Biochemistry MBiol, BSc | Faculty of Biological Sciences (2023)

Year 1

The first year introduces the molecular building blocks of cells and how they orchestrate the cellular processes that sustain life. Lectures in chemistry build on your existing knowledge and provide a rigorous grounding in the basic physical and chemical concepts that underpin biochemistry as a molecular science.

You will spend 6 hours per week in practical classes performing experiments to develop your laboratory skills, build an understanding of the lecture material and bring the subject to life. Experiments include protein chromatography, enzyme kinetics and genetic engineering. Tutorials with an academic member of staff will explore the course material in depth and develop your numeracy and problem-solving skills.

To tailor your course to match your own interests, you will select two optional modules. You can swap one optional module for a discovery module from across the University, allowing you to pursue subjects outside biological sciences (subject to timetabling constraints).

At the end of year 1, our flexible degree structure offers you the opportunity to transfer to relevant degree courses in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Course transfers are subject to space and academic background approval.

Compulsory modules

Introductory Skills in the Molecular Biosciences (20 credits) - You’ll be trained in data collection and experimental techniques relevant to the biological sciences, as well as problem-solving, teamwork, and presentation skills. You will learn how to use laboratory equipment, design and execute simple experiments, understand approaches used to study biochemical and molecular processes, analyse and interpret numerical data, and present information clearly in written and oral forms.

Basis of Life (20 credits) - You’ll learn about the fundamental processes of life, identifying the key concepts that underpin the biological processes in all living organisms, from bacteria to elephants. On completion of the module, you will have a comprehensive grounding in the molecular basis of life from the atomic scale up to cells.

Chemistry 1: Bonding and Behaviour (10 credits) - You’ll explore the basic chemistry concepts that underpin biochemistry as a molecular science. On completion of this module you will have a fundamental grasp of why molecules have the structures they do and how this influences their physical and chemical properties.

Introductory Skills in Biochemistry (20 credits) - You’ll explore key concepts taught in the lectures through tutorials and lab practicals. This will consolidate your understanding of the subject, develop competency in laboratory techniques, and nurture transferrable analytical and problem-solving skills.

Introductory Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (20 credits) - You’ll explore foundational concepts in biochemistry that will be built on in the later years of the degree. Upon completion of this module, you will have a basic chemical understanding of the building blocks of life and how they work together inside cells.

Introduction to Genetics (10 credits) - You will be provided with essential foundational knowledge in genetics, exploring the different meanings of ‘genetics’ and how this concept has changed over time. More importantly, you will explore what genetics means for us as organisms. To what extent do genes determine our inheritance? And how do our genes make us the distinct and unique organisms we are?

Optional modules

20 credits from the following

Introduction to Physiology (10 credits) - You’ll be introduced to body systems, largely on a weekly basis, with an emphasis on how systems operate and interact. The idea that disease can disturb, or result from disturbances of, these systems will be introduced for each system.

The Diversity of Life (10 credits) - You’ll be provided with an overview of the evolution and diversity of life, the key features that define each group and the role of those taxa in ecological processes. Each group of organisms will be linked to a major global challenge including food security, disease, and wildlife conservation, to demonstrate how fundamental science informs important societal issues.

Mathematics for Biochemists (10 credits) - This module is highly recommended if you did not develop your mathematical skills significantly beyond the GCSE level; its goal is to equip you with the basic mathematical skills necessary to gain a full understanding of Chemistry. It will progress from arithmetic to algebra and calculus, with emphasis on problem-solving and with extensive use of chemical examples. The teaching methods will include lectures and problem-solving workshops.

Introduction to Immunology (10 credits) - You’ll review fundamental immune mechanisms with a particular emphasis on human immunology and its relationship to health and disease. You will discover how we protect ourselves from infection through our immune defences, and learn about the role of different types of leukocytes and antibodies and complement in our immune defences.

