to use the internet and other electronic sources critically as a means of communication and as a source of information
- interpersonal and teamwork abilities that allow you to identify individual and collective goals and recognise and respect views and opinions of other team members
- self-management and organisational skills, and the capacity to support life-long learning
- awareness of information sources for assessing and planning future career development
- the ability to function effectively in a working environment.
The experience you have gained on your year in industry will put you in an excellent position to pursue the career of your choice. Our graduates have gone on to work in research-based jobs in academic, government, industrial and medical labs. They have also gone on to work in:
- scientific publishing and marketing
Many of our graduates also go on to further study at MSc or PhD level.
Help finding a job
The School of Biosciences runs employability events with talks from alumni outlining their career paths since graduation.
The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service, which can give you advice on how to:
- apply for jobs
- write a good CV
- perform well in interviews.
You graduate with an excellent grounding in scientific knowledge and extensive laboratory experience. In addition, you also develop the key transferable skills sought by employers, such as:
- excellent communication skills
- work independently or as part of a team
- the ability to solve problems and think analytically
- time management.
You can also gain new skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.
Our Biochemistry degree programme is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB), and our four-year Biochemistry with a Sandwich Year programme has Advanced Accreditation.
The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications, typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact the Admissions Office for further advice. It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.
|Qualification||Typical offer/minimum requirement|
BBB including Chemistry grade B and either Biology or Human Biology grade B or Double Award Applied Science at grade BB including the practical endorsement of any science qualifications taken.
Mathematics grade C
|Access to HE Diploma||
The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. If an offer is made candidates will be required to pass the Access to Higher Education Diploma with 36 level 3 credits at distinction and 9 at merit, and to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits in particular subjects at distinction or merit grade.
|BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)||
The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF;OCR) on a case by case basis. Typical offers when made are Distinction*, Distinction, Distinction. Please contact us via the enquiries tab for further advice on your individual circumstances.
34 points overall or 15 points at HL, including Chemistry and Biology 5 at HL or 6 at SL, plus Mathematics 4 at HL or SL
The University welcomes applications from international students programmes. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.
However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.
Meet our staff in your country
For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.
English Language Requirements
Please see our English language entry requirements web page.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.
General entry requirements
Please also see our general entry requirements.
The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.*
Your fee status
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
Fees for Year in Industry
For 2019/20 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,385.
Fees for Year Abroad
UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2019/20 academic year pay £1,385 for that year.
Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status.
General additional costs
Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details.
You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.
Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.
The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence
At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.
The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either mathematics or a modern foreign language. Please review the eligibility criteria.