The Department of Biochemistry and Systems Biology, the oldest in Europe, has been a beacon of excellence for teaching and research since it was created in 1905. The fusion of the full breadth of biochemical research with systems-based studies, which encompasses everything from multi-'omics, data analysis and structural biology through to synthetic biology and artificial intelligence, gives our department world-leading attributes. These are enhanced by outstanding research facilities and a strong desire to communicate our findings with the outside world.
Why study with us?
The University of Liverpool established the first Department of Biochemistry in Europe, and the world’s first Professor of Biochemistry in 1903
Biochemistry and Systems Biology received > £20M of competitive research funding from 2019 to 2022, enabling state-of-the-art research and teaching
Our research into fundamental biochemistry and systems biology puts the cell's chemistry into the context of the whole organism in normal and diseases states. By understanding the causes of a disease, we can control symptoms or eradicate it.
The key principle behind our research is the recognition that to elucidate cell, organ or organismal function in health and disease requires an integrated approach utilising the best available cutting-edge technologies.
We offer intense PhD training programmes with exposure to a wide range of technologies. Much research is multidisciplinary with strong collaborative links within the Institute and also to physical, chemical and clinical sciences across the Liverpool campus. We use technologies such as electrophysiology, biosensors, proteomics, transcriptomics, NMR, X-Ray crystallography, enzyme assays, confocal microscopy, nanoparticles, protein structure modelling and molecular biology.
Many of our students are recognised for the role they play in communicating their science to the wider community. On completing their PhDs our students have taken competitive post-doctoral positions in the UK and abroad, or career paths in the NHS, government or the commercial sector.
Proteomics is the study of all the proteins and peptides found in an organism. Metabolomics is the study of the huge variety of small molecules that are involved in cellular metabolism. Both techniques link together nucleic-acid based genomics and transcriptomics, by employing state-of-the-art technologies, notably mass spectrometry (including single-cell), to understand the nuts-and-bolts of biological systems.
Systems and computational biology
Analysing ‘Big Data’ in order to address research questions requires a highly specialised level of computing and statistical expertise. Our Computational Biology Facility (CBF) houses the expertise to analyse big data, working on projects from across the globe. Much of the activity in this area is devoted to large data analyses, including multi-omics integration to permit systems-level modelling of highly complex biological systems.
Photosynthesis, plants and crops
The theme of plants and photosynthesis includes the study of both fundamental and applied aspects of the biology and ecology of bacteria, algae, fungi and plants and their interacting partners. We harness cutting edge techniques to understand and enhance photosynthesis and CO2 fixation, metabolism, plant development and agricultural production in a sustainable manner, with the intent of providing sustainable solutions for achieving global food security in the background of climate change.
Structural and mechanistic biology
The department employs multiple approaches, notably mathematical modelling, X-ray crystallography, small angle X-ray scattering and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to answer important research questions in structural biology. These include studying enzymes in the nitrogen cycle, analysing the disease-causing structural properties of proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases, and understanding how signaling enzymes are regulated in health and disease.
Biochemistry of cell signalling
Understanding how organisms communicate, and what happens when ordered communication fails, underlies both health and disease and is one of the keys to understanding systems-level cell signalling. We study how the ‘post-translational modification’ of proteins occurs, from the atomic to whole organism level, establishing how this can be measured and quantified and finding out happens when it goes wrong
The Department of Biochemistry and Systems Biology hosts the following postgraduate study programme codes
- Plant Biochemistry
- Structural Biology
- Computational Biology
- Chemical Biology
- Systems Biology
Lists of staff associated with each area can be found further down this page
We have an unparalleled range of core facilities including:
- Centre for Proteome Research (CPR) is addressing a huge range of challenges in complex mass spectrometry and proteomics, as applied to biological and biomedical sciences.
- Centre for Metabolomics Research (CMR) utilizes our ability to study small metabolites to tackle a wide range of biological and medical problems
- Gene Mill and Protein Production Facility designs and produces DNA and functional proteins for fundamental, applied and synthetic biology applications across academia and industry.
- Computational Biology Facility (CBF) develops and supports data-driven research on biological and medical problems. • Centre for Proteomics Research (CPR) for the development and application of advanced proteomics technologies to address biological and biomedical sciences.
- NMR Centre for Structural Biology studies the structure and quantification of biological molecules at both the small scale (metabolites) to the large scale (macromolecular) and their interactions.
- Barkla X-ray Laboratory of Biophysics is a combined X-ray crystallography and X-ray scattering facility, the first in Europe able to provide information from the level of atomic detail to the assembly of ensembles of biological structures.
Study options and fees
|MPhil / PhD||Duration||UK students||International Students|
|Full time||2-4 years||£4,712||
|Part time||4-6 years||£2,356||
The fees stated in the table above exclude potential research support fees also known as ‘bench fees’. You will be notified of any fee which may apply in your offer letter.
* Please note that if you are undertaking a PhD within the Faculty of Science and Engineering the fee you pay, Band A or Band B, will reflect the nature of your research project. Some research projects incur a higher fee than others e.g. if you are required to undertake laboratory work. You will be informed of the fee for your programme in your offer letter.
^ Self-funded, full-time international students studying a PhD programme classified as Band A will receive a £2,000 reduction in their fees for the first year only.
Applicants for postgraduate research study at Liverpool are normally expected to hold a UK first degree with a First Class or Upper Second Class degree classification, or a Second Class degree plus a Master’s degree. Equivalent international qualifications are also accepted, and their equivalence will be evaluated on the basis of the information provided by the National Academic Recognition and Information Centre (NARIC) as well as internal guidance based on our experience of a qualification’s suitability as a preparation for our programmes.
English language requirements
|IELTS Academic requirement - SELT and non-SELT||Overall 6.5 no band below 5.5|
|TOEFL iBT requirement||Minimum 88 overall with L 17 W 17 R 17 and S 19|
|C1 Advanced CAE requirement||Overall 176 with no less than 162 in any paper|
|Trinity College London, Integrated Skills in English (ISE II)||ISE II with an overall pass with merit in components|
|Cambridge IGCSE as a First Language||Grade C|
|Cambridge IGCSE as a Second Language||Grade B|
|Cambridge English Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (Proficiency)||Overall 176 with 162 in components|
|Cambridge English Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (Advanced)||Overall 176 with 162 in components|
|Cambridge English Level 2 Certificate in ESOL International (Advanced)||Overall 176 with 162 in components|
How to apply
Research degree applications can be made online. You'll also need to ensure that you have funding to cover all fees.
Applications are open all year round.
Before you apply, we recommend that you identify a supervisor and develop a research proposal
Find a supervisor
View supervisors in this area
Howbeer Muhamad Ali
Emmanouil Papamichos Chronakis
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