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BScMedical Biochemistry

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Overview

All living things function and operate as a result of chemical processes. Medical Biochemistry at Royal Holloway, University of London helps to provide an understanding of these essential chemical processes, exploring the molecular basis of disease.

Pursue your passion for Medical Biochemistry at Royal Holloway and work towards joining the ranks of scientists striving to develop new methods of disease prevention and treatment.

You’ll study in our state-of-the-art School of Biological Sciences, where a recent £16 million investment has helped to secure cutting-edge technology including mass spectrometry, bioinformatics and gene and protein sequencing equipment.

The flexible degree programme lets you tailor your learning in years 2 and 3, selecting from a variety of optional courses ranging from Microbiology to Pharmacology and Toxicology and Biology of Parasitic Diseases to Molecular and Medical Microbiology.

Learn how to make clinical diagnoses of diseases in a course taught by health professionals from local hospitals, and become a part of our renowned research culture in your year 3 lab-based independent research project. The School of Biological Sciences was ranked 25th in the UK for influential research output by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, and many of our former students have contributed to published scientific papers.

The skills and experience you’ll gain as a Medical Biochemistry student will make you a highly attractive candidate to employers in a variety of sectors. You’ll gain laboratory experience across all three years and receive a grounding in physiology, genetics and microbiology as well as biochemistry for medicine. Our alumni have gone on to careers in fields including forensic medicine, biotechnology and medical research.

Programme structure

Year 1

Becoming a Bioscientist
In this module you will develop an understanding of key scientific concepts and effective science communication. You will learn how to process and critique different forms of information, and how to communicate science to both scientific and non-scientific audiences using diverse media, forms and methods. You will also examine ethical issues surrounding research and intervention.

Cell Biology and Evolution
In this module you will develop an understanding of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell biology and the key functions of these structures and organelles. You will look at the origin of life and the principles of natural selection and evolution. You will also learn the practical technique involved in microscopy, including fixation techniques for the analysis of cell ultrastructure and aseptic techniques for bacterial culture.

Genetics
In this module you will develop an understanding of genes and their behaviour in individuals organisms, in populations, and at the molecular level within the cell. You will look cellular genetics with respect to mitosis, meiosis, inheritance and recombination, and consider the fundamentals of gene expression, its control, and DNA replication. You will examine genome organisation, transcription, and translation, and gain practical experience of using techniques in microscopy, including slide preparation for the observation of chromosomes.

Chemistry of Life
In this module you will develop an understanding of the fundamental chemistry of life processes and laboratory experiments. You will look at the basics of biological chemistry, including the chemical bonding and reactivity of important biomolecules, intermolecular forces, 3D structure and isomerism. You will analyse equilibria in acid/base biochemistry and solve related problems. You will also learn the basic biochemical lab techniques and carry out consequent data analysis.

Fundamental Biochemistry
In this module you will develop an understanding of the basics of biochemistry. You will look at some of the key techniques for biochemical analysis, including spectroscopy, and the fundamentals of protein structure. You will examine structure / fuction relationships in myoglobin, hemoglobin and the serine proteases, and learn to solve biochemical kinectics problems using the Michaelis-Menten equation. You will also consider how to solve thermodynamic problems, including equilibrium constants.

Protein Biochemistry and Enzymology
In this module you will develop an understanding of the main concepts of classic protein biochemistry including protein purification, enzyme kinetics, and enzyme structure. You will look at the basic principles behind a number of protein purification techniques, and consider basic enzyme kinetics using the Michaelis-Menten equation and derived methods to analyse kinetic data. You will examine the underlying biochemistry of a variety of analytical methods and their applications in research and diagnostics, gaining practical experience in performing some of these methods in laboratory practicals. You will also analyse the concept of biochemical buffers and learn how to make these from stock solutions.

Introductory Animal Physiology
In this module you will develop an understanding of the fundamental physiological systems that are required to maintain complex multi-cellular animals, specifically those involved in communication, transport and homeostasis. You will look at how systems and specialised organs have evolved and interact to obtain oxygen from the environment whilst maintaining optimal internal conditions for cellular function. You will consider the mechanisms, organisation, functions and integration of the nervous and endocrine systems to show how neural (somatic and autonomic) and hormonal signalling enable an animal to sense and respond both consciously (e.g. movement) and unconsciously (e.g. internal homeostasis). You will also examine the evolution of the closed circulatory system, separated into pulmonary and systemic circuits and driven by a four chambered heart, essential for the body-wide distribution of nutrients, oxygen and hormones, and for the removal of waste products.

Pathophysiology
In this module you will develop an understanding of specific human physiological systems in health and disease. You will look at how these systems function under normal conditions and consider the consequences of dysfunction and/or dysregulation resulting from genetic or acquired disease. You will consider how special sensory systems convert light, sound and position/movement into electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain and how our ability to sense the environment can be disrupted by diseased or damaged receptors. You will examine skeletal muscle function, how movement is controlled and sensed by the somatic nervous system and the causes and consequences of selected muscle and nerve disorders. You will also cover aspects of basic haematology, including the fluid and formed elements of blood and their roles in inflammation and the control of bleeding following vessel damage.

