Cell Biology vs Molecular Biology vs Biochemistry Watch

X7502
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I have reviewed modules for Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry and they all seem very similar. But my tutor has stated that Biochemistry and molecular biology have an increased grandeur and perception to them than cell biology. For instance, he has stated that the forensic science unit only used to recruit Chemists/Biochemists as opposed to cell biologists. Would I be limited my chances for future jobs by doing a cell biology degree? He made a comment that people generally percieve biochemistry or molecular biology along with chemistry and physics as better on a CV and job application. I kind of thought Cell biology was a branch of molecular biology, but it would appear to be an entirely different field separate from Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.
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Peregrinum
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Cell biology is anything but an "entirely different field" separate from molecular biology and biochemistry; in fact, they are all very very linked and you can't study one field without studying the others as well. Take biological membrane receptors and proteins - that's biochemistry, genetic regulation of cell division - that's molecular biology. And while studying all that you're really studying cells. This is also why the courses seem very similar - these fields are just completely intertwined.

You shouldn't put too heavy emphasis on what your tutor said. He is only one person (who isn't even working in the relevant field) and his statemens reflect his own personal understanding and perception of the different degrees, it's not the absolute truth (and for all we know may not even be close to it).

I suggest you study what interests you. While the degrees do have an extensive overlap they also have differences. Molecular Biology tends to lean toward genetics, Biochemistry is often very chemistry and bio-organic molecules based and Cell Biology degrees tend to have many biomedicine modules (this is how it seems to me after researching 91 universities). However, there are also many degrees where the different disciplines have an almost equal representation. If you want to study all of those areas then you might want to look at courses named Molecular Cell Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Biochemistry & Molecular Cell Biology, etc.

And when it comes to forensic science then you really do need a postgraduate qualification as well to enter that field, and any one of those biomolecular sciences degrees is a great basis for that (assuming you want to go into the biological side of forensics).
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sicarius1992
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Biochemistry, since studying it always includes cell biology and molecular biology. Biochemistry will open more career paths.
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Peregrinum
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Biochemistry may not always include enough cell biology if you're really into the latter. I have come across some biochem degrees that have only one introductory cell bio module in the first year and from that on are very heavily chemistry and protein science based. So it's not always a given that by choosing Biochemistry you will automatically get to study it all (I've also seen degree programs called Biochemistry where the content looked more like a Biomedicine or Microbiology course). So it really comes down to what you want to study and finding the right course for it (whether it's called Biochemistry or not).
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xbanksx
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I'm not sure myself about which specific course to do.
I definitely want to do a biology related one but I am toying between a course in biological sciences or molecular and cellular biology? Can anyone explain the main differences and which might be better? Also, what are the differences between doing natural sciences and a biosciences degree? Any advice on what universities are good for the courses would be much appreciated too. I see that Bristol, Durham, Warwick and York might be good possibilities...?
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Peregrinum
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(Original post by xbanksx)
I'm not sure myself about which specific course to do.
I definitely want to do a biology related one but I am toying between a course in biological sciences or molecular and cellular biology? Can anyone explain the main differences and which might be better? Also, what are the differences between doing natural sciences and a biosciences degree? Any advice on what universities are good for the courses would be much appreciated too. I see that Bristol, Durham, Warwick and York might be good possibilities...?
Biology/Biological Science courses mostly focus on whole organism biology, meaning that most of your time would be spent studying plants, animals, ecology, conservation, and other similar topics. Molecular bioscience courses (such as biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, microbiology) focus on... well, molecular biosciences. You'd be studying genomics, control of gene expression, cell cycle, structure and function of protein, biochemical signalling, etc. No bioscience course is necessarily 'better' than another, it all comes down to what you want to study. If you know you'd rather be dealing with animals and plants then a broad biology degree would be the best, if you know you're more interested in the molecular and cellular issues then pick a molecular bioscience degree. If you want to study a bit of all of it then you'd probably have to go with the broad biology degree, however those do tend lean toward the whole organism stuff so they aren't really 50/50 in terms of the subjects studied (although you may find a few exceptions).

Doing a natural sciences degree would mean studying different natural sciences. So not only would you be doing biology, but also physics, chemistry, geology/geography, maybe math. Many of them do allow you to specialize and pick one or two fields to study more closely, but overall the degree is still quite broad. If you opt for a straight biology degree then you will most likely not have the opportunity to study inorganic chemistry, rock formation, nuclear physics and other such topics.

