also available in 2018
A Level Requirements
see all requirements
see all requirements
Full time 3 Year(s)
Biochemistry examines the structure and function of living organisms at the molecular level. It is an exciting and rapidly developing subject and the primary investigative science within biology and medicine. Our flexible Biochemistry degree provides students with core modules in Biochemistry and Chemistry coupled to a solid background in other related fields.
The first year of your Biochemistry degree involves core modules such as Protein Biochemistry, Cell Structure and Function, and Genetics – all designed to give you a good overview of key modern biochemical concepts. However, at the same time, the first year of your degree still permits flexibility as you will also be able to choose an additional four modules from any of the Bioscience subjects on offer.
You will spend your second year at a university in Australasia, Canada or the USA. During this year you will take modules which have been approved by this department and which ensure that you are prepared for the modules you’ll take when you return for your final year. The difference is that you gain from a different perspective, another context on the topics and a different outlook. All of this differentiates you from other year abroad students and students who remained in Lancaster and serves to build your confidence and CV credentials.
You have the flexibility to tailor your final year to your biochemical interests and can select from a diverse range of subjects including Cell Signalling, Cancer, Biology of Ageing, and Neurobiology.
During your degree, you’ll conduct your own laboratory-based project where you’ll benefit from the research experience of our internationally renowned academic staff.
A Level AAA
Required Subjects A level Chemistry and one other science subject from Biology, Mathematics or Physics
GCSE Mathematics grade B or 6, English Language grade C or 4
IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
International Baccalaureate 36 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including 6 in HL Chemistry and 6 in one further HL science subjects from Biology, Mathematics or Physics
BTEC Considered alongside A level Chemistry
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of Lancaster's degree programmes are flexible, offering students the opportunity to cover a wide selection of subject areas to complement their main specialism. You will be able to study a range of modules, some examples of which are listed below.
Biotechnology is one of the fastest moving fields in the biosciences. Genetic engineering techniques have allowed the manipulation of microorganisms, plants and animals to produce commercially important compounds, or to have improved characteristics. This module examines the techniques that are used in genetic manipulation and looks at examples of how the technology has been applied. The practical outcomes of genome sequencing projects and the way in which knowledge of the human genome can be applied to medicine and forensics are also considered. Practical classes and workshops allow students to perform some of the key techniques for themselves.
This module is an introduction to the structure and function of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. The first five lectures of the module will examine the main components of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and the way eukaryotic cells are organized into tissues. The techniques used to study cells will also be reviewed. The next two lectures will look in detail at the structure and function of mitochondria and chloroplasts and the chemiosmotic theory. This will be followed by a lecture on the way cells are organised into tissues. The final four lectures will cover reproduction in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and the eukaryotic cell cycle. The lectures are supplemented by two practical sessions, the first on light microscopic technique and the second covering organelle isolation
The module offers a complete overview of the theory and practice of chemical reaction kinetics, leading to an understanding of the kinetic principles of reaction kinetics. Using this knowledge, students will determine orders of reaction, rate constants and activation energies from kinetic measurements. The module explores the relationship between temperature and rate, as well as introducing the Arrhenius Equation. More advanced topics, including collision theory, transition state theory and the kinetics of complex reactions will be studied. Students will become familiar with the steady state approximation and learn how to use this to derive rate laws of complex reactions.
Practical classes give hands-on experience in measuring physical properties and reinforce the theoretical concepts taught in lectures.
This module examines the way in which genetic information, encoded by the DNA of the cell, is replicated and passed on to each new generation of cells and whole individuals. The ways in which genes affect the characteristics of a cell or organism are explored at the molecular level. The fundamentals of these processes are very similar in all organisms but the unique features of eukaryotes and prokaryotes are highlighted. We will also examine the consequences of mutation and look at some examples of diseases and conditions caused by defective genes and alterations in chromosome number or structure.
This module introduces students to the world of microbiology. They will receive tuition from lecturers working on the cutting edge of microbiological research.
