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Which is the best course to study molecular biology?

I'm interested in molecular biology, and aside from St Andrew's, none of the universities I'm interested in offer a course in molecular biology, instead offering it as a module under other courses.

The courses are either biological sciences, biochemistry, or biomedical sciences, and where this a choice between one or the other, I'm unsure which one would be the best route for me, as they all seem to have very similar modules. I plan to do a masters in tissue repair or regenerative medicine, and get into the field of regenerative medicine.

I'm currently interested in 6 universities, and I'll have to remove one from the list.

Cambridge: Has a very different system of modules so I'll leave that out of this question.

Edinburgh: puts both biochemistry and molecular biology under biological sciences, so my choice there is straightforward.

Durham: Also puts biochemistry and molecular biology under biological sciences, no issue there.

St Andrew's: Has a standalone molecular biology course, very happy about that.

The final two I need advice on are

Imperial College London: Has separate biological sciences and biochemistry courses, both of which have modules covering molecular biology, but the biological sciences course has an applied molecular biology module whereas the biochemistry course just has molecular biology.

UCL: Has biological sciences, biochemistry, and biomedical sciences. While the biological sciences course has modules covering molecular biology, only the biochemistry and biomedical sciences courses allow you to specialise in molecular biology. The choice would be simple, except that UCL requires a maths A level for biochemistry, so that's not an option for me. For biomedical sciences it says maths is 'preferred' and would give me an advantage. So for this one I don't want to apply to biological sciences, my choice is biomedical sciences, but I then lower my chances of acceptance and don't know if it's worth applying.

Apologies for the long post, I've only just familiarised myself with the way universities work, and while it is incredibly motivating and exciting, it can be a little confusing.
(edited 2 years ago)
I did biomed and that was loaded with molecular biology. Basically any biology undergrad has the same value... So it's really about the modules you pick that set you apart from the crowd and what you do your honours thesis on!
Reply 2
Original post by iain.stewart
I did biomed and that was loaded with molecular biology. Basically any biology undergrad has the same value... So it's really about the modules you pick that set you apart from the crowd and what you do your honours thesis on!

I guess that makes sense. I used to think choosing a course is one huge decision but there seems to be a lot of flexibility, which is actually a good thing.

In my personal statement, should I just call it 'biochemistry' and talk about how this is what I want to study? Or would that look weird if I'm applying for molecular biology at St Andrew's for example.
Original post by Nighthawk01
I guess that makes sense. I used to think choosing a course is one huge decision but there seems to be a lot of flexibility, which is actually a good thing.

In my personal statement, should I just call it 'biochemistry' and talk about how this is what I want to study? Or would that look weird if I'm applying for molecular biology at St Andrew's for example.

That's very lucid thinking there. I think "life sciences" is a good thing to put in your statement... Biochem is a very specific area to some unis!
Original post by Nighthawk01
I'm interested in molecular biology, and aside from St Andrew's, none of the universities I'm interested in offer a course in molecular biology, instead offering it as a module under other courses.

The courses are either biological sciences, biochemistry, or biomedical sciences, and where this a choice between one or the other, I'm unsure which one would be the best route for me, as they all seem to have very similar modules. I plan to do a masters in tissue repair or regenerative medicine, and get into the field of regenerative medicine.

I'm currently interested in 6 universities, and I'll have to remove one from the list.

Cambridge: Has a very different system of modules so I'll leave that out of this question.

Edinburgh: puts both biochemistry and molecular biology under biological sciences, so my choice there is straightforward.

Durham: Also puts biochemistry and molecular biology under biological sciences, no issue there.

St Andrew's: Has a standalone molecular biology course, very happy about that.

The final two I need advice on are

Imperial College London: Has separate biological sciences and biochemistry courses, both of which have modules covering molecular biology, but the biological sciences course has an applied molecular biology module whereas the biochemistry course just has molecular biology.

UCL: Has biological sciences, biochemistry, and biomedical sciences. While the biological sciences course has modules covering molecular biology, only the biochemistry and biomedical sciences courses allow you to specialise in molecular biology. The choice would be simple, except that UCL requires a maths A level for biochemistry, so that's not an option for me. For biomedical sciences it says maths is 'preferred' and would give me an advantage. So for this one I don't want to apply to biological sciences, my choice is biomedical sciences, but I then lower my chances of acceptance and don't know if it's worth applying.

Apologies for the long post, I've only just familiarised myself with the way universities work, and while it is incredibly motivating and exciting, it can be a little confusing.

Hi @Nighthawk01

I'm Maya and I'm a student rep from Imperial. I have just completed the Biological Sciences course and I am happy to answer any questions you might have about Biological Sciences (and I also have some knowledge of the Biochemistry course as it is also in the Department of Life Sciences). Just to note that Imperial also offers biomedical sciences, although here it is referred to as Medical Biosciences. Here is the link to the course page for more information https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/ug/courses/2021/biomedical-science/medical-biosciences/.

In the second year of the Biological Sciences course, as you have mentioned there is a whole module dedicated to molecular biology (the Applied Molecular Biology course). Additionally, the curriculum has been changed a lot in the past two years, and new modules have been introduced for second year, including a Molecular and Cell Biology Skills module. I have only taken the AMB module, as the new modules were introduced after I had finished my second year, but I really enjoyed AMB.

