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    (Original post by kanra)
    The student community is probably one of my favourite things, because it's so diverse and international and you end up with friends from all over the globe. In general, you hang out with people from within the college, but since all universities in London frequent the same few popular clubs (Fabric, PI, Ministry etc.) there are plenty of chances to meet people from other unis. ]

    Second year for me was super stressful, so there was considerably less clubbing that in first year, but I was still a regular at two societies so it wasn't all work. Third year was a lot more chilled than second, particular during the final 10 weeks (the final year project stage) because we would finish labs and head straight for the union usually three or four nights a week.

    In first year, my timetable was really empty (although this is mostly true for bio subjects as opposed to engineering), but my friend group still went clubbing at least once a week, and often more.



    I had 9A* and 2B, but to be honest I don't think GCSEs are that important (if at all). I know plenty of people who did very mediocre at GCSE just from lack of trying. As long as your A levels are good, and you didn't straight out fail any GCSEs, it shouldn't be too much of a problem.
    Just to chip in, I know virtually know no one who has set foot in PI after their first time, haha (Imperial student here). WNE seems to be more popular.
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    (Original post by kji)
    hello I'm starting biochemistry this october, is there anything that I need to prepare for? Any extra reading recommendation? Do I need much of my A level knowledge? Should I do a bit revision on Biology and Chemistry now (after the 3 months holiday without doing any work lol)?

    Do you have any advice on my first year life from your experience? e.g. work life balance/ skipping lectures lol. What did you do in your first year summer? Do people normally find internship in first year summer? If so, what sort of internship? Business based or science based? As I heard that many people work in the business sector after graduating.

    Thank you so much for answering my questions!
    I would 100% not bother doing any revision on A level material, because 90% of it never comes up again, and also all the chemistry is re-explained from the basics anyway (albeit briefly), so it should all come back to you pretty easily. In terms of extra reading, there are two "core first year text books", which will be sold in the first week of university at a discounted price (around £50 each I think?). But again, you don't need to worry about that until the first week, so enjoy the rest of your summer.

    In general, first year criteria is just that you have a good understanding of lecture material - so when it comes to the exam you can literally give a good rendition of the material taught in lectures and get a good first class mark. Extra reading will boost your marks (maybe push you up towards 80 marks rather than 70), but I wouldn't stress about it at this point. If you find yourself really interested in a particular lecture topic, then by all means read up on it, but don't make it a chore and try to read up on every lecture. I had a lot of free time during first year, because the general timetable will be 1-2 lectures in the morning (9-11 or 10-12), and the afternoon was very often empty (although there were occasional tutorials/seminars/labs).

    In terms of skipping lectures, I would always attend the first lecture with each new lecturer, just to see if their style works for you. If you really don't like how they teach, then it's not necessary to attend, as long as you make notes in your own time. Dr Anita Hall is a good example of this, because her entire lecture will be taken from a chapter of Alberts (one of the two core texts), so some people would prefer to skip the morning lecture and read the chapter later. All in all, first year isn't too stressful as long as you manage your time well and don't leave absolutely everything until a week before exams.

    I just went on holiday during the first summer, although a few people did get lab experience. I think it's more common to go for work experience in second year, because some companies offering internships only accept penultimate year students anyway. In terms of what kind of experience, just go for what you're interested in. A lot of graduates go on to do masters, but a fair amount also end up in finance/consulting/business (because money I guess). Personally I did a finance internship in the second summer, and am now doing a lab placement in the summer between BSc and MSc, but there really is no right or wrong way to go about it.
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    (Original post by kanra)
    I would 100% not bother doing any revision on A level material, because 90% of it never comes up again, and also all the chemistry is re-explained from the basics anyway (albeit briefly), so it should all come back to you pretty easily. In terms of extra reading, there are two "core first year text books", which will be sold in the first week of university at a discounted price (around £50 each I think?). But again, you don't need to worry about that until the first week, so enjoy the rest of your summer.

    In general, first year criteria is just that you have a good understanding of lecture material - so when it comes to the exam you can literally give a good rendition of the material taught in lectures and get a good first class mark. Extra reading will boost your marks (maybe push you up towards 80 marks rather than 70), but I wouldn't stress about it at this point. If you find yourself really interested in a particular lecture topic, then by all means read up on it, but don't make it a chore and try to read up on every lecture. I had a lot of free time during first year, because the general timetable will be 1-2 lectures in the morning (9-11 or 10-12), and the afternoon was very often empty (although there were occasional tutorials/seminars/labs).

