Build your skills

A biochemistry-based undergraduate degree normally lasts 3 years (or 4 years in Scotland), during which you will aquire knowledge and skills that you will build on throughout your career. Some universities offer degrees with a built-in Master’s course, year in industry or year abroad, which can take longer.

The focus of a Biochemistry degree is on learning lab techniques and analyzing the lab data in reports afterwards, as well as learning background knowledge in Biology, Chemistry, Maths and IT. Although it will specialise slightly towards a single field in the second and third years of study, at some universtities you can switch between similar courses (Biomedical Sciences, Molecular Bioscience) after the first year, and all provide you with the key skills you will need to work in the fields of molecular biosciences.

Biochemistry degrees typically include topics such as:

  • cell biology and signalling
  • genetics and DNA
  • structure and function of molecules
  • enzymology
  • proteins and membranes
  • microbiology and viruses
  • disease mechanisms
  • metabolism

Which degree course is right for you? Read our useful tips.

For biochemistry degree course structures and entry requirements for individual universities and higher education institutions you can search the UCAS website.

Masters and sandwich courses

Jobs in biochemistry are available to those leaving university with a BSc, but they are limited in scope and promotion opportunities. Most professional biochemists have at least a Master’s qualification. See our master’s degree page for more information on this postgraduate qualification.

Although master’s courses are generally considered a postgraduate course, some universities offer Integrated Master’s (MSci) degrees. These courses combine a Bachelors and Masters course into a one programme, and generally take a year longer than standard Bachelors courses. The Integrated Masters courses will grant you an Masters qualification, and allow you to carry out a Masters-level research project in your final year, without having to apply for a Masters course seperately after completing your BSc.

Some universities offer a BSc in a biochemistry-related degree with a sandwich year or a year in industry. These sandwich courses take 4 years to complete rather than 3, as students spend a year working in an industry related to their degree, usually between their second and final years of study.

A sandwich year in a relevant institution gives a great idea of what it would be like to work there professionally, providing fantastic paid work experience and references, helping students to build up industry contacts for when they eventually look for a job. Science students who have completed a year in industry during their course will find it a lot easier to get a job when they leave university.

It is possible to study a course with both an Integrated Master’s component and a sandwich year component. In this case, the course will take two years longer than a standard BSc course to complete – one year for the sandwich year in industry, one year for the Masters-level research project.

Transferable skills

Studying biochemistry at any level provides many transferable skills that are desirable to potential employers. These skills include:

  • analytical skills
  • research skills
  • problem solving
  • numerical skills
  • planning and organizational skills
  • team work
  • computational skills

For more information on transferable skills, have a look at our skills page.