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Chemistry or Biochemistry?

Hi everyone! The title basically explains it all.

I’m about to start 6th year after summer, and starting uni applications. I’m struggling between whether to pick biochem or chem, since I prefer chemistry and like it the most, but don’t want to lose some parts of biology, like the cell stuff and human parts. I HATE the plants and animal parts though.

I’m not really sure exactly what biochem focusses on, whether it’s more bio or chem? And it seems the job prospects for chemistry are better, however every website has different opinions 😭

I’d appreciate some of your thoughts, would be nice to get some insight or talk to people in the same position!
Original post by hcyune
Hi everyone! The title basically explains it all.

I’m about to start 6th year after summer, and starting uni applications. I’m struggling between whether to pick biochem or chem, since I prefer chemistry and like it the most, but don’t want to lose some parts of biology, like the cell stuff and human parts. I HATE the plants and animal parts though.

I’m not really sure exactly what biochem focusses on, whether it’s more bio or chem? And it seems the job prospects for chemistry are better, however every website has different opinions 😭

I’d appreciate some of your thoughts, would be nice to get some insight or talk to people in the same position!

Hey! Im a current Medic but did Biological Sciences for my undergrad and had many biochemistry modules. Biochemistry's primary focus is molecular stuff. In the early years it involves learning fundamental biological processes that occur in cells, including DNA and protein synthesis, as well as the metabolic reactions that sustain cells and organisms. Later you delve into a lot of different proteins, molecular and signalling pathways, cancer pathogenesis amongst others. As far as career prospects are concerned, it's quite varied - could do laboratory work, data science, be involved in academia, amongst many others..

You could alternatively opt for something more clinical/medical such as Medical Biochemistry. Hope that helps :smile:
Original post by hcyune
Hi everyone! The title basically explains it all.

I’m about to start 6th year after summer, and starting uni applications. I’m struggling between whether to pick biochem or chem, since I prefer chemistry and like it the most, but don’t want to lose some parts of biology, like the cell stuff and human parts. I HATE the plants and animal parts though.

I’m not really sure exactly what biochem focusses on, whether it’s more bio or chem? And it seems the job prospects for chemistry are better, however every website has different opinions 😭

I’d appreciate some of your thoughts, would be nice to get some insight or talk to people in the same position!


Hi @hcyune

Have you been to University talks on both of the subjects? You could write down the pros and cons of each course which may help with making a decision.
You could also look at the requirements of each course and see which one you feel you may be able to meet.
Another thing you could do is have a look at the different modules on each course and think about what you may feel you would enjoy more.

I hope this helps!
Please don't hesitate to ask any questions :smile:

Aaliya ~ 3rd year pharmacy student ~ University of Huddersfield
Reply 4

Thank you for the links :smile: I have looked at some of these, and ended up deciding on either biochemistry or chemistry, since I’d like to do something more broad and keep as many options open as possible. I also live in Scotland, so am only applying to Scottish universities as the tuition is free. However, it does mean my course options are a little more limited to what Scottish unis are offering. I’m aiming for St. Andrew’s or Glasgow!
Reply 5
Original post by medicine'19
Hey! Im a current Medic but did Biological Sciences for my undergrad and had many biochemistry modules. Biochemistry's primary focus is molecular stuff. In the early years it involves learning fundamental biological processes that occur in cells, including DNA and protein synthesis, as well as the metabolic reactions that sustain cells and organisms. Later you delve into a lot of different proteins, molecular and signalling pathways, cancer pathogenesis amongst others. As far as career prospects are concerned, it's quite varied - could do laboratory work, data science, be involved in academia, amongst many others..

You could alternatively opt for something more clinical/medical such as Medical Biochemistry. Hope that helps :smile:

Thank you :smile: that’s very helpful! Seems biochemistry is a bit more biology based then? Would it be possible to specialise in something more chemistry related later on? I’m sorry for all the questions, the uni websites are a little confusing. It’s just a bit of a struggle coming to a decision - too many options!
Reply 6
Original post by University of Huddersfield Student Rep
Hi @hcyune

Have you been to University talks on both of the subjects? You could write down the pros and cons of each course which may help with making a decision.
You could also look at the requirements of each course and see which one you feel you may be able to meet.
Another thing you could do is have a look at the different modules on each course and think about what you may feel you would enjoy more.

