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Department of Biochemistry


Students are required to write a prepared essay of not more than 3000 words in length selected from titles proposed by the examiners. The topics offered for the prepared essay will concern ‘Science that affects Society’ and the Examiners will announce titles to students in the Michaelmas Term.   Examples of previous essay titles are included below.


  1. What are the prospects for extending human lifespan?  Discuss the molecular basis for how this might be achieved, and the implications for society?
  2. Should statins be prescribed more widely?
  3. Could the UK be self-sufficient in food crop production?  Discuss the biological parameters that might set limits on what could be achieved.


  1. Discuss current scientific theories of the origin of life.
  2. Is the mouse a good model for studying human disease?
  3. There was a major outbreak of Zika virus infections in 2016.  How might a biological understanding of the virus and its transmission help in preventing or containing future outbreaks?


  1. Neonicotinoids are used as insecticidal dressing for crop seeds.  What are the associated risks, and should we be using such chemicals?
  2. Is it feasible and desirable to enforce regulations to control applications of genome editing?
  3. Should there be a 'sugar tax' and if so, which sugars should be taxed and why?