The Student Room Group
Waterfront bar, King's College
King's College London
London

KCL biosciences - common year one

Hi, I have an offer for biochemistry at KCL. I've been deciding between kcl and the University of Birmingham (my home city). can anyone share their experience with the common year one for the biosciences degrees? Was it difficult, any negatives, positives and etc? I'd also love to hear about your experiences as a king's student overall!
Current KCL common year one (CYO) student here! :smile: Some of this might be slightly subjective based on personal experience/interests, but hopefully it'll help.

Overall CYO: Overall I like the CYO structure and that we get to do something of everything, as it's helped me find out that I really enjoy pharmacology, something I probably wouldn't have considered before as I was always very focused on neuroscience (I'm a Biomed student). The only slight downside is that because you have 8 modules, it's a lot of exams and coursework compared to some other courses, but it's because all the modules are 15 credits so you need 8 of them to make up your overall credits. It's a good mix of everything, and the timetable is generally pretty decent. It was busier in Semester A, but there are plenty of gaps or days where you don't have any lectures. One time we were timetabled for being in lectures from something like 10 until 5 back to back, and one of our professors rescheduled his lecture so we had a break. You also have a lot of workshops and tutorials alongside your lectures to help consolidate the content, which is often quite helpful.

Fundamentals of Anatomy and Developmental Biology: Personally, the worst module. I don't particularly like anatomy, and this is not helped by the fact I would say this is the least organised and worst taught module. A lot of the lectures, particularly at the start, are a bunch of slides with just pictures, and the professors rarely fully explain what they show and what you need to learn. The coursework for this module was a group research project, and we were given pretty much zero guidance except 'go and do a research project with your group.' I got a passing grade, but we weren't given any actual guidelines and the examples were all from second years doing a Year 2 anatomy specific module, so they weren't really applicable to us. Even now, with my final exam in about three weeks, we haven't been given any practice questions, whereas every other module has a full practice paper. So generally I think this is a bad module, but it would probably be better if I enjoyed the content.

Fundamentals of Physiology: This was a decent module, the lectures were fairly interesting and well laid out, and the lecturers were decent. The module lead is a bit of a character, he's rather blunt and straightforward (never experienced it myself but I think the advice is don't ask him a question as he'll tell you it's already in the lecture) and gives off the feeling he's been in the military, though I don't know if he ever has. His lecturers are always well laid out though. In terms of content, you mainly do the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and hormones. It's pretty interesting, and I'm taking a physiology module next year. The practicals are quite fun for this module, and the coursework is a lab report on one of them with a slight bit of statistical work, which was fairly easy.

Biochemistry: Again, not a bad module in terms of delivery, just personally not my favourite in terms of content due to all the mechanisms and structures to learn. But the main two lecturers are amazing. Really engaging, deliver the lectures really clearly and are just generally so nice and friendly. The coursework is an abstract/summary of a research article, which wasn't too bad but had quite a tight word count. But generally I enjoyed this module.

Chemistry for the Biosciences: A 50/50 module really. The lecture content is alright, again, I'm not a huge chem fan so that probably has an impact on it. The lecturers are a bit of a mix: for calculations, we had one of the Biochemistry professors, and she did two support workshops that were really helpful. The thermodynamics professor was a bit odd, lots of jokes and seemed to think we had all taken at least A-Level Physics so would understand them, and his lectures dragged out a bit but were otherwise fine. So, this was a pretty standard module.

Cell Biology and Neuroscience: My second favourite module, led by one of the universally loved professors of the course. Most of the lectures are very clear and, for me, interesting, and the practicals are fun as well if you enjoy handling dissected brains and using microscopes. Like most of the modules, the coursework is a lab report, the practicals it's based on are fairly straightforward so it's not a bad piece of coursework to do.

Fundamentals of Pharmacology: My favourite module, and the professor that runs this module is the favourite of the entire group (and we have about 620 of us). He's really funny, really engaging and all the lectures in this module are good, helped by the fact I found this really interesting. You only have one practical, which is the basis of the lab report/quiz coursework, but it's a good straightforward practical, and so far Pharmacology is my highest grade in both my mock exam and my coursework.

Skills for the Biosciences: An easy module once you get your head around stats, and honestly a bit of a waste of time? But I feel like that would be the case for any skills-focused module. We didn't have many lecturers, most of them were on stats and a couple were on academic writing, presentations and looking up articles using databases. The professor is nice but honestly over-complicated stats a bit in the lectures we had, so I did have to go over it. I never missed a lecture, but that's because I live 10 mins from campus. If I lived further, I probably wouldn't turn up unless I had anything else (and people didn't - the lectures very quickly went from 300 to about 20 attending lmao)

Genetics and Molecular Biology: The actual content for this is good and quite interesting. To me, the lecturers are awful. Very quiet, droning and monotone. I had to go over most of these lectures again and re-do my notes because I could probably count on one hand the number of lectures I was able to fully pay attention to. But the practicals for this module are quite fun, you get to transform E. coli and do electrophoresis of DNA, and then, again, the lab report on these practicals is the coursework for the module, but you get a structured document on how to complete that so it's decent.

