BSc (Hons) Biochemistry

UCAS code Typical offer Length
C700 AAA/AAB (See full entry requirements) 3 years full-time
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Biochemistry at York provides students with an understanding of the fundamental processes that govern life. Our Chemistry department provides you with a “first-principles” basis that is built on within the Biology department to provide an understanding of how different classes of biological molecules interact together to capture energy, build complex molecular machines, and send the signals that produce thought. The opportunity to specialise is provided through a flexible course structure.

Course overview

The Biochemistry course at York is a high quality, intensive and rewarding programme that gives a contemporary introduction to one of the most significant scientific disciplines of the 21st century. The course is taught between the departments of Biology and Chemistry, ensuring expert tuition in each aspect of the course from international calibre researchers.

We aim to teach our students to be confident and independent biochemists.  To encourage this we provide a high number of contact hours in the first and second years that includes a large proportion of formal teaching in the form of lectures, practicals and small group tutorials.

By the time they reach the final year our students have the skills to learn independently.  We improve their practical and critical abilities through the individual research projects they carry out in a working research laboratory over two terms in their final year. In addition to taught courses, York biochemists also attend weekly seminars where cutting-edge research is presented by world-class visiting speakers.

A degree in Biochemistry from York gives graduates an excellent understanding of the life sciences at the molecular level, with particular emphasis on the chemistry of living systems. Research experience in many diverse topics allows our graduates to progress into either industry or postgraduate study where they can help make significant contributions in areas such as drug discovery, biotechnology and the fight against disease.

Course content

What you'll study

Year 1

Your first year in York provides a solid grounding in the Biology and Chemistry required to be a competent Biochemist and is taught across both departments. This includes essential aspects of organic, inorganic and physical chemistry relevant to the understanding of biomolecules and the study of how those molecules function at the molecular and cellular levels. It also includes basic understanding of cell and organismal biology and the genetics that underpins cellular function. The Biochemical skills module provides your first training in the design, execution and presentation of biochemical experiments.

Year 2

In year 2 you build on year 1 material to extend your knowledge and deepen your understanding of biochemistry through your choice of modules and tutorials. As well as core modules in molecular and cellular biology and the structure and function of enzymes you can choose from a number of options including, for example, biomedicine, molecular biotechnology and immunology, to enable preparation for more specialised options in the final year. Tutorials also allow you to work individually and in small group situations on topics that interest you to improve your essay writing and presentational skills. Year 2 also includes a bespoke Biochemical Skills module where you learn about practical methods used to study biochemistry and which includes a popular small group research project.

Optional year away

Students on 4-year programmes spend this year studying in Europe or working in industry.

Final year

In the final year you will take the final steps towards being a fully fledged biochemist by undertaking a substantial 20-week research project, giving you an opportunity to work with one of our many research groups in Biology or Chemistry and gain hands-on research experience. Based on the research and practical skills gained during years 1 and 2, you will choose a project, and carry this out with supervision by academic staff. Your research work is complemented by a choice of specialist modules and research skills tutorials.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct;
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work;
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts;
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.


How you'll be taught

You will be taught mainly via a combination of lectures, practical classes and tutorials. Also, you will learn via group and individual project work. In the first year about 50% of your teaching will be provided by the Chemistry Department. The balance of your teaching will be in Biology with an emphasis on the molecular basis of life.

Our reputation

Both the Biology and Chemistry departments at York are among the most highly regarded in the UK for their teaching and state-of-the-art facilities. We are committed to teaching undergraduates to the highest standards within an active, lively and inquiring research context. You will be taught by enthusiastic lecturers who are at the forefront of research in their subject area, and you will learn about many of the most interesting and significant areas of contemporary biochemistry.

Teaching facilities

Our brand new teaching laboratories in both Chemistry and Biology deoartments provide excellent facilities and equipment for all our undergraduate students. In your final year, you have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities in our research laboratories, and to specialist equipment and expertise available in our innovative Technology Facility.

Our approach

We aim to provide a friendly and supportive environment in which to nurture enthusiastic and independent learners. To do this, we have regular small group teaching in both departments throughout the programme which provides an opportunity for development of personal, transferable and academic skills. We provide a range of assessment activities and prompt feedback to ensure that our students can monitor their progress. We also provide students with academic supervisors who see their students regularly throughout their time at University in order to monitor their progress and act as a first point-of-contact for students amongst the academic staff.