Microbial World (10 credits) - You’ll be introduced to a wide range of microscopic life forms and viruses, giving you a sound introduction to Microbiology and exploring the diversity of microbial life with emphasis on how we interact with microbes that are responsible for infections as well as those that do not normally cause disease. You will learn how microorganisms interact with each other and how they influence the lives of more complex organisms, for good or ill and will learn how fungi, bacteria and viruses are observed and manipulated safely.

Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry (10 credits) - You’ll explore the organic chemistry concepts that underpin biochemical reactions. This will be useful to students interested in topics such as drug design who wish to deepen their knowledge and understanding of biological chemistry.

Discovery Module (10 credits) - As well as the compulsory and optional modules that make up your programme of study, you may be able to choose something different to your main subject as a Discovery Module.

Year 2

The second year lectures cover key topics in modern Biochemistry. For example, you will learn how proteins fold and what happens when this goes wrong; how enzymes catalyse biochemical reactions and how inhibitors can be used as drugs to treat diseases; how metabolic pathways maintain and power cells, and how metabolic disorders cause disease; and how genes can be manipulated to create experimental tools and gene therapies to treat inherited disorders.

During the second-year practicals you will spend one full day per week working on lab-based and computational projects. Experiments typically run over several weeks, requiring you to utilise multiple approaches and take greater responsibility for your experimental design. One example is a drug discovery project, where you will identify and test potential inhibitors of a therapeutic target protein.

The core lecture material is reinforced with tutorials on topics such as organic reaction mechanisms, plant biology, and strategies for gene cloning and protein expression. These tutorials will deepen your understanding of biochemistry and build further analytical, problem solving and computational skills. Additional tutorials will train you in teamwork, report writing, giving presentations, and interview preparation, equipping you with the skills you will need to compete successfully in the job market.

You will also select optional and discovery modules from across the University to further develop and broaden your expertise in biochemistry or subjects further beyond.

At the end of year 2, you will have the opportunity to complete an industrial work placement, study abroad, or combined study and work abroad. This will add an additional year of study to your degree.

Compulsory modules

Intermediate skills in the Molecular Biosciences (20 credits) - You’ll be provided with training in data collection, experimental techniques, and problem-solving in the context of molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, and microbiology. This module builds upon content learned in your year one skills modules, and will cover practical experiments in gene cloning, protein expression, PCR, electrophoresis, and enzyme assays, as well as tutorials on data handling, problem-solving, and critical reviews of current topics in cell and molecular biology.

Omics and Big Data Biology (20 credits) - You’ll be introduced to omics-based approaches at the forefront of equipping biologists to overcome global challenges. You’ll also develop practical data-science skills in comparative genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics in order to conduct group-based and individual research projects.

Intermediate Biochemistry 1 (20 credits) - You’ll consolidate and build on material taught in year 1 to further develop biochemical knowledge and understanding. On completion of this module, you will have a detailed understanding of biomolecular structure and function and how this relates to core cellular processes.

Intermediate Biochemistry 2 (20 credits) - You’ll explore increasingly advanced concepts in biochemistry. By the end of this module, students will have a deep knowledge and understanding of biochemical processes essential for health and disease, in preparation for the research-level lecture material in year 3.

Intermediate Skills in Biochemistry (20 credits) - You’ll explore central concepts, building on compulsory modules from semester one and two. This will consolidate your understanding of the subject matter, develop familiarity and competence in more sophisticated laboratory techniques and engender advanced analytical and problem-solving skills. By doing this module you will complete the necessary groundwork for your final year project.

Optional modules

20 credits from the following

Medical Immunology (10 credits) - You’ll gain detailed knowledge of the immune system, focusing on human health, from infectious and auto-immune diseases to treatment.

Chemotherapy (10 credits) - The basis of chemotherapy is selective toxicity, the use of agents to kill or suppress the growth of invading cells or infective organisms. This module will help you understand how these agents work. You will learn about the drugs used to treat cancer, bacterial, fungal and viral infections. In addition, immunosuppressant drugs and the chemotherapy of protozoal diseases such as malaria will also be discussed.