    In terms of skipping lectures, I would always attend the first lecture with each new lecturer, just to see if their style works for you. If you really don't like how they teach, then it's not necessary to attend, as long as you make notes in your own time. Dr Anita Hall is a good example of this, because her entire lecture will be taken from a chapter of Alberts (one of the two core texts), so some people would prefer to skip the morning lecture and read the chapter later. All in all, first year isn't too stressful as long as you manage your time well and don't leave absolutely everything until a week before exams.

    I just went on holiday during the first summer, although a few people did get lab experience. I think it's more common to go for work experience in second year, because some companies offering internships only accept penultimate year students anyway. In terms of what kind of experience, just go for what you're interested in. A lot of graduates go on to do masters, but a fair amount also end up in finance/consulting/business (because money I guess). Personally I did a finance internship in the second summer, and am now doing a lab placement in the summer between BSc and MSc, but there really is no right or wrong way to go about it.
    Hello, thank you for answering all these questions this is very useful!
    I'm about to start biochem at imperial but may also be considering going into finance. Would you be able to give me a few more details on the finance internship you did in terms of when you applied, what the application process entailed and maybe also the places that you applied to?
    Thanks and well done on getting a first!
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    (Original post by DiluteNitricAcid)
    Hello, thank you for answering all these questions this is very useful!
    I'm about to start biochem at imperial but may also be considering going into finance. Would you be able to give me a few more details on the finance internship you did in terms of when you applied, what the application process entailed and maybe also the places that you applied to?
    Thanks and well done on getting a first!
    Finance is super popular, so most people who are going for it apply during the first term of the year. Usually applications are closed by December/January, and then you go through the interview and shortlisting processes. Each company will have its own individual application process (different numbers of interviews, tests, assessment centres) etc., so make sure you check the company website, since that will usually outline the steps/deadlines/when you should expect to hear back.*

    Imperial has a finance society, which is a great place to get information about careers in finance from seniors (who will often have had some kind of work experience). Imperial also organise many career events per year, several of these will be exclusive to finance and consulting (because what can I say, Imperial students like their money). During these events, representatives from finance companies all over the UK (and the world) will set up a small stall where you can talk to current employees and people on the recruitment team to get more information about that specific company, your roles as an intern, the application process, what they expect from you, CV advice, etc. This in my experience is the best place to get information, although its usually super crowded, and you always come out with handfuls of booklets/free stuff, so bring a bag (or several bags).*

    I literally applied to every company I liked the sound of haha! I think I sent out at least 15 applications in second year, which is actually completely normal at this stage (idk if you've ever applied for a proper job, but damn it is hard work - especially because finance is so competitive. The lab placement was so much easier to get). Everyone wants to go for the larger companies (the big 4, Barclays, HSBC etc.), but you should also consider boutique firms, since they're often easier in terms of competition, and any experience is extremely valuable at this point.
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    Thanks for starting this thread (this my preferred course and uni)
    Are applicants ever accepted on grades lower than AAA?
    How helpful are lecturers in terms of understanding lectures?
    Some unis have lectures, lab practicals and tutorials - how is the learning at Imperial structured?
    Do you know if the placement year is guaranteed or if applications must be made to individual companies?
    If there are applications to make, how successful are students typically?
    Is there anything particularly different about Imperial compared to things you've heard from friends at other unis (good or bad)?
    How beneficial is the additional management year to the degree in general or any of the business modules?
    Is there ever close and cheap accommodation?
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    (Original post by kanra)
    Hey everyone! Hope results went well today, and congratulations to everyone who managed to meet their Imperial College offer!

    I just graduated with a first in biochemistry, so feel free to ask me anything about student life, workload, accommodation, whatever
    Did you find it hard to get a top notch job with a prestigious firm, such as NASA, or with Harvard Medical School?
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    (Original post by kanra)
    Hey everyone! Hope results went well today, and congratulations to everyone who managed to meet their Imperial College offer!

