Molecular Biology (BSc): 6-year part-time

Deep insight into the functioning of living systems depends upon a thorough knowledge of the chemical and physical principles that govern the structure and behaviour of biomolecules.

Molecular biology encompasses those areas of science devoted to a detailed understanding of the fundamental molecular and biochemical components of living systems and of how these components interact in the functional (healthy) and dysfunctional (diseased) organism. Such understanding finds application in numerous areas including basic biotechnology, diagnostics and forensics, and drug discovery.

This programme will equip you with the knowledge and skills essential to embark on a career in these or other exciting areas of science.

This course is also available for full-time evening study over three years or part-time evening study over four years.


  • Birkbeck's Department of Biological Sciences provides state-of-the-art, specialist laboratories and facilities at the heart of academic London.
  • You will be taught by internationally distinguished experts, who work with governments and institutions around the globe to extend the boundaries of knowledge.
  • Working in close collaboration with the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, a joint institution between Birkbeck and UCL, our Department is recognised for the excellence and international impact of its research.
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), in a joint submission with UCL, Biological Sciences at Birkbeck were ranked 11th in the UK, with a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
  • You'll receive training in practical skills and lab work, including microscopy and tabulating data.

Course structure

The BSc Molecular Biology is composed of compulsory and core modules studied at Levels 4, 5 and 6 to a total of 360 credits. You complete 60 credits per year. Modules are worth 15, 30 or 60 credits each.

In Year 1, you take four compulsory modules, each worth 15 credits.

In Year 2, you take four compulsory modules, each worth 15 credits.

In Year 3, you take two compulsory modules, each worth 30 credits.

In Year 4, you take two compulsory modules, each worth 30 credits: Structural Molecular Biology and either Advanced Cell Biology or Microbes and Antimicrobials.

In Year 5, you take one core module, worth 60 credits.

In Year 6, you complete a 60-credit laboratory research project. Alternatively, based on your academic performance, you may elect to instead undertake an independent research project, mentored by a member of academic staff.

Module groups

The Level 4 syllabus of the BSc Molecular Biology is shared with that for the BSc Biomedicine; this makes it possible to elect to change programmes at the end of Year 1, if desired.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    We welcome applicants without traditional entry qualifications as we base decisions on our own assessment of qualifications, knowledge and previous work experience. We may waive formal entry requirements based on judgement of academic potential.

    Alternative entry routes

    BTEC Extended Diploma in Applied Science with Distinction or Merit; Access to Higher Education Diploma with a minimum of 15 credits achieved at Merit or Distinction in science units.

    The Certificate of Higher Education in Life Sciences for Subjects Allied to Medicine provides a direct route into Year 1 of the BSc.

    Mature applicants with experience are expected to have a strong interest in molecular/biochemical sciences. Previous personal experience of the biological, biomedical, pharmaceutical or health-science fields is desirable.

    We are committed to making the biological sciences accessible to students from a wide range of backgrounds and with diverse career aspirations.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees


    Part-time home/EU students: £ 4625 pa
    Part-time international students: £6675 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

  • Teaching and assessment


    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Classroom teaching is through combinations of lectures, laboratory sessions, computer exercises and seminars in proportions appropriate to the academic level and the demands of the topic.

    Contact hours

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

    On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

    The following information gives an indication of how many contact hours you can expect for each year of this course:

    Year Contact hours
    1 76
    2 76
    3 76
    4 76
    5 76
    6 15


    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.


    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Assessment methods include in-class short-answer tests, computer-based tests (accessed remotely or in-class), practical reports, essays, problem-solving and data analysis assignments, oral communication and poster presentations, internet surveys, and unseen, or open-book, written examinations.

    Breakdown of assessment on this course

    The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework will often depend on the option modules you choose. The approximate percentages for this course are as follows:

    Year % Exams % Practical % Coursework
    1 25 0 75
    2 32 0 68
    3 40 0 60
    4 29 0 71
    5 29 0 71
    6 29 0 71
  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue careers in scientific research, public health or the health sector more generally. This degree may also be useful in becoming a healthcare scientist, clinical research associate, health promotion specialist or higher education lecturer.

    Visit our list of biology careers websites to find out more.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link.

    Birkbeck offers a range of free face-to-face advice and support to help you make a successful application.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.

    We make decisions based on your grades (achieved or predicted), your personal statement and your references. Before making you an offer, we will invite you to visit Birkbeck and to have an interview with the admissions tutor.