Undergraduate Course

Integrated Master in Science: Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Integrated Master in Science: Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Overview

The details
Biochemistry and Biotechnology
CZ99
October 2021
Full-time
4 years
Colchester Campus

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:

  • Molecular enzymology
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Structural biology
  • Bioenergetics
  • Metabolism

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
  • Synthetic biology
  • Bioinformatics

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.

Why we're great.
  • 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.
  • 94% of our students from the School of Life Sciences expressed overall satisfaction with their course (NSS 2020).
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Study abroad

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

Placement year

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. 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 Dr Jonathan Worrall, who is researching new biotechnological applications of the antibiotic-producing actinobacterium Streptomycetes, and Dr Mike Hough, who is working on high-resolution structural biological methods (x-ray crystallography) to determine protein and enzyme structures.

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.

Specialist facilities

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

Your future

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.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

GCSE: Mathematics C/4

A-levels: BBB including Biology

For 2022 entry this course will have an A-level Chemistry (or equivalent) requirement in addition to Biology

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.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

Structure

Example structure

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, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Molecular Cell Biology

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.

View Molecular Cell Biology on our Module Directory

Genetics and Evolution

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.

View Genetics and Evolution on our Module Directory

Microbiology

Get to know the culprits of some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Despite major advances in treatment and prevention, incidences of infectious disease continue to rise. Vast diversity, rapid evolution and the opportunistic nature of micro-organisms present a significant challenge. You examine how different viruses and bacteria invade, interact and replicate within living hosts, and explore the consequent impact on ecology, industry and disease. A series of four practical sessions allows you to get hands-on and develop valuable skills. You learn how to purify, observe, count and kill micro-organisms in our purpose-built labs, gaining experience of aseptic techniques, serial dilution, response to antibiotics, and staining.

View Microbiology on our Module Directory

Biochemistry of Macromolecules

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.

View Biochemistry of Macromolecules on our Module Directory

General and Organic Chemistry

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.

View General and Organic Chemistry on our Module Directory

Inorganic and Physical Chemistry

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.

View Inorganic and Physical Chemistry on our Module Directory

Quantitative methods for Life Sciences

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.

View Quantitative methods for Life Sciences on our Module Directory

Transferable Skills in Life Sciences

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.

View Transferable Skills in Life Sciences on our Module Directory

Employability Skills for the Biosciences

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.

View Employability Skills for the Biosciences on our Module Directory

Molecular Biology: Genes, Proteins and Disease

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.

View Molecular Biology: Genes, Proteins and Disease on our Module Directory

Genome Science

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.

View Genome Science on our Module Directory

Cell Biology

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.

View Cell Biology on our Module Directory

Metals in 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.

View Metals in Biology on our Module Directory

Proteins and Macromolecular Assemblies

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.

View Proteins and Macromolecular Assemblies on our Module Directory

Computational Data Analysis: R for Life Sciences

If we were to compile the DNA sequence of the human genome into a book, it would be 200,000 pages long, and would take 10 years to read. The ability to effectively interpret and analyse large-scale genetic and genomic data sets is a crucial skill for next-generation biologists. The module provides a basic introduction to R, the programming language of choice for biologists industry and academia. You learn to write scripts and functions, read and write data files in different formats, use basic plot functionalities and perform basic statistical analysis.

View Computational Data Analysis: R for Life Sciences on our Module Directory

Protein Bioinformatics

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.

View Protein Bioinformatics on our Module Directory

Issues in Biomolecular Science

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?

View Issues in Biomolecular Science on our Module Directory

Structural and Molecular Enzymology

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.

View Structural and Molecular Enzymology on our Module Directory

Plant Biotechnology

Today’s global society has 8 billion mouths to feed. So how can we use our knowledge of modern plant science to improve agricultural productivity? From genetically-engineered disease resistance, to using water and nutrients more efficiently, you consider the potential impact and implications of the latest thinking and technology.

View Plant Biotechnology on our Module Directory

Research Project in Life Sciences

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.

View Research Project in Life Sciences on our Module Directory

Cell Signalling (optional)

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.

View Cell Signalling (optional) on our Module Directory

Molecular Basis of Cancer (optional)

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.

View Molecular Basis of Cancer (optional) on our Module Directory

Mechanisms of Neurological Disease (optional)

This module examines the link between protein structure and function and its connection to dementia and disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. When the folded structure of a protein is altered, perhaps as a consequence of folding inefficiency, environmental stress, genetic mutation, and/or infection, it can cause a loss of the normal protein function, toxic gain of function, or dominant negative effects. You will study the key processes involved in protein folding and misfolding and explore how they are involved in disease, as well as the therapeutic strategies being developed to address them.

View Mechanisms of Neurological Disease (optional) on our Module Directory

Gene Technology and Synthetic Biology

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.

View Gene Technology and Synthetic Biology on our Module Directory

Industrial Biotechnology: Enzymes, Biochemicals and Biomaterials

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.

View Industrial Biotechnology: Enzymes, Biochemicals and Biomaterials on our Module Directory

Research Skills and Project

Your Research Project is the largest piece of work that you will complete during the course and contributes 60 credits (50%) of the marks for your final year. 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 perform a coherent set of experiments allowing you to further develop your skills in experimental design, problem solving and the analysis and interpretation of data.

View Research Skills and Project on our Module Directory

Protein Technologies

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.

View Protein Technologies on our Module Directory

Placement

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.

Year abroad

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.

Teaching

  • 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

Assessment

  • Our modules are assessed by a combination of exams, essays, presentations and written reviews
  • Contribute towards real-world research projects

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250

International fee

£19,080

EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.

Applying

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.

Applicant Days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you're invited to one, this will take place during your applicant day. Don't panic, they're nothing to worry about and it's a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we'll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you're outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email applicantdays@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

Colchester Campus

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.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

Virtual tours

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.

Exhibitions

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.


Find out more

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 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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