Topics related to viruses, bacteria, fungi and protists will be covered. Hands on practical sessions will help students to understand the dynamics of bacterial growth, how to culture and count microbes, antibiotic resistance assays and identification of bacteria.
Students will start to understand the mechanisms that bacteria use to cause human disease. Several fungi will be examined and students will learn how fungi are exploited in industry. Finally students are introduces to the protists; examine beautiful ciliates and flagellates and watch predatory protozoa in action.
In this module, students will explore the chemistry of some of the most important molecules to life, including water, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. The module begins with an overview of basic chemistry for example atomic structure, bonding, pH and molecular shape. It looks at the properties of water and how these enable water to support life. The structure and bonding within nucleic acids, proteins and carbohydrates are explored with emphasis upon how this is related to function within a cell. Finally, the structure and functions of lipids are described, with emphasis upon the role of lipids, proteins and carbohydrates in biological membranes.
Workshops on this module enable use of RasMol molecular modelling software, making molecular models and problem-based learning.
This module introduces the importance of molecular orbital theory in understanding organic reactivity and explains how such reactivity can be accurately represented by curly arrow mechanisms. In addition, we introduce the students to important concepts of acidity, basicity, pKa and leaving group ability. With this key information in hand, the reactivity of a broad range of organic functional groups can be readily explained. As such, in the first half of the course, the student will be equipped with the skills to predict the reactivity of a variety of carbonyl compounds and substitution reactions.
In the second half of the module, substitution reactions at saturated carbon, and elimination reactions will be described. In this context, the students will be able to analyse the various factors involved in determining the outcome of these reactions and predict the reactivity of a variety of organic substrates. Finally, an introduction to the formation of enols and enolates, as well the aldol reaction will be given.
Techniques learned in earlier modules will be built upon in the practical laboratory sessions. Students will address the synthesis of more complex organic molecules and the identification of the synthesised molecules using the full range of spectroscopic techniques, including NMR, IR and UV/vis spectroscopies.
Introducing organic chemistry, this module provides a basic understanding of key concepts such as nomenclature, bonding and structure, shape and isomerism, and electronegativity. Students will learn about the concept of functional groups and their importance in a biological or environmental context. They will be able to provide examples of chemical reactions in which these groups participate.
Practical sessions in our laboratories develop skills in microscale organic chemistry techniques, including the halogenation of alkenes, the formation of alcohols by reduction of ketones, and the dehydration of alcohols.
The purpose of this module is to expand upon the introduction to proteins given in BIOL111. Our approach is to use specific examples to demonstrate different aspects of protein structure, and to illustrate the way that the different properties of individual amino acids contribute to the function of the proteins they make up. The course is split into two linked themes. Firstly, an introduction to the major structural features of proteins is given, with an emphasis on how protein structure relates to function. Secondly, an introduction to enzyme biochemistry is presented. We consider how enzymes catalyse biochemical reactions, how their activities can be described quantitatively, and how enzymes are regulated within the cell.
This module introduces and provides training in the general skills necessary for the study of bioscience. These include use and care of laboratory equipment such as microscopes, spectrophotometers, micropipettes and centrifuges. It will also teach liquid-handling skills, and to calculate concentrations, volumes and dilution of solutions, particularly the importance and use of the mole concept. MS Excel will be used to generate statistics and to plot curves.
The other main area covered is that of scientific reading and writing. You will learn to recognize good and bad sentences, use correct paragraph structure, to search for, acquire and know how to read scientific literature, and to avoid plagiarism. Finally students will learn the various forms in which science is communicated and the ways public understanding of scientific findings can be distorted.
At the end of this module you will be able to record scientific investigation, collect data, present results, place them in the context of existing scientific literature and write a short scientific report.
