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Programs / Science / Biochemistry

Program Summary

The science of biochemistry seeks to understand how organisms function by investigating enzyme reactions, mechanisms of gene regulation, chemical signaling pathways, and cellular structure at the molecular level. Biochemists study how animals, plants and bacteria make use of energy to grow, compete with other organisms and reproduce. Many of the biochemist’s findings are of direct relevance to humanity—they help us understand and treat disease, improve food production and find new techniques to produce valuable products such as vitamins and antibiotics.

 

As a student of Biochemistry at Carleton University, you will be provided with a solid foundation in biology and chemistry, as well as with many opportunities to apply your knowledge to modern-day challenges facing the discipline.

Our programs help you understand how advancements in biochemistry can be successfully applied to a wide range of issues. By developing a strong foundation in both basic and applied science, you will become a better scientist, and your undergraduate education will allow you greater flexibility throughout your career.

Co-op opportunities

Carleton’s flexible and innovative co-operative education program offers you the opportunity to apply your classroom studies in a job placement. Co-op placements can give you work experience in private sector biotechnology firms, government and university laboratories, or pharmaceutical companies. In order to begin the co-op program, students must have completed at least two years of an Honours Bachelor of Science program. Co-op students complete at least three work terms during their degree program.

Hands-on lab experience

Our Biochemistry programs provide you with hands-on work experience in well-equipped laboratories. If you are an Honours Biochemistry student, you will have the additional opportunity to develop a research project in an area of special interest, working alongside a faculty advisor. Not only will you graduate with exceptional hands-on experience with some of the most up-to-date methodology, but you will also have a defined area of expertise.

Excellent research facilities

The Institute of Biochemistry is housed in two buildings at Carleton University: the Nesbitt Biology Building and the Steacie Chemistry Building. The teaching that we do in laboratories and the research that students share in are abundantly supported by the latest in biological instrumentation and state-of-the-art computer facilities. Included in the pool of instruments and techniques available to students are excellent light and electron microscopes, digital imaging hardware and software, PCR and other molecular biological techniques, and research-grade spectrophotometers. Many of these instruments and techniques are used by students in our introductory courses.

The Nesbitt Building is state-of-the-art with open-concept architecture to foster collaborative work and to invite interaction between scholars. Design features such as open laboratories, lounges used by both students and faculty, and faculty offices clustered in a central area, promote an atmosphere of shared learning.

The Ottawa area is one with considerable environmental and biotechnology companies. Several government departments are involved with the research that leads to environmental legislation and regulations, and over 100 companies are conducting research in medical, agricultural and environmental biotechnology. Associations with these organizations, as well as with the National Capital Commission, national museums and the National Research Council Canada, can provide you with unparalleled research and study opportunities.

Biochemistry – BSc (Major)

Biochemistry – BSc (Honours)

Biochemistry and Biotechnology – BSc (Combined Honours)

Computational Biochemistry – BSc (Honours)

Biochemistry (Major and Honours)

The first and second years of the Major and Honours programs in Biochemistry provide a solid foundation in the sciences and mathematics. You then progress to more intensive studies in biochemistry, cell biology, molecular genetics and organic chemistry.

By the fourth year of your program, you will be focusing on more specialized courses such as those dealing with bioinformatics, proteins or DNA repair. If you are in the Honours program, you will complete an Honours thesis project.

Biochemistry and Biotechnology

(Combined Honours)

The science of biotechnology applies the basic principles of biology and biochemistry to the study and manipulation of living organisms in relation to industrial, medical, agricultural and environmental problems. Some of the topics of current interest include genetic engineering, metabolic modification, applied microbiology and fermentation techniques, biological control and culture and modification of cells and tissues.

Computational Biochemistry (Honours)

Computational Biochemistry allows you to complement your studies in biochemistry with a rigorous program in computer science, mathematics, computational methods and data analysis. It will give you a strong background in core areas of biology and chemistry such as genetics, cell biology, organic chemistry and analytical chemistry. You will take a variety of lecture and laboratory biochemistry courses, including bioinformatics. Optional courses allow you to focus on areas such as molecular genetics, pharmaceutic drug design, functional genomics and protein structure and function.

First-year experience

Carleton introduces you to issues of contemporary science in a first-year seminar course called Seminar in Science (NSCI 1000). You will attend six special lectures given by prominent Canadian researchers, as well as small group seminars led by a professor who acts as both your mentor and teacher. Through assignments, presentations and discussions, you will develop analytical and communication skills needed for success in the world of science.

The workplace

Carleton Biochemistry graduates go on to a wide range of careers. Many work in Ottawa’s growing biotechnology sector or in pharmaceutical companies, government and private-sector labs, research institutes and industry.

Others use their background to prepare for graduate school or for studies in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy.

Computational Biochemistry graduates are prepared for careers in the growing field of bioinformatics, working in areas such as drug design, the synthesis of new biomaterials, the mapping of brain function and genomic research.

Graduate studies

Graduates of any of our Honours programs are generally well qualified to go on to graduate studies. If you think that you may wish to pursue an advanced degree, you are encouraged to investigate graduate programs early in order to ensure that your program is suited to meet the relevant graduate-level requirements.

Professional programs

Many professional programs, including medicine, dentistry, teaching and veterinary science, encourage applicants from a variety of backgrounds to apply. Biochemistry can provide a strong foundation for many of these programs.

What students are saying about Biochemistry


The Institute of Biochemistry at Carleton University is welcoming and exhilarating, with a consistent sense of belonging from day one. By combining my interests in the fields of molecular biology and chemistry, I have been able to build a program that appeals most to my interests. The classes are engaging, and the hands-on laboratories present new learning strategies, while the research labs provide you the opportunity to work on groundbreaking research alongside world class researchers. My Biochemistry degree will serve me well as I further explore the world of research and potentially pursue a medical degree.
Christopher Mattice, Biochemistry student