    I just graduated with a first in biochemistry, so feel free to ask me anything about student life, workload, accommodation, whatever
    Hey! What were the average academic capabilities among biochemistry students (GCSEs, Predictes grades at A level, offers, etc.)?
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    (Original post by kanra)
    Hey everyone! Hope results went well today, and congratulations to everyone who managed to meet their Imperial College offer!

    I just graduated with a first in biochemistry, so feel free to ask me anything about student life, workload, accommodation, whatever
    Have you got a top job lined up? Was it a waste doing this degree considering it doesn't give as much as Medicine for job prospects?
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    (Original post by kanra)
    In terms of dislikes, I do feel that the life science department are quite set in their way of running things and not very receptive to making changes based on student opinion...
    I just happened to chance upon this thread. I'm from the same graduating class as the OP, although to be more specific, I went on to the biotechnology track instead of remaining in the biochemistry track in the final year.

    The above quote by the OP strikes a deep chord, for I was given exactly the same impression by the Biochemistry department. About once every six weeks, we would be asked for feedback for our course. The feedback would run the gamut from the relative unwillingness of lecturers to use lecture recordings, to the scheduling of coursework. Eventually, improvements/changes would be implemented, but this process could take months or even years, and we would have already graduated by then. Sometimes, the department would consider our feedback, but not do anything about it; until now, Dr Hall's second-year Integrative Cell Biology course still appears the same as it was when I was a first-year student.

    The feedback I personally gave was that the Biochemistry degree at Imperial was too qualitative. The only purely mathematical part of the first two years was a set of 12 lectures revising A level maths. Thus, assuming that a student chooses not to take either Integrative Systems Biology or Bioinformatics in the final year (there are 20 modules to choose from after all), he/she would graduate without any additional hard/quantitative skills like programming, statistics, or calculus. This is a very negative aspect of the course, because hard skills are just as transferable, if not arguably more, as soft skills, which in the context of our degree would entail reading tons of papers. Whether we decide to remain in research or make a transition to another industry, hard skills would confer an additional dimension to our abilities as well as the way we think. Any outsider would be flabbergasted by the fact that Imperial biochemistry students generally knew not when or how to perform ANOVA after obtaining experimental results in the lab. Could you also imagine Metabolic and Network Engineering taught in the final year without any form of linear algebra to construct stoichiometric matrices and analyse them in multi-dimensional geometric space? I don't know which was more embarrassing: the fact that our sister department (Biology) offered a more well-structured and in fact more quantitative degree than Biochemistry, or the fact that our department had not recognised this very critical shortcoming despite our Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUGS) at that time, Prof Curry (no relation to the NBA star), being originally from a Physics background. The only reply I got from Prof Curry with regards to this was: "He was sympathetic to the need for statistics but said it would require a lot of thinking and rearranging of the course." Rather blithe, considering the ever-increasing tuition fees that we pay to get a world-class education.

    Thankfully, over the years, personnel/staff undergo changes and I think that the Biochemistry department is finally becoming more receptive to our feedback. For one thing, after Dr Huntley became the convenor of second-year Genes & Genomics, the module was finally modified to include statistics and R programming, and furthermore, I understand that the restructured second year also contains introductory lectures in physics at the start of the autumn term. With regards to the feedback given by my fellow peers, the department is also increasingly embracing technology, for instance in the use of lecture recordings.
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    (Original post by Magic Streets)
    Have you got a top job lined up? Was it a waste doing this degree considering it doesn't give as much as Medicine for job prospects?
    The phrase "top job" is quite vague, which makes it difficult to give an answer to the first question. What exactly is a "top job"? For example, if you want to work in a bank like Goldman Sachs, then obviously the degree isn't the most important thing on your resume that would land you that job, but rather any relevant work experiences you might have. After all, any degree with the prefix "bio-" at the start of its title, such as biochemistry, is probably meant as a stepping stone for biologically-related postgraduate studies, rather than a job in a non-biologically-related environment immediately after graduation.

