Biomedical Sciences (Biochemistry) BSc
Placement Offered This course has a Professional Experience option.
- Special Features
- Course Content
- Teaching & Assessment
- Entry Criteria
About the Course
The modern biomedical scientist needs to be familiar with a wide range of subject disciplines. This is why our Biomedical Sciences degree provides all students with a sound grounding in compulsory subject areas.
The course also allows you to develop good practical, analytical and transferable skills applicable to a wide range of employment opportunities such as medicine, MSc and PhD study, pharmaceutical research, pathology and diagnosis, clinical trials and data management. You will be encouraged to exercise leadership, initiative and responsibility, and to appreciate the need for continual professional development.
The aim of the BSc Biomedical Sciences (Biochemistry) course is to emphasise the role of various biochemical pathways in normal metabolism, and also how these pathways may be altered during specific human diseases.
In addition you will study the main subject areas in biosciences and medically related research. These subject areas include genetics, cell and molecular biology, immunology, and anatomy and physiology, as related to human health, disease and treatment.
Dr Anthony Tsolaki
School of Health Sciences and Social Care
- Our curriculum reflects up-to-date discoveries together with a detailed grounding in all major subject areas within biomedical sciences.
- During your first year, our flexible course structure allows you to switch courses if your interests change, and gives you the opportunity to specialise in an area of interest in later years.
- A specific design of lab coat for practicals is required and we will supply you with your own lab coat at the start of term. For 13-14 entry, you will also receive a one year subscription to the Society of Biology.
- We have extensive state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories, including a new containment level 3 laboratory for research on tuberculosis and a bioimaging suite that houses 4D image capture and analysis equipment.
- You will be taught by academics who are internationally renowned scientists in their fields of expertise and are involved in making major advances and breakthroughs in human diseases and syndromes, including: breast, prostate and skin cancer; leukaemia; progeria (premature ageing), tuberculosis; malaria; aspergillus infection; trinucleotide repeat diseases; aberrations caused by irradiation; and normal ageing. Our academics are also involved in the development of 21st century treatments for disease, such as: novel vaccines; stem cell, gene and antibody therapies; novel drug development; and artificial biomaterials.
- In your final year you will have the opportunity to contribute to our research programmes in cellular and biochemical pathways, the regulation of gene expression, DNA repair and immunological responses to microbial infection.
Facts and Figures
Biomedical Sciences Research at Brunel
Our renowned Research Centres feed specialist knowledge and an enthusiasm for discovery into the teaching at every level.
The Brunel Institute for Cancer Genetics and Pharmacogenomics has played major roles in achieving national and international breakthroughs in skin, breast and prostate cancers and leukaemia. It has secured funding from Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, the European Union and the Breast Cancer Campaign.
The Centre for Cell and Chromosome Biology has made major advances in Progeria (premature ageing), chromosome behaviour in disease, differentiation and development, chromosomal response to radiation, host:parasite interactions, neurodegeneration disorders, gene therapy, the use of biomaterials, reproductive endocrinology, bone metabolism and normal ageing. The Centre has secured funding from the Department of Health, the National Institute of Health (USA), the BBSRC, the Arthritis Research Campaign and the Wellcome Trust, as well as other charitable funding.
The new Centre for Immunology, Infection and Disease Mechanisms is involved in translational research relevant to human health and disease, with the main aim of setting up clinical trials and developing novel therapeutics and diagnostics. These will include: phase I and II trials for asthma and invasive infection; pre-clinical trials in autoimmune diseases; the testing of novel reagents in study blocks of Alzheimer’s disease and lupus nephritis; anti-microbial peptides; human gene therapy; and anti-tumour vaccines. The centre is also focussed on identifying biomarkers for the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis as well as novel vaccination strategies against tuberculosis, utilising our state-of-the art facilities.
Lauren graduated in 2006 and is now studying for a PhD in Biological Sciences at Brunel.
“I first visited Brunel on an open day where some of the lecturers were giving presentations on their work. The scientists that spoke were so charismatic and enthusiastic about their research that I felt compelled to study here.
"Although the course was demanding (as it should be), the modules were interesting, topical and diverse. If ever I had any difficulties, the lecturers were always approachable, understanding and helpful. As a result of the great teaching and support I received, I was able to gain a First Class degree.
"In my penultimate year, I won a studentship from the Wellcome Trust which allowed me to work on a research project for the summer with one of my lecturers. This was a highly rewarding and fascinating experience that convinced me that I would enjoy a career in research. Fortunately, I was offered the chance to do a PhD at Brunel, which I started the year I graduated.
"Studying at Brunel has given me the opportunity to work with and learn from world-class researchers, which will no doubt be an advantage when seeking employment after my studies.”
Specific interests often emerge as students progress through a course, which is why we offer flexibility to transfer between pathways at the end of Level 1.
Optional study blocks at Levels 2 and 3 allow you to follow a degree programme which reflects your interests and strengths. In addition, by selecting a particular pathway, you can gain specialist knowledge in your chosen subject area.