Overall KCL experience: slightly biased of course, but being a king's student is pretty good. The campuses are nice, student accommodation is a bit expensive but standard for halls, and there are always a lot of events going on there. There are a lot of societies you can join, and I do feel part of the student community here. I'd also highly recommend signing up to the GP service, it's busy but it's been really helpful for me to book in with the nurse to have all the vaccinations I needed. So while, like any uni, it has it's good aspects and it's less-good ones, I really enjoy going here.

Hope this helped, and good luck wherever you decide to go! :smile:
Waterfront bar, King's College
King's College London
London
Original post by cyberhex
Current KCL common year one (CYO) student here! :smile: Some of this might be slightly subjective based on personal experience/interests, but hopefully it'll help.

Overall CYO: Overall I like the CYO structure and that we get to do something of everything, as it's helped me find out that I really enjoy pharmacology, something I probably wouldn't have considered before as I was always very focused on neuroscience (I'm a Biomed student). The only slight downside is that because you have 8 modules, it's a lot of exams and coursework compared to some other courses, but it's because all the modules are 15 credits so you need 8 of them to make up your overall credits. It's a good mix of everything, and the timetable is generally pretty decent. It was busier in Semester A, but there are plenty of gaps or days where you don't have any lectures. One time we were timetabled for being in lectures from something like 10 until 5 back to back, and one of our professors rescheduled his lecture so we had a break. You also have a lot of workshops and tutorials alongside your lectures to help consolidate the content, which is often quite helpful.

Fundamentals of Anatomy and Developmental Biology: Personally, the worst module. I don't particularly like anatomy, and this is not helped by the fact I would say this is the least organised and worst taught module. A lot of the lectures, particularly at the start, are a bunch of slides with just pictures, and the professors rarely fully explain what they show and what you need to learn. The coursework for this module was a group research project, and we were given pretty much zero guidance except 'go and do a research project with your group.' I got a passing grade, but we weren't given any actual guidelines and the examples were all from second years doing a Year 2 anatomy specific module, so they weren't really applicable to us. Even now, with my final exam in about three weeks, we haven't been given any practice questions, whereas every other module has a full practice paper. So generally I think this is a bad module, but it would probably be better if I enjoyed the content.

Fundamentals of Physiology: This was a decent module, the lectures were fairly interesting and well laid out, and the lecturers were decent. The module lead is a bit of a character, he's rather blunt and straightforward (never experienced it myself but I think the advice is don't ask him a question as he'll tell you it's already in the lecture) and gives off the feeling he's been in the military, though I don't know if he ever has. His lecturers are always well laid out though. In terms of content, you mainly do the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and hormones. It's pretty interesting, and I'm taking a physiology module next year. The practicals are quite fun for this module, and the coursework is a lab report on one of them with a slight bit of statistical work, which was fairly easy.

Biochemistry: Again, not a bad module in terms of delivery, just personally not my favourite in terms of content due to all the mechanisms and structures to learn. But the main two lecturers are amazing. Really engaging, deliver the lectures really clearly and are just generally so nice and friendly. The coursework is an abstract/summary of a research article, which wasn't too bad but had quite a tight word count. But generally I enjoyed this module.

Chemistry for the Biosciences: A 50/50 module really. The lecture content is alright, again, I'm not a huge chem fan so that probably has an impact on it. The lecturers are a bit of a mix: for calculations, we had one of the Biochemistry professors, and she did two support workshops that were really helpful. The thermodynamics professor was a bit odd, lots of jokes and seemed to think we had all taken at least A-Level Physics so would understand them, and his lectures dragged out a bit but were otherwise fine. So, this was a pretty standard module.

Cell Biology and Neuroscience: My second favourite module, led by one of the universally loved professors of the course. Most of the lectures are very clear and, for me, interesting, and the practicals are fun as well if you enjoy handling dissected brains and using microscopes. Like most of the modules, the coursework is a lab report, the practicals it's based on are fairly straightforward so it's not a bad piece of coursework to do.

Fundamentals of Pharmacology: My favourite module, and the professor that runs this module is the favourite of the entire group (and we have about 620 of us). He's really funny, really engaging and all the lectures in this module are good, helped by the fact I found this really interesting. You only have one practical, which is the basis of the lab report/quiz coursework, but it's a good straightforward practical, and so far Pharmacology is my highest grade in both my mock exam and my coursework.