Year 2

Bioenergetics, Biosynthesis and Metabolic Regulations
In this module you will develop an understanding of the major pathways for electron transfer and energy conversion in living systems. You will look at how energy is utilised in biosynthesis, and the role of enzymes, coenzymes and metabolic intermediates. You will examine the priniciple of flux control and metabolic regulation and the mechanisms that balance the activity of key pathways to physiological demands. You will also consider the main features of human energy metabolism and their relationship to obesity and diabetes, and analyse the importance of protein glycosylation and how protein glycans are biosynthesised.

Protein Structure and Function
In this module you will develop an understanding of protein structure, protein folding in vivo, and the principles of protein engineering and protein-protein interaction. You will look at methods for the separation, purification, detection, and structural analysis of proteins, gaining practical experience in using techniques such as SDS-PAGE and Western blotting. You will also examine mechanisms of enzyme catalysis and regulation.

Molecular Biology
In this module you will develop an understanding of the chemical structure of DNA and RNA, and how genes are organised and expressed. You will look at gene characterisation using recombinant DNA technology, and will consider DNA as a template for RNA synthesis. You will also become familiar with molecular biology techniques that are widely used in the life sciences, including the preparation and handling of purified DNA, restriction enzyme digestions, and polymerase chain reaction.

Molecular and Cellular Immunology
In this module you will develop an understanding of the mammalian immune systems at cellular and molecular levels, and how this is determined by antibody structure and function, the complement system, and the impact of immunoglobulin genetics. You will look at the role of T cells as effectors and regulators of immune responses, allergic reactions, transplant rejection, and the HIV virus and the pathogenesis of AIDS on the immune system. You will examine antipody antigen reaction techniques used in immunology, and consider the isolation and purification of lymphocytes, their morphology and abundance.

Neuronal and Cellular Signalling
In this module you will develop an understanding of the structure of the nervous system, including the main types of cells and the transmission of signals within neuronal networks. You will look at the process of synaptic transmission, including both electrical and chemical synapses. You will examine the different types of neurotransmitters and receptors and the mechanism of intracellular signaling, considering the role of second messenger signaling pathways. You will also enhance your practical skills, such as isolating and characterising synaptosomes and using these for the study of transmitter metabolism.

Physical Biochemistry for Life Scientists
In this module you will develop an understanding of the behaviour of macromolecules in solution, looking at the key analytical methods used for their study. You will become familiar with a range of spectroscopic techniques, including fluorescence, phosphorescence and circular dichroism. You will examine the phenomena of surface plasmon resonance measurements, interferometry, and biocalorimetry, and look at the principles of scanning force microscopy (SFM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). You will also consider the importance of the emerging field of nanobiotechnology.

Year 3

Individual Research Project
You will carry out an individual laboratory or theoretical investigation, supervised by an appropriate member of staff, who will provide guidance throughout. You will apply the knowledge and skills learned throughout your studies, and learn to organise data in a logical, presentable and persuasive way. You will produce a report, around 8,000 words in length, and will deliver an oral presentation with a summary of your findings.

Medical Biochemistry
In this module you will develop an understanding of human metabolism, phsyiology and immunology. You will look at the main features of human energy metabolism, including nutrition, the importance of vitamins, and the biochemical basis of specific disorders, such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and obesity. You will consider the disorders associated with lipid dysfunction and examine other metabolic disorders such as hypercholesterolemia.

Cell and Molecular Neuroscience
In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic principles of brain development and the molecular mechanisms which regulate this, including the synthesis, storage and release of neurotransmitters. You will look at the molecular basis of learning and memory, considering brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and bipolar disorder. You will assess the problem of brain damage in preterm babies and infants, and the methods available to help provide neuroprotection, with insights from a clinical practitioner.

Clinical Diagnosis of Disease
In this module you will develop an understanding of how physiology, biochemistry and biochemical methodologies can be applied to the investigation of disease and monitoring of treatment. You will look at the chemical pathology of a range of physiological systems, including kidney, liver, heart, thyroid and bone, and clinical biochemical aspects of cancer diagnosis, infertility and epilepsy. You will examine the rationale behind the analyses used in the biochemical investigation of disease, and consider the clinical aspects of disorders affecting the various organs and systems.

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Career opportunities

Medical Biochemistry at Royal Holloway, University of London is geared towards making you an attractive candidate to potential employers in a wide range of sectors. You’ll graduate with extensive lab-based experience and a range of specialist knowledge and transferrable skills, undertaking an independent research project in year 3.

Our alumni go on to pursue careers in fields including medicine, forensic science, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Our close-knit graduate network means that alumni regularly visit to share their knowledge and experience with current students, helping to better prepare you for a fulfilling career in your chosen field.

Apply now! Fall semester 2021/22
This intake is not applicable

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States

Apply now! Fall semester 2021/22
This intake is not applicable

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States