Hannah Reed - Biochemistry with a Sandwich Year BSc
Our degrees are accredited by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB) and taught by staff who are active researchers in a range of disciplines including cell biology, protein chemistry, biotechnology, genomics, cancer biology, infectious diseases and bioinformatics. Our teaching methods will prepare you for the wide range of career opportunities that are available to biochemists. You will acquire the scientific knowledge, practical experience and communication skills needed to succeed in the health, agriculture and environment sectors. We will ensure you have the best possible start in your career by providing expert advice when you come to look for jobs or postgraduate study. There are also options to acquire valuable work experience as part of the degree by taking one of our Summer Internships or Sandwich placements.
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.
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:
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Duration: 4 years full-time
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 ‘elective’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.
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.
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.
This module addresses key themes and experimental techniques in molecular and cellular illustrated by examples from a range of microbes animals and plants . It covers basic cell structure, and organisation including organelles and their functions, cytoskeleton, cell cycle control and cell division. The control of all living processes by genetic mechanisms is 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. Cytoskeleton.
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 of recombinant DNA technology.
Laboratory: PCR amplification of DNA and gel analysis.
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 pancreas
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.
Students with A2 Chemistry (equivalent) on entry take Phases 2+3+4
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 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)
This module is an introduction to Mendelian genetics and also includes human pedigrees, quantitative genetics, and mechanisms of evolution.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This module covers the general principles of metabolic disorders and focuses on pathways, enzyme mechanisms, and diseases associated with:
Amino acid/nucleotide metabolism
The urea cycle
Principles of metabolic regulation: Allostery, cooperativity, phosphorylation, and hormonal control. Metabolic regulation in response to cellular energy status.Transcriptional regulation.
Plant metabolism: Photosynthesis, carbon fixation, and secondary metabolites.
Microbial metabolism: Nitrogen cycle, stress responses, omics approaches, metals, and secondary metabolites.
Metabolism in biotechnology: Manipulating microbial metabolism for the production of useful compounds. Manipulating mammalian cell metabolism in biotechnology.
Communication Skills in Biosciences: Essay writing, oral presentations, laboratory reports, the scientific literature and literature reviews. Working in groups.
Techniques in Biomolecular Science: Immunochemistry. Monoclonal and polyclonal antibody production, immuno-chromatography, ELISA and RIA. Electrophoresis, Immunoblotting, Protein Determination, Activity Assays, Purification.
Computing for Biologists: Bioinformatics, phylogenetic trees, database searches for protein/DNA sequences.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This module will introduce students to the importance of genome-wide DNA sequence analysis in a range of different fields of study including forensic science, medical diagnosis and historical research. They will acquire a full grounding in the basic biology of how sequence data is acquired and analysed, and engage with up-to-date methods of DNA sequence analysis in the practical sessions. At the broad level, the module will be structured around the following 4 themes:
What is a genome? This addresses genome content and structure, including both functional and non-functional elements of the genome such as the simple "junk" DNA repeats used for forensic identification.
Understanding genomic variation. This addresses the molecular causes of genomic variation between individuals – i.e. what makes us all unique – and the technical methodologies used to detect genomic variation.
What are the implications of being able to read DNA? This covers the extent to which we can infer phenotype from genomic sequence – e.g. how much you can tell about a person once their genome has been sequenced. Specific examples may be drawn from forensic science, medical diagnosis and historical analysis.
What are the implications of being able to write or edit DNA? This addresses nascent and future technology for genome editing – what can it achieve, what are the risks, what are the ethical issues?
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.
Finding a work placement is a competitive process and we advise that you achieve an overall average of 65% in Stage 1 to increase your likelihood of success. If you are unable to find a suitable placement, you will transfer onto 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.
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.
Early in the Autumn term,projects are assigned to students by the project co-ordinator (a member ofacademic staff), where possible in accordance with student choice. Studentsthen meet with their project supervisor to discuss the objectives of theproject and obtain guidance on background reading. During the Autumn termstudents write a brief formative literature review on the project topicproviding them with a good background before embarking on the project work. Atthe end of the formal project time, students are allowed time to complete thefinal project report, although they are encouraged to start writing as early aspossible during the Spring term. The supervisor provides feedback on contentand style of a draft of the report. In addition, students are expected todeliver their findings in presentation lasting 10 minutes with 5 minutes ofquestions.
