Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

2014-15 General Catalog

Physical and Biological Sciences Undergraduate Affairs Office
142 Jack Baskin Engineering Building
(831) 459-4143

Faculty | Course Descriptions

Program Description

Research at the macromolecular, molecular, and atomic levels is revolutionizing our understanding of the fundamental processes of life. Students interested in joining this search are best prepared by undertaking coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science. The undergraduate major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) is offered by faculty who are actively engaged in research on biological systems.

Students who declare the BMB major earn a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree. The BMB major constitutes an integrated curriculum of basic instruction in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics, followed by the opportunity to pursue advanced study in specialized areas of interest. In modern, well-equipped laboratories, distinguished faculty are engaged in frontline research at UCSC. The Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology each host a very active seminar series in which internationally recognized scientists present their current research findings. Advanced BMB undergraduates are encouraged to attend.

The BMB program features close faculty-student interaction, stimulating learning environments, and opportunities for independent research and study. Students majoring in BMB are encouraged to become involved in research under the guidance of a faculty sponsor. Many students participating in this aspect of the program have made important contributions to the scientific literature.

Given the wide scope and interdisciplinary nature of this program, a considerable degree of flexibility has been incorporated into the major. All prospective majors should see the BMB academic adviser in the Undergraduate Affairs Office as early as possible. Junior transfer students or others with questions should consult the Undergraduate Affairs web site at A double major of BMB with the biological sciences majors or chemistry is not permitted. No minor is offered.

Declaration of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Qualification Policy

To qualify to declare the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major, students must achieve a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or greater in the following courses, or their equivalents:

Chemistry 1B, General Chemistry
Chemistry 1C, General Chemistry
Chemistry 108A, Organic Chemistry
Biology (BIOL) 20A, Cell and Molecular Biology

and in one of the following calculus courses:

Applied Mathematics and Statistics 15A, Case-study Calculus I
Mathematics 11A, Calculus with Applications
Mathematics 19A, Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

Students with two or more grades of NP, D, or F in the policy courses are not qualified to declare.

When calculating GPA to determine qualification:

  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade, see Letter Grade Policy.

  • Students with non-grades (I, IP, DG, Z, AC, NC, etc.) in any of the policy courses will not be eligible to declare until a grade has been assigned.

Students who are informed that they are not eligible to declare the major may appeal by submitting a letter to the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program chair within 15 days from the date the notification was mailed. Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program chair will notify the student, the Office of the Registrar and the student's affiliated college of the decision. For more information about the appeal process, see the Physical and Biological Sciences Undergraduate Affairs web site at

Letter Grade Policy

For all students entering UCSC in fall 2001 and later, all courses used to satisfy any of the major requirements must be taken for a letter grade.

Program Planning Notes

Students who do not begin the lower-division requirements during their first year and who do not complete the organic chemistry requirements by the end of their second year will have difficulty completing the program within four years. Students who transfer to UCSC prior to completing their introductory requirements will have difficulty completing the program within the allotted time. The BMB academic adviser works closely with students interested in pursuing the major to ensure that they begin the program immediately and follow the appropriate steps toward completion.

It is strongly recommended that students avail themselves of the opportunities to obtain firsthand research experience through either independent study or senior thesis research. A tutorial course or a senior thesis research course may not be substituted for the required laboratory elective.

A number of graduate courses in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology are offered by the molecular, cell, and developmental biology (MCDB), and chemistry and biochemistry departments. Advanced undergraduates possessing the necessary prerequisites may take one or more of these courses with the consent of the instructor; however, graduate courses may not be substituted for any of the elective courses required for the degree.

Requirements for the B.S. Degree

Lower-Division Requirements

General Chemistry: Chemistry 1A, 1B/M, and 1C/N

Calculus: Mathematics 11A-B and 22; or Mathematics 19A-B and 22; or Applied Mathematics and Statistics 15A-B, and Mathematics 22

Statistics: Applied Mathematics and Statistics 5 or 7/L

Introductory Biology: Biology (BIOL) 20A and Biology (BIOE) 20B

Physics: Physics 5A/L, 5B/M, and 5C/N; or 6A/L, 6B/M, and 6C/N

Upper-Division Requirements

Organic Chemistry: Chemistry 108A/L, 108B/M

Biochemistry: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BIOC) 100A, 100B, and 100C and BIOL 101L (formerly 100K)

Genetics: Biology (BIOL) 105

Cell Biology: Biology (BIOL) 110

Molecular Biology: Biology (BIOL) 115

Physical Chemistry: Chemistry 163A and 163B

One of the following laboratory courses:

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BIOC) 110L, Advanced Biochemistry Laboratory

Biology (BIOL) 100L, Advanced Biochemistry Laboratory

Biology (BIOL) 105L, Eukaryotic Genetics Laboratory

Biology (BIOL) 105M, Microbial Genetics Laboratory

Biology (BIOL) 109L, Yeast Molecular Genetics Laboratory

Biology (BIOL) 110L, Cell Biology Laboratory

Biology (BIOL) 115L, Eukaryotic Molecular Biology Laboratory

Biology (BIOL) 121L, Environmental Phage Biology Laboratory

Biology (BIOL) 186L, Undergraduate Research in MCD Biology

Biology (BIOL) 187L, Molecular Biotechnology Laboratory

Biomolecular Engineering (BME) 122, Environmental Virus Bioinformatics Laboratory

Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology (METX) 119L, Microbiology Laboratory

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major’s upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is satisfied by completing one of the following courses: BIOC 110L, BIOL 100L, 105L, 105M, 109L, 110L, 115L, 121L, 186L, 187L, or BME 122, or METX 119L. The DC requirement must be satisfied at UCSC and may not be transferred from another institution.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Planner

Comprehensive Requirement

Students must satisfy the comprehensive requirement by receiving a passing letter grade in any of the independent research laboratory listed in the previous section.  In addition, students are encouraged to complete a senior thesis or a senior essay (see Chemistry and Biochemistry for more information).

Materials Fee

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology students should be aware of the materials fee required for some laboratory courses. The fee is billed to the student’s account for specific laboratory materials purchased through the university. Fees generally range from $15 to $75 per course. Students may incur additional expenses purchasing individual supplies.

Revised: 09/01/14