With over 100 years of staggering advances in the field, the time to study biochemistry and biotechnology is now. At Essex, you’ll have the opportunity to explore how the processes of life function at molecular level and learn how biotechnology is addressing real-world problems and challenges.
The subjects of biochemistry and biotechnology are continually expanding, and our curriculum constantly evolves to reflect the latest findings and their applications. You’ll learn in a friendly and supportive atmosphere and benefit from a research-led education, taught by world-leading experts at the forefront of their fields.
At Essex, we specialise in structure-function relationships of biomolecules and use computational approaches and bioinformatics to complement our research. You’ll find that our course has a very high proportion of practical work that provides valuable experience for your career and our research-led teaching addresses the latest challenges and breakthroughs. Topics include:
You’ll also learn about and appraise the approaches that can be used to address the challenges facing our planet, including:
The development of biofuels, pharmaceuticals and crops to support and feed the growing human population
Industrial, plant and medical biotechnology
Gene and protein technology
With our Integrated Masters you’ll be able to fast track your degree and complete your final year in nine months compared to a regular MSc which usually takes twelve months. The course will cover key skills in biochemistry and biotechnology and provide you with the knowledge, understanding and hands-on experience required in this rapidly growing area of technology.
When you combine your undergraduate and postgraduate study in one degree you’ll be equipped with a strong theoretical background, specialist expertise through independent research and practical insights into current commercial applications. This combination makes graduates from our course attractive candidates for many employers.
Network with the technology and pharmaceutical industries, as well as other employers.
Work with internationally recognised researchers who are at the cutting-edge of their fields.
We are ranked 15th in UK for overall student satisfaction for Biosciences (National Student Survey 2022).
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The five-year version of our Integrated Masters allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the four-year Integrated Masters.
Studying abroad allows you 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.
If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university
You can spend your third year on a placement year with another external organisation. This is usually focused around your course, and enables you to learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways. Organisations our students have recently been placed with include GlaxoSmithKline, Proctor & Gamble, Aquaterra, Astrazeneca, Genzyme, Reckitt Benckiser, Thermofisher, and Isogenica.
If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our first-year students will have the opportunity to participate in the Science Week at Public Health England (PHE) in Colindale. We have fantastic collaboration with several hospitals in the Eastern Region and beyond, and part of this collaboration is to send all of our second-year students to visit hospitals to have a clear picture about the biomedical science profession. Our final-year undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in our Employability Day at Essex, and also contribute to the IBMS Congress.
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, where you will 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 Dr Jonathan Worrall, who is researching new biotechnological applications of the antibiotic-producing actinobacterium Streptomycetes. The course director for BSc Biochemistry is Dr Brandon Reeder, who focuses on biochemical and biomedical based-research, particularly in the role of proteins in health and disease.
The University of Essex has a Women's Network to support female staff and students, and our School was awarded the Athena Swan Silver Award in October 2020, which reflects the work carried out by staff in our School to continue to improve equality, including a mentorship scheme, support for postdoctoral research staff, and financial help towards childcare costs for academics who wish to attend conferences.
Recent spending by our University has allowed for major refurbishment and expansion of our School of Life Sciences, including:
Work in an open and friendly department, with shared staff-student social spaces
State-of-the-art research facilities, from protein crystallisation robots, protein over-production facilities, to CO2 incubators, to cell imaging microscopes
Teaching facilities including new undergraduate laboratories
Learn to use state-of-the-art equipment
Our graduates are well placed to find employment in the ever-growing bio-based economy, and postgraduate study is often a requirement for becoming a researcher, scientist, academic journal editor and to work in some public bodies or private companies.
Recent graduates have gone on to work for the following high-profile organisations including Bupa and SAL Cambridge (microbiology samples). We also work with our University's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Visit our careers pages to find out more about careers in life sciences.
UK entry requirements
GCSE: Mathematics C/4
A-levels: ABB, including Chemistry or Biology and a second science or Mathematics. Psychology, Statistics, Physics, Applied Science, Human Biology, Geography, PE and Sociology (on a case by case basis) are all acceptable as second science A-levels.
BTEC: D*D*D, depending on subject and units studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
IB: 32 points or three Higher Level certificates with 655. Either must include Higher Level Chemistry or Biology and a second science or Mathematics grade 5.Computer Science, Design Technology, Physics, Sport, exercise and Health Science at Higher Level are all acceptable as second science subjects.
