Biochemistry and Biomedicine

Biosciences (with a foundation year) (2014 entry)

BSc (Hons), 4 years, UCAS: C701
Typical A level offer: at least BCC, but applicants may well have much higher results

Subject overview

Why biochemistry?

Biochemistry seeks to understand and explain living systems at the molecular level and underpins the biotechnology revolution, the amazing rate of development of which makes it an exciting and challenging subject to study.

Biochemists answer questions that are fundamental to understanding life. What are the molecules that constitute living organisms? How are they made and how is their synthesis regulated? What is the molecular structure of cells and how do cells communicate with each other in whole organisms? How are genomes organised and what are the molecular mechanisms that control gene expression? What is the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules and how do these structures enable function? What are the chemical and thermodynamic principles underlying biological reactions?

Biochemistry is central to genetics, development, ageing and disease. Practical applications range from genetic fingerprinting and the genetic manipulation of organisms to the use of enzymes in biological detergents, the development of personalised medicine, and drug discovery. 

Why biochemistry at Sussex?

Sussex was ranked 15th in the UK for biological sciences in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2012 and in the top 25 in the UK in The Times Good University Guide 2013 and The Complete University Guide 2012-2013. We were also ranked in the top 25 in the UK for biosciences in The Guardian University Guide 2013.

Rated 8th in the UK for ‘Pre-clinical and Human Biological Sciences’ research in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). 85 per cent of our research was rated as recognised internationally or higher, and over half rated as internationally excellent or higher.

In Year 1, the structure of our Biochemistry and Biomedical Science courses makes it possible to transfer from one to the other.

The Biochemistry degree offers a range of options in the final year, allowing you to pursue the subject in different ways according to your interests.

You will join one of our research teams to conduct your independent final-year project.

The optional industrial placement year provides you with a year’s experience of working in industry, equipping you with a wide range of transferable and laboratory skills, enhancing your employability.

Louise's faculty perspective

Professor Louise Serpell

‘My research specifically tackles the problem of protein misfolding and feeds directly in to my teaching of first- and second-year students.

‘Understanding how some proteins interact and polymerise is very important if we are to improve how we tackle diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, in which protein assembly is central. Working at the cutting edge of research also allows me to communicate the most up-to-date advances in the protein self-assembly fields to final-year and Masters-level students.’

Professor Louise Serpell
Professor of Biochemistry,
University of Sussex

Course content

Applicants are considered on a case-by-case basis and will present with a range of post-GCSE qualifications. The typical A level offer is currently BCC. There is a separate international foundation year for overseas students (refer to International Foundation Year and International Year One). The Biosciences foundation year is taught at Chichester College.

This four-year course is designed for those who want to study biological sciences at a top-rated university but lack the qualifications necessary for direct entry to one of our other courses. Typical entrants include those with non-science A levels and mature students returning to education who do not have appropriate science qualifications. Crucial to a successful application will be evidence of your potential to do well in a demanding science degree.

For recent UK school leavers, if you are thinking of applying for the foundation year, we would normally expect that you either did not have the opportunity to take A levels in science at school or that you have since decided on a change of direction. If you have grades in relevant subjects (like Biology, Chemistry, Physics) but these are simply below our requirements for first-year entry, we would recommend that you resit these rather than apply for the foundation year. For those with other A levels, we would generally expect you to meet our standard offer of at least BCC.

The foundation year is specifically designed for the needs of students who will subsequently transfer to one of the courses offered by the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex. Introductory modules in biology and chemistry each make up 40 per cent of the study content. Practical work is an important element of these modules. The remaining 20 per cent of time is split between mathematics and study skills, including IT. 

Teaching is by means of lectures, tutorials, classroom discussions and exercise classes. Small-group teaching is emphasised throughout. All modules run in parallel throughout the year, and assessment is by coursework and exams. 

After successful completion of the foundation year, you are guaranteed a place on one of the following BSc courses at the University of Sussex: Biochemistry, Biology, Biomedical Science, Ecology and Environment, or Neuroscience. Other BSc courses may also be available. Your final overall pass mark will determine which BSc course you can progress to.

We continue to develop and update our modules for 2014 entry to ensure you have the best student experience. In addition to the course structure below, you may find it helpful to refer to the Modules tab.

How will I learn?