    On the other hand, it would not make sense to compare biochemistry with medicine, because they are entirely different fields and the jobs aren't even the same. Biochemistry studies cells at a much more microscopic level, down to the detail of genes and molecules; in fact, biochemists are involved in developing the tools or understanding reaction mechanisms that doctors later use to treat patients. One might argue that it's the biochemist who truly understands the human body more than the doctor, and in fact, biochemistry is amongst the best pre-requisite courses for graduate medicine. Then again, in medicine, one would really be restricted to studying the human body, whereas the field of biochemistry is much more diversified, as one can go on to specialise in bioinformatics, biophysics, biochemical engineering, drug design and development, renewable energy (see Artificial Leaf Project at Imperial), synthetic biology (Imperial are the world champions in iGEM this year), etc. These are areas of study that are just as interesting as human medicine, so it would definitely not be a waste to study biochemistry (although to be honest, if given another shot at university, I would have studied either chemical engineering or computer science, because they are far more practical and quantitative. And then, I would do a biologically-related master's degree.)
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    (Original post by Jdawsonrules)
    Thanks for starting this thread (this my preferred course and uni)
    Are applicants ever accepted on grades lower than AAA?
    How helpful are lecturers in terms of understanding lectures?
    Some unis have lectures, lab practicals and tutorials - how is the learning at Imperial structured?
    Do you know if the placement year is guaranteed or if applications must be made to individual companies?
    If there are applications to make, how successful are students typically?
    Is there anything particularly different about Imperial compared to things you've heard from friends at other unis (good or bad)?
    How beneficial is the additional management year to the degree in general or any of the business modules?
    Is there ever close and cheap accommodation?
    1. No idea. You have to ask the department or the registry. But I can imagine the competition getting harder every year.

    2. Lecturers are quite good actually. Imperial is no different from any other uni, because there's a mix of good (Drickamer, Dell, Byrne, Haslam) and not-so-good lecturers.

    3. Learning at Imperial is literally self-directed, meaning you have an average of 2 hours of lectures a day, but then you have to make use of those empty slots on your timetable to make notes/read papers, because from the second year onwards, if you regurgitate the stuff from your lecture slides without including any outside reading whatsoever, you definitely will not be able to score a first. We get very few tutorials (in comparison to continental European universities), probably once every two weeks or so. The number of practical sessions decreases from the first year to the last year, but the practical sessions get longer from the first year to the last year. In the first year, we had about 15 (?) practicals, ranging from wet lab to dry lab. In the last year, I had only about 6 (?), when I did M3D, ISB, and SB.

    4. I didn't do the placement year. From what I understand, you have to make the applications yourself to the organisations, e.g. Glaxo-Smith-Kline or Institute of Cancer Research. However, if your grade average isn't 60% or above at the end of the second year, there is a very high chance that Imperial will not allow you to do the placement year, even if your application had been successful in the first place.

    5. Not sure. I know 4 people who got into GSK and one who got into ICR, but I don't know where else they had applied to.

    6. Imperial's probably more rigorous than other unis in the UK. E.g. for a simple thing like CRISPR, we go into it in more detail than Biochemistry at KCL. Furthermore, I don't know any other uni in the UK where I would have had the opportunity to study structural biology, systems biology and synthetic biology all in the same year (final year). Another standpoint you could consider is the standard of lecturers/researchers: Imperial is a powerhouse in synthetic biology and structural biology, but probably not as good as other unis like UCL in neuroscience (mentioned in an earlier post in this very thread by the OP). In terms of social life, Imperial has over 300 clubs and societies, offering a good range for the more nerdy as well as the more athletic.

    7. Just my opinion, but I think that the management year might not be worth doing because it's worth only 60 ECTS, since it's only 9 months long. Hence, you still graduate with a BSc and not an MSc. Furthermore, the management year's credibility has been eroded by the fact that some students who did not do so well in biochemistry in the first three years would use the management year to pull up their grades just so that they can graduate with a 2:1. That being said, the management year could be cheaper than MSc Finance at the Imperial College Business School. I've never done any business mods there so please do take my words with a pinch of salt.

    8. There will always be cheap and close accommodation but such properties are difficult to get. I know people who live in Queen's Gate for barely 140 quid a week but they got the property through connections and they also have to share a bedroom. As long as you live in Zone 1, properties have lower value for money than those in Zone 2 for instance. That's London for you. If you are thinking about college accommodation though (like in the first year), then maybe apply to Pembridge or Wilson and pray that the lottery is kind to you.
    • Welcome Squad
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    Welcome Squad
    (Original post by kanra)
    Hey everyone! Hope results went well today, and congratulations to everyone who managed to meet their Imperial College offer!