Standard Level Mathematics, if not taken at Higher Level, will also be required. We will accept grade 4 in either Standard Level Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches or Standard Level Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation.
Maths in the IB is not required if you have already achieved GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above or 4 in IB Middle Years Maths.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Programme Courses (formerly certificates) at both Higher and Standard Level. Please note that Maths in the IB is not required if you have already achieved GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above or 4 in IB Middle Years Maths. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
Access to HE Diploma: 15 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 30 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
T-levels: Distinction - Entry requirements for students studying T-level qualifications are dependent on subjects studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis.
International & EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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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 listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. The first three undergraduate years listed below are an example structure from the current academic year. Your course structure could differ from this if modules change from year-to-year. The final Masters year shows you all of the modules currently available (compulsory and optional) so you can see the breadth of what is on offer.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components and modules explained
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
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.
Microbes are essential for life, and they connect the health of humans, other animals and ecosystems. They help us digest our food, provide us with vitamins and are contribute to our health and wellbeing. Marine microbes provide about one-third of the oxygen we breath. And, by cleaning up pollutants and synthesising valuable products such as antibiotics, microbes are essential for the delivery of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. On the other hand, some microbes cause devastating diseases. Despite major advances in treatment and prevention, incidences of infectious disease continue to rise. You will learn about the vast diversity and evolution of these mostly beneficial microbes and learn about the pathogenicity of the harmful ones. You will examine how different viruses and bacteria invade, interact and replicate within their hosts. A series of four practical sessions in our new teaching laboratory will give you hands-on experience of growing, observing, purifying, counting and even killing microbes. This will provide you with sought-after skills, such as aseptic technique, serial dilution and data analysis.
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?<br><br>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.
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.
To fully understand the function of biological systems, we must examine their underlying biochemical principles. You explore the importance of molecules which contain the p-block elements of oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus, concentrating on how their electron structure relates to the action of redox enzymes in metabolism. You also look at the biological role of main-group and transition metal cations.<br><br>You will also review the physical elements of biochemical reactions, including kinetics and thermodynamics. You determine reaction rates, reaction orders and activation energies as well as assessing how thermodynamic parameters affect reactions.
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.
You will develop your transferable skills in scientific writing (including referencing and avoiding plagiarism), teamwork and communication through oral presentations, study and research skills (including essay writing, lecture note taking, use of library and databases). Teaching and learning will be through a mixture of lectures, classes, and tutorials. The emphasis will be on small group, tutorial-style teaching and interaction with other students on this module, with assessments tailored to your degree subject area.
Develop your practical and critical thinking skills during this week-long summer module. Basic knowledge gained from molecular biology is now being applied to solve industrial scale biological problems. You will rationally design bacteria by engineering DNA and transforming your microbe in the lab before presenting your results to peers.
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.
We are in the age of genomics and scientists have devised new technologies that can generate whole genome sequences in days which would once have taken years to achieve. Learn the high-throughput techniques of next-generation sequencing used to study genomes, the proteome and the interactome. Investigate how nucleotide sequences are analysed, applying the analytical tools used by research scientists and understand how new genes are discovered and their functions revealed. You also discover how our knowledge of gene structure is being applied in the emerging field of synthetic biology to create new organisms and modify existing ones by gene editing.
The study of cells is at the centre of modern biology. Learn how cellular components determine cell structure and function, how cells communicate and how signaling pathways regulate cell fate. You also explore the regulation of the cell cycle and cell death and learn about changes that occur in cells that have become cancerous. A solid understanding of cell biology opens doors to more specialist topics, such as plant biotechnology and cancer biology.
Assess the importance of zinc, copper and iron in biological systems and review how they are kept in stable equilibrium. Explore the structure and functions of proteins and enzymes that contain metal cofactors and discuss the diseases and possible treatments associated with both metal deficiency and overload.
Understanding the shape, structure and folding of proteins can provide the basis for drug targeting in disease processes and enable us to develop a better understanding of specific biological pathways. This module takes a look at particular macromolecular assemblies using the most up-to-date structural biological techniques with a particular emphasis on x-ray crystallography.
Bioinformatics have become an indispensable skill for the next generation of biochemists and biologists in order to retrieve, analyse and interpret data. You will learn how to access, search and extract data from publicly available protein databases, and analyse and display results using appropriate software.
