About the course
From cancer-screening to blood transfusions, from infections to genetic diseases; biomedical scientists research the causes and diagnosis of diseases and the effectiveness of the medicines that cure them. You apply the concepts of biochemistry and cell biology to the study of health and disease in the human body. Our multidisciplinary approach means you learn skills that are at the forefront of advances in medical research.
At Essex, our research focuses on genetic diseases, infection and immunity, and age-associated conditions such as dementia, cancer and heart disease.
On our BSc Biomedical Science, you study areas including:
- The structure of viruses, and how they interact with cells in infected organisms
- The anatomy and structure of the human immune system
- Pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria
- Drug design
You discover the molecular basis of cellular dysfunctions, and describe modern strategies to diagnose and treat them.
“My favourite part of my degree was probably the placement year at Ipswich Hospital in their histology department. I decided that I really wanted to pursue this as a career and I was fortunate to be offered a job there."
Sarah O’Mahoney, BSc Biomedical Science, 2012
Our course is fully accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS), resulting in fast-track career progression within the NHS.
Students who undertake a placement year with the NHS also qualify for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which allows you to work as a biomedical scientist in healthcare in the UK.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you extending your education through providing the option of an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year studying abroad in an English-speaking country or employed on a placement, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. Recent destinations include:
- Curtin University of Technology
- University of Saskatchewan
- University of Arkansas
- University of Otago
- Monash University
- Koç University
Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement year with the NHS in an IBMS-approved lab. You complete a portfolio of assessed work, which results in your IBMS registration. This provides you with hands-on experience using specialised equipment and techniques which are in demand from employers, and is a great route into work in an NHS hospital.
All Biomedical Science students also have the opportunity to participate in a one-week summer school, where you learn about clinical biochemistry, cellular pathology, medical microbiology, and haematology and transfusion science. This time spent with NHS professionals improves you laboratory skills and helps you to develop an understanding of career paths in this sector.
Our expert staff
As one of the largest schools at our University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high quality teaching. Two-thirds of our research is rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and you learn from and work alongside our expert staff.
Our research covers a wide spectrum of biology – from the cell right through to communities and ecosystems. Key academic staff for this course include Professor Elena Klenova, who specialises in molecular oncology, Professor Nelson Fernández, who works on viral and bacterial infections and autoimmunity, and Dr Selwa Alsam, who is researching hospital-related infections and human microbial diseases including MRSA, wound infections, and infection control.
The University of Essex has a Women's Network to support female staff and students and was awarded the Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award in November 2013 in recognition of its continuing work to support women in STEM.
Recent spending by our University has allowed for major refurbishment and expansion of our School of Biological Sciences, including:
- Work in an open and friendly department, with shared staff-student social spaces
- Conduct your final-year research alongside academics and PhD students in shared labs
- State-of-the-art research facilities, from protein purification, to cell culture and imaging, to molecular modelling.
- Teaching facilities including new undergraduate laboratories
You graduate ready to move into a wide variety of industrial and public sector environments, from the NHS to pharmaceuticals, research, health and safety, teaching.
Our students have gone on to work in a number of laboratory-based roles in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, and in hospitals, clinics and healthcare companies. Others have gone on to work in sales, publishing and management, while others still have chosen to enhance their career opportunities by studying for MSc or PhD degrees.
Biochemistry and biomedical science courses also provide the ideal background for entry onto postgraduate medicine programmes, and eight of our 2011 graduates obtained places at medical schools across the UK.
Other recent graduates have gone on to work for the following high profile organisations:
- NHS Hospitals at Moseley Hall, Basildon, Barts and Colchester
- Nuffield Health
- John Lewis
We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
For more information on careers in Biochemistry and Biomedicine, visit the websites of the Biochemical Society and the Institute of Biomedical Science.
Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.
For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.
Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.
The building blocks of life, plants and animals depend on the actions of individual cells. Investigate the biochemical characteristics of the small molecules and large macromolecules that allow cells to function. You examine the origins of life, cell structure and function, energy transductions, synthesis of molecules, and the eukaryotic cell cycle.