Modules are taught by a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and practical classes. Assignments for tutorials include essays, data handling, computer-based studies and preparation of short talks. Developing laboratory skills is a key objective of the first two years of the degrees. There are weekly research seminars, where staff or visiting scientists explain recent developments in their field. In the final year, you join one of our research teams to carry out an individual research project.

Modules are assessed by a mixture of coursework, dissertations and exams. If your course includes an industrial placement year, this contributes to the overall assessment of your degree.

For more information, visit Studying at Sussex.

What will I achieve?

  • the knowledge, professional expertise and laboratory skills needed for insight into the phenomenal progress of biological and biomedical sciences
  • first-hand experience of research
  • an understanding of how theory and experiment lead to scientific knowledge, and of how to evaluate scientific findings critically – especially important in such a rapidly progressing field
  • skills in communication, teamwork, numeracy and information technology.

Back to module list

Biology - Foundation Year Module

48 credits
Undergraduate academic year, Year 0

Chemistry - Foundation Year Module

48 credits
Undergraduate academic year, Year 0

Mathematics - Foundation Year Module

12 credits
Undergraduate academic year, Year 0

Study Skills/Science IT - Foundation Year Module

12 credits
Undergraduate academic year, Year 0

Back to module list

The University is expanding the range of opportunities it offers to undertake placements as part of your studies. Placements provide you with the opportunity to gain new perspectives, experience and skills that employers are looking for. 

Voluntary placements 

Some subject areas offer you an opportunity to choose to undertake a placement (for one full year) that you can apply for once you have started your course here. Normally, full-year placements occur between the second and final year of a course. It is University policy that students on a year-long placement (usually 40 weeks) should normally receive payment for their work. For voluntary placements, the University organises and manages the process through which students apply for and undertake placements. To support you, our Careers and Employability Centre runs an eight-week Placement Preparation Programme

Research placements 

Some courses in the sciences – such as the MChem in Chemistry (research placement), the MPhys in Physics (research placement) or the MSci in Zoology (research placement) – offer research placements for high-performing students, where you spend the summer vacations throughout your studies working in research groups at Sussex, giving you the opportunity to get involved in research from the very start of your studies. You receive a stipend to cover living expenses during your summer vacation placement each year. 

Integrated placements 

Some subject areas require you to take a professional/industrial placement as an integrated and pre-defined part of a course. Normally, full-year placements occur between the second and final year of a course. Other subject areas offer opportunities for students to gain work experience, focused on a particular topic, as part of some taught modules. 

Key facts

  • enhance your employability: more than 80 per cent of employers surveyed said they actively sought graduates who had studied abroad (QS Global Employer Survey Report 2011)
  • one of the best-supported study abroad programmes in the UK
  • develop an international perspective at an overseas university in Asia, Australia, Europe or North, Central and South America 

Visit International and Study Abroad: Destinations

Career benefits of studying abroad

Studying abroad makes you stand out from other students when entering the job market. Following a period living and studying abroad, you will return with increased confidence and independence, adept at problemsolving and decision-making. You will have made a new network of friends and may have improved your current language skills or learnt a new language. Employers highly rate these skills as they can be applied in today’s global career paths.

Sussex recognises the value of language skills in preparing its students to become global citizens: as well as our dual-language courses (vist the Languages subject area), we offer students in most subjects the opportunity to take language electives as part of their single-honours courses (visit Sussex Choice: make the most of your course).

After studying abroad, some of our graduates have gone on to careers as translators • sales and marketing professionals • international recruitment consultants • Refugee Projects co-ordinator for the British Red Cross abroad • a CNN presenter • international mortgage administrators • teachers of English in Venezuela, Spain, Germany, Japan and France.

We offer a huge range of destinations across Asia, Australia, Europe, and North, Central and South America. 

Erasmus+

Erasmus +We offer one of the best-supported European study abroad programmes of any UK university. Pioneered independently by Sussex in the 1960s, our study abroad scheme is supported by the European Commission through Erasmus+. Students on this programme usually benefit from nonmeans- tested grants. 

Visit British Council: Erasmus

Study abroad duration and destinations

If you are taking a course with an American Studies component, a dual-language course, or one of our joint courses involving a language, you spend Year 3 of your four-year course abroad. Students from most other courses can apply to do a study-abroad period during their degree. 

View our course listings at Undergraduate study

American Studies students study at one of a range of universities across North America. Language-degree students study at a university in Europe (or La Réunion or Québec, Canada, for French, and Latin America for Spanish) where their language of study is spoken. Language students can also apply to the language assistant scheme managed by the British Council for their year abroad.

