Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

2017-18 General Catalog

Chemistry and Biochemistry Department
230 Physical Sciences Building

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 Biochemistry and the Department of 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 Chemistry and Biochemistry Department Office as early as possible. Junior transfer students or others with questions should consult the program website. A double major of BMB with the biological sciences majors or chemistry is not permitted. No minor is offered.

Program Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes summarize the most important knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes that students are expected to develop over the course of their studies. The program learning outcomes clearly communicate the faculty’s expectations to students, provide a framework for faculty evaluation of the curriculum based on empirical data, and help improve and measure the impact of implemented changes.

Students graduating with a B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology should be able to:

  1. demonstrate mastery of a broad set of chemical knowledge concerning the fundamentals in the basic areas of the discipline (organic, inorganic, analytical, physical, and biochemistry);

  2. solve area-specific problems by identifying the essential parts of a problem, formulating a strategy for solving the problem, applying appropriate techniques to arrive at a solution, test the correctness of the solution, and interpret their results;

  3. use modern library search tools to locate and retrieve scientific information about a topic, chemical, chemical technique, or an issue relating to chemistry, going beyond textbooks, common handbooks, and general online resources, such as Wikipedia;

  4. know and follow the proper procedures and regulations for safe handling and use of chemicals;

  5. understand the objective of their chemical experiments, properly carry out the experiments, and appropriately record and analyze the results;

  6. use computers in data acquisition and processing, and use available software as a tool in data analysis;

  7. use standard laboratory equipment, modern instrumentation, and classical techniques to carry out experiments;

  8. communicate the concepts and results of their laboratory experiments through effective writing and/or oral communication using the discipline standards for reporting and citation; and

  9. collaborate effectively as part of a team to solve problems, debate different points of view, and interact productively with a diverse group of team members.

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.

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 complete the following five qualification courses, or their equivalents, with a grade of C (2.0) or better and with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.50 or greater:

  • Chemistry 1B, General Chemistry

  • Chemistry 1C, General Chemistry

  • Chemistry 8A, Organic Chemistry

  • Biology (BIOL) 20A, Cell and Molecular Biology

and in one of the following calculus courses:

  • Mathematics 11A, Calculus with Applications

  • Mathematics 19A, Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

Note that since Chemistry 1A is prerequisite for Chemistry 1C, students must also complete Chemistry 1A with a grade of C or better. Transfer students must have a full year of general chemistry.

When calculating GPA to determine qualification:
  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade, see Letter Grade Policy.

  • For courses required to qualify for the major that have been satisfied with Advanced Placement credit based on an AP examination score (See Admissions AP Chart), students may substitute a grade of A for each course when calculating their GPA.

  • Students with two or more grades of NP, C-, D+, D, D-, or F in courses required to qualify for the major are not eligible to declare.

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 sent. Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program chair will notify the student and their affiliated college of the decision. For more information about the appeal process, see the Appeal Process at the Chemistry Department website.

Transfer Students

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program welcomes applications from community college students who are prepared to enter the program at the junior level.

To be considered for admission to UCSC as a biochemistry and molecular biology major, transfer students must pass equivalents of the following courses with a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or higher:

  • Chemistry 1A, General Chemistry

  • Chemistry 1B, General Chemistry

  • Chemistry 1C, General Chemistry

  • Chemistry 8A, Organic Chemistry

  • Biology (BIOL) 20A, Cell and Molecular Biology

and in one of the following calculus courses:

  • Mathematics 11A, Calculus with Applications

  • Mathematics 19A, Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

For more information on qualifying for the major as a transfer applicant, visit the Chemistry Department website.

In addition to the required transfer admissions courses, we strongly recommend that all transfer students complete equivalents of the following preparatory courses prior to transfer:

  • Biology (BIOE) 20B, Development and Physiology

  • Mathematics 11B, Calculus with Applications or MATH 19B, Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

  • Chemistry 8B/M, Organic Chemistry with Laboratory

  • Chemistry 8L, Organic Chemistry Laboratory

  • Mathematics 22, Introduction to Calculus of Several Variables

  • Physics 6A/L, Introductory Physics I with Laboratory

  • Physics 6B/ML, Introductory Physics II with Laboratory

  • Physics 6C/N, Introductory Physics III with Laboratory

  • Applied Mathematics and Statistics 5, Statistics

Students who complete only the minimal introductory coursework prior to transfer may take longer to complete their degree. More information on transfer pathways for chemistry at the University of California may be found here.

Students planning to transfer to UCSC as a biochemistry and molecular biology major from a California community college should reference to determine which courses are equivalent to these required courses.

California community college students who are prepared for their major and achieve a certain GPA may eligible for a transfer admissions guarantee (TAG); more information here.

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. 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 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.

Requirements for the B.S. Degree

Lower-Division Requirements

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

Calculus: Mathematics 11A, 11B, and 22; or Mathematics 19A, 19B, and 22

Statistics: Applied Mathematics and Statistics 5 or 7/L

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

Organic Chemistry: Chemistry 8A/L and 8B/M

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

Upper-Division Requirements

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

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 (Senior Exit Lab):

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

Biology (BIOL) 100L, Biochemistry Laboratory

Biology (BIOL) 105L, Eukaryotic 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

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, 109L, 110L, 115L, 121L, 186L, or METX 119L. The DC requirement must be satisfied at UCSC and may not be transferred from another institution.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Planner

This is the ideal academic plan for those pursuing the biochemistry and molecular biology B.S. major. If needed, this plan can be arranged differently.




1st Year

MATH 11A or 19A


MATH 11B or 19B




2nd Year



BIOL 105
AMS 5 or 7

3rd Year




4th Year


Senior Exit Lab

BIOL 110
BIOL 115

For additonal sample planners, see the program information at the Chemistry Department website.

Course Substitution/Transfer Credit Policy

At least half of the upper-division courses (numbered 100–199) required for any biochemistry and molecular biology major must be taken through the chemistry or biology programs at UCSC, not as transfer credits from another department or institution. Students are advised to contact the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department undergraduate adviser before enrolling in numerous upper-division courses at other institutions. For more information on transferring courses to UCSC, please consult the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department website.

Comprehensive Requirement

Students must satisfy the comprehensive requirement by receiving a passing letter grade in any of the Senior Exit Labs 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 $18 to $75 per course. Students may incur additional expenses purchasing individual supplies.

Honors in the Major

Honors in the majors are awarded to graduating students whose academic performance demonstrates excellence at a GPA of 3.5 or above. Highest honors are awarded to those students whose performance demonstrates the highest level of excellence and results in a GPA of 3.8 or above.

Revised: 09/01/17