Why do we all look different? Are some illnesses hereditary? Are animals born ready-suited to their environment? From the early theories of Mendel to modern studies in molecular genetics, you explore how scientists have answered these questions over the last 150 years.
Examine how the structure and function of DNA allows genetic material to be expressed, replicated and inherited, and consider how genetic variation leads to adaptive evolution. From developing new technologies in gene cloning to the applications for modern medicine, you explore how geneticists are building on the earlier achievements in this fundamentally important field to enhance our understanding of life on earth.
Explore the building blocks of life. From the proteins that make up our genetic code to the lipids that envelope our cells, explore the structure, function and biological role of the major macromolecules.
You investigate the basic principles of protein structural bioinformatics and protein structural evolution, examine how ligand-binding equilibria may form the basis of diverse biological phenomena, learn the structure and properties of monosaccharides and polysaccharides and review the major types of lipids.
This module develops key skills in analysis and interpretation of data, biochemical methodology and calculation of biochemical parameters.
Many recent advances in biological research have been born from an increased understanding of the molecules involved in systems and processes. But what do things look like beyond molecular level?
Study how molecules are formed from individual atoms, and how the properties of these constituent atoms influence molecular structure and reactivity. Examine the fundamental concepts of chemical bonding, electronegativity, acidity, basicity, hydrogen bonding and review the common organic functional groups and different types of isomerism.
Develop your skillset and boost your CV. This module prepares you for the coursework, laboratory practicals and research projects that you will encounter during undergraduate study. Get to know referencing systems and learn how to effectively communicate scientific information. Use scientific units and simple algebra and demonstrate understanding of logarithms, exponentials, geometry and elementary calculus. Learn how to design experiments, handle data and display, interpret and analyse basic statistics.
Teaching and learning will be through a mixture of lectures, classes, practicals and tutorials, with an emphasis on developing the key transferable skills needed for a career in biosciences.
Explore the individual systems involved in maintaining our bodies’ internal environments – respiratory, cardiovascular, urinary and immune. Examine how each system’s organ structures inform function, how they work together as a whole, and the ways they maintain homeostasis under the stresses of exercise and disease.
Get career-ready. This unique module is designed to give you an in-depth view of the day-to-day work of a Biomedical Scientist, introducing you to the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) and Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), as well as preparing you for the graduate job market.
You work alongside practicing Biomedical Scientists, who join us from local hospitals to run workshops and practicals, introducing you to major disciplines such as haematology and blood transfusion, cellular pathology, medical microbiology and clinical biochemistry. This is an excellent opportunity to boost your CV, demonstrating you are up-to-speed with safe laboratory practice, including effective observations, measurements and accurate records, and can apply key skills in information retrieval, communication, data analysis and interpretation, numeracy, problem solving and group work.
You also work with a range of employability experts, who will help you to plan your career and set personal development goals, as well as effectively assemble CV’s, complete application forms and prepare for interview.
5.5% of the population will have developed a genetic disorder by age 25. But how does genetic disease occur? From understanding the molecular basis of genetic disease, to the techniques used in NHS laboratories for diagnosis and screening for genetic disorders, you address the nature and inheritance of both single gene and complex genetic disease, and explore the effects of abnormalities in human chromosomes. Developments such as gene therapy, the 100,000 genomes project and manipulation of embryos will also be discussed.
Molecular biology is central to our knowledge of how biology "works" at a molecular level. This module explores the breadth of processes involved in the regulation of gene expression and the proteins that are made. You also discover the ever-expanding range of molecular biology techniques, including PCR, cloning and mutagenesis, and how these are applied to investigate and treat disease.
Our bodies are under attack. So how do we defend ourselves against foreign invaders? Explore the anatomical and structural components of the immune system and assess what happens in the event of immunodysfunction.