This module aims to prepare you for carrying out an individual scientific investigation on a topic relating to your degree. Develop skills to identify a suitable question and then design an experimental approach to obtain data addressing this question. The assessment focuses on your analysis and presentation of these data in a suitable scientific paper format report, on the research, understanding and critical writing about the scientific literature relating to your project. Your oral project presentation skills and response to questions, the planning and management of your project work, your progress reflection and your employability skills will also be evaluated.
How does modern biology affect our day-to-day lives? Consider the impact of recent advances on society. Transgenic crops, ever-increasing (and sometimes unwanted) prolongation of life, cloning of animals – to what extent can science be allowed to manipulate nature? And who has the final say?
Building upon knowledge gained in previous years, you discuss the mathematical and structural models used to gauge enzyme activity, the mechanisms of allostery and the experimental basis on which the various models of allostery may be distinguished. You also explore the mechanism of action of the dehydrogenases and the steady state mechanisms of multi-site enzymes.
Biomembranes are of fundamental importance in determining the organisation and functioning of living cells. Biophysical and biochemical methods to study membranes will be discussed alongside the specific roles of membranes in the signal transduction, ion and solute transport and energy storage in cells.
Energy generation and transformation by membranes is an essential feature of all cells: membrane electron transport processes will be discussed (with particular attention being given to respiratory and photosynthetic processes), together with the chemiosmotic theory for ATP synthesis by membranes. A bottom up approach building from basic thermodynamics to observed macroscopic effects and biological function is taken. Particular emphasis is placed on the quantitative description of chemical free energy changes and electron transfer reactions allowing students to analyse and interpret biophysical data in the context of actual experiments.
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.
In recent years, a drive toward sustainable development has led to a green revolution in chemistry. Renewable raw materials, and even waste products, can be worked by microorganisms to create useful products ranging from fuels to food supplements, reducing reliance on non-sustainable, petroleum-based products. In this module you explore the advantages and disadvantages of biological vs traditional chemical processes, learn about the fundamental mechanisms that underpin industrial biotechnology, consider the importance of biological diversity, and gain an understanding of the main applications of biotechnology in industry, focusing on novel technologies.
The development of techniques to manipulate and analyse nucleic acids has revolutionised the study of biology, and provided the key driver for massive expansion in biotechnology. You explore the major tools used in gene technology and gain a practical understanding of how they are used, as well as the molecular techniques that can be used to explore biological questions. Gain an understanding of the impact of gene technology and synthetic biology and explore the applications of genome scale methods for studying gene expression in biotechnology and molecular medicine.
Explore the features and properties of proteins, and examine how they are related to function, as well as their wider role within important biological processes. Getting hands-on, you produce, isolate, purify and characterise proteins with biotechnological potential, as well gaining valuable experience in obtaining and analysing proteomic data.
The aim of this module is for you to carry out an independent scientific investigation on a topic relating to your degree specialisation.
You should find this to be both stimulating and of particular importance for your future career, because it will provide you with the opportunity to analyse a system in some depth and to further develop your skills in the analysis and interpretation of data.
The sequencing of the human genome is one of the biggest achievements of this century. Nowadays, genomics is leading to major advances in biotechnology and molecular medicine, such as enhanced diagnostic tools, better vaccines, improved treatments for disease, and better detection of pollutants. In this module, you gain an understanding of current genomics approaches, including genome sequencing and comparative genomics. You also learn how to study your own genomic data, using state-of-the-art computational resources.
Professional Skills and the Business of Biosciences
Gain invaluable insight into the functioning of the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical industries, investigate some of the most timely and contentious topics in Biotechnology, and develop transferable professional and research skills to enhance your chances of securing employment in the field.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the four-year Integrated Masters.
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 four-year Integrated Masters.
Courses are taught by a combination of lectures, laboratory work, assignments, and individual and group project activities
Gain experience collating and interpreting data, and reporting findings clearly and concisely
Our modules are assessed by a combination of exams, essays, presentations and written reviews
Contribute towards real-world research projects
Fees and funding
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.
You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.
If you are an undergraduate student residing in the UK who has received an offer to study with us in October 2023, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Applicant Days. Our Colchester Campus Applicant Days run from February to May 2023 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus Applicant Days run from March to June 2023 on various weekdays and Saturdays. Applicant Days provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. We appreciate that travelling to university events can be expensive. This is why we have increased our Applicant Day Travel Bursary cap, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Applicant Days, including Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria for our Travel Bursary, please visit our Applicant Days webpage.
If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Applicant Days if you are able to, so if you’d like to book a place, please contact our Applicant Day Team at email@example.com
Visit Colchester Campus
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and
Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.
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