All our undergraduate courses are comprised of study blocks and assessment blocks. To obtain an Honours degree you will complete 120 credits of study and assessment at each level, including a 40 credit research project at Level 3.
Level 1 is compulsory for all pathways, and gives a grounding in cellular and biochemical processes. Practical lab skills and research skills (IT, communication, information retrieval/analysis, etc) are included to prepare you for the practical nature of the subject, and to give you a 'taster' of the various pathway options.
At Level 2, we level we are introducing more formally the biochemical and molecular processes which are altered in various human diseases. The Career Skills study block develop employability skills alongside further practical skills needed by biomedical scientists.
At Level 3, you are given as much choice as possible to allow you to follow your interests. Topics are studied to a greater depth than in earlier years. All students must undertake a research project, which allows you to bring together the skills developed at Levels 1 and 2. This will probably be the greatest challenge of your degree, but also the most rewarding. You are usually associated with one of our research centres and your project will normally be clinically-related.
Typical Study Blocks
Level 1 Core
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Biochemistry: Structure and Function
- Biology of the Cell
- Practical Skills In Biomedical Sciences
- Research Skills
- Critical Thinking
Level 2 Core
- Molecular and Cellular Biology
- Genetic Engineering and Immunobiology
- Principles of Human Disease
- Career Skills
- Critical Thinking
- Analytical Biochemistry
- Metabolic Regulation
Level 3 Core
- Final Year Project]
- Medical Biochemistry
Level 3 Options
- Biology and Treatment of Cancer
- Cellular Pathologies
- Endocrine Disorders
- Genomic Medicine
- Medical Immunology
- Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology
Final year project
In your final year you will be required to complete a research project of your own under the supervision of a member of staff. Final year projects are often the most fulfilling aspect of the course.
Projects may take a variety of forms (from lab-based research to complex data analysis), but it will be related to your chosen programme pathway, and may relate to your future career plans. Your project experience is often what sets you apart as an individual and employers usually ask about your project in interviews.
The rapid change and development of knowledge in the biosciences necessitates a learning strategy that enables graduates to continue their self-education. We are therefore focussing on developing graduates who have a range of professional (including practical) and generic skills; who are capable of independent and life-long learning; who are able to apply their knowledge to unfamiliar problems and situations; who can critically analyse and interpret data and information; and who can communicate complex information with clarity.
We pursue excellence in both teaching and research, and believe that by linking the two we can provide the best education and experience for our students. Our degree programmes combine innovative and classical teaching methods with leading-edge research, and we recognise the value of practical experience in the learning process.
Biomedical Sciences is a fast-moving field, and we ensure that text book information is supplemented with the latest scientific discoveries to give you a topical, up-to-date education.
As well as offering students some of the best teaching in our subject areas, we are committed to helping you progress confidently through the levels of your degree programme. Throughout your course, you will be supported by a personal tutor who will advise you on academic issues and provide pastoral care. In addition, you can approach subject lecturers, your project supervisor, and technical and administrative staff, who are all available to help. Should you decide to do a work placement, you will be allocated a tutor who will visit you at your place of work (unless you are abroad) and take a keen interest in your progress.
How will I be taught?
The course is taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars, and practical laboratory sessions.
Lectures – Most study blocks involve two hours of lectures per week. These give a broad overview of key concepts and ideas relating to your course and provide a framework for independent study.
Seminars – These examine lecture material in more detail, and are used to discuss issues arising from the study blocks. Typically, student involvement is greater than in lectures, and include formative activities that support learning.
Laboratory Work – Practical classes are an integral part of the course, and are included in most first and second year study blocks. They give you 'hands-on' technical experience, but equally important is the analysis, interpretation and reporting of the results you obtain. In the first year, competencies in basic laboratory skills are developed in the 'Practical Skills for Biomedical Sciences' study block.
One-to-one – You will have one-to-one supervision during your final year project, and at all levels you will have a personal tutor who is available to discuss personal and academic issues.
Your learning is assessed in specific Assessment Blocks, where you will be required to integrate information obtained from various sources, demonstrate critical and analytical thinking, application of knowledge, independent and reflective learning. These include coursework throughout the year and formal written examinations at the end of each year that test knowledge, understanding and problem solving in the main subject areas in biomedical sciences.
You must pass Level 1 in order to progress to the next level, but the grades do not contribute to your final degree classification. Level 2 grades contribute one third and Level 3 grades contribute two thirds to the overall degree award.
Studying biomedical sciences will equip you with a range of transferable and employability skills that will enable you to follow the career you want after graduation. We give all our students the opportunity to develop the skills and competencies needed for employment through a unique, credit-rated study/assessment block at Level 2, which is delivered in partnership with employers and the Placement and Careers Centre.