I hope this helps!
Please don't hesitate to ask any questions :smile:

Aaliya ~ 3rd year pharmacy student ~ University of Huddersfield

Thanks! I’ve been to quite a few open days recently, they don’t go into very much depth on the courses unfortunately :frown:
Both courses have very similar requirements which I definitely meet - I’m doing advanced biology, adv chemistry, adv maths and higher physics in 6th year.
I will take a look at the modules, thanks. The uni websites stress me out thought 😭
How is pharmacy? What kind of things do you learn in that?
Original post by hcyune
Hi everyone! The title basically explains it all.

I’m about to start 6th year after summer, and starting uni applications. I’m struggling between whether to pick biochem or chem, since I prefer chemistry and like it the most, but don’t want to lose some parts of biology, like the cell stuff and human parts. I HATE the plants and animal parts though.

I’m not really sure exactly what biochem focusses on, whether it’s more bio or chem? And it seems the job prospects for chemistry are better, however every website has different opinions 😭

I’d appreciate some of your thoughts, would be nice to get some insight or talk to people in the same position!


I’d look at what a range of universities say about the structures of each of their courses and what topics are covered.

In a chemistry degree, you often will have biochemistry topics come up and you should be shown some of the applications of certain topics to biology. For example, transition metal complexes and catalysis are important for understanding metalloproteins and how enzymes work. As a further example, kinetics and rates also are used with enzymes. Depending on the university, you may encounter these in their chemistry course.

Of course you’ll have less of a biology focus, but if you prefer chemistry, then it’s probably worth taking it and reading up on parts of bio you like in your own time, but you may end up deciding that another degree (like natural sciences) is more appealing.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by hcyune
Thank you :smile: that’s very helpful! Seems biochemistry is a bit more biology based then? Would it be possible to specialise in something more chemistry related later on? I’m sorry for all the questions, the uni websites are a little confusing. It’s just a bit of a struggle coming to a decision - too many options!


Not a problem at all! Biochemistry is definitely more biology oriented compared to chemistry. There's still aspects of chemistry although proportionally less than a chemistry degree. Because biochemistry's well-versed in both biological science and chemistry, they are suited to jobs in fields where the disciplines overlap e.g. pharmacology, toxicology, forensic science.
Original post by hcyune
Hi everyone! The title basically explains it all.

I’m about to start 6th year after summer, and starting uni applications. I’m struggling between whether to pick biochem or chem, since I prefer chemistry and like it the most, but don’t want to lose some parts of biology, like the cell stuff and human parts. I HATE the plants and animal parts though.

I’m not really sure exactly what biochem focusses on, whether it’s more bio or chem? And it seems the job prospects for chemistry are better, however every website has different opinions 😭

I’d appreciate some of your thoughts, would be nice to get some insight or talk to people in the same position!

Hey @hcyune

I’ve just finished my first year of Biochemistry at Lancaster.
Biochemistry definitely has more biology than chemistry, however it does often focus on the chemistry of biological processes. With biochemistry you would definitely get the cellular and subcellular biology but in some biochemistry degrees you’ll lose the “bigger” human biology (in my experience, very little focus on organ systems etc.).

Definitely look through the modules and compare them between universities, not all degrees with the same name cover the exact same topics. I chose Lancaster for my biochemistry degree because I could do chemistry modules alongside chemists; in my first year nearly half of my modules were pure chemistry (although after first year it does become more biology based)! It really depends on the university.

Go with a degree that you think you’ll enjoy - you have to do it for 3+ years so if you don’t like it, it’ll be a bit boring! There are plenty of job prospects for both degrees, both in science and non-science careers. Many employers welcome science graduates due to the transferable skills attained in the degree!