Visit British Council: Language assistants

A growing number of overseas universities now have courses taught in English, which enables Sussex students without the necessary language skills to study abroad. Students can also take Erasmus Intensive Language Courses in-country before their term starts.

The University is increasing the opportunities for students to go on short-term non-credit-bearing Summer Schools overseas. In 2013, a number of students benefitted from summer programmes in China and Hong Kong.

For more information on study abroad opportunities, email sussexabroad@sussex.ac.uk

Visit Study abroad for Sussex students

Entry requirements

Sussex welcomes applications from students of all ages who show evidence of the academic maturity and broad educational background that suggests readiness to study at degree level. For most students, this will mean formal public examinations; details of some of the most common qualifications we accept are shown below. If you are an overseas student, refer to Applicants from outside the UK.

All teaching at Sussex is in the English language. If your first language is not English, you will also need to demonstrate that you meet our English language requirements.

A level

Typical offer: at least BCC, but applicants may well have much higher results

Specific entry requirements: If you are applying with A levels, we would normally expect that you either did not have the opportunity to take relevant science A levels at school or that you have since decided on a change of direction. If you have (or are taking) A levels in relevant subjects (like Biology and/or Chemistry) but your grades are simply below our requirements for first-year entry, we would recommend that you resit these rather than apply for the foundation year. Crucial to a successful application for the foundation year will be evidence of your potential to do well in a demanding science degree. Successful applicants for Biosciences (with a foundation year) will need both GCSE (or equivalent) in English and Mathematics, at least grade C in each.

International Baccalaureate

Typical offer: at least 28 points overall

Specific entry requirements: The foundation year would typically be for IB applicants who have not taken sufficient Higher level science subjects for entry direct to the first year (rather than for those who have under-performed in relevant discipline areas). Crucial to a successful application for the foundation year will be evidence of your potential to do well in a demanding science degree.

For more information refer to International Baccalaureate.

Access to HE Diploma

Typical offer: Pass the Access to HE Diploma with at least 45 credits at Level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher.

Specific entry requirements: Access applicants welcomed (although the foundation is itself an alternative to taking an Access to HE Diploma in Science). The foundation may be suited to applicants who took an Access to HE Diploma which lacked sufficient Level 3 credit in science or was in a non-science area, where the applicant now wishes to change discipline. GCSE (or equivalent) in both Mathematics and English, grade C, also required.

For more information refer to Access to HE Diploma.

Advanced Diploma

Typical offer: Pass with grade B or C in the Diploma and B in the Additional and Specialist Learning

Specific entry requirements: Ideally the Additional and Specialist Learning would be a science A-level. Crucial to a successful application for the foundation year will be evidence of your potential to do well in a demanding science degree. GCSE (or equivalent) in both Mathematics and English, with at least grade C in each, are also required.

For more information refer to Advanced Diploma.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma

Typical offer: DMM

Specific entry requirements: GCSE (or equivalent) in both Mathematics and English, with at least grade C in each, are also required.

For more information refer to BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma.

European Baccalaureate

Typical offer: 70% overall

For more information refer to European Baccalaureate.

Irish Leaving Certificate (Higher level)

Typical offer: BBCCCC

Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers

Typical offer: BBBCC

Specific entry requirements: If you are applying with Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers, we would normally expect that you either did not have the opportunity to take relevant science subjects at school or that you have since decided on a change of direction or you were not able to take relevant science Advanced Highers and are applying just on the strength of Highers. If you have (or are taking) Advanced Highers in relevant subjects (like Biology and/or Chemistry) but your grades are simply below our requirements for first-year entry, we would recommend that you resit these rather than apply for the foundation year. Crucial to a successful application for the foundation year will be evidence of your potential to do well in a demanding science degree. Applicants will also need Maths and English at Standard Grade, grade 1 or 2.

For more information refer to Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with not less than 6.0 in each section. Pearson's Test of English (Academic) with 62 overall with at least 56 in all four skills.

For more information, refer to alternative English language requirements.

For more information about the admissions process at Sussex:

Undergraduate Admissions,
Sussex House,
University of Sussex, Falmer,
Brighton BN1 9RH, UK
T +44 (0)1273 678416
F +44 (0)1273 678545
E ug.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

Fees and funding

Fees

Home/EU students: £9,0001
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £9,0002
Overseas students: £13,7503

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2014.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2014.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2014.

