Biochemistry examines cell function at a molecular level, exploring the foundations of all life on earth. The Oxford Biochemistry degree covers all aspects of this diverse and fascinating subject, from genetics to molecular structure. Our teaching reflects this diversity – at Hertford you’ll benefit from tutorials with expert researchers in college and from teaching with subject-specialists across the University.
We have a fantastic reputation for Biochemistry at Hertford and boast a strong record of academic success. The unique attraction of Biochemistry at Oxford is that the course is a 4-year integrated Master’s degree, giving you an academic advantage, the opportunity to work on an advanced personal research project, and valuable real-world training and experience.
Regardless of which college you apply to, you’ll follow the degree administered by the Biochemistry Department and have access to their multi award-winning buildings and facilities, which are just a short distance from Hertford.
Life Sciences at Hertford
At Hertford, students reading Biochemistry, Biology and Human Sciences are part of our Life Sciences ‘subject family.’ While we teach all three degree subjects in the same ways as other colleges, here we have also combined our research and teaching strengths in a range of topics, from molecules, through health and disease, to environmental science. There are academic overlaps between the three courses, and much of your genetics teaching in first year will be the same.
Thanks to our special approach, you’ll have the benefits of belonging to a vibrant community with joint academic and social events. These include our annual ‘Darwin Dinner’ with Hertford-based undergraduates, graduates and tutors. Our emphasis is on providing a supportive and happy learning environment where you can reach your potential in collaboration with one another, irrespective of your background and life experiences.
Teaching and learning
You will be taught in lectures and practical classes, organised by the department, and regular tutorials organised in college. Practical classes and data-handling sessions give you the chance to build your analytical skills, while tutorials offer you the opportunity to discuss topics in greater detail. They’re usually based on an essay that you’ll have prepared in advance. Biochemistry tutorials at Hertford are informal and – hopefully – fun, as we all share in your educational progress together.
This progress also relies on knowledge of the chemistry and physics which govern molecular behaviour. This means that you’ll also study biological chemistry, biophysical chemistry, organic chemistry and maths. These four subjects act as foundation courses, bringing everyone to the same level of fundamental understanding (as we do not insist on A Levels in Physics or Maths).
In the fourth year of your degree, you’ll study Part II of the course for your integrated Master’s. This year relies on you using independent study skills that you’ll have honed in the first three years of your course. You will work on an advanced research project, spending around five months studying a subject of your choice in-depth. You’ll have a free choice of over 100 possible research projects available in the department, or in one of our partner departments or research institutes. These include the schools of Biology and Zoology, the Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine, and even the clinical departments of the John Radcliffe Hospital. You can also apply to spend this research time at a European university through the ERASMUS scheme, or at our partner university in the USA, Princeton.
The overall philosophy of the Biochemistry course is to start with core foundations and then to place you in the driving seat of your scientific education. You will have the skills required to make good, individual decisions which we’ll support in a strong and productive partnership.
Our graduates from all three Life Sciences subjects go on to a wide range of careers. These are often in related sciences, including biological and biomedical research, graduate medicine, industry and technology, and conservation.
During your degree you’ll have the opportunity to build great transferable skills. Many of our students frequently choose to apply their skills in new contexts, building careers in law, teaching, accountancy, business and management consultancy. Whatever your interests, a degree in Biochemistry from Hertford will equip you with the skills and confidence to be successful in your chosen career.
Making an application
If you decide to apply to Hertford, we’ll take all aspects of your application into account when deciding who to shortlist for interviews. You won’t have to sit any admissions tests or submit any written work for Biochemistry, regardless of which college you apply to.
If you’re shortlisted, we’ll invite you to attend two interviews in Oxford. One will be at Hertford and the other will be at a second college. Your interviews will be around half an hour each and will usually be with two tutors. We’re here to get the best out of you and, in all cases, tutors come together as a cooperative to ensure that the best candidates are offered places.
We’re looking for people who will thrive in our tutorial learning environment. Your interview will therefore be quite similar to a tutorial. We want to see evidence that you can think on your feet and answer unfamiliar questions. We won’t ask any highly specific questions or expect you to have specialist knowledge about the subject. We aim to ask you interesting, challenging and unexpected questions that no school or college can prepare you for in advance. The best preparation is to read and observe things that interest you around your subject, so go beyond the curriculum and challenge yourself with something new!