The course consists of two main parts, a theoretical component which aims to extend the students' knowledge of selected areas from the whole field of biochemistry, and a research component, which introduces them to the practice of the science of biochemistry. The research component involves the student undertaking a research project under the direct supervision of a teaching staff member.
Students undertaking BSc (Hons) take BIOC 490 Research Project as the practical part of the course. PGDipSci students may take either BIOC 480 (40 points) or BIOC 490 (60 points). Students undertaking the MSc by examination and thesis over two years, participate fully in this programme throughout their first year and take BIOC 495 for their thesis work. Masters students attend the same lectures and seminars, produce assignments, give a seminar on their work and take the same examinations as Honours or PGDipSci students. In their second year they complete their research and produce a thesis.
In the fourth year of study in either a BSc (Hons) or MSc, Tuesday and Thursday mornings are set aside for classes. The format of these sessions may vary. Typically a topic will be introduced in Session 1 by means of a lecture or lectures and a list of references given out. Generally the staff member will distribute copies of a few key reviews and research papers to all those in the class.
Session 2, a week later, usually involves selected students giving oral presentations of more focussed areas using the reference material. This is often done in groups of 23 with fewer than eight focussed subtopics developed. All students are expected to participate actively in the general discussion that follows the presentations.
In 2017 the topics are to be:
Experimental design and interpretation of data - Catherine Day
Data analysis and interpretation - Mik Black
Mentored Journal Club - Julian Eaton-Rye
Research design in synthetic biology - Wayne Patrick
Understanding how experimental design and unfolding data provide a pathway to decipher key biological phenomena and test hypotheses - Warren Tate
Origin of the eukaryotic cell - Julian Eaton-Rye
Forensic DNA - Russell Poulter
Understanding cancer using genomics and transcriptomics - Anita Duinbier
Functions of large non-coding RNA - Chris Brown
Molecules in motion; protein dynamics and function - Liz Ledgerwood, Sigurd Wilbanks
Metabolomics and Disease - Sally McCormick and Torsten Kleffmann
Visual phototransduction - Alan Carne
Targeting oncogenic signalling pathways - Peter Mace
Offered in 2017, but restricted to students enrolled in BIOC 480 and BIOC 495
Acquisition of experimental expertise and positive research results demands conscientious and constant application in the laboratory. Apart from study time, students are expected to spend all their working time in the laboratory. The results of scientific research are usually reported in several stages. The first aspect may be to write an application for funding which may include preliminary results. When results are obtained the researcher is likely to write a short abstract of the work and to present the detailed results verbally or in poster form at a scientific conference. The second and final stage involves writing a full scientific paper. Students are given experience of several facets of expression, in the Research Proposal, at the Scientific Meeting in early August, and in the preparation of the Research Report or MSc thesis.