If you have any questions about biochemistry, please let me know! :smile:
Rebecca
The main thing to bear in mind is that biochemistry is not "chemistry with biological applications". It's a bioscience degree in molecular and cell biology, and usually there is just a bit of chemistry early in the course to give you the relevant background and the rest is molecular and cell biology topics (and biochemistry which as above, isn't "chemistry with biological emphasis").

If you like chemistry, you should do a chemistry degree - it's really the only course where you will continue with chemistry in any capacity that is similar to what you've done before.
Original post by hcyune
Thanks! I’ve been to quite a few open days recently, they don’t go into very much depth on the courses unfortunately :frown:
Both courses have very similar requirements which I definitely meet - I’m doing advanced biology, adv chemistry, adv maths and higher physics in 6th year.
I will take a look at the modules, thanks. The uni websites stress me out thought 😭
How is pharmacy? What kind of things do you learn in that?

Hi @hcyune

Have a look at different university websites and read the modules for each course. Do you have a particular university in mind?
Pharmacy is a great subject, we learn a range of skills from how to clinically check and dispense prescriptions to making creams, pastes and syrups!
The MPharm is a 4-year course with 5 modules in the first 2 years of the course and 4 modules in the last 2 years of the course.
There is an element of chemistry, especially in the first 2 years of the course, whilst biology is a theme that runs throughout the course.

I hope this helps!
Good luck with your research, please don't hesitate to ask any questions :smile:
Aaliya ~ 3rd year pharmacy student ~ University of Huddersfield
Reply 12
Original post by hcyune
Hi everyone! The title basically explains it all.

I’m about to start 6th year after summer, and starting uni applications. I’m struggling between whether to pick biochem or chem, since I prefer chemistry and like it the most, but don’t want to lose some parts of biology, like the cell stuff and human parts. I HATE the plants and animal parts though.

I’m not really sure exactly what biochem focusses on, whether it’s more bio or chem? And it seems the job prospects for chemistry are better, however every website has different opinions 😭

I’d appreciate some of your thoughts, would be nice to get some insight or talk to people in the same position!

hey, im in a very similar position to you! i'm going into s6 as well, this means i won't be much help... but hopefully it's good to know you're not alone. i'm strongly considering biochemistry for the wide range of high paid career options and the fact it's part of the "glasgow life science" faculty whereas the chemistry degrees i was looking at are not (as far as i'm aware). Life science at glasgow is quite prestigious but part of me wonders if i'd miss the chemistry aspects too much, so definitely something to keep in mind. What grades are you expecting to receive on august 9th? I know that the entry requirements for biochemistry are significantly higher than just chemistry, which makes it all even trickier. Also, have you considered applying for both? I'm considering doing this myself but wonder if it's silly, im just not sure i'll make my mind up in time! good luck in your decision making :smile:
Original post by hcyune
Thank you for the links :smile: I have looked at some of these, and ended up deciding on either biochemistry or chemistry, since I’d like to do something more broad and keep as many options open as possible. I also live in Scotland, so am only applying to Scottish universities as the tuition is free. However, it does mean my course options are a little more limited to what Scottish unis are offering. I’m aiming for St. Andrew’s or Glasgow!

Hello, 4th year chem student studying at glasgow here. Hopefully i can give you a little bit of guidance on whats to come if you choose glasgow and where both of these subjects take you.

Side note: Glasgow university is excellent, the facilities are amazing and its just a beautiful campus.

Anyway, both of these subjects follow a similar pathway in first and second year. In first year if you choose biochemistry, you will absolutely be required to take biology as well as chemistry side by side. 1st year biology is a taster of whats to come for the biology students and so involves just about every aspect of biology you will be familiar with now. You will be required to study plants and their biology. Unfortunately you just can't get passed it. Biochemistry i believe is heavily involved in the life science school as the biochem students are nowhere to be seen in the chemistry lectures etc. In second year for biochem you are required to take the chemistry courses that the actual chem students take. So again as far as im aware chemistry and biology run side by side. I took biology in first and second year because i had the choice (more on that in a wee sec). In second year biology, the subjects specialise and you have the choice of say human biology or genes molecules and cells and things like that so you can get rid of the plant stuff if thats what you want. The options that you can take with a biochem degree at the start are fairly limited as far as im aware but i dont know for absolute certain so dont take this as gospel.