Here, the main physical chemistry topics of bulk materials; thermodynamics, chemical equilibria and reaction kinetics, which control the rate of reaction, the yield of reaction, and the stability of a chemical system, are all introduced. The module also relates these principles to catalysis and enzyme-catalysed reactions, and provides a grounding in material relevant for second year modules.
Practical laboratory classes will build upon concepts in accuracy and precision, and will involve the quantitative reaction of acid-base systems measured using pH meters. Students will calculate the dissociation constant of weak acids and determine the enthalpy of solution from solubility measurements. They will also investigate the variation of reaction rates with temperature.
This module aims to provide a foundation in the core techniques utilised in protein purification.
Each week the lectures and practicals lead students through the variety of techniques used to purify proteins. The lectures provide students with an understanding of the biochemical methods commonly used and their significance within a protein purification strategy. Practicals will be tightly linked to the lectures, with students being required to follow a purification strategy over the course of the module. Starting with a mixture of proteins, students are set the task of purifying one of the proteins on the basis of their biochemical properties.
This module has four core topics that direct students through the purification process. They are:
This module is an introduction to cellular biochemistry focusing on the core pathways of intermediary metabolism which are central to cellular function. Specifically, it focuses on two related and key areas of biochemistry. The first is enzymology; how do proteins function as biological catalysts and how are chemical reactions controlled within a cell? Students will investigate how the many chemical reactions which participate in metabolism are accurately regulated and organised.
The second is cellular metabolism; particularly, how do cells obtain energy from their surroundings to maintain their complex order?
The module will cover several seminal and Nobel Prize winning research topics including a detailed look at the key reactions of the citric acid cycle and the coupling of electron transport, proton pumping and ATP synthesis. The concepts and areas of biochemistry covered will be further illustrated by reference to the pathological state and human diseases which result from specific malfunctions in biochemical pathways and reactions.
This module explores the interactions that take place both within and between cells and which allow them to perform their function in the whole organism. Students will consider five key topics within cell biology:
This laboratory-based module provides both a theoretical and experimental basis for further studies and research in cell biology. It will enable students to gain experience in a range of laboratory techniques including: handling mammalian cells, cell signalling, identification of subcellular molecular localisation by immunofluorescent microscopy, and cell cycle analysis by flow cytometry.
The module is delivered through mixed media platforms such as lectures and videos, with consolidation of the practicals in a final overarching data analysis workshop. Students will be able to apply these skills to design and carry out experiments for their own subsequent research projects.
This module introduces advanced techniques of eukaryotic recombinant DNA technology, DNA sequencing, genomics and functional genomics. Bioinformatics, the computer-based analysis of data that result from genome sequencing and the genomic approaches to understanding gene function and expression are introduced and developed in the workshops. The module practicals provide hands-on experience of quantitative gene expression analysis employing widely used state of the art PCR (polymerase chain reaction) based technology. Students will gain knowledge and understanding of these techniques, which will provide the basis for the informed reading and comprehension of primary experimental biological research literature required for subsequent undergraduate research projects. These technologies underpin an increasing proportion of modern biological research, particularly in the Biomedical disciplines and form the basis for rapidly developing applications in the field of personalised medicine.
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
This module takes a molecular approach to understanding heredity and gene function in organisms ranging from bacteria to man. It begins by reviewing genome diversity and how genomes are replicated accurately, comparing and contrasting replication processes in bacteria and man. The module discusses in detail molecular mechanisms, particularly those that ensure information encoded in the genome is transcribed and translated appropriately to produce cellular proteins.
Students will focus on the importance of maintaining genome stability and damaging effects of mutations in the genome on human health. Examples are drawn from a range of inherited genetic diseases such as phenylketonuria and sickle cell anaemia, paying particular focus to how mutations in key genes are driving cancer development.
Teaching is delivered by a series of lectures supported by varied practical work, workshops, guided reading and online resources. Laboratory practicals include investigating how exposure of bacteria to ultraviolet light induces mutations – providing a model for understanding how skin cancer may develop as a consequence of excessive sun exposure.