The best universities for biological sciences are Oxford and Cambridge (obviously), UCL, ICL, Sheffield, York, Bristol, Bath, Leeds, Manchester...
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Plankey
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I was originally thinking about studying medicine but have recently started thinking more about doing a biochemistry- related course. What sort of jobs does this type of course lead to and if i did finish the degree would i be likely to get employed?
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xbanksx
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Thank you so much for that
Really useful.
I think I'm going to opt for molecular biology because that sounds the most interesting.
I'm thinking of taking biology, chemistry, geography and french for A level and these are fine, I believe, because most universities require just 2 science A levels and geography sometimes counts as a secondary science...
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cttp_ngaf
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At undergrad levels course names can being fairly vague, as mentioned above. Look at the content and also decide which name you prefer, basically.
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xbanksx
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At the moment I'm looking at: Sheffield, Bristol, Durham, York, Bath, Aston and Exeter for a course in Molecular Biology. What does everyone think about this? Are there any other key ones I may have missed?
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Peregrinum
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(Original post by xbanksx)
At the moment I'm looking at: Sheffield, Bristol, Durham, York, Bath, Aston and Exeter for a course in Molecular Biology. What does everyone think about this? Are there any other key ones I may have missed?
Well, the "key ones" list is individual (although your sounds pretty good). What I like may be quite different from what you like. Personally, I wanted a course that explores most of the molecular bioscience areas, but concentrates on biochemistry and (molecular) cell biology, with some genetics thrown in there as well. For me, the best fit is Sheffield's Biochemistry & Molecular Cell Biology and that's where I'm headed in the fall. Now, if you want an actual degree in Molecular Biology - as opposed to a degree in the molecular biosciences (whatever the name may be) - then for you that would mean concentrating on genetics and the whole replication-transcription-translation stuff. Of course it doesn't really matter whether you choose biochem or molecular bio or something else - if a department/university is good for (molecular) biosciences then it's good for all of them. Personally, my top 4 included Sheffield (Biochemistry & Molecular Cell Biology), Cardiff (Biochemistry), Bath (Molecular and Cellular Biology), and Birmingham (Biochemistry with Molecular Cell Biology). They all have very similar course contents (I measured all other schools against Sheffield ), which is why they ended up as my top choices. I don't know what you want, but I suggest you check out Cardiff (a lot of choices in both modules as well as degrees IMO), same goes for Birmingham. I also really liked Manchester (enormous amount of choices and good reputation as well), Warwick, Leeds, and Nottingham. Southampton is decent although a bit too biomed oriented for me. Possible backups might include Essex, UEA, Kent.
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Peregrinum
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(Original post by Plankey)
I was originally thinking about studying medicine but have recently started thinking more about doing a biochemistry- related course. What sort of jobs does this type of course lead to and if i did finish the degree would i be likely to get employed?
A biochemistry degree opens doors to a vast array of employment areas: academic/clinical/biomedical research, industrial research and development, lab work, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry, clinical and health sciences (such as the option of going into medicine), nutrition and food sciences and food industry, bioengineering, chemical sciences, forensic science, teaching, bioinformatics, etc. Some of these require grad study (possibly in a related but still different discipline). Of course you can always use the general skills and go into non-science jobs or do a conversion course if you suddenly become interested in something else (like law).

Employment prospects also depend on your degree classification and relevant work experience. You should also know that when it comes to science, BSc isn't quite enough. You can get a job with just a Bachelor's, but the (scientific) job market isn't going to be as wide and the positions won't be as well paid as when you had a MSc or PhD as well. This is the downside and because of this graduate study should be considered from the very beginning. You might also want to look into undergraduate masters courses that allow you to graduate with MSci. It is not equivalent to a postgraduate masters, but will still equip you with a lot more experience and knowledge than a 3-year degree could (and this is very likely to put you ahead of those with a BSc).
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Kittyshot1
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hi
I would like to ask which one is better molecular biology or microbiology?
Which one will open doors for more careers?
Thank you
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zombiejon
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(Original post by Kittyshot1)
hi
I would like to ask which one is better molecular biology or microbiology?
Which one will open doors for more careers?
Thank you
There's a lot of overlap between the two in terms of career opportunities. In terms of better or worse, it's hard to define. Personally, I like molecular biology more, but that's due to my background. Both fields are reputable.

In terms of career... Having a microbiology background could allow for the opportunity to enter food QA/QC lab testing (microbiology background). However, a similar lab could also recruit a molecular biologist for toxicity testing. There may be a slight preference for a microbiology background in some fields, but that's evened out by the demand for a molecular biologist in others.
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