Utilising real-world case-studies (eg. AIDS), and looking at specific examples (eg. allergy and transplantation) you will review important aspects of clinical immunology and immuno-pathology, gaining an understanding of auto-immunity and immune-deficiencies. You will also consider the future of human immunology – evaluating how far vaccines can protect us against disease. Using the knowledge you have gained you will be able to identify areas of current immunology understanding that could lead to positive medical intervention.
Consider the structural diversity, function and method of genetic transfer among various deadly infectious agents, assessing their role in the natural world and infectious disease. You will evaluate different methods of diagnosis, review methods of hospital-acquired infection control and investigate the different pathways of transmission. You also address treatment options, reviewing the efficacy, side-effects and toxicity of drugs as well as considering the impact of disease upon society.
Blood analysis can lead to a range of diagnoses, from coagulation disorders to leukaemia. So how do abnormalities in genes, proteins and cells lead to diseases of the blood? Investigate the biochemistry and cell biology that underpins haematology, and explore its uses in medicine – particularly in NHS laboratories. You will also review the practicalities and limitations of blood transfusions as well as exploring the School’s latest research into possible blood substitutes.
Discover the importance of enzymes on human health. Consider the mechanisms and kinetics of hydrolytic enzymes, explore methods for protein analysis and purification and assess the use of recombinant DNA technology in the large scale production of proteins in the laboratory. You also study of the importance of lipids, carbohydrates and hormones in health and the diagnosis of disease.
Explore how the structural organisation of the nucleus and cytoskeleton affects gene expression, cell division and cell-cell communication. You also discover how cells regulate growth, proliferation and cell death, and explore how disruption of these processes leads to cancer. Discussion will centre on the principles and practice of histological screening, with an emphasis on changes observed in specific cancer types.
Are all scientific advances good news? Investigate the ethics and impact of new research, from discussing how limited economic resource restricts accessibility of new treatments, to how health professionals can best help the public make informed decisions. Even research as exciting as stem cell technology, with the possibility it carries of curing genetic illness, must be considered from an ethical point of view.
The study of human genetics is one of the fastest moving areas of scientific research today. Get to know some important emerging themes from the human genome sequence into the emerging fields of epigenetics and non-coding RNAs. You examine variations in genome sequence and structure in human populations, and consider the evidence for selection in human populations. Consider the evolution of the X chromosome and its regulation by the process of X-inactivation. You also investigate the significance of imprinting and epigenetics in human disease.
The aim of this module is to provide you with current knowledge and understanding of cancer. We will discuss general aspects of cancer biology (cancer statistics and risk factors, origins and multistage nature of cancer, metastasis and angiogenesis). The identification and isolation of oncogenes and tumour suppressors and the mechanism of action of their products will be analysed. We will explore cancer molecular biology and signalling pathways in cancer. We will discuss cell cycle and apoptosis and their role in the maintenance of normal cell populations and in the emergence of cancer. The principles of some of the current approaches in cancer therapy will be discussed.
Fill the skills gap. Bioinformatics is a rapidly growing discipline based on the need to obtain biologically-meaningful information from the huge volumes of DNA-sequence, gene expression and protein structure data. Traditionally the niche area of computational biologists, there is an increasing need to for every type of biologist to be able to handle large datasets. You learn by solving problems, working through example datasets in order to understand and learn how to utilise and interpret commonly used methods.
The module describes the fundamental principles of cell signalling and communication in the context of development, health, biological stress, and disease. You explore the biochemistry of signal transduction, control, integration, and signal processing as implemented by biological systems, and consider the newly developed tools of post-genomic biology.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
- Learn through a combination of lectures, laboratory sessions and coursework
- Gain experience collating and interpreting data, and reporting findings clearly and concisely
- Participate in an optional one-week summer school learning from NHS professionals
- Degrees are awarded on the results of your written examinations together with continual assessments of your practical work and coursework
- Contribute towards real-world research projects in your final year of study
If you already have your results and want to apply for 2016 entry through Clearing, complete our Clearing application form
and we’ll get back in touch with you or give us a ring
to discuss your grades.
IELTS entry requirements
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)
If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.