Biochemistry is at the interface of chemistry and biology. It is the study of the chemistry processes in living organisms. At a fundamental level, this discipline incorporates the analysis of both the functional and structural roles of macromolecules (such as nucleic acids, enzymes, hormones, proteins and fats) with the study of how these compounds interact to influence cell biology or the external environment. The study of biochemistry reveals the complexity of even the simplest system, through the analysis of these reaction pathways. The knowledge gained from fundamental biochemical studies is translated into applied research to understand human and animal diseases, inform drug development, understand chemical toxicity and remediate the environment. There are a number of research and teaching themes in the department, including environmental and medical biochemistry. In addition, students are trained in the essential practical techniques required to conduct independent biochemical research.


BCH      BCH

Undergraduate Courses

Biochemistry is a four-semester subject, offered at second and third year levels, which may be taken as a major subject for the degrees of B.Sc., B.Com. and B.Journ. Students wishing to take Biochemistry must successfully complete Chemistry 1 for entry into second year and Biochemistry 2 for entry into third year. Students wishing to major in Biochemistry are encouraged to take Microbiology 2. Formal lectures are complimented with laboratory practical experience and field trips. The basic elements of the course are as follows:

  • Biochem201: Introductory Biochemistry; Bioenergetics and Metabolism
  • Biochem202: Biochemical Techniques; Biological Chemistry and Computational Biochemistry
  • Biochem301: Biochemistry of Information Flow; Advanced Techniques in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Biochem302: Physiological and Medical biochemistry; Enzymology and Bioinformatics with Case Studies

Honours in Biochemistry

Biochemistry graduates who successfully meet the entrance requirements can continue with an Honours Degree in Biochemistry. This is a one year programme comprising of course-work modules, lectures and research components.

Coursework modules offered include

  • Protein folding, engineering and biotechnology
  • Biomedical biochemistry
  • Cell biology
  • Advanced enzymology/Protein expression and purification
  • Bioinformatics


Students are allocated individual research projects supervised by a staff member. Research Projects account for approximately 60% of the Honours examination requirement.

Masters and PhD Studies

Suitably qualified students are encouraged to join a research group to complete research degrees (MSc and PhD). Students are supervised or mentored by departmental staff and become an important part of the research culture within the department. Prospective students are advised to visit the individual staff pages to become familiar with the research programmes offered in the department. Students are welcome to contact staff members to discuss opportunities and vacancies.

Last Modified: Mon, 22 Feb 2021 11:06:05 SAST