University of Oxford Biochemistry

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University of Oxford Biochemistry

The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford is a centre for world class research and teaching of all aspects of Biochemistry by staff from many different backgrounds and nationalities. Our research addresses a wide range of questions relating to the fundamental basis of all cellular life from man to microbes. This work explains the structures and functions of proteins and nucleic acids, and in doing so addresses the mechanisms of many human diseases. Using this knowledge, other researchers aim to create new vaccines, antiviral and antibacterial therapies to protect and treat humans across the world.

You can read more about the details of our current work and other aspects of the department, including undergraduate teaching and public outreach activities, on these web pages.

Professor Mark Sansom, Head of Department

For Undergraduate Applicants

Course: “Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular)”
UCAS course code: C700
UCAS institution code: O33

Duration: 4 years
Qualification: M.Biochem.
FHEQ/Bolgna equivalence: level 7/cycle 2 (see University Awards Framework)

Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry at Oxford:
a guide for prospective undergraduate students
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What is Biochemistry?

A student practical session

Modern biochemistry grew out of the application of chemical techniques to biological problems. In many ways it combines biology and chemistry, but the subject now covers such a wide range that it is difficult to draw a neat border around biochemistry, which provides the foundations of pathology, pharmacology, physiology, genetics, zoology, botany, and even surgery and anatomy. The essential feature is that biochemistry uses molecular methods to explain biological processes, while other biological scientists study the integrated function of organs, organisms, and the complexes of organisms represented by ecosystems.

The Undergraduate Biochemistry Course

Two students in the classroom

The biochemistry course at Oxford is a four-year integrated Masters course, leading to the degree of M.Biochem. (with honours). It is certified to provide Bologna compliant level 7 qualifications.

The course concentrates on molecular aspects of biological functions in the plant, animal and microbial kingdoms. It is very broad in scope, ranging from the structures of biological molecules and how they are determined, through genetics and molecular biology and their applications, to cell differentiation and immunology. This breadth reflects the wide range of research that is carried out within the Department and University. Students are introduced to modern techniques and their application to specific areas. A sound understanding of principles with a broad survey of applications provides an excellent basis for a career in any area of biology.

Opportunities to study biochemistry at Oxford for students from other Universities

Students studying at other Universities can spend up to a year studying biochemistry in Oxford, either as a visiting student or under student exchange arrangements between Oxford and other Universities.

Visiting students can come to Oxford for one to three terms and usually follow either the first year or second year undergraduate course. This does not lead to an Oxford qualification but it may be possible to earn credits which can be transferred back to their home institution. Students can either apply directly through the University or through a number of schemes involving specific Colleges.

The Department also has a number of student exchange arrangements with other Universities, notably as part of the ERASMUS scheme and with Princeton, under which a student can come to Oxford to do a research project while an Oxford student does their research project abroad in exchange. Application for this must be made through the student exchange coordinator in your local University.

For Graduate Applicants

The Department of Biochemistry is a vibrant research and teaching centre located in the South Parks Road Science Area in the centre of Oxford. It provides an outstanding enviroment for undertaking a DPhil (the University of Oxford’s equivalent of a PhD) or MSc. We admit about 20 graduate students each year but also accommodate students admitted to one of the Doctoral Training Centres. Altogether we have around 120 DPhil/MSc students at any one time, with many coming from outside the UK.

As a graduate student at the Department of Biochemistry you will be guided by a team that includes your supervisor, the Graduate Advisors and the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Matthew Whitby aided by the Graduate Studies Administrator, Mr Erol Canpunar. The Graduate Advisors are a group of ten experienced Research Fellows in the Department. You will also be assigned your own Thesis Committee, consisting of two Group Leaders that are independent of your main supervisor, who you will meet with biannually to discuss your progress. Your main supervisor may also appoint a senior member of their laboratory to provide day-to-day support and advice.


Department of Biochemistry
University of Oxford
South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3QU

Tel: +44 (0)1865 613200
Fax: +44 (0)1865 613201