Cells and subcellular compartments are separated from theexternal milieu by lipid membranes with protein molecules inserted into thelipid layer. The aim of this module is to develop understanding of both thelipid and protein components of membranes as dynamic structures whose functionsare integrated in cellular processes.
The module will cover the structuralanalysis of proteins and protein assemblies using techniques such asfluorescence, 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 modulewill also investigate the relationship between protein structure and functionand cover the principles and practice of enzymology, ligand binding, and enzymecatalysis.
The module begins byoverviewing the diverse mechanisms used by cells to communicate, consideringthe main modes of cell-cell communication, the major classes of signallingmolecules and the receptor types upon which they act. It then focuses onnuclear, G-protein coupled, and enzyme linked receptors covering in moleculardetail these receptors and their associated signal transduction pathways.
The module introduces the student to cell cycle and teaches how itsprecise regulation is essential for all life. The course will introduce to thestudents the current understanding of cellular reproduction and how it emerged.The initial lectures will describe the important breakthroughs in cell cycleresearch in their historical and experimental context. The course will go on togive the students a detailed understanding of the key events that occur and howthey are regulated by mechanisms conserved from yeast to man.
The module aims to develop understanding and analyticalskills in virology, based around interactive seminars wherein students willanalyse, present, and discuss the relevant research literature. The studentswill gain experience in scientific design, literature analysis, scientificcommunication, and the analysis of experimental data.
The aim of this Advanced Immunology module is to reviewtopical aspects of advanced immunology with emphasis on the regulation of theimmune response, and the role of dysfunctional immune systems in the aetiologyof a variety of disease states. Indicative topics include antigen processingand presentation, transplant rejection, autoimmunity, hypersensitivity, cellmigration homing and extravasation, cytokines, tumour immunology, mucosalimmunology and autophagy.
Bioinformatics Data sources & Sequence analysis:Databases and data availability. Using sequence data for analysis – sequencesearching methods, multiple sequence alignments, residue conservation, Proteindomains and families. Protein Bioinformatics Methods: Protein structure and function prediction.Prediction of binding sites/interfaces with small ligands and with otherproteins. Bioinformatics analyses using protein data.Genomics: An introduction to the analysis of genomic data, primarily focussingon the data available from genome sequencing – how it can be used to studygenetic variants and compare genomes (i.e. comparative and functionalgenomics).
This module will look at Cancer formation and progression;underlying factors, cancer cell heterogeneity, uncontrolled cell division,invasive growth/ metastasis formation; as well as the Molecular Biology ofCancer: (Proto-)Oncogenes, tumour suppressor genes, cell cycle control, celldeath; and Cancer therapies.
The module deals with basic neuroanatomy and molecular and cellularneurobiology, such as transmission of signals within the nervous system andsensory perception. It explores more complex functions of the nervous system,e.g. behavioural and cognitive functions including learning, memory, emotionsand appetite control. Throughout the module both the normal nervous system anddisorders that arise as a consequence of abnormalities will be covered.
The module overviews the importance of studying ageing,the organisms and methods used to do so and considers how organisms agetogether with providing a detailed understanding of the processes and molecularmechanisms that govern ageing.
This module is designed to provide students across the university withaccess to knowledge, skill development and training in the field ofentrepreneurship with a special emphasis on developing a business plan in orderto exploit identified opportunities. Hence, the module will be of value forstudents who aspire to establishing their own business and/or introducinginnovation through new product, service, process, project or businessdevelopment in an established organisation. The module complements students'final year projects in Computing, Law, Biosciences, Electronics, Multimedia,and Drama etc.
Recent events have illustrated theimportance of ensuring that science is communicated effectively tonon-scientific audiences. This module considers best practice in sciencecommunication, making use of case studies that illustrate its importance indeveloping an informed and empowered public, while developing skills indifferent modes of communication that enhance future employability.
The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
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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.*
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Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.
Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.
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The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of A*AA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.
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.
For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours. The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
The programme aims to:
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
You gain the following intellectual abilities:
You gain subject-specific skills in the following:
You gain transferable skills in the following:
Biological Sciences at Kent was ranked 24th out of 103 institutions in The Complete University Guide 2021. It was also ranked 5th for graduate prospects.
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:
Many of our graduates also go on to further study at MSc or PhD level.
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:
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:
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.
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