Biochemistry is the study of living organisms at the molecular and cellular level, and its study provides students with the core of biological sciences, and a fundamental basis from which to approach any area of cell/molecular biology in subsequent research.
Students have a choice between a one year Part II (B.A. degree) and two years of study, in which Part II is followed by Part III (B.A. and M.Sci. degrees).
The Part II course provides an advanced Biochemistry education, with modules entitled:
- Structural and Chemical Biology
- From Genome to Proteome
- Signalling and Cancer
- The Dynamic Cell
- Molecular Microbiology of Infectious Disease
- Bioenergy – The Exploitation of Plants and Microorganisms
The course teaches a multitude of transferable laboratory and communication skills such as graphic illustration, record keeping, data analysis, database searching, seminar presentation and report writing
Assessment takes place through
- extended essays
- 8 week research project in Biochem.
Students choose from possible research areas ranging from literature based projects to bioinformatics or bench work and write a report. In the project each student will work closely with one of the research teams in the Department. There are also departmental-based group supervisions involving students and staff throughout the year. Through the extended critical essay students have an opportunity to write on broader topics such as on communication between scientists and society. See http://www.bioc.cam.ac.uk/teaching/partii/prospectivept2students.html.
The four-year course is for committed enthusiasts preparing for a career in research in Biochemistry or a related area. You are not bound to remain for the fourth year even if you choose the four-year course. Acceptance for Part III is conditional upon performance at 2.1 or better in Part II Biochemistry
Part II Biochemistry also provides an appropriate training for Part III Systems Biology.
The subject Part IB Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is the normal precursor to the Part II course but is not compulsory e.g. Part IB Cell and Developmental Biology is an adequate background to Part II Biochemistry.
The Part III Biochemistry course is followed having successfully completed the Part II Biochemistry course having met the set criteria in Part IB and Part II. The course allows students who wish to become professionals in the molecular biosciences to pursue a two-term research project during their fourth year, togetherwith continuing advanced teaching in lectures and discussion groups. Success in the course leads to the award of the M.Sci. degree.
The individual research project remains a highlight of the Biochemistry course at Cambridge and is conducted in the laboratory of the supervising member of staff and chosen from an extensive list. With prior approval by the Course and Projects Organisers,projects may be undertaken in other parts of the University, such as the Gurdon Research Institute, the Systems Biology Centre, the Babraham Institute, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Department of Clinical Biochemistry (Institute of Metabolic Science), Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit, MRC Molecular Biology Laboratories, Hutchison/MRC Research Centre, Unilever Cambridge Centre for Molecular Informatics or the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.
The experimental work will start at the beginning of the first term and be written up as an 800 word dissertation. For many this is a first insight into the world of research and often provides an opportunity for publication in scientific journals.
In a two Part III research symposia, students present 20 minute reports and answer questions on their project at the end of the first term and the beginning of the third term. Production of these presentations is an excellent training for postgraduate and business careers. The research 25 environment is reinforced by a series of seminars on “Scientific Method and Experimental Design”and “Landmark Papers in Biochemistry”. The training also includes Journal Clubs and advanced lectures. Weekly biochemical discussion sessions amongst other students and members of staff continue through the year and students will learn to critically appraise papers.
The third term is devoted to examination preparation through the departmental based group supervisions, specialist supervisions with individual lecturers and self-guided supervision. At this stage, four-year students graduate with the BA and M.Sci. degrees.
There are opportunities for students who satisfactorily complete the Part III course in Biochemistry to proceed to doctoral degrees by research, in Cambridge or elsewhere; the Department is well equipped for research on a wide range of biochemical topics.