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Academic Year of Entry: 2023/24
Course overview
(BSc) Bachelor of Science
University of Essex
University of Essex
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree
BSC C700


Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

GCSE: Mathematics C/4

A-levels: BBB, including Chemistry or Biology and a second science or Mathematics. Psychology, Statistics, Physics, Applied Science, Human Biology, Geography, PE and Sociology (on a case by case basis) are all acceptable as second science A-levels.

BTEC: D*DD, depending on subject and units studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.

IB: 30 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555. Either must include Higher Level Chemistry or Biology and a second science or Mathematics grade 5. Computer Science, Design Technology, Physics, Sport, exercise and Health Science at Higher Level are all acceptable as second science subjects.
Standard Level Mathematics, if not taken at Higher Level, will also be required. We will accept grade 4 in either Standard Level Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches or Standard Level Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation.
Maths in the IB is not required if you have already achieved GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above or 4 in IB Middle Years Maths.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Courses (formerly certificates) at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Access to HE Diploma: 6 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 39 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject and units studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.

T-levels: Merit, depending on subject studied -advice on acceptability can be provided.

What if I don’t achieve the grades I hoped?

If your final grades are not as high as you had hoped, the good news is you may still be able to secure a place with us on a course which includes a foundation year. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.

What if I have a non-traditional academic background?
Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.

You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here

If you are a mature student, further information is here

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Course qualifiers

A course qualifier is a bracketed addition to your course title to denote a specialisation or pathway that you have achieved via the completion of specific modules during your course. The specific module requirements for each qualifier title are noted below. Eligibility for any selected qualifier will be determined by the department and confirmed by the final year Board of Examiners. If the required modules are not successfully completed, your course title will remain as described above without any bracketed addition. Selection of a course qualifier is optional and student can register preferences or opt-out via Online Module Enrolment (eNROL).


Rules of assessment

Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

Additional notes


External examiners

Staff photo
Dr Thomas Clarke

Senior lecturer/associate professor

University of East Anglia

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.


Core You must take this module.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory You must take this module.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Optional You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

Year 1 - 2023/24

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  BS141-4-FY-CO  Quantitative methods for Life Sciences  Core  15  15 
02  BS101-4-AU-CO  Molecular Cell Biology  Core  15  15 
03  BS104-4-SP-CO  Microbiology  Core  15  15 
04  BS132-4-AP-CO  General and Organic Chemistry  Core  15  15 
05  BS102-4-AU-CO  Genetics and Evolution  Core  15  15 
06  BS131-4-SP-CO  Biochemistry of Macromolecules  Core  15  15 
07  BS133-4-SP-CO  Inorganic and Physical Chemistry  Core  15  15 
08  BS143-4-AP-CO  Transferable Skills in Life Sciences  Compulsory  15  15 

Year 2 - 2024/25

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  BS211-5-AP-CO  Employability Skills for the Biosciences  Compulsory  15  15 
02  BS221-5-AU-CO  Molecular Biology: Genes, Proteins and Disease  Compulsory  15  15 
03  BS225-5-SP-CO  Cell Biology  Compulsory  15  15 
04  BS228-5-SP-CO  Metals in Biology  Compulsory  15  15 
05  BS281-5-SP-CO  Protein Bioinformatics  Compulsory  15  15 
06  BS222-5-AU-CO  Genome Science  Compulsory  15  15 
07  BS230-5-AU-CO  Proteins and Macromolecular Assemblies  Compulsory  15  15 
08    BS232-5-SP or BS231-5-AU  Compulsory with Options  15  15 

Year 3 - 2025/26

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  BS832-6-FY-CO  Research Project in Life Sciences  Compulsory  45  45 
02  BS314-6-SP-CO  Structural and Molecular Enzymology  Compulsory  15  15 
03  BS304-6-AP-CO  Issues in Biomolecular Science  Compulsory  15  15 
04  BS332-6-AU-CO  Biomembranes and Bioenergetics  Compulsory  15  15 
05  BS349-6-SP-CO  Molecular Basis of Cancer  Compulsory  15  15 
06    Option(s) from list  Optional  15  15 

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

  • An understanding of the molecular principles that underlie biochemical reactions and processes.
  • An understanding of biochemical methods and approaches and of the main body of biochemical, molecular biological and genetic knowledge.
  • An ability to apply this understanding to critically analyse current biochemical problems and suggest solutions.
  • A general scientific education including training in handling and interpretation of quantitative information and the ability to plan and carry out desk- or laboratory- based research under supervision.
  • The key skills of communication, numeracy, ITC use, problem solving, working with others, self-evaluation and self-improvement, and autonomous learning using biochemistry as a context and focus.
  • The key laboratory and workplace skills required for careers in biochemistry and related subjects that require an integrated understanding of biological and molecular processes.
  • A foundation of knowledge, understanding and skills required for further study and research.
  • An awareness of the need for compliance with health, safety and ethical policies in biological work.
  • An appreciation of the need for, and importance of, lifelong learning and personal development planning.