    I just graduated with a first in biochemistry, so feel free to ask me anything about student life, workload, accommodation, whatever
    Did you get a first class honours? Also did you do Biochemistry to get into GEM?
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    What job would u like to get after you finish studying biochem and what are all the job possibilities with s biochem degree
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    (Original post by kanra)
    Hey everyone! Hope results went well today, and congratulations to everyone who managed to meet their Imperial College offer!

    I just graduated with a first in biochemistry, so feel free to ask me anything about student life, workload, accommodation, whatever
    Do you mind elaborating on your finance internship as this is something I am interested in doing aswell?
    Did you do any spring weeks or just the internship in in your second year?
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    This is gonna sound a bit silly but are there any maths related sections in biochemistry because there are some courses that have a maths element.
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    (Original post by dugefaellstmir)
    I just happened to chance upon this thread. I'm from the same graduating class as the OP, although to be more specific, I went on to the biotechnology track instead of remaining in the biochemistry track in the final year.

    The above quote by the OP strikes a deep chord, for I was given exactly the same impression by the Biochemistry department. About once every six weeks, we would be asked for feedback for our course. The feedback would run the gamut from the relative unwillingness of lecturers to use lecture recordings, to the scheduling of coursework. Eventually, improvements/changes would be implemented, but this process could take months or even years, and we would have already graduated by then. Sometimes, the department would consider our feedback, but not do anything about it; until now, Dr Hall's second-year Integrative Cell Biology course still appears the same as it was when I was a first-year student.

    The feedback I personally gave was that the Biochemistry degree at Imperial was too qualitative. The only purely mathematical part of the first two years was a set of 12 lectures revising A level maths. Thus, assuming that a student chooses not to take either Integrative Systems Biology or Bioinformatics in the final year (there are 20 modules to choose from after all), he/she would graduate without any additional hard/quantitative skills like programming, statistics, or calculus. This is a very negative aspect of the course, because hard skills are just as transferable, if not arguably more, as soft skills, which in the context of our degree would entail reading tons of papers. Whether we decide to remain in research or make a transition to another industry, hard skills would confer an additional dimension to our abilities as well as the way we think. Any outsider would be flabbergasted by the fact that Imperial biochemistry students generally knew not when or how to perform ANOVA after obtaining experimental results in the lab. Could you also imagine Metabolic and Network Engineering taught in the final year without any form of linear algebra to construct stoichiometric matrices and analyse them in multi-dimensional geometric space? I don't know which was more embarrassing: the fact that our sister department (Biology) offered a more well-structured and in fact more quantitative degree than Biochemistry, or the fact that our department had not recognised this very critical shortcoming despite our Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUGS) at that time, Prof Curry (no relation to the NBA star), being originally from a Physics background. The only reply I got from Prof Curry with regards to this was: "He was sympathetic to the need for statistics but said it would require a lot of thinking and rearranging of the course." Rather blithe, considering the ever-increasing tuition fees that we pay to get a world-class education.

    Thankfully, over the years, personnel/staff undergo changes and I think that the Biochemistry department is finally becoming more receptive to our feedback. For one thing, after Dr Huntley became the convenor of second-year Genes & Genomics, the module was finally modified to include statistics and R programming, and furthermore, I understand that the restructured second year also contains introductory lectures in physics at the start of the autumn term. With regards to the feedback given by my fellow peers, the department is also increasingly embracing technology, for instance in the use of lecture recordings.
    Did you feel like the Biotechnology course was too qualitative too? Do you know if the UCL Biotechnology course has more maths in it? And would you choose UCL over Imperial?
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    (Original post by kanra)
    Hey everyone! Hope results went well today, and congratulations to everyone who managed to meet their Imperial College offer!

    I just graduated with a first in biochemistry, so feel free to ask me anything about student life, workload, accommodation, whatever
    Hi,
    Im in my first year of biochemistry at UCL. Im really worried about the job prospects as its apparently not that respected of a degree. I dont want to go into science either and would like a high paying job like banking or anything like that. What are you going to do after your degree now? Should I switch courses to something like chemistry or maths? Thank you
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    Congratulations! I'm choosing my A Levels at the moment and I think I'm going to do physics chemistry and maths. But if I was to do biochemistry would I be less likely to be accepted by a university or would I find the course really hard because I haven't done biology for a level?
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    Oh wow, I thought this thread died months ago and now I login and find I missed all these new comments. Sorry guys! Thanks to dugefaellstmir for your input, and Sk2001 for your message

    (Original post by S2M)
    Did you get a first class honours? Also did you do Biochemistry to get into GEM?
    Yes! I graduated with a first class honours. And I'm not entirely sure what GEM is, so I'm going to say no.

