Molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry

Study the building blocks of life, from cells to living organisms, chemical compounds, and reactions.

What is molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry?

Molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry encompass the study of life, and will suit anyone with an interest in living organisms. They are highly specialised subjects, allowing for in-depth study of the science behind all living beings. Students of these subjects tend to be investigative and inquisitive, but also artistic – enjoying patterns and designs.

If you would like to be part of the solution to overcome disease, eradicate hunger, and find renewable energy sources, all while immersing yourself in ground-breaking research and developing your practical skills in the laboratory, then studying molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry is a great place to start!

Molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry entry requirements

As you may expect, you will need qualifications in biology and chemistry, and depending on which area you specialise in you may also need qualifications in physics, and maths. Entry to these courses can be highly competitive, with general studies and critical thinking usually not accepted. It’s worth getting in contact with the provider you want to study with to check their entry requirements in full.

In your personal statement be sure to convey your enthusiasm for the subject and explain the steps you have taken to enhance your knowledge of it – through wider reading, work experience or anything else you think is relevant. Admissions staff will be looking for information on why you are committed to studying the subject, so make sure you tell them which parts you find intriguing and why.

A levels – Entry requirements range from BCC to AAA, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for AAB.

Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBB to AAAAB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for BBB.

Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.

What is molecular biology?

Molecular biology is the study of the structures and functions of cells on a molecular level. A molecular biologist conducts research to understand the intricate structures of life and can look at genomics, molecular genetics, DNA forensics, as well as many other topics.

What you will need to do
  • Apply by the January deadline
  • Personal statement
What you won’t need to do
  • Submit a portfolio
  • Audition for a place
  • Attend an interview
  • Pass an entry test
  • Show work experience

Why study molecular biology, biophysics, or biochemistry at university?

Studying molecular biology, biophysics, or biochemistry will enable you get involved in ground-breaking research to enhance the human lifestyle and help to overcome or mitigate problems the world is facing. From initiatives such as the 100,000 Genomes Project ­– which focussed on improving knowledge around the causes, treatment, and care of diseases, to the Human Brain Project – which aims to enhance knowledge of neuroscience and brain-related medicine, there will always be research projects that need graduates of molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry. With the rise in artificial intelligence and the constant development of new technologies, it’s a great time to become a part of the scientific community.

Some modules you may study are:

  • Cellular composition
  • Disease and defence
  • Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects are wide ranging and pervade every part of our lives – molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry are all STEM subjects. Many higher education providers have benefitted from increased funding for STEM subjects in recent years, as such students are increasingly able to make use of state-of-the-art research facilities and laboratories – perfect to enhance your learning.

What is biochemistry?

Biochemistry is the study of chemical reactions in living organisms and aims to understand the structure and behaviour of biomolecules – these are the compounds that make up most of a living cell, and through reactions enable it to grow, use energy, and reproduce.

What can you do with a molecular biology, biophysics, or biochemistry degree?

A degree in any of these subjects can open lots of doors for you – jobs directly related to molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry include:

Your degree would also be useful as a:

Many graduates of molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry are employed by organisations such as the NHS, Public Health England, and companies involved in the pharmaceutical, water, and food industries.

Don’t forget – many companies look for employees with a wide range of skills. Studying molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry now, may not restrict you to a scientific career in the future. You’ll learn a range of transferable skills including problem-solving, logical thinking, and communications skills. The sky’s the limit when studying molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry!

What’s it like to study molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemistry?

From day one you’ll be developing practical and research skills in and out of the laboratory, and you’ll gain a knowledge of the fundamentals of the subject. Depending on where you study you may be able to undertake a year abroad, a year in industry, or a summer internship as part of your degree.

Your course will be academic and intense, but if you’re committed to your studies you will reap the rewards of your hard work. You will learn through lectures, workshops, tutorials, and laboratory sessions. There will also be a high level of independent study expected.

Are you considering an accelerated degree? Click here to read more about the possibility of completing your undergraduate course in two years rather than three. 

What is biophysics?

Biophysics uses the theories of physics to understand how biological systems work. It explores everything from the functions of a cell to the much more complex workings of the brain, the circulatory system, or the immune system.

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