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1: Basic physics, maths and chemistry that are relevant to biochemistry

A2: The different levels of organisation and complexity, from molecules, through cells, tissues and organs to organisms

A3: The structures and functions of biological molecules and their assemblies.

A4: Key metabolic reactions involved in the biosynthesis and degradation of biological molecules, including energy transduction

A5: key processes involved in the control of metabolism, including signal transduction and the arrangement, expression and regulation of genes.

A6: Appropriate practical scientific methods and approaches: observation, experimentation, modelling; and techniques used in their analysis

A7: Key biochemical issues facing society (e.g. organ transplantation, drug performance enhancement, biological warfare)

Learning methods

Lectures are the principal method of delivery of A1 to A7.

Lectures direct students to textbooks and on-line material (Years 1 to 3), and research papers (Year 2 and particularly Year 3).

Laboratory practicals in Years 1 and 2 complement lectures and develop A1 to A6.
Coursework associated with lecture modules in Year 2 and Year 3 develop A1 to A7.
The research project in Year 3 teaches and develops A6 and also a range of A1 -A5 and A7 (depending on project topic).
Seminars with small groups are used in A1 (mathematics and chemistry).

Assessment methods

A1 to A7 are assessed by:

Multiple Choice Questions (Year 1)

Timed and un-timed essays (Years 2 and 3)
Verbal and written practical reports (Years 1 and 2)

Exercises in data analysis and interpretation (DAI), (Years 2 and 3)

Unseen written exams: short answer, essay (Years 1 and 2) and questions involving DAI (Years 2 and 3)

The individual Year 3 research project, covering a range of A2 to A7 (depending on project topic) tests understanding in depth and is assessed by an individual written report and oral presentation.

Oral and written presentations in the Issues module in Year 3 are used to assess A7.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1: Retrieve, select and collate appropriate biochemical and biological information

B2: Evaluate primary and secondary evidence and arguments

B3: Analyse and interpret quantitative information in graphs, figures, tables and equations.

B4: Integrate and link information across course components, including material met in different years and from different disciplines

B5: Plan and conduct a research task (including risk assessment and ethical approval where appropriate)

B6: Present data correctly, choose and apply an appropriate statistical test and interpret the output

Learning methods

Setting of directed learning topics develops skills in B1, B2 and B4 (Years 1 and 2).

B1 and B2 are partly covered by training in exam essay writing in Year 1 tutorials and further developed by setting of coursework essays (Years 2 and 3)

B2 and B3 are taught by explicit inclusion of data analysis in lectures and classes in Years 2 and 3, and through progressive development of DAI coursework in Years 2 & 3.

B1 to B3, and in some cases B4, are developed through analysis and presentation of results of practical work in Years 1 to 3.

B4 is achieved by progressive subject development through the 3 years.

B5 results from setting team project work in some practicals in Year 2 and the Year 3 individual research project and Research Project module.

B6 is taught in Year 1 LSKS module and developed throughout the degree via practical coursework (Years 1 and 2) and in the final year research project.

Assessment methods

B1, B2 and B4 are assessed by coursework and exam essays (Years 1 to 3).

B2 and B3 are assessed by coursework and exam DAI tasks (Years 2 and 3), practical reports (Years 1 and 2) and research project reports (Year 3).

B4 is assessed by integrative exam questions and coursework B1 to B4 are also assessed in the Year 3 individual research project and coursework in the Issues module in Year 3

B5 is assessed in the Year 3 Research Project module.

B6 is assessed in Year 1 & 2 practicals and Year 1 LSKS module, and in the Year 3 research project.

C: Practical skills

C1: Design, plan and carry out appropriate experiments in the laboratory effectively, working within current technical, regulatory, safety and ethical frameworks.

C2: Use appropriate laboratory equipment safely and efficiently

C3: Able to explain the principles and limitations of a range of more advanced practical techniques

C4: Able to use appropriate software packages for simulations, modelling and statistical analysis.

Learning methods

Skills C1 to C3 are taught in supervised practicals in Years 1 and 2.

Lectures in Years 1 to 3 teach aspects of C1 and C3 Independent project work in research laboratories in Year 3 also teaches and develops C1 to C3.