Skills for the Biosciences: An easy module once you get your head around stats, and honestly a bit of a waste of time? But I feel like that would be the case for any skills-focused module. We didn't have many lecturers, most of them were on stats and a couple were on academic writing, presentations and looking up articles using databases. The professor is nice but honestly over-complicated stats a bit in the lectures we had, so I did have to go over it. I never missed a lecture, but that's because I live 10 mins from campus. If I lived further, I probably wouldn't turn up unless I had anything else (and people didn't - the lectures very quickly went from 300 to about 20 attending lmao)

Genetics and Molecular Biology: The actual content for this is good and quite interesting. To me, the lecturers are awful. Very quiet, droning and monotone. I had to go over most of these lectures again and re-do my notes because I could probably count on one hand the number of lectures I was able to fully pay attention to. But the practicals for this module are quite fun, you get to transform E. coli and do electrophoresis of DNA, and then, again, the lab report on these practicals is the coursework for the module, but you get a structured document on how to complete that so it's decent.

Overall KCL experience: slightly biased of course, but being a king's student is pretty good. The campuses are nice, student accommodation is a bit expensive but standard for halls, and there are always a lot of events going on there. There are a lot of societies you can join, and I do feel part of the student community here. I'd also highly recommend signing up to the GP service, it's busy but it's been really helpful for me to book in with the nurse to have all the vaccinations I needed. So while, like any uni, it has it's good aspects and it's less-good ones, I really enjoy going here.

Hope this helped, and good luck wherever you decide to go! :smile:

would you say that there is support from professors if you need help with anything?
Original post by cyberhex
Current KCL common year one (CYO) student here! :smile: Some of this might be slightly subjective based on personal experience/interests, but hopefully it'll help.

Overall CYO: Overall I like the CYO structure and that we get to do something of everything, as it's helped me find out that I really enjoy pharmacology, something I probably wouldn't have considered before as I was always very focused on neuroscience (I'm a Biomed student). The only slight downside is that because you have 8 modules, it's a lot of exams and coursework compared to some other courses, but it's because all the modules are 15 credits so you need 8 of them to make up your overall credits. It's a good mix of everything, and the timetable is generally pretty decent. It was busier in Semester A, but there are plenty of gaps or days where you don't have any lectures. One time we were timetabled for being in lectures from something like 10 until 5 back to back, and one of our professors rescheduled his lecture so we had a break. You also have a lot of workshops and tutorials alongside your lectures to help consolidate the content, which is often quite helpful.

Fundamentals of Anatomy and Developmental Biology: Personally, the worst module. I don't particularly like anatomy, and this is not helped by the fact I would say this is the least organised and worst taught module. A lot of the lectures, particularly at the start, are a bunch of slides with just pictures, and the professors rarely fully explain what they show and what you need to learn. The coursework for this module was a group research project, and we were given pretty much zero guidance except 'go and do a research project with your group.' I got a passing grade, but we weren't given any actual guidelines and the examples were all from second years doing a Year 2 anatomy specific module, so they weren't really applicable to us. Even now, with my final exam in about three weeks, we haven't been given any practice questions, whereas every other module has a full practice paper. So generally I think this is a bad module, but it would probably be better if I enjoyed the content.

Fundamentals of Physiology: This was a decent module, the lectures were fairly interesting and well laid out, and the lecturers were decent. The module lead is a bit of a character, he's rather blunt and straightforward (never experienced it myself but I think the advice is don't ask him a question as he'll tell you it's already in the lecture) and gives off the feeling he's been in the military, though I don't know if he ever has. His lecturers are always well laid out though. In terms of content, you mainly do the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and hormones. It's pretty interesting, and I'm taking a physiology module next year. The practicals are quite fun for this module, and the coursework is a lab report on one of them with a slight bit of statistical work, which was fairly easy.

Biochemistry: Again, not a bad module in terms of delivery, just personally not my favourite in terms of content due to all the mechanisms and structures to learn. But the main two lecturers are amazing. Really engaging, deliver the lectures really clearly and are just generally so nice and friendly. The coursework is an abstract/summary of a research article, which wasn't too bad but had quite a tight word count. But generally I enjoyed this module.

Chemistry for the Biosciences: A 50/50 module really. The lecture content is alright, again, I'm not a huge chem fan so that probably has an impact on it. The lecturers are a bit of a mix: for calculations, we had one of the Biochemistry professors, and she did two support workshops that were really helpful. The thermodynamics professor was a bit odd, lots of jokes and seemed to think we had all taken at least A-Level Physics so would understand them, and his lectures dragged out a bit but were otherwise fine. So, this was a pretty standard module.