The Careers and Professional Skills Study and Assessment Blocks incorporate a wide variation of activities:
- Training and assessment centres where you can engage in networking; psychometric and aptitude testing; interview skills; role play interviews; teamwork exercises and producing a CV and covering letter.
- A Careers Day includes talks from a variety of external speakers who have taken different career paths after studying Biomedical Sciences. You are given the opportunity to meet and receive advice from these speakers to assist you with your own career plans.
- Participation in workshops to obtain library/data base research skills to assist you with writing scientific literature reviews.
- Laboratory sessions to allow you to develop your practical skills and to enable you to work efficiently and effectively.
For the duration of your course, you will regularly have the opportunity to practice:
- collecting, collating, interpreting and presenting numerical and literary data
- laboratory skills
- research skills
- oral presentation skills
- information technology skills
- report writing
- self-management and personal organisation
- the ability to work effectively both independently and as a member of a team
- time management
At Levels 1 and 2, the Board of Examiners award our best students with certificates to acknowledge their exceptional skills. This includes the award for Most Employability Skills at Level 2. At Level 3 the best students are also awarded prizes at the graduation ceremony. These awards provide students with an extra opportunity to compete when seeking employment.
Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey
These statistics relate to graduates from a number of different pathways – Biomedical Sciences, Biochemistry, Forensics, Genetics, Human Health, Immunology.
Graduates from these subjects tend to fall broadly into two groups – those who wish to work in life science professions and those who use their degree as a route into careers that are not directly related to the subject studied.
In 2010/11, six months after graduating:
- 57.4% of graduates with a first degree were in employment
- 29.4% were in full-time further study
- 2.9% were combining work and study
In recent years, graduates have found employment with a wide range of companies, in both the public and private sectors. Some examples include:
- Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
- Home Office Forensic Science Service
- Laboratory of the Government Chemist
- Hospitals and NHS Research Centres
- Celltech Ltd
- Shell Ltd
- National Institute for Medical Research
- Unilever Research Ltd
- Bass Breweries
- Chester Beatty Research Institute
- Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology
- Parexel International.
Over 40% of our graduates go on to obtain higher degrees by research (taught MSc courses, MPhil and PhD) or by study for further qualifications such as medicine, dentistry, ophthalmology or teaching.
For those wishing to pursue a career as an NHS medical laboratory scientific officer, please note that this course is not IBMS accredited.
Your employability will be increased by undertaking a one-year work placement at a company or institution. These placements are a great opportunity for you to gain valuable experience in the work place.
Students enjoy applying their knowledge to real life situations and this experience leads to an increase in student confidence, which is directly reflected in their grade profile. Analysing the grade profiles of work placement students has shown a marked increase in their final year performance. Surveys have also clearly shown that placements provide students with a competitive advantage when seeking employment. In addition a work placement is quite frequently the first contact with a potential future employer.
Students at Level 1 and 2 are given the chance to meet and network with Level 3 students who have returned from their placement, to appreciate their experiences and the advantages.
Placement opportunities include: Pharmaceutical research (eg Astra Zeneca, GlaxoSmithKline); Basic research at various institutions (cancer research, infectious diseases, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and many others); Hospital pathology laboratory diagnosis; Data Management – clinical trials data analysis and interpretation.
The positive impact of a sandwich placement on graduate employment outcomes across Brunel is considerable. Those who have done placements are also much more likely to be in employment for which their degree was a formal requirement or where they believe their degree gave them a competitive advantage in recruitment.
Outcomes for placement leavers from Biomedical Sciences courses included:
- 100.0% progressed into employment or further study
- 80.0% were engaged in a graduate-level activity (employment or further study)
- 66.6% of employed graduates were working in the top three categories of graduate employment
- The average starting salary was £20,200.
UK/EU students: £9,000 full-time; £1,000 placement year
International students: £15,000 full-time
We are introducing over 700 scholarships for 2013, meaning that one in five applicants who join Brunel next year will receive financial support from the University. See our fees and funding page for full details
Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.
Entry Requirements for 2013 Entry
- GCE A-level ABB, with B in A-level Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
- Irish Leaving Certificate AABBB, with B in Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
- Scottish Advanced Highers ABB, with B in Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
- Advanced Diploma Not currently accepted.
- BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma D*DD in a related subject.
- IBDP 33 points, including 6 in Higher Level Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
- Access Complete and pass Access to Science course with 45 credits at Level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher. All Biology and Chemistry units must be Distinctions at level 3.
- Foundation Course Pass in a related subject.
For all of the above, 5 GCSEs or equivalent at Grade C or above are also required, to include English, Maths and Science (please note that these must have been gained by the time you submit your UCAS application).
English Language Requirements
- IELTS: 6 (min 5.5 in all areas)
- TOEFL Paper test: 550 (TWE 4)
- TOEFL Internet test: 79 (R18, L17, S20, W17)
- Pearson: 51 (51 in all subscores)
- BrunELT 60% (min 55% in all areas)
Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accept a range of other language courses. We also have a range of Pre-sessional English language courses, for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.