As part of C1 to C3, safety and ethical issues are addressed through practical documentation (Years 1 and 2) and developed by students preparing risk assessments and ethical permissions and consents where appropriate for research projects (Year 3).

C4 is addressed through IT and statistics training in Year 1, and the use of more specialised software is taught or developed in practicals, the summer laboratory course in Year 2 and in projects in Year 3.

Assessment methods

C1 is assessed through Year 1 and Year 2 practicals and the Year 3 research project.

C2 is assessed in some Year 1 practicals.

C3 is assessed in many practicals in Year 1 and Year 2 and in theory exams in Years 1 to 3.

C4 is assessed in several Year 2 practicals, the summer course, and may be part of the Year 3 individual project.

D: Key skills

D1: Able to write clearly in: a) logically argued essays; b) longer reports, including basic scientific papers; c) a variety of other pieces of work for different target audiences; d) e-communications, in particular email. Plan, write and give oral presentations

D2: (i) Use of current networked PC operating systems for normal file management, (ii) Use current common word-processing, spreadsheet, web browsing and email packages, (iii) Ability to locate and use on-line catalogues and databases

D3: (i) Use appropriate precision, scales, units, scientific notation, ratios, fractions, powers of 10, logarithms and exponentials. (ii) Use simple algebra and trigonometry and elementary calculus, (simple differentiation and integration). (iii) Use approximations for mental arithmetic estimation and verification.

D4: Explore, analyse and find effective solutions for problems involving reasonably complex information

D5: Work effectively as part of a team to collect data and/or to produce reports and presentations

D6: Study independently, set realistic targets, plan work and time to meet targets within deadlines. Reflect on assessed work, feedback, and progress; Plan, record and document personal development

Learning methods

Essay writing skills (D1) are taught in the Year 1 tutorials , the LSKS module and developed in all subsequent modules.

Additional guidance on Essay and Scientific Paper Format writing is given in the on-line "Academic Skills" WebCT course.

Required length of essays and reports increases from Year 1 toYear 3.

Oral presentation skills (D1) are developed in some practicals and lecture modules (Years 2 and 3) and the Research Project module in Year 3.

IT use (D2) is taught in Year 1, particularly in the LSKS module and developed throughout all years.

Most coursework from Year 2 onwards must be word-processed, and other computer produced work is required for some practical assignments in Year 2 and in the Year 3 research project and in the Issues module.

Library, on line catalogue and web skills (D2) are taught in Year 1; developed by provision of some module related material on the Web and through the preparation of the research project report (Year 3).

Web-based material (D2) is used in several modules including practicals.

D3 is taught in lectures and seminars (Year 1), and developed in many subsequent modules (Years1 to 3).

D4 is taught through DAI questions in Years 2 and 3, and in some practical classes, and developed in the Issues module and in supervised project work (Year 3).

Team work (D5) is introduced in some Year 1 practicals and developed in Year 2 practicals.

D6 is addressed in the LSKS module in Year 1, including introduction to PDP, developed through provision of explicit directed learning tasks (Year 1 and Year 2), increasing amounts of student managed learning from Year 1 to Year 3, attendance monitoring, rigid deadlines, feedback on assignments, and discussions with personal tutor.

D6 planning component is developed in the Year 3 Research Project module.

Students are also directed to Key Skills Online, an online learning package which students can undertake at their own pace.

Assessment methods

Written skills (D1) are assessed through essays in coursework and exams (Years 1 to 3) and in practical reports (Year 1 and Year 2), in the Issues module and the research project report (Year 3).

Oral presentation skills (D1) are assessed in some of the practical courses (Year 2) and in the Year 3 year Research Project module.

IT and Maths skills (D2 and D3) are assessed through worksheets and exams in Year 1.

Thereafter, practical work, coursework and exam questions throughout the degree course assess numerical skills..

Most coursework from year 2 onwards has to be prepared by computer and submitted on-line.

Problem solving (D4) is assessed in some of the Year 2 practicals, in the Year 3 Issues Module, in DAI questions in Years 2 and 3 exams and in the final year research project.

D5 is assessed through team presentations in some Year 2 practical work and in the Issues module.

D6 is assessed by examining directed learning material (Years 1 and 2), by awarding marks for evidence of additional reading, and by imposing strict deadlines for coursework assignments.

D6 PDP is assessed in year 1 LSKS through the development of a cv and e-portfolio, and is developed in Year 2 Skills module.

The planning component of D6 is assessed in the Year 3 Research Project module


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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