As it’s coming round to the start of third term, it’s the time that we have to start picking our module enrolments for next year. I know some degrees (ie. Biomedical Science) have all compulsory modules for second year, however for people on other schemes like Biological Sciences, it can seem a bit daunting knowing what to pick. In this article, I’m going to give an in-depth review of one of the second year BIOL theory modules, Biochemistry, that takes up 15 credits. Some people may want to steer clear of any module with ‘chemistry’ in the title (me included), so I thought it might be helpful if I shared my experience of the module this year.
Biochemistry is more or less what it says on the tin, a detailed look at biological processes whilst looking at the chemistry behind them. A lot of this module is based on metabolism and enzymes, and looking in detail at cellular pathways such as respiration and photosynthesis. I found this module really interesting, but I would definitely say this was one of the more challenging modules, for me at least. There is a lot of detail that you are expected to know, and the lectures are quite fast-paced and crammed with content. I think this module is helpful as it gives you a more detailed knowledge of things that you come across in your degree all the time, and shows you the biochemical background around why certain things happen.
The practicals and coursework associated with the module consist of an essay, glucose practical write up and an enzyme kinetics workshop. The essay was set in week 1 and was due in week 6, and you got to pick an essay from a choice of 4. I wasn’t too happy about the way the essay was set out, as the topic I picked wasn’t covered until lecture 13 and there were no resources for it, but for some people their topic was covered in detail in lectures before the deadline. However, as the essay was the first proper scientific essay that most of us had written, we were given an essay workshop to help us write it. The practical write-up was based on a practical using glucose assays, and I would say that this was, for me, the hardest piece of coursework, as it involved a lot of calculations that we were just expected to know. The enzyme kinetics coursework was covered in a workshop and we were given a lot of help with it, and I think this was the most informative and helpful piece of coursework.
The exams for all the theory modules happen in Summer term (so I haven’t sat it yet), but it is in the form of a 3-hour written exam. There are 3 sections: Section A has 5 compulsory short-answer questions, Section B is where you have to pick a topic out of a choice of 3 and write a long essay-style answer, Section C is the data analysis section. The revision workshop given in week 9 gives you more detail and examples of these, and I feel prepared enough for the structure of the exam.
Overall, this module, although challenging, I found was one of the most interesting modules, and I think the things that were taught are going to be helpful in a lot of third year modules. I would recommend this module if you want an in-depth look at biochemical processes, and don’t mind the odd bit of chemistry. This is of course just my personal opinion, and you should choose whatever modules that you think you will enjoy the most!