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Department of Biochemistry



A bit about Study Skills

The University Transkills portal (click on the link to the right) gives access to lots of useful resources for study skills and and the CUSU website also has many useful links.

Learning and Understanding

Here are some rather informal hints and comments that may be helpful. Remember that Director of Studies and supervisors are always happy to help.

Do I need to know this?

Students often ask, ‘do I need to know this?’  Lectures and practicals shouldn't be seen as a list of items that have to be ‘learnt’ in the sense of memorised in totality. Often lecturers will include topical examples of general principles, or mention a recent discovery that’s just been published – and these things aren't always included to be ‘learnt’, but to excite and enthuse their audience.

The key thing is to concentrate on ‘understanding’; on building a mental framework that facts can be tied to. That will give insight into what needs to be known well, as part of the vocabulary of the subject – whatever it may be. After a while, other ‘facts’ will stick to the framework without conscious effort to ‘learn’ them.

Lots of stuff will be useful in many contexts. It’s much easier if new material can be related to a framework of understanding - to tie information and understanding together.


As a second year course, BMB leads to a variety of options in the third year (Part II). While it's not necessary at the beginning of BMB to know what you might like to do in the third year, or beyond, it's worth considering your options as you go through the course. As you go through your second year, you’ll become more intellectually self-reliant and an image of what sort of career you want will gradually come into sharper focus.

Transferable Skills

Undertaking the BMB course involves engagement in a variety of teaching sessions. In the process of building a framework to hang biochemical facts and information on, there are many other sorts of 'transferable skills' that will be absorbed along the way. These skills comprise an essential part of your individual development as you prepare for Part II and beyond.

  • Click HERE to download further information about transferable skills.


  • Information about all written University examinations, including guidance about what to expect before, during, and after your examinations can be found HERE.
  • General advice on examination skills, relevant to all Triposes in the Faculty of Biology, can be found HERE.
  • Criteria used for marking and classing the NST Part IB subjects are provided by the Management Committee for the NST, and can be found HERE.
  • Copies of recent past papers are provided on the BMB Moodle site. 


NST Part IB Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Examinations are sat in the Easter Term and consists of two papers, each of three hours’ duration. Each paper carries equal marks. The broad structure of the papers is as follows:

  • Paper 1 consists of five sections, and students should answer one question from each section. Each section will carry equal marks.
  • Paper 2 consists of two sections. Section A is made up of roughly 14 short-answer factual questions based on the whole lecture course, and carrying equal marks. Students should attempt all questions in Section A. Section B is concerned with practical techniques covered in the practical classes and journal clubs, as well as other material in the practical section of the course handbook and experimental techniques covered in the lecture course. All questions in Section B should be attempted.

Reading for Part IB BMB

  • Most of the books for BMB should be available in your College library, but to give as many students as possible an opportunity to use them on a regular basis, the Department of Biochemistry also keeps copies of them in the Part I book collection of the Colman library (in the Biochemistry Hopkins building, Downing Site).
  • Selected books may be borrowed overnight from this library collection; others may be consulted during the hours that the Biochemistry Department is open (08:30-17:00, Monday – Thursday, 08:30–16:00 Friday).
  • There is limited seating in the library for Part I students and we have to give priority to Biochemistry students on the Part II and Part III courses. The Genetics Department Library also has reserved copies available for consultation but not for loan.

More detailed information about the Reading list can be found by clicking on the image to the right.