On to what i do know... Chemistry. Chemistry at Glasgow university is an incredible course but it is very very challenging and does require a lot of hard work to stay on top of. It is however rewarding when you finally crack how mechanisms work or you manage to complete the calculations. I would recommend it highly.

In first year chemistry the only requirement that is compulsory is chemistry. From there you have two electives that you can choose whatever it is you fancy studying (for me i chose biology and german). Doing something away from STEM was a godsend because it can get very tough and you want to have some fun exploring new options in first year. All they want you to do is pass and move to the next step. First year chemistry is very similar to AH chem so if you do that and do ok you shouldnt have much to worry about when you get to uni. It does delve a little bit further but nothing that isnt manageable. Pass that and your in to second year where you will notice quite a jump in difficulty as the ideas and theory starts to get a little bit more advanced. You do two separate chemistry courses now and you have one space for an elective (i again chose biology). Again pass this year and you move on to third year. Third year is quite the rollercoaster. Therell be blood sweat and tears put into this year because my word is it difficult. In third year there are no more electives and you no longer choose anything. You have to do Organic, Inorganic and Physical chem all side by side. Thankfully, speaking to my advisor shes mentioned that the difficulty of the content doesnt really increase between third and fourth year.

Hopefully ive managed to help, if you have any questions or want any advice then shoot me a pm and ill be happy to help.
Reply 14
Original post by els.23
hey, im in a very similar position to you! i'm going into s6 as well, this means i won't be much help... but hopefully it's good to know you're not alone. i'm strongly considering biochemistry for the wide range of high paid career options and the fact it's part of the "glasgow life science" faculty whereas the chemistry degrees i was looking at are not (as far as i'm aware). Life science at glasgow is quite prestigious but part of me wonders if i'd miss the chemistry aspects too much, so definitely something to keep in mind. What grades are you expecting to receive on august 9th? I know that the entry requirements for biochemistry are significantly higher than just chemistry, which makes it all even trickier. Also, have you considered applying for both? I'm considering doing this myself but wonder if it's silly, im just not sure i'll make my mind up in time! good luck in your decision making :smile:

hiya! it’s great finding someone in a similar position :smile: my results for higher were 5 A1’s (scottish system) so i figured i’d give cambridge a shot, since their natural sciences degree is very broad. in short, i still cannot decide so i’m just gonna pick the broadest degree hahaha. based on these responses and others i’ve discussed it with, chemistry or biochemistry degrees seem to both lead to similar careers and salaries, so i’m just going to choose the one i enjoy more. best of luck with your decision!
Reply 15
Original post by Lancaster Student Ambassador
Hey @hcyune

I’ve just finished my first year of Biochemistry at Lancaster.
Biochemistry definitely has more biology than chemistry, however it does often focus on the chemistry of biological processes. With biochemistry you would definitely get the cellular and subcellular biology but in some biochemistry degrees you’ll lose the “bigger” human biology (in my experience, very little focus on organ systems etc.).

Definitely look through the modules and compare them between universities, not all degrees with the same name cover the exact same topics. I chose Lancaster for my biochemistry degree because I could do chemistry modules alongside chemists; in my first year nearly half of my modules were pure chemistry (although after first year it does become more biology based)! It really depends on the university.

Go with a degree that you think you’ll enjoy - you have to do it for 3+ years so if you don’t like it, it’ll be a bit boring! There are plenty of job prospects for both degrees, both in science and non-science careers. Many employers welcome science graduates due to the transferable skills attained in the degree!

If you have any questions about biochemistry, please let me know! :smile:
Rebecca


hey rebecca, thank u so much! i think i’ve decided on chemistry since i like it more (not biochem sorry lol) but i am also applying for broad degrees like natsci. i figure i’ll just take optional biology modules on the side. best of luck with your studies!!
Reply 16
Original post by University of Huddersfield Student Rep
Hi @hcyune

Have a look at different university websites and read the modules for each course. Do you have a particular university in mind?
Pharmacy is a great subject, we learn a range of skills from how to clinically check and dispense prescriptions to making creams, pastes and syrups!
The MPharm is a 4-year course with 5 modules in the first 2 years of the course and 4 modules in the last 2 years of the course.
There is an element of chemistry, especially in the first 2 years of the course, whilst biology is a theme that runs throughout the course.