Cell Biology of Disease (10 credits) - You will gain a broad understanding of the eukaryotic cell and how it responds to and is altered in infectious and non-infectious diseases. Emphasis is placed on a comprehensive grounding of cellular function by considering different cell types and associated disease states.

Discovery Module (10 credits) - As well as the compulsory and optional modules that make up your programme of study, you may be able to choose something different to your main subject as a Discovery Module.

Year 3

The third year is research-led and allows you to explore your interests as you prepare for your future career.

The lecture material covers recent discoveries that are often yet to appear in textbooks. You will take two compulsory lecture modules (“Advanced Topics in Molecular and Cellular Biology” and “Advanced Topics in Biochemistry and Structural Biology”), which feature topics such as signal transduction, Alzheimer’s disease, virus structure and DNA damage. In addition, you will also take a third lecture module of your choice selected from across the school.

You will undertake a practical project that introduces you to increasingly sophisticated techniques and provides the opportunity to become familiar with the cutting-edge research facilities available at Leeds. This includes our bio-imaging and flow cytometry facility, protein production facility, biomolecular interaction facility, and nuclear magnetic resonance facility. You will also conduct a literature review of your proposed extended final-year research project (year 4), with the support of your supervisor.

In the skills module, you will undertake a variety of exercises (e.g. tutorials, group work, scientific writing, critical analysis of literature) to explore key themes from the lecture material and build transferrable skills in communication and data analysis.

Compulsory modules

Extended Research Project Preparation (20 credits) - In preparation for your research project in year 4, you will be required to carry out a literature review in a scientific area that is relevant to their degree, of interest to them, and being actively researched by a group(s) within the School. In addition to developing skills required of a researcher, a major objective is to identify questions or hypotheses that can be answered or tested as part of an extended research project.

Advanced Topics in Molecular and Cellular Biology (20 credits) - This is one of our flagship research-led modules in which you’ll become familiar with current research in a range of topics which have previously covered: within the field of molecular bioscience.

  • DNA damage
  • Stem cells
  • Synthetic biology
  • How to build an organelle

However, this module is continuously refreshed with topics that reflect the cutting-edge research we carry out at Leeds.

Advanced Skills in Biochemistry (20 credits) - You’ll be provided with up-to-date developments, hypotheses and controversies in biochemistry. You’ll have an opportunity to extend your problem-solving and scientific communication skills as well as participate in career workshops.

Research Tools and Applications (20 credits) - You’ll undertake a scientific investigation that requires project planning, the selection and adaptation of experimental protocols, the execution of laboratory and computer-based work, the interpretation of experimental data, literature searching, reading and reviewing and report (manuscript) writing. The scientific investigation will combine multiple experimental approaches and introduce students to major research facilities.

Advanced Topics in Biochemistry and Structural Biology (20 credits) - This is one of our flagship research-led modules in which you’ll become familiar with current research in a range of topics which have previously covered:

  • Enzymes for biofuels
  • Protein dynamics
  • Natural product biosynthesis
  • Protein folding and disease

However, this module is continuously refreshed with topics that reflect the cutting-edge research we carry out at Leeds.

Optional modules

20 credits from the following

Advanced Topics in Microbiology 2 (20 credits) - This is one of our flagship research-led modules in which you’ll become familiar with current research in a range of topics which have previously covered:

  • Respiratory infections
  • Antibiotic action and resistance
  • Respiratory infections
  • Human-microbe interactions
  • Streptomyces, the Antibiotic Makers

However, this module is continuously refreshed with topics that reflect the cutting-edge research we carry out at Leeds.

Cancer Biology (20 credits) - You’ll gain comprehensive knowledge of a range of human cancers, from the molecular basis of cancer to the alterations in cells and tissues in cancers to current therapies.

