Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Upper Division Requirements, Sample 4-yr Plans, Elective List

Housed within the Division of Biochemistry, Biophysics, & Structural Biology, the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) emphasis is dedicated to the mechanistic understanding, at the molecular level, of essential processes for the life of the cell. To this end, the BMB emphasis uses rigorous and reductionist approaches to describe living systems in chemical and physical terms. Unique to BMB is the combination of powerful molecular biological methodologies (e.g. cloning, gene splicing and gene expression), with biochemical and biophysical assays, as well as structural biology strategies (e.g. X-ray crystallography, 2-D NMR, cryo-electron microscopy) for dissecting structure and function of macromolecules. Berkeley hosts unique, state-of-the-art facilities to carry out research using these methodologies.

The ability to understand complex biological processes by characterizing the activity of the molecular machinery governing processes such as DNA replication, transcription, transposition, recombination, protein synthesis, protein degradation and RNA processing, have greatly advanced our understanding of the living cell. Furthermore, these approaches and new knowledge are playing a major role in unraveling many complex biological processes at the organismal level, such as development, differentiation, mutagenesis, gene regulation, pathogenesis, oncogenesis, and aging.

Through the major you will learn not only how the molecules of life work in the healthy cells and organisms, but also how disruption of their function leads to disease. Furthermore, the identification and characterization of the molecular culprits for human illness is an essential step towards treatment by pharmacological agents that target these molecules to alter their activity. An exciting and invigorating aspect of these types of studies is that they can be done by individual students, armed with keen interest and curiosity.

Upper Division Requirements

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Track 1: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Track 2: Biological Chemistry
MCB C100A: Biophysical Chemistry (Fa, Sp: 4 un) MCB C100A: Biophysical Chemistry (Fa, Sp: 4 un)
MCB 100B: Biochemistry: Pathways, Mechanisms, & Regulations (Sp; 4 un) Chem 130B: Biophysical Chemistry (Sp; 3 un)
MCB 110: Molecular Biology: Macromolecular Synthesis & Cellular Function (Fa, Sp; 4 un) Chem 135: Chemical Biology (Fa; 3 un)
MCB 140: General Genetics (Fa, Sp; 4 un)
OR MCB C148: Microbial Genomics & Genetics (Sp; 4 un)
MCB 130: Cell & Systems Biology (Sp; 4 un)
OR MCB 140: General Genetics (Fa, Sp; 4 un)
MCB C110L: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Lab (Fa, Sp; 4 un) MCB C110L: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Lab (Fa, Sp; 4 un)
BMB Elective (see list below) BMB Elective (see list below)

Alternative Lower Division Chem Sequence for track 2: 

  • Students planning major in the MCB: Biological Chemistry track are required to take the following chem sequence: 

    • Chem 1A/1AL,  Chem 1B, Chem 12A, and Chem 12B 

  • Please note the Chem 12A/B replaces Chem 3A/3AL, 3B/3BL. 

  • The Chem 3 series provides less rigorous preparation for the upper division chemistry courses required for this track. Once students decide to pursue the Biological Chemistry track, they should adhere to the alternative sequence requirements (e.g., complete Chem 12B, not Chem 3B). 

​Petitioning to Substitute MCB C110L with Research Units

Students may petition to substitute the lab course with equivalent knowledge and units obtained through independent research experience (such as 199 or H196 research), as determined by the Head Faculty Advisor of their major emphasis. Careful consideration and discussion with your faculty advisor is important when making the decision whether to use independent research to substitute the lab, as MCB labs expose students to many biological approaches not always encountered during these research projects. For more information on the approval process see Petition to Substitute MCB Lab Course.

​​Sample 4-yr Plans

These are just examples, for more sample schedules including spring start and transfer see guide.berkeley.edu or meet with an advisor to explore your options. It is recommended by MCB advisors and faculty to take the upper division lab as early as you can if you are interested in research and/or honors research. 

