Biochemistry MOOC aims to help get young people into molecular bioscience
A new online course in biochemistry, developed by the Biochemical Society and the University of East Anglia in conjunction with FutureLearn, aims to improve basic skills in molecular bioscience and to encourage students aged 15-19 to develop an interest in further study in this area.
"This course will allow young people who are keen on learning more about biochemistry to pursue their interest further. It provides material that is a valuable stand-alone introduction to the topic, and which bridges the standard course materials provided by school teachers and tutors," commented co-leader on the course Dr Fraser MacMillan, University of East Anglia.
'Biochemistry: the Molecules of Life' is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), a form of free, social learning course that has become popular over the last few years. It begins on 20 June and runs for three weeks with a suggested time commitment of three hours per week.
The course is primarily aimed at 15 to 19 year olds who are considering further studies in biochemistry. With ever higher levels of competition for university places, this course offers students a valuable opportunity to access supplementary learning materials in molecular bioscience. It can also provide a useful background for early undergraduates or those planning to start a degree in this area in the autumn. Prospective students can watch the course trailer and sign up for the course on the FutureLearn website https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/biochemistry.
A key aim for the course is to help young people to find out more about the skills and competencies required for a career in biochemistry as well as the wide range of roles and opportunities available. In so doing, it also aims to reduce barriers for entry into science technology and engineering and medicine (STEM) courses at university level for students from diverse backgrounds. This goal aligns with recent UK Government guidance requesting that universities prioritise steps to "boost social mobility and raise young people's aspirations" and to broaden access to opportunities into higher education courses for talented, but disadvantaged students.
"It's really important to give young people with a keen interest in the molecular biosciences the best possible opportunities to fulfil their potential. This course will provide valuable supplementary material to help students who wish to pursue careers in the bioscience sector, which contributes extensively to the British economy," said Dr Richard Bowater, University of East Anglia, who has co-led the MOOC.
Molecular bioscience has benefitted the UK economy hugely in recent years. According to two reports published by the BBSRC in 2015, continued investment in this sector, both in terms of funding and nurturing new talent, is of critical importance for the future.
The Biochemical Society is committed to supporting the next generation of biochemists. We promote the opportunities offered by biochemistry through education and training, providing events, activities and resources such as this MOOC.
Professor Rob Beynon, Chair of the Biochemical Society Education Committee said; "The Biochemical Society understands the importance of advocating biochemistry as a career. We make the best use of new technologies that meet the educational needs of our audiences. This online course will provide a valuable introduction to biochemistry, highlighting its impact across areas such as health and bioenergy. It shows the diversity of career paths that are possible and emphasises the role of biochemists in the bioeconomy."