Biochemistry (M.Sc.)

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Hands-on Courses

In the FUB Biochemistry Master's program, there is a strong focus on technical skills training and on learning how to work independently as a scientist. As outlined on the previous page, there are different kinds of courses you have to participate in during your studies. At the beginning of each semester, you will find all the classes you can attend in the Course Catalog. Here, we will give you a short overview of the different kinds of classes you have to complete. Note that while certain types of courses, such as Methods Modules and Research Projects, are mandatory, you can choose from a wide variety of contents for these courses.

The main lecture is called Advanced Biochemistry and is divided into Parts I and II. It is the only mandatory lecture course in the Master’s program. This lecture series covers current biochemical and molecular biological research topics as well as state-of-the-art experimental approaches from a broad range of fields, covering RNA Biochemistry, Protein Biochemistry, Membrane Biochemistry and Signal Transduction. Both parts take place Friday afternoons during the lecture period. There is an exam at the end of each part, and your final grade in this course is based on your performance in both of these exams combined.

Methods Modules are hands-on laboratory courses, usually running all-day for two weeks. They are accompanied by a series of six seminars during the same period. They will provide you with advanced technical skills and a thorough theoretical understanding of specific, state-of-the-art experimental approaches. These courses have a high supervisor-to-student ratio, ensuring high-quality education. Therefore, slots in each Methods Module are limited and are distributed during the “Tombola” at the beginning of each semester. These courses are not graded but require intensive, active participation of the participants, including, for example, oral reports and written protocols. Methods Modules are offered in three subject areas: Structural Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Molecular Biomedicine. You have to take one Methods Module from each area, or you can enroll in Methods Modules from two of the areas and take a third one from a related field, like Biology.

You have to complete three Research Projects, each a nine-week internship plus three weeks of preparation and post-processing time. As for the Methods Modules, you have to complete one Research Project in each of the subject areas Structural Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Molecular Biomedicine, or replace one of those with a Research Project from a related field, like Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Physics, Bioinformatics or Medicine. You have to find opportunities for Research Projects and organize them on your own. To this end, you can apply at research groups of FUB, at external research institutions like the other Berlin universities, Charité, Max Planck, Helmholtz, Leibniz, Fraunhofer or federal institutes, or at pharma or biotech companies. At the end of your Research Project, you will give a presentation on your work followed by a scientific discussion (graded) and write a short report (not graded).

The FUB Biochemistry faculty also offers a “Grant Writing Course”, in which you will compose a research proposal on a topic suggested by one of the professors. This course offers you a unique chance to train a key competence that is invaluable, e.g., for future fellowship applications or a future research career. In addition, you will be directly supervised by one of the FUB Biochemistry faculty members, and you may choose the topic of your proposal as the topic of your Master’s thesis.

There are two types of elective courses: elective Biochemistry courses (10 ETCS) and free elective courses (10 ETCS). Elective Biochemistry courses are, for example, Biochemistry seminars, which will take place in the evenings, further Methods Modules or short Research Projects (3-6 weeks). For the free elective courses, you are completely free to choose; you can attend language classes, courses from other study programs like Chemistry, Business, Philosophy etc., or participate in additional Biochemistry classes.

Your Master’s thesis will be based on a six-month research project and is planned for your fourth semester. You have to find a lab for your thesis research on your own and, as for the Research Projects, you can do your thesis research at FUB or at another institution. You have to write a thesis on your work and defend it in an oral presentation with scientific discussion; both, the thesis (3/4) and the defense (1/4) are graded.