This course examines the relationship between microbe and host; with particular focus on bacterial and viral pathogens. The diversity of structure, function and metabolism of bacteria, in relation to their role as a cause of disease, is explored and practical skills in bacteriology are introduced. Morphology and reproductive strategies of viruses are examined and methods for controlling viral infections by vaccination or anti-viral therapies are described. The course introduces principles of clinical microbiology by focusing on epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment of infection and host immune defences. The theme is one of "emergence" illustrating how some new infections have come to be a problem in health care and the importance of protective commensal microbes. The laboratory classes focus on diagnostic processes and illustrate the contribution which the microbiology laboratory can make to clinical decision making and epidemiology. This course also deals with the way in which pathogens (mainly bacteria) survive, and sometimes grow, in the environment and the implications this has for health in the community. The course is given in collaboration with health service consultants and workers from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.
When we look at ourselves in the mirror the last thing we consider is that we are only 10% human due to our body comprising ten times more bacterial cells than human cells! There is no mistaking the importance of our bacterial communities in maintaining our proper functioning, eg digesting food, but microbes also cause disease and it is this that normally attracts media attention.
The ‘good vs bad’ nature of microbes is covered in the module Medical Microbiology (the pre-requisite to this module) together with methods for controlling exposure to pathogens; particularly in a hospital setting. But what about the household setting? How dangerous are the microbes living on your household surfaces (including your toothbrush!)? Do disinfectants really kill 99.9% of germs (as stated by all manufacturers)? These questions, and others, are addressed in this module whilst students learn the essential practical techniques necessary to work in both industrial and hospital laboratories. The module also explores the use of microbes as artistic media in the up and coming field of BioArt.
Students will be introduced to the importance of molecular, metabolic and cellular interactions within parasitic protists, and between a range of parasitic protists and their hosts.
The course will provide students with an understanding of how the life cycle strategies used by protists enable them to gain access to, and survive within, the host as well as the impact that protist parasites have on human health. Practicals will provide an opportunity for students to apply immunological skills to investigate the host-parasite interaction.
Understanding how life works depends to a great extent on understanding how proteins work. Thanks to the Human Genome Project, we now have a catalogue of all the proteins that are encoded in the human genome. This might be thought of as life’s toolbox. The next questions are: how do those tools work; how do they interact with each other; and how have they evolved over the billions of years of evolutionary time that have led to us? This module introduces modern techniques for the study of protein structure, function and evolution.
Lectures cover: structural-functional relationships in proteins; methods for detecting the action of Darwinian selection in protein evolution; methods for reconstructing the evolutionary events that have led to present-day proteins; and, the new lab techniques that are allowing us to study protein function on a large scale. In the practical sessions, you will gain hands on experience of molecular phylogenetics – the main tool for studying evolution at the molecular level – as it is applied to proteins. Assessment is by an exam and a coursework essay on a protein of your choice, giving you a chance to apply your new knowledge of protein biochemistry to any of your own areas of interest in biology.
For 50 years, thanks to evolutionary theory, we’ve known why we are fated to age and die, but our understanding of the mechanisms has been a lengthy evolution in itself. Only relatively recently, with the use of modern molecular biology tools, do we begin to understand the mechanistic basis of the ageing process, from early notions about rates of living to current ideas about modular yet interacting mechanisms including autophagy, protein synthesis, nutrient sensing, insulin-like signalling and disease resistance. Even now we do not clearly know what makes us age. Ageing is perhaps the most multidisciplinary area of study and is certainly one of the last great mysteries in biology.
This module introduces the area and the methodologies with which ageing is studied. Teaching is through lectures, workshops, practical work, individual and group-based coursework and private study.
In this module students are given an overview of the cellular and molecular processes that underpin the development of cancer. This will enable students to discuss the various factors that can affect cancer susceptibility. Students will look at the approaches taken to treat cancer, including some of the new generation of molecularly-targeted cancer therapies.