Cell Biology and Neuroscience: My second favourite module, led by one of the universally loved professors of the course. Most of the lectures are very clear and, for me, interesting, and the practicals are fun as well if you enjoy handling dissected brains and using microscopes. Like most of the modules, the coursework is a lab report, the practicals it's based on are fairly straightforward so it's not a bad piece of coursework to do.

Fundamentals of Pharmacology: My favourite module, and the professor that runs this module is the favourite of the entire group (and we have about 620 of us). He's really funny, really engaging and all the lectures in this module are good, helped by the fact I found this really interesting. You only have one practical, which is the basis of the lab report/quiz coursework, but it's a good straightforward practical, and so far Pharmacology is my highest grade in both my mock exam and my coursework.

Skills for the Biosciences: An easy module once you get your head around stats, and honestly a bit of a waste of time? But I feel like that would be the case for any skills-focused module. We didn't have many lecturers, most of them were on stats and a couple were on academic writing, presentations and looking up articles using databases. The professor is nice but honestly over-complicated stats a bit in the lectures we had, so I did have to go over it. I never missed a lecture, but that's because I live 10 mins from campus. If I lived further, I probably wouldn't turn up unless I had anything else (and people didn't - the lectures very quickly went from 300 to about 20 attending lmao)

Genetics and Molecular Biology: The actual content for this is good and quite interesting. To me, the lecturers are awful. Very quiet, droning and monotone. I had to go over most of these lectures again and re-do my notes because I could probably count on one hand the number of lectures I was able to fully pay attention to. But the practicals for this module are quite fun, you get to transform E. coli and do electrophoresis of DNA, and then, again, the lab report on these practicals is the coursework for the module, but you get a structured document on how to complete that so it's decent.

Overall KCL experience: slightly biased of course, but being a king's student is pretty good. The campuses are nice, student accommodation is a bit expensive but standard for halls, and there are always a lot of events going on there. There are a lot of societies you can join, and I do feel part of the student community here. I'd also highly recommend signing up to the GP service, it's busy but it's been really helpful for me to book in with the nurse to have all the vaccinations I needed. So while, like any uni, it has it's good aspects and it's less-good ones, I really enjoy going here.

Hope this helped, and good luck wherever you decide to go! :smile:


thank you so much for this reply! I’ll read it in depth later, but I do want to ask, are the lab reports confusing or complicated at all? Is this something people generally complain about? Also, do people generally do courseworks together or everyone kind of does their own thing? I struggled so much with following the instructions for lab reports at my last uni so im a little worried
Original post by Anonymous
would you say that there is support from professors if you need help with anything?


Mostly, yes. I've not really needed it myself but you can always ask them questions, they respond to emails pretty quick and you have 2 personal tutors to get in touch with if you need support with something.
Original post by Anonymous
thank you so much for this reply! I’ll read it in depth later, but I do want to ask, are the lab reports confusing or complicated at all? Is this something people generally complain about? Also, do people generally do courseworks together or everyone kind of does their own thing? I struggled so much with following the instructions for lab reports at my last uni so im a little worried


You're welcome ^-^ Personally I didn't find them confusing, there are slight variations between modules but generally you just have to introduce the practical aims and method briefly, and then give and describe your results and what they show. You can ask your friends questions and stuff about the coursework but otherwise it has to be fully independent as if you work in detail together to write a similar thing, it's counted as collusion, basically a type of plagiarism/academic misconduct.
Original post by cyberhex
You're welcome ^-^ Personally I didn't find them confusing, there are slight variations between modules but generally you just have to introduce the practical aims and method briefly, and then give and describe your results and what they show. You can ask your friends questions and stuff about the coursework but otherwise it has to be fully independent as if you work in detail together to write a similar thing, it's counted as collusion, basically a type of plagiarism/academic misconduct.

Ahh makes sense. At my last uni (imperial) we were given strict instructions to follow such as plotting graphs in excel, font size, table size and etc, so we couldn't really plagiarise. The way u guys do it sounds so much better! Again, thanks for the reply:smile:
Original post by Anonymous
Ahh makes sense. At my last uni (imperial) we were given strict instructions to follow such as plotting graphs in excel, font size, table size and etc, so we couldn't really plagiarise. The way u guys do it sounds so much better! Again, thanks for the reply:smile:


Wow, that's really strict. Yeah, we don't have anything like that here, at least not for first year - you can use whatever font and size (within reason), the only rule we really have to follow is that generally we have to upload it as a PDF or Word document. :smile:

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