We admit four Biochemisty students each year.
Biochemistry is a four-year course at Oxford, from which students graduate with a master's degree. In the first year students study five "preliminary" subjects, designed to provide the necessary scientific skills required in the subsequent years, at the end of which they sit a series of pass/fail exams. The second and third years then cover a broad range of molecular and cellular biochemistry topics, grouped into five key areas, covering such questions as “How do I predict protein structure?” and “How does cell signalling work?”. Assessment of the work covered in the second and third year will contribute towards the final degree mark. The fourth year provides the rest of the degree marks and is split between: (i) a 23 week research assignment, during which students work as a member of a team in a genuine research group, and (ii) writing a highly specialised review article on an area of interest.
During the four years, College tutorials complement the separate lecture courses and practical classes run by the Biochemistry Department. In the first year, students typically have two or three tutorials/classes per week, covering most aspects of the preliminary subjects. In the second and third years, tutorials again cover major parts of the Departmental lecture course and students will be encouraged to carry out independent reading based on the areas of the course that interest them. In those subjects in which the College tutors have no particular expertise, undergraduates are sent out to experts in other colleges.
The main tutor in Biochemistry is Dr Steve Johnson, who is interested in the use of X-ray crystallography and complementary techniques to study how pathogens interact with their hosts.
Biochemistry is a subject for which there are excellent career opportunities. The emergence of the new biotechnology industries in the USA, and now in the UK, provides a significant number of jobs for graduates in Biochemistry. Of the students who have read Biochemistry over the last few years, about 40% have gone on to do post-graduate degrees, 20% have gone into industrial Research and Development and 20% have gone into finance or management. A number also go into the legal professions or become Patent Agents. A number also go into the legal professions or become Patent Agents.