Biochemistry - Course Advice - Biological Sciences - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Studying Biochemistry at Canterbury

LaboratoryBiochemistry uses the techniques of chemistry, physics and molecular biology to probe the mysteries of biology.

At UC biochemistry courses are taught as a collaboration between the Department of Chemistry and the School of Biological Sciences.

For Biochemistry students it is important to consider biochemistry, biology and chemistry courses when designing your degree.

Within the broad field of biochemistry, research interests at UC focus on the following key areas:

  • Intermediary metabolism: studies of the integration of reactions in living cells; how cells make and use energy; biosynthesis of proteins; DNA & RNA; and cellular control mechanisms
  • The molecular basis for biological phenomena: studies of molecular biology; gene expression and control; hormones and physiological phenomena

  • The nature of enzyme-catalysed reactions

  • Ultrastructure: studies of the coordination of the structure and function of cells, their organelles and their proteins.

  • The structure of biopolymers: studies of the structure of proteins, DNA & RNA, cell walls,etc.

  • Applied biochemistry: studies of immobilised enzymes; biochemical engineering, food biochemistry, etc.

  • Free radical biochemistry.

  • Enzyme inhibition and drug design

  • Natural products chemistry and drug discovery

Career paths

Biochemistry is a “central science” allowing employment across a wide range of disciplines - from chemistry to molecular biology; from medicine to food technology.

A Biochemistry major can prepare you for diverse careers including teaching and research in hospitals and medical fields, in the food and drink industries, in agriculture and in industry.


  • BSc (Hons) - Students complete a fourth year of study comprising four 400-level papers and a research project.
  • PGDipSc - Students complete a fourth year of study comprising four 400-level papers.
  • MSc - Students complete a fourth year of study comprising four 400-level papers (part I), followed by a one year research project (part II), written up as a thesis.
  • PhD - Students complete a 3 year research project written up as a thesis. Entry is after successful completion of either BSc(Hons) or an MSc.

Planning Your Degree

Below is a guide to help you select courses that will give you a well rounded degree in biochemistry.

Year 1


  • BIOL 111 Cellular Biology & Biochemistry
  • BCHM 112 Structure and Reactivity in Chemistry and Biochemistry [1] (aka CHEM 112)


Year 2


  • BCHM 222 Biochemistry B - Metabolism; the reactions of molecules in cells
  • BCHM 202 Foundations in Molecular Biology (aka BIOL 231)
  • BCHM 212 Chemical Reactivity
  • BCHM 253 Cell Biology 1 (aka BIOL 253)
  • BCHM 281 Practical Biochemistry


Year 3



[1] If you have fewer than 14 credits of NCEA level 3 chemistry take CHEM 114 before starting BCHM/CHEM 112.
[2] Required if your BSc Major is Biology
[3] BCHM 381 is essential for postgraduate Biochemistry.