This module looks at the fundamental mechanisms regulating cell proliferation and differentiation and how the cell cycle is central to the development and maintenance of cells and tissues including the role of stem cells. It covers the mechanisms by which cells become terminally differentiated to perform specialised functions and how this process depends on coordinated regulation of the cell cycle, gene expression and apoptosis. The cell cycle’s role in the regulation and differentiation of both somatic and stem cells will be covered. Students will examine the roles of embryonic stem cells in development, and the roles of adult stem cells in the maintenance of various tissues in the adult organism. The module will look at both established and recently developed stem cell technologies. This includes adult, embryonic, cloned embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell technologies. The pros and cons of autogenic and allogenic therapies will be discussed. The results of the latest clinical trials and the ethics of the different stem cell technologies will also be covered.
The ability of cells to communicate with one another using signalling pathways is of fundamental importance in multicellular organisms such as mammals. Cell signalling enables the transmission of information that is required for the correct co-ordination of metabolism, growth and development.
This module revises the basic principles of cellular communication, exploring the molecular basis of signalling in detail by using key signalling pathways as examples. The combination of Lectures and Workshops allows students to evaluate influential scientific discoveries, whilst Laboratory practicals provide the opportunity to put theory into practice.
This module explores some of the key roles played by ion channels and calcium ions in the communication that takes place within and between cells. The module is split into two linked themes. Firstly, an introduction to the diversity of ion channel families and their biological functions including the many different cellular processes throughout the life history of cells that are regulated by calcium ions as signals. Secondly, an investigation of the importance of ion channels and calcium signalling in animals, and human physiology in particular, using examples of diseases that are caused when ion channels malfunction (e.g. myotonia, malignant hyperthermia, sudden heart arrest caused by long QT syndrome.) or calcium signalling is disrupted (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, polycystic kidney disease, pancreatitis). Students also gain hands-on experience of the techniques used to study ion channels and calcium signalling in cells.
Every day our body does something remarkable, but we are completely unaware of it most of the time: our immune system is constantly protecting us from pathogens in our environment as well as threats from within. This highly evolved, interdependent collection of organs, cells and chemical messengers is continually scanning our tissues for any unwanted intruders or abnormal cells. When we get ill, with a cold for example, full mobilisation of our immune system sends armies of cells and molecules to fight the problem in what can sometimes literally be a fight to the death. Fortunately for us, our immune system wins the battle almost every time!
In this module we examine the various components of the immune system – the organs, cells, and messengers, and how they function in health and illness. We look at particular threats such as allergies, infectious diseases and cancer, providing students with a good understanding of how this vital component of our bodies keeps us well.
Microbiology for the biomedical scientist comprises screening samples to identify and assess microbiological pathogens that cause disease and, enable front line medical staff to choose the correct therapy for successful eradication of the infection. Increasing numbers of these infections are community acquired and many are contracted from, or in, the environment. The environment therefore plays an increasing role in the life cycle and ecology of many pathogens. This in turn, is having an increasing impact on human health and national health services. The increase is a combination of changing environmental conditions (such as land use changes, global warming) and an ever evolving microbial community, most of which do not harm but a few can cause mild to fatal diseases when the opportunity arises. Also cycling in the environment are obligate pathogens which will cause infections if contracted. Furthermore, there are new diseases emerging (e.g. Ebola) and others thought to have been controlled are now re-emerging such as cholera. Using specific microbial pathogens as examples, this module examines the factors and interactions that allow microbial infections to be transmitted from the environment to humans and how their life cycle plays an important role in their emergence, persistence, transmission and infection. It also examines antibiotic resistance: how it has emerged, the different types of resistance, its management and the complications that it imposes on the treatment of these diseases. After attending this module you will still be able to go out into the natural environment but, as a result, you may be a little more cautious.
1. Exam: 2 hour paper with two questions in sections A and B and you are required to answer one question from each.
2. Coursework is an extended essay of 2000 words based on the lectures and field trip. The title will be announced in the first lecture.