Any L3 Faculty of Biological Sciences module for which pre-requisites are met  (20 credits)

Year 4

Your extended research project will run throughout the 4th year. As you are fully integrated into a research group, you will contribute to internationally competitive research which can result in the first publication of your career. MBiol projects are varied: from molecular characterization of cancer associated signalling pathways and investigation of bacterial outer membrane protein folding to identification and development of new biopharmaceuticals. You will gain experience in a range of advanced techniques such as CRISPR, advanced DNA/RNA sequencing techniques, structural biology, bioinformatics and many more, depending on the project. Alongside you will study masters level modules from our suite of MSc programmes

Compulsory modules

Project Module (90 credits) - You’ll undertake a two-semester independent research project on an original topic with an appropriate focus for the individual’s host programme. The research will be conducted within one of the Faculty research teams, sometimes in combination with outside agencies.

Optional modules

30 credits from the following

Advanced Biomolecular Technologies (15 credits) - You’ll learn about a range of techniques and technologies which are applicable to modern biosciences. Exercises will develop data analysis and problem-solving skills and expose you to current research trends in the biosciences and to leading researchers in the field.

Advanced Immunology (15 credits) - You will be provided with state-of-the-art research-led teaching focusing on four topics fundamental to the essential principles of the immune system. These include Innate Immunity and Adaptive Immunity, which are central to understanding the host's interaction with an environment containing a wide range of potentially pathogenic microorganisms. This is complemented by examination of two examples of immune deviation, in the case of Allergy leading to immunopathology, and in the case of Immune Evasion leading to sophisticated strategies adopted by pathogens to survive in the face of the immune system.

High-Throughput Technologies (15 credits) - You’ll gain an understanding of high-throughput biomolecular data generation and will provide an introduction to data analysis.

Treatment of Infectious Disease and Cancer (15 credits) - You’ll explore the treatment of human diseases caused by infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, fungi) and cancer by current and emerging approaches, with a focus on describing the mechanistic rationale for chemotherapy, vaccination, gene/RNA therapy, and immunotherapy.

Medical Diagnostics (15 credits) - You’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of current molecular tests to diagnose major areas of infectious and non-infectious diseases.

Discovery modules

Throughout your degree you will benefit from a range of opportunities to expandyour intellectual horizons outside or within your subject area.

This course gives you the opportunity to choose from a range of discovery modules. They’re a great way to tailor your study around your interests or career aspirations and help you stand out from the crowd when you graduate. Find out more about discovery modules on our Broadening webpages.

Learning and teaching

Our teaching is delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials and practicals (laboratory or field settings dependent on your degree). We take a student-centred approach to learning and so our teaching is designed to enable student engagement through active learning approaches that include creative problem-solving, team-work activities and mini-projects. In this way, you are able to apply the theoretical knowledge learnt to practical, real-life contexts. We put a high value on practical teaching and so a core part of your teaching will focus on developing hands-on practical and associated research skills.

Independent study is an important part of University learning and you will be expected to undertake private study. We will support you in becoming independent learners through our teaching approaches and through regular meetings with your personal tutor who is there to advise you academically.

We use a range of digital tools to enhance your learning. Through our Minerva learning management system, you will be able to access our extensive library of online materials, some of it designed specifically to support preparation prior to attending classroom sessions and discuss content with peers and teachers. In the classroom, educators use a variety of interactive digital tools to help you learn through discussion and debate. Laboratory practicals are accompanied by detailed online preparation guides and use of electronic laboratory notebooks to ensure you get the most out of your time and develop workplace skills.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


We use a variety of assessment methods to help you develop a broad range of skills. These include practical work, data handling and problem-solving exercises, multiple-choice tests, group work, online and face-to-face discussion groups, computer-based simulations, essays, posters and oral presentations. We support students in their assessment journey through the provision of practice questions, sessions on how to complete assessment questions and feedback to support learning.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Aron Pacocha

Last Updated: 16/06/2023

Views: 6521

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (48 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Aron Pacocha

Birthday: 1999-08-12

Address: 3808 Moen Corner, Gorczanyport, FL 67364-2074

Phone: +393457723392

Job: Retail Consultant

Hobby: Jewelry making, Cooking, Gaming, Reading, Juggling, Cabaret, Origami

Introduction: My name is Aron Pacocha, I am a happy, tasty, innocent, proud, talented, courageous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.