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‌Biochemistry brings together a number of branches of science with a view to understanding the chemistry of life. Such a unique and privileged position at the interface of the traditional sciences makes for a dynamic and exciting discipline. It provides basic insight into biological processes such as enzyme action, drug action, genetic engineering, photosynthesis and colour vision.

Biochemistry is at the cutting edge of contemporary science, research and industry. Biochemical innovation is critical in adding value to New Zealand's agricultural production, advancing medicine and understanding the fundamentals of the biological world around us.

Some knowledge of Biochemistry is useful for any student majoring in Biological Sciences and many areas of Chemistry.

Why study Biochemistry at UC?

The Biochemistry Centre at UC is a joint venture of the Department of Chemistry and the School of Biological Sciences that brings together award-winning teachers in a coordinated Biochemistry programme.

The Biomolecular Interaction Centre is a collaborative research centre with state-of-the-art equipment that features direct ties to other universities and to industrial research organisations.

A background in Year 13 biology and chemistry is strongly recommended. If you have a limited background, you may wish to consider taking our Headstart summer preparatory chemistry course. Some knowledge of physics, calculus and/or statistics may be helpful.


See all Biochemistry courses

100-level courses

First-year students intending to study Biochemistry need to take the following courses as these are prerequisites for advanced Biochemistry courses:

The following courses are also recommended:

Students with fewer than 14 NCEA Level 3 credits in chemistry should also take CHEM114 Foundations of Chemistry.

200-level and beyond

At 200-level the Biochemistry programme consists of biochemistry (BCHM222 Metabolism; the Reactions of Molecules in Cells) together with related chemistry and biology courses and also the lab course (BCHM281 Practical Biochemistry).

At 300-level Biochemistry courses deal with advanced biochemistry, biological chemistry, biochemical and environmental toxicology, and important biochemical techniques.

Further study

These courses are particularly relevant for students planning postgraduate degrees in Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Plant Biology, Chemistry, Microbiology and Zoology.

Research work related to Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is being actively carried out by staff and postgraduate students in the School of Biological Sciences and the Department of Chemistry.

Career opportunities

Biochemists are key members of drug development teams in the pharmaceuticals industry. Many work in government departments (eg, in medicines regulation), diagnostic departments in hospitals, and in research institutes studying subjects as diverse as crop protection and nanotechnology.

You could find interesting graduate jobs and career progression with food and beverage producers, agricultural organisations, manufacturing and processing companies, the biotechnology industry, health and beauty care organisations or science publishers.

Graduates with Biochemistry in their degrees are also well-equipped to teach biology, chemistry and other science subjects in secondary schools.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Biochemistry.

More information

Department of Chemistry

Phone +64 3 364 2100

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See the Department's website for up-to-date location details

Postal address
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800 
New Zealand

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