I hope this helps!
Good luck with your research, please don't hesitate to ask any questions :smile:
Aaliya ~ 3rd year pharmacy student ~ University of Huddersfield


hi aaliya, thank you for the response, it was so helpful! i find the best way to find out more about a course is from people who have actually done it hehe. i checked out pharmacy courses but it’s not really my thing, sorry! i plan on applying to edinburgh, st. andrews, strathclyde, glasgow and cambridge :smile:
Reply 17
Original post by GlaChem
Hello, 4th year chem student studying at glasgow here. Hopefully i can give you a little bit of guidance on whats to come if you choose glasgow and where both of these subjects take you.

Side note: Glasgow university is excellent, the facilities are amazing and its just a beautiful campus.

Anyway, both of these subjects follow a similar pathway in first and second year. In first year if you choose biochemistry, you will absolutely be required to take biology as well as chemistry side by side. 1st year biology is a taster of whats to come for the biology students and so involves just about every aspect of biology you will be familiar with now. You will be required to study plants and their biology. Unfortunately you just can't get passed it. Biochemistry i believe is heavily involved in the life science school as the biochem students are nowhere to be seen in the chemistry lectures etc. In second year for biochem you are required to take the chemistry courses that the actual chem students take. So again as far as im aware chemistry and biology run side by side. I took biology in first and second year because i had the choice (more on that in a wee sec). In second year biology, the subjects specialise and you have the choice of say human biology or genes molecules and cells and things like that so you can get rid of the plant stuff if thats what you want. The options that you can take with a biochem degree at the start are fairly limited as far as im aware but i dont know for absolute certain so dont take this as gospel.

On to what i do know... Chemistry. Chemistry at Glasgow university is an incredible course but it is very very challenging and does require a lot of hard work to stay on top of. It is however rewarding when you finally crack how mechanisms work or you manage to complete the calculations. I would recommend it highly.

In first year chemistry the only requirement that is compulsory is chemistry. From there you have two electives that you can choose whatever it is you fancy studying (for me i chose biology and german). Doing something away from STEM was a godsend because it can get very tough and you want to have some fun exploring new options in first year. All they want you to do is pass and move to the next step. First year chemistry is very similar to AH chem so if you do that and do ok you shouldnt have much to worry about when you get to uni. It does delve a little bit further but nothing that isnt manageable. Pass that and your in to second year where you will notice quite a jump in difficulty as the ideas and theory starts to get a little bit more advanced. You do two separate chemistry courses now and you have one space for an elective (i again chose biology). Again pass this year and you move on to third year. Third year is quite the rollercoaster. Therell be blood sweat and tears put into this year because my word is it difficult. In third year there are no more electives and you no longer choose anything. You have to do Organic, Inorganic and Physical chem all side by side. Thankfully, speaking to my advisor shes mentioned that the difficulty of the content doesnt really increase between third and fourth year.

Hopefully ive managed to help, if you have any questions or want any advice then shoot me a pm and ill be happy to help.


hey, thank you so much for all the info!! i went to glasgow open day and i really like the flexibility of their courses and plan on applying.
chemistry is difficult at advanced higher but i really do enjoy every part of it, whereas in bio i only like the cell stuff and everything else is is quite boring tbh :/
i thought biochemistry would be more chemistry-orientated but that doesn’t seem to be the case, so i plan on just doing chemistry :smile: good luck with your studies!
Original post by hcyune
hey rebecca, thank u so much! i think i’ve decided on chemistry since i like it more (not biochem sorry lol) but i am also applying for broad degrees like natsci. i figure i’ll just take optional biology modules on the side. best of luck with your studies!!

Hey @hcyune

I'm happy you've decided on a course that works best for you. Good luck with university!

Rebecca :smile:

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