Research and practice in biomedicine continues to evolve more rapidly than at any other time in history, raising fascinating but complex moral and ethical challenges for those studying and working in the field. Understanding ethics in biomedicine and the relationship between science and society has become an essential element in biomedical degree training.
This module builds on the Biomedicine and Society module, aiming to help students develop a deeper understanding of key ethical principles used in biomedicine and some major cultural, social and political influences that define research agendas and fuel ethical debates in the public perception of biomedicine.
The module takes on a seminar format structured around three core themes:
How is DNA, the fundamental building block of life, organised and expressed in different types of organisms such as bacteria and humans? Lectures comparing eukaryotic and prokaryotic gene organisation and expression, chromatin structure and DNA repair will seek to answer this question. In addition, you will study the application of genetics to science and technology during practical and workshop sessions, providing you with the opportunity to develop group and independent working skills whilst reinforcing theoretic concepts.
This module aims to provide an understanding of the organisation of the human genome, how disease genes are mapped and how mutations are identified leading to the development of diagnostic tests. The impacts of massively parallel next generation DNA sequencing, microarrays and SNP genotyping on gene discovery and disease diagnosis are examined. The application of modern genetic techniques to identifying susceptibility genes for complex, multifactorial traits will also be studied. A range of diseases will be examined in detail both in lectures and in case study workshop sessions. The final lecture looks at gene therapy and considers the future for treatment of genetic disorders. The practical session aims to give students an opportunity to study their own DNA in a forensics scenario, using techniques that are widely applicable in modern molecular genetics.
Nervous system function, from formation in the embryo to sensory systems and the neural control of complex behaviours, is the focus of this module. The emphasis is on model systems and the use of genetic tools to elucidate developmental pathways and neural circuits. Practical exercises are used to illustrate some of the functions of nervous systems and how these can be manipulated by genetic intervention.
Students are encouraged to access and evaluate information from a variety of sources and to communicate the principles in a way that is well-organised, topical, and recognises the limits of current hypotheses. On completion of the module, students will be equipped with practical techniques including data collection, analysis and interpretation.
This module is presented by academics with many years’ experience working on international tropical disease research. In the era of increasing international travel and trade, and considering the potential effects of climate change, parasites and pathogens that cause tropical diseases are an increasingly important group of organisms globally. These pathogens include viruses, bacteria, protists, worms and arthropods of various kinds.
Students will focus on the biology of the major pathogens including their life cycles, transmission mechanisms, pathology, diagnosis, treatment and control. There will be an emphasis on insect transmitted diseases such as malaria, dengue and neglected diseases such as leishmaniasis. Students will discuss international public health, and specific factors that prevent successful control within economically deprived communities.
Molecular approaches will not be covered in detail. Case study workshops will look at disease outbreaks, and practical sessions will explore and develop concepts from lectures and demonstrate some practical techniques that can be used to facilitate research into tropical diseases.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster visit our Teaching and Learning section.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Studying Biochemistry at Lancaster gives you an ideal base from which to continue to postgraduate study for MSc or PhD qualifications. You can also look forward to a promising career in areas such as research, pharmaceuticals, the food industry and forensic science. The transferable skills and analytical training you’ll gain during your degree will allow you to enter diverse fields including management, marketing and finance. The experience of different cultures and the contacts students establish during overseas study will add significantly to your degree studies.
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring you not only gain a highly reputable degree, you also graduate with the relevant life and work based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award which offers you the opportunity to complete key activities such as work experience, employability awareness, career development, campus community and social development. Visit our Employability section for full details.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2019/20 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2018 were:
Some science and medicine courses have higher fees for students from
the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. You can find more details here:
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
Students also need to consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation it may be necessary to take out subscriptions to professional bodies and to buy business attire for job interviews.
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Typical time in lectures, seminars and similar per week during term time
Average assessment by coursework