Contact time

Most of the contact time you have in the first two years of the degree is in lectures and practical classes (typically you might expect to spend about 10 hours in lectures and 8 hours in practicals and 1 to 2 hours in tutorials in a typical week in the first two years), which provides students with the core concepts, knowledge and skills to be a graduate biochemist. In the final year, the amount of formal contact time is lower. At this stage we expect you to be working more independently. This independent working consists of reading scientific papers in order to support your learning from lectures, and carrying out independent practical work on your research project. We believe that this approach produces graduates with an ability to think and plan independently and communicate effectively. York Biochemistry graduates are highly sought-after by employers and often go on to further degrees (Masters or PhD) in order to explore their scientific interests further.

Overall workload

As a guide, students on this course typically spend their time as follows:

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Lectures and seminars408 hours312 hours372 hours

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

The rest of your time on the course will be spent on independent study. This may include preparation for lectures and seminars, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision. Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours will vary from person to person. In UK higher education the expectation is that full-time students will spend 1200 hours a year learning.


How you'll be assessed

Our modules are assessed by a combination of closed examinations and openly assessed work. We design our exams to assess conceptual understanding as well as important facts about the subject. The exams also contain problem-solving questions which we think should be fundamental to any scientific discipline. Openly assessed work is typically based on practical classes, and may take the form of a practical write-up or problem questions.

In the first year, exams involve short questions and answers, but as the course progresses exams contain a higher proportion of essay-based questions. Your essay writing skills should improve as you progress through the programme, supported by essay writing you have to do in tutorials. The proportion of open assessment also increases in the final year, where major openly assessed pieces of work are the research project and a research dissertation. 

You need to pass the first year in order to progress to Year 2, but this does not contribute to your overall degree mark. The second year counts for 40% of the degree mark, and the final year counts for 60% of the degree mark.


We work hard to provide you with feedback on your performance as you progress through the degree programme. Following your assessments, we return marks and feedback to you promptly, and we return all scripts from first and second year work to you. We also provide past papers (with specimen answers) for you to test yourself, to get an idea of what to expect in examinations. 

We also ask for your feedback on our teaching and assessment, so that we can adapt and change the way we run the programmes as appropriate to make sure we are offering a good experience to our students. There is student representation on the major teaching committees in the Department, as well as a Student Staff Liaison Group that meets regularly to discuss student issues.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams77%53%58%
Practical exams8%0%3%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.


Careers and employability

Around 60% of our graduates go on to study for a higher degree or pursue a scientific career.

Employment opportunities are diverse, ranging from biological and biomedical research and development, to careers in science communication, the health service, and forensic science. Our graduates are not confined to science-related careers, and a significant number enter jobs within finance, public and private sector management, social and health service work, the media and law. The chart below shows destinations of our recent graduate over the last three years:

Biochemistry careers chart

We provide support for careers and employability in a number of ways both through the University’s Careers Service and the Biology Careers pages. To get more of an idea of the career routes some of our graduates have taken, visit our Biology Alumni pages.



How to apply

Application to all of our courses is through UCAS. Although applications should reach UCAS by the January deadline, we do consider applications received after this date, particularly if there are special circumstances.

Our decision about whether to make an offer of a place is usually based on information on the UCAS form, including your personal statement, reference, and academic grades or predictions. We invite candidates for interview only where there are special circumstances or unusual qualifications.

Diverse applicants

We wish to encourage applications from students from a diverse range of backgrounds, and consider all applications equally, irrespective of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, educational background or nationality.  More details for applicants with disabilities, mature and international applicants can be found via the menu on the left.

Entry requirements

A levels

Essential subjects
Chemistry and either a second science or Maths at A2. Preference will be given to applicants with traditional academic subjects as the third A2 subject.

Typical offers
AAA/AAB including Chemistry and either a second science or Maths. We exclude General Studies from our offers.

International Baccalaureate

Typical offer

36/35 points including 6 in Higher Level Chemistry and 6 in Higher Level Biology or Physics.

If English is not your first language then we would also require either 4 in Higher Level English B or 5 in Standard Level English B.