Track 1: Biochemistry and
Molecular Biology
  Track 2: Biological Chemistry
Year 1   Year 1
Fall Un Spring Un   Fall Un Spring Un
Math 10A 4 Math 10B 4   Math 10A 4 Math 10B 4
Chem 1A/1AL 4 Biology 1A/1AL 5   Chem 1A/1AL 4 Chem 1B 4
Year 2   Year 2
Fall Un Spring Un   Fall Un Spring Un
Chem 3A/3AL 5 Chem 3B/3BL 5   Chem 12A 5 Chem 12B 5
Physics 8A 4 Physics 8B 4   Biology 1A/1AL 5 Physics 8A 4
Year 3   Year 3
Fall Un Spring Un   Fall Un Spring Un
MCB C100A 4 MCB 100B 4   MCB C100A 4 Chem 130B 3
Biology 1B 4 MCB 140 or c148 4   Physics 8B 4 Biology 1B 4
Year 4   Year 4
Fall Un Spring Un   Fall Un Spring Un
MCB C110L 4 BMB Elective 3-4   Chem 135 3 MCB 130 or 140 4
MCB 110 4       MCB C110L 4 BMB Elective 3-4

 

Approved Electives List for BMB

Molecular and Cell Biology

  • 100B Biochemistry: Pathways, Mechanisms, & Regulations (Sp; 4 units) Track 2 Only
  • C103 Bacterial Pathogenesis (Sp, 3 units) 
  • C112 General Microbiology (F, Su; 4 units)
  • C114 Introduction to Comparative Virology (Sp, 4 units)
  • C116 Microbial Diversity (F, 3 units)
  • 130 Cell and Systems Biology (Sp, 4 units) (If track 2: only can use if take 140 for core BMB)
  • 132 Biology of Human Cancer (F, 4 units)
  • C134 Chromosome Biology / Cytogenetics (Sp, 3 units)
  • 135A Molecular Endocrinology (F; 3 units)
  • 136 Physiology (F; 4 units)
  • 137L Physical Biology of the Cell (Sp, 3 units)
  • 141 Developmental Biology (Sp, 3 units)
  • 143 Evolution of Genomes, Cells & Development (F, 3 units)
  • C148 Microbial Genomics & Genetics (Sp, 4 units) (If track 1: only can use if take 140 for core BMB)
  • 149 The Human Genome (Sp, 3 units)
  • 150 Molecular Immunology (F, Sp, 4 units)
  • 160 Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology (F, 4 units)
  • 161 Circuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience (Sp, 4 units)
  • 165 Neurobiology of Disease (Sp, 3 units)
  • 166 Biophysical Neurobiology (F, 3 units)

Chemistry

  • 113 Advanced Mechanistic Organic Chemistry (F; 3 units)
  • 115 Organic Chemistry - Advanced Lab Methods (Sp; 4 units)
  • 130B Biophysical Chemistry (Sp; 3 units) (Track 1 only)

Environmental Science, Policy & Management

  • C148 Pesticide Chemistry and Toxicology (Sp; 3 units)

Mathematics

  • 110 Linear Algebra (F, Sp, Su; 4 units)

Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology

  • C114 Pesticide Chemistry and Toxicology (Sp; 3 units)

Physics

  • 112 Introduction to Statistical & Thermal Physics (F, Sp; 4 units)
  • 177 Principles of Molecular Biophysics (Sp; 3 units)

Plant & Microbial Biology

  • C112 General Microbiology (F; 4 units)
  • C114 Comparative Virology (Sp; 4 units)
  • C116 Microbial Diversity (F; 3 units)
  • C134 Chromosome Biology / Cytogenetics (Sp; 3 units)
  • 135 Physiology & Biochemistry of Plants (F; 3 units)
  • 150 Plant and Microbial Biology (F; 3 units)
  • 160 Plant Molecular Genetics (Sp; 3 units)

Public Health

  • 141 Intro to Bio-Statistics (Su; 5 units)
  • 142 Introduction to Probability & Statistics in Biology & Public Health (F, Sp; 4 units) - Note: For students who have completed Math 10A/B, or Stat 2 or 20, this course is not accepted to meet the elective requirement.

Statistics

  • 131A Introduction to Probability and Statistics for Life Scientists (F, Sp; 4 units) - Note: For students who have completed Math 10A/B, or Stat 2 or 20, this course is not accepted to meet the elective requirement.

Approved Electives but NOT Regularly Offered

  • BioEng C141 Stats for Bioinformatics
  • Math 127 Mathematical & Computational Methods in Molecular Biology
  • Physics 132 Contemporary Physics
  • Stat C141 Stats for Bioinformatics