To find out about your fee status, living expenses and other costs, visit further financial information.

Funding

The funding sources listed below are for the subject area you are viewing and may not apply to all degrees listed within it. Please check the description of the individual funding source to make sure it is relevant to your chosen degree.

To find out more about funding and part-time work, visit further financial information.

Care Leavers Award (2014)

Region: UK
Level: UG

For students have been in council care before starting at Sussex.

First-Generation Scholars Scheme (2014)

Region: UK
Level: UG

The scheme is targeted to help students from relatively low income families – ie those whose family income is up to £42,620.

First-Generation Scholars Scheme EU Student Award (2014)

Region: Europe (Non UK)
Level: UG

£3,000 fee waiver for UG Non-UK European Union (EU) students whose family income is below £25,000

Sussex Excellence Scholarship (2014)

Region: UK, Europe (Non UK), International (Non UK/EU)
Level: UG

Merit-based scholarship for undergraduate students

For more information on scholarships go to the Scholarships web pages.

Careers and profiles

Biochemistry is one of the best preparations for a scientific career in biomedical and life sciences. This course prepares you for research, administration and management within government, universities, the NHS, and for the pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries.

Recent graduates have taken up a wide range of posts with employers including: lab assistant at GlaxoSmithKlein • scientific officer at the Institute of Cancer Research • technical sales executive at Scientifica • research assistant at the University of Sussex.

Specific employer destinations listed are taken from recent Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education surveys, which are produced annually by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Careers and employability

For employers, it’s not so much what you know, but what you can do with your knowledge that counts. The experience and skills you’ll acquire during and beyond your studies will make you an attractive prospect. Initiatives such as SussexPlus, delivered by the Careers and Employability Centre, help you turn your skills to your career advantage. It’s good to know that 92 per cent of our graduates are in work or further study (Which? University).

For more information on the full range of initiatives that make up our career and employability plan for students, visit Careers and alumni.

Adrian's employer perspective

Adrian Corbin

'Scientifica is a manufacturer and distributor of scientific instruments with its headquarters in Uckfield, just 15 miles from the Sussex campus. Established in 1997, we have grown from a small distributor of scientific instruments to be a major supplier of electrophysiology and imaging equipment to more than 30 countries around the world.

'Over the years we have established strong links with the University, and at the moment employ 10 Sussex graduates from various disciplines across the life sciences. We attend the recruitment fair annually, and have taken on at least one new graduate per year for the last three years.

'We find that graduates from the School of Life Sciences in particular have the skills and knowledge to help them understand our business and enable them to talk to our customers.'

Adrian Corbin
Sales Support Manager, Scientifica

Contact our School

School of Life Sciences

The School of Life Sciences provides an exciting and attractive environment for learning and research, with a thriving international community of students and academics.

How do I find out more?

For more information, contact:
School of Life Sciences,
University of Sussex, Falmer, 
Brighton BN1 9QG, UK
E lifesci@sussex.ac.uk
T +44 (0)1273 678057
Biochemistry

Visit us

Campus tours

Not able to attend one of our Open Days? Then book on to one of our weekly guided campus tours.

Mature-student information session

If you are 21 or over, and thinking about starting an undergraduate degree at Sussex, you may want to attend one of our mature student information sessions. Running between October and December, they include guidance on how to approach your application, finance and welfare advice, plus a guided campus tour with one of our current mature students.

Self-guided visits

If you are unable to make any of the visit opportunities listed, drop in Monday to Friday year round and collect a self-guided tour pack from Sussex House reception.

Jonathan's staff perspective

Jonathan Bridges

‘Sussex provides world-leading teaching and excellent academic facilities, with a vibrant student life in a fantastic location. All of this meant that I left Sussex with a unique set of experiences and a degree that has prepared me for my future.

‘Joining Student Recruitment Services at the University has enabled me to share my experiences of Sussex with others. Coming to an Open Day gives you the opportunity to meet our research-active academics and our current students, while exploring our beautiful campus. But don’t worry if you can’t make an Open Day, there’s plenty of other opportunities to visit Sussex. Check out our Visit us and Open Days pages or our Facebook page to find out more.

‘I’ve loved every moment of my time at Sussex – these have been the best years of my life.’

Jonathan Bridges
Graduate Intern, Student Recruitment Services

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