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School of Physical and Chemical Sciences (SPCS) at the University of Canterbury is one of the best places to study Biochemistry in New Zealand. 

The interface between Biology and Chemistry is the focus of some of the world’s most fascinating research, and is arguably having the greatest impact on our lives. This is Biochemistry — understanding how cells work at the molecular level.

The Biochemistry major is taught as a collaboration between Chemistry and Biological Sciences.

Biochemistry uses the techniques of Chemistry, Physics and Molecular Biology to probe the mysteries of Biology. It provides basic insight into biological processes such as enzyme action, drug action, genetic engineering, photosynthesis, cancer and heart disease. Some knowledge of Biochemistry is essential for any student majoring in Biological Sciences and many areas of Chemistry.

Our teaching staff have a unique blend of skills and expertise. The result is an exciting undergraduate curriculum and a vibrant research environment.

Biochemistry can lead to careers in a diverse range of fields. Our graduates have been employed in medical science, forensic science, environmental science, food and drink manufacturing, agriculture, technology and teaching. Some fields require postgraduate training also.

Biochemistry study pathways

See the degree regulations for the BSc or view details of individual courses below.

Year 1

Semester 1

  • CHEM 111 Chemical Principles and Processes
  • BIOL 111 = BCHM 111 Cellular Biology and Biochemistry
  • BIOL 113 Diversity of Life
  • MATH 101* Methods of Mathematics

Semester 2

  • SCIE 101 Science, Society and Me
  • CHEM 112 = BCHM 112 Structure and Reactivity in Chemistry
  • BIOL 116 Human Biology
  • STAT 101* Statistics

 *Recommended for students with <14 NCEA3 credits in Maths with Calculus (MATH 101) or Maths with Stats (STAT 101).  May otherwise be substituted by any other 100-level course.

Year 2

Semester 1

  • CHEM 212 = BCHM 212 Chemical Reactivity
  • CHEM 211 Molecules
  • BCHM 202 Molecular Biology
  • BCHM 253 Cell Biology

Semester 2

  • CHEM 242 = BCHM 242 Organic Chemistry
  • CHEM 246 Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry
  • BCHM 222 Metabolism
  • BCHM 281 Practical Chemistry & Biochemistry

Year 3

Semester 1

  • CHEM 346** Topics in Medicinal Chemistry
  • BCHM 305 Protein Science
  • CHEM 338 = BCHM 338 Chemical Biology
  • CHEM 381 Advanced Synthetic Techniques

Semester 2

  • CHEM 337 or BCHM 381 Organic Synthesis or Biochemical Techniques
  • CHEM 347** Drug Discovery and Development
  • CHEM 339 = BCHM 339 Bioorganic & Bioinorganic Chemistry
  • BCHM 306 Biochemical Pathology

** Not available until 2022. In the meantime, you could take CHEM 342 (Heterocyclic and Aromatic Chemistry) in semester 1, and both CHEM 337 (Organic Synthesis) and BCHM 381 (Biochemical Techniques) in semester 2.

For more information,

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