    (Original post by uka_qwer)
    What job would u like to get after you finish studying biochem and what are all the job possibilities with s biochem degree
    There are so many possibilities! A lot of people go into further research (masters, and then PhD, with the intention of continuing into a research career and possibly lecturing). At the same time, a lot go into consulting or finance. Some stay in science, but not research (e.g. medical consulting, or the management side of pharmaceuticals). There are a ton of new biotech companies emerging, particularly in London, so I know a few friends who have signed up for that kind of thing. And some go into patent law. I also have friends who have switched into fields like biomedical engineering, or computer science (from a neuroscience perspective).

    A lot of people make the mistake of thinking you're bound by the field of your degree, but the possibilities are endless! I'm personally looking into pharmaceutical careers (considering both research and quality control/operations pathways).

    (Original post by prabhjoat5ingh)
    This is gonna sound a bit silly but are there any maths related sections in biochemistry because there are some courses that have a maths element.
    Yes! There is a fair amount of maths, not so much in first year (although Professor Drickamer does some stuff on deriving equations, and Dr Beis covers some maths on reaction rates), but in my second year we covered protein crystallography which was essentially applied maths and physics. I'm not sure how it works now, since they've dramatically changed the layout of second year since we did it (now there are optional modules and a tutored dissertation).

    (Original post by 99victor)
    Did you feel like the Biotechnology course was too qualitative too? Do you know if the UCL Biotechnology course has more maths in it? And would you choose UCL over Imperial?
    Biotechnology and biochemistry are exactly the same degree for the first two years. In the third year, there are certain modules that have "biotechnology credits" and if you pick those particular modules you graduate with a biotechnology degree rather than biochemistry. I have a friend who did biotechnology, and her third year modules were stem cells, cancer, and neuroscience - none of which had any maths (except a little bit in neuroscience) so I don't think the biotechnology stream is more quantitative. I can't say anything about the UCL course - you would have to get in touch with the course directors.

    I'm doing a masters at UCL now, but it's hard to compare two universities based on an undergraduate experience at one and a postgraduate experience at another. Are you deciding between the two universities?

    (Original post by Year11guy)
    Hi,
    Im in my first year of biochemistry at UCL. Im really worried about the job prospects as its apparently not that respected of a degree. I dont want to go into science either and would like a high paying job like banking or anything like that. What are you going to do after your degree now? Should I switch courses to something like chemistry or maths? Thank you
    I'm looking into pharmaceuticals, but as I said in my reply above to uka_qwer, there are a huge range of possibilities and doing a biochemistry degree doesn't tie you down to lab based careers. Where did you get the idea that biochemistry isn't a respected degree? From my experience, science degrees are generally very highly regarded.

    (Original post by Sk2001)
    Congratulations! I'm choosing my A Levels at the moment and I think I'm going to do physics chemistry and maths. But if I was to do biochemistry would I be less likely to be accepted by a university or would I find the course really hard because I haven't done biology for a level?
    At Imperial, biology isn't a required A level for those wanting to study biochemistry. There's quite a lot of biology in the course, so you would undoubtedly find things harder (at least to begin with) than your peers just because you wouldn't be familiar with a lot of the biological concepts.

    That said, I think you can generally trust that entry requirements are sensible - if they don't specify that you need A level biology to get in, the course is doable without A level biology. I have friends who came in without basic biology knowledge, and it just means you have to be willing to put in the extra work to catch up. At the same time, most people don't do physics at A level, and struggle with the physical aspects of the biochemistry course - so you will have some advantages too.

    Of course, this advice is specific to Imperial. If you have particular universities you are interested in, definitely check their entry requirements for biochemistry or get in touch with the admissions team for advice.
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    How does UCL compare to Imperial then? Yes I have offers from both and I am having a hard time to decide
 
 
 
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