Both the Biochemistry and Medical Biosciences courses at Imperial also have molecular biology modules. Based on the fact that you've mentioned an interest in regenerative medicine, the Medical Biosciences course might be quite suitable for you. In addition to a Molecular and Cellular Biology module in the first year, they offer an optional Regenerative Medicine module in the third year.

For all the three courses I've mentioned, Maths A Level is not required, so you should be able to apply to these courses.

Hope that helps! :h:
Reply 5
Original post by Imperial students
Hi @Nighthawk01

I'm Maya and I'm a student rep from Imperial. I have just completed the Biological Sciences course and I am happy to answer any questions you might have about Biological Sciences (and I also have some knowledge of the Biochemistry course as it is also in the Department of Life Sciences). Just to note that Imperial also offers biomedical sciences, although here it is referred to as Medical Biosciences. Here is the link to the course page for more information https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/ug/courses/2021/biomedical-science/medical-biosciences/.

In the second year of the Biological Sciences course, as you have mentioned there is a whole module dedicated to molecular biology (the Applied Molecular Biology course). Additionally, the curriculum has been changed a lot in the past two years, and new modules have been introduced for second year, including a Molecular and Cell Biology Skills module. I have only taken the AMB module, as the new modules were introduced after I had finished my second year, but I really enjoyed AMB.

Both the Biochemistry and Medical Biosciences courses at Imperial also have molecular biology modules. Based on the fact that you've mentioned an interest in regenerative medicine, the Medical Biosciences course might be quite suitable for you. In addition to a Molecular and Cellular Biology module in the first year, they offer an optional Regenerative Medicine module in the third year.

For all the three courses I've mentioned, Maths A Level is not required, so you should be able to apply to these courses.

Hope that helps! :h:

Thank you so much, it appears I've got a third course to consider now haha

I looked at the medical biosciences course and it certainly seems appealing, especially with the Regenerative Medicine module. The description states that I can transfer between the two medical biosciences courses. I can't find the other one though, is it referring to Medical Biosciences with Management?

Also, this is taught by the faculty of Medicine, whereas the Biochemistry and Biological Sciences courses are taught by the faculty of life sciences, so would there be a significant difference is the nature of the course and the way it is taught, even if they have similar modules?
Original post by Nighthawk01
Thank you so much, it appears I've got a third course to consider now haha

I looked at the medical biosciences course and it certainly seems appealing, especially with the Regenerative Medicine module. The description states that I can transfer between the two medical biosciences courses. I can't find the other one though, is it referring to Medical Biosciences with Management?

Also, this is taught by the faculty of Medicine, whereas the Biochemistry and Biological Sciences courses are taught by the faculty of life sciences, so would there be a significant difference is the nature of the course and the way it is taught, even if they have similar modules?

You're welcome! Yes, that statement refers to the 4-year course Medical Biosciences with Management.

And yes, the teaching is quite different on the Medical Biosciences course compared to Biochemistry/Biological Sciences. Both courses from the Department of Life Sciences have traditional lectures, along with tutorials, some team-based learning and the occasional flipped lecture (if you haven't encountered flipped learning before, essentially you go through the content before the lecture to prepare and during the 'lecture' you do various activities - there is some evidence that flipped learning can be more effective than traditional teaching).

On the other hand, the Medical Biosciences is very student-centred and uses a lot more team-based learning and flipped lectures. So that is something to consider, whether you would enjoy that particular teaching style.:smile:
Reply 7
Original post by Imperial students
You're welcome! Yes, that statement refers to the 4-year course Medical Biosciences with Management.

And yes, the teaching is quite different on the Medical Biosciences course compared to Biochemistry/Biological Sciences. Both courses from the Department of Life Sciences have traditional lectures, along with tutorials, some team-based learning and the occasional flipped lecture (if you haven't encountered flipped learning before, essentially you go through the content before the lecture to prepare and during the 'lecture' you do various activities - there is some evidence that flipped learning can be more effective than traditional teaching).

On the other hand, the Medical Biosciences is very student-centred and uses a lot more team-based learning and flipped lectures. So that is something to consider, whether you would enjoy that particular teaching style.:smile:

Would this course open a similar career pathway that Biological Sciences or Biochemistry would? I've never really considered 'Medicine' so I guess that's putting me off a little haha

Also, does Medical Biosciences offer a placement year in industry or research abroad? I know that these are possible with the Biological Sciences and Biochemistry courses and that's something I'm interested greatly in.
Original post by Nighthawk01
Would this course open a similar career pathway that Biological Sciences or Biochemistry would? I've never really considered 'Medicine' so I guess that's putting me off a little hahaY

Also, does Medical Biosciences offer a placement year in industry or research abroad? I know that these are possible with the Biological Sciences and Biochemistry courses and that's something I'm interested greatly in.

Yes, the career prospects would be quite similar to those of life sciences graduates depending on what you choose to specialise in.

Regarding a year in industry/research abroad, that is an area that I am unsure about unfortunately. The course webpage suggests that these programmes are not available on the Medical Biosciences course, but I would recommend contacting the department directly to clarify whether this is the case.

Maya :h:
Hello Nighthawk01, finally which course did your enroll yourself in? Thanks.
Reply 10
@Nighthawk01 what happened eventually? I'm quite curious:smile:
Original post by IO bear
@Nighthawk01 what happened eventually? I'm quite curious:smile:

This thread is 2 years old - please don't bump old threads!

Also in the UK degrees in biochemistry are degrees in molecular and cell biology so if that is your interest look for biochemistry courses.

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