Undergraduate teaching

students in a lecture


As at all universities, lectures play a major part in the teaching. Whilst lectures won't cover every detail of the subject, they will provide a basic framework of knowledge which you can then fill out by your own reading. Reading and thinking for yourself are essential parts of a university education, and although the lecturers will help by suggesting useful books and topics to think about, a great deal will depend on your own efforts.


Lectures are not the only method of teaching; there are also tutorials where you meet your teachers in small, less formal groups. In tutorials a variety of topics may be discussed, and you can raise difficulties which you may have encountered in the lectures or in your reading. When you arrive at Bristol, you will be assigned a personal tutor for the whole 3 (or 4) years of your programme. Your personal tutor will give you academic tutorials in biochemistry in the first year in groups of 3-5 students. They will maintain close contact with you throughout your time in Bristol and are there to help you with any problems that may affect your studies. When you graduate, they are ideally placed to write you a reference for a job.

Experimental work

students in a biochemistry practical

As a scientist, you will spend a good deal of your time in the laboratories, learning the experimental basis and application of the underlying theory. Practical classes in the first and second years are designed to complement the lectures and give you a solid grounding in basic biochemical skills and techniques. We have developed an innovative on-line dynamic laboratory manual, eBioLabs, to support undergraduate practical classes. The eBioLabs system enables you to explore the theory behind the material covered in practicals and prepares you for the experimental techniques you’ll be using in the lab. In the final year of your degree you will put these skills to good use in the 8-week practical project which you will undertake in one of the research laboratories in the department.

Other resources

The Medical Sciences Building has its own extensive library where you can study. All our recommended textbooks are held in the library and are available on short-term loan. The library also has a comprehensive collection of scientific journals which you will use for additional reading in the second and third years of your degree. Most of these are available on-line free of charge over the University intranet. The Medical Sciences Building also has two computer suites which are freely available to students.

Finally, all of our biochemistry units are supported by the on-line learning facility Blackboard. Through Blackboard you will have access to all the course materials you need, such as timetables, lecture synopses, handouts and past exam papers. Most of these materials are also given to you in hardcopy in the relevant unit handbooks. Blackboard also gives you the opportunity to get involved in discussion forums and to give us feedback on the units.

Students can study a range of optional units in both Year 1 and Year 2.