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

Typical offer

AA/AB in Chemistry and either a second science or Maths, plus AAAAA/AAAAB in Highers.

Irish Leaving Certificate

Typical offer

H2,H2,H2,H2,H2,H3/H2,H2,H2,H2,H3,H3, including Chemistry and either a second science or Maths at higher level.


We consider BTEC qualifications but there are specific units that are required, please get in touch with the department for further details.

European Baccalaureate

Typical offer

Overall score of 85%/80%, including individual scores of 85% and 75% in Chemistry and either a second science or Maths plus 65% in English.

Other qualifications

If our typical offer for your qualification has not been listed below please email

EU qualifications

Bulgaria Diploma Za Sredno Obrazovanie: GPA of 5.8/5.5 including individual scores of 6 and 5 in Chemistry and either Maths or another science plus an acceptable English language qualification.

Cyprus Apolytirion: 19 points overall plus grades A and B in A level Chemistry and either Maths or another science plus an acceptable English language qualification.

France: FB: 15/14 points overall including individual scores of 14 and 12 in Chemistry and either Maths or another science plus 12 in English. OIB: 14/13 points overall including individual scores of 14 and 12 in Chemistry and either Maths or another science plus 12 in English.

Greece Apolytirion: 19 points overall plus grades A and B in A level Chemistry and either Maths or another science plus an acceptable English language qualification.

Hungary Erettsegi Matura: Grades 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 / 5, 5, 5, 5, 4 in five subjects including Chemistry and either Maths or another science plus an acceptable English language qualification.

Italy Diploma di Esame di Stato: 90%/87% overall including individual scores of 9 and 8.5 in Chemistry and either Maths or another science plus an acceptable English language qualification.

Lithuania Brandos Atestatas: 9 overall plus 85% in three state examinations including Chemistry and either Maths or another science plus an acceptable English language qualification.

Romania Diploma de Bacalaureat: 9/8.8 overall including individual scores of 9 and 8.5 in Chemistry and Maths plus an acceptable English language qualification.

Non-Eu qualifications

Hong Kong: AAA/AAB in Advanced Level or pass the HKDSE with 5, 5, 4 in Elective subjects including Chemistry and either Maths or another science.

India: An overall score of 85% in Standard XII, including individual scores of 85% and 80% in Chemistry and either Maths or another science plus 80% in English.

USA: GPA of 3.0 in HSGD plus three AP subjects with scores of 5, 5, 4 / 5, 4, 4 including Chemistry and either Calculus or another science,
OR three SAT subjects at 700, 700, 700 / 700, 700, 650, including Chemistry and either Calculus or another science, OR a combination of both qualifications, OR at least the first year of an Associate Degree in science.


English Language Requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English should be able to show evidence of their English language ability. For some European countries, the English language requirement may be fulfilled by achieving a satisfactory English grade in the relevant country's state or school examinations. Please contact us for information about the specific requirements for your own country.

We accept the following qualifications:

  • IELTS: 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component
  • Pearson: 61, with a minimum of 55 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (taken from January 2015): 176, with a minimum of 169 each component
  • TOEFL: 87 overall, with a minimum of 21 in Listening, 21 in Reading, 21 in Speaking, 21 in Writing
  • Trinity ISE III: Merit in all components


Mature students

To secure a place as a mature student on a degree programme in Biochemistry programmes at York, we would be looking for recent qualifications in Chemistry and either Biology or Maths at a sufficiently advanced level to cope with the course, together with evidence of some of the key skills needed for studying at degree level. If you do not already have these qualifications, a good way forward would be for you to take A levels, possibly on a part-time basis, at your local college.

Access to Higher Education Diploma in Science

Alternatively, you could take an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Science at your local college. Access courses are designed to prepare adults for entry to degree courses, and provide the opportunity to study the necessary subjects at a level equivalent to A level, as well as ensuring that you have the key skills needed for higher level study, such as English, numeracy and ICT.

The Diploma must include Chemistry and either Biology or Maths modules at level 3.

Typical offer

Obtain Access to HE Diploma in Science with 30 credits achieved from units awarded Distinction and 15/9 awarded Merit or higher.

Other options for this subject

Any questions?

Contact our friendly Admissions Office if you've got any questions:

Monica Bandeira
Admissions Officer

01904 328548


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