The three-year undergraduate program involves six semesters of study with a total of 180 ECTS credit points (CP). The curricular structure follows an innovative and student-centered modularization scheme - the 3C-Model - that groups the disciplinary content of the three study years according to overarching themes:
Study program structure
The ﬁrst study year is characterized by a broad offer in disciplinary education that builds on and extends the students’ entrance qualification. BCCB Students select introductory modules with a total of 45 CP from the CHOICE area of a variety of study programs, of which 30 CP will be from their intended major.
Students can still change to another major at the beginning of the second year of studies if they have taken the corresponding modules of the study program in the first year of studies.
Biochemistry and Cell Biology students take the following discipline-specific CHOICE Modules in their first year of study:
- CHOICE Module: General Biochemistry (7.5 CP)
- CHOICE Module: General and Inorganic Chemistry (7.5 CP)
- CHOICE Module: General Cell Biology (7.5 CP)
- CHOICE Module: General Organic Chemistry (7.5 CP)
The modules of the BCCB major are planned out to consist of integrated lecture and laboratory course module components. The General Biochemistry Module will explain how to apply and analyze basic concepts of biochemistry, while the General Cell Biology Module introduces students to cells that are the minimal functional units of life. Both BCCB-specific modules find their essential foundations and complementation in the General and Inorganic Chemistry and General Organic Chemistry Modules, in which the underlying principles of chemical reactions and organic molecules are conveyed. Thus, the macromolecular composition of cells, general principles of cellular and biochemical processes ,as well as molecular biological codes provided by the genome, the transcriptome and the proteome will be in the focus of the complementary components of the BCCB modules at large. Physiology and pathological alterations bringing about diseases will be introduced alongside. In-lab experiences will encompass documentation, description and discussion of experimental data, while awareness and following of safety rules and regulations are explained and trained.
In their second year, students take modules with a total of 45 CP from in-depth, discipline-speciﬁc CORE modules. These modules aim to extend the students’ critical understanding of the key theories, principles, and methods in their major at the current state of knowledge and best practice.
BCCB students take the following CORE modules:
- CORE Module: Advanced Biochemistry I (5 CP)
- CORE Module: Advanced Biochemistry II (5 CP)
- CORE Module: Advanced Biochemistry Lab (5 CP)
- CORE Module: Advanced Cell Biology I (5 CP)
- CORE Module: Advanced Cell Biology II (5 CP)
- CORE Module: Advanced Cell Biology Lab (5 CP)
- CORE Module: Microbiology (5 CP)
The mandatory CORE Modules of the BCCB program build on the BCCB CHOICE modules and are thought to deepen the knowledge in each of the two core fields of this major: biochemistry and cell biology. For either field, the CORE modules encompass two lectures and a laboratory course. To account for the wealth of information and the fast development in knowledge acquisition, as well as methodological advances in these rapidly enhancing scientific fields, the modules are staggered from the third to the fourth semester. The "Advanced Biochemistry I/II" modules cover energy production by living organisms, synthesis and degradation of biomolecules and principles of metabolism. Moreover, they address how genetic information is regulated, controlled and expressed in pro- and eukaryotic cells, and how DNA repair is realized at an advanced level. The "Advanced Cell Biology I/II" modules provide an in-depth view on the complexity of cellular systems, the regulation of key cellular processes and their integration in tissue formation and organismal organization, including regulatory mechanisms that allow for coordinated early development in selected model organisms. These modules will also address principles of genetics and evolution and discuss consequences of alterations upon loss of homeostasis or stress, thereby approaching biomedical implications leading to disease.
In the laboratory modules, students will perform experiments to elucidate the relationship between structure, biochemical properties, and activity of biomolecules, both in vitro and in a cellular context. For example, proteins tagged by the green fluorescent protein (GFP) will be expressed and biochemically characterized in the Advanced Biochemistry Laboratory module while protein trafficking and functioning in different cellular compartments will be analyzed using GFP-tagged proteins in combination with different targeting signals in the Advanced Cell Biology Laboratory module. Methods range from standard techniques like chromatography, gel electrophoresis, spectrophotometry to genetic engineering of plasmid vectors, the genetic manipulation of cells and advanced laser scanning microscopy. Result documentation, analysis and discussion will be accomplished through publication-style laboratory reports.
Students decide to complement their studies by taking the discipline-specific mandatory elective CORE modules (10 CP):
- CORE Module: Microbiology Lab (2.5 CP)
- CORE Module: Infection and Immunity (7.5)
Or substitute these modules with CORE modules from a second field of studies according to interest with the aim to pursue a minor.
In the "Microbiology Lab", students will identify environmental bacteria through biochemical and sequence analyses. The lecture module "Infection and Immunity" explores microbial biology and pathogenicity as well as host-pathogen interactions in light of the human immune system as an efficient defense mechanism.
During their third year, students prepare and make decisions for their career after graduation. To explore available choices fitting individual interests, and to gain professional experience, students take a mandatory summer internship.
The 5th semester opens also a mobility window for study abroad options. Finally, the 6th semester is dedicated to fostering the research experience of students by involving them in an extended Bachelor thesis and seminar module, which aims at data generation of publication quality.
BCCB students take major-specific or major-related, advanced Specialization modules to consolidate their knowledge at the current state of research in areas of their choice.
BCCB students can choose four of the following Specialization Modules:
- Specialization: Experimental Strategy Design (5 CP)
- Specialization: RNA Biochemistry (5 CP)
- Specialization: Biomedicine (5 CP)
- Specialization: Current Topics in the Molecular Life Sciences (5 CP)
- Specialization: Microbial Engineering (5 CP)
The specialization modules in the BCCB program aim at critical discussions and evaluations of current advances in different research fields of the molecular life sciences to unravel and apply the fascinating complexity of biological systems in basic and applied sciences. Although from different perspectives, the BCCB Specialization Modules will address scientific challenges in the 21st century and how scientists tackle them. The module contents will enable students to formulate hypotheses, to develop a strategy to approach any research question experimentally, to predict possible experimental outcomes and how the experiments need to be controlled, in order to finally draw a conclusion from their own data or the results of others. In this context, the regulatory frameworks governing activities in the bioscience field will be discussed and the principles for creating and realizing research projects in the fast progressing fields of life sciences will be outlined. The module contents will take into consideration the societal context in a world with increasing cultural and socio-economic diversity, e.g., by critically deducing today’s challenges in designing research projects in the basic sciences and also aiming at translation into the clinics.
In "Current Topics", students will analyze recent scientific articles in a seminar-style format where students present the authors' rationale and experimental design and debate the experimental outcomes through in-class discussions. Hypothesis-driven research is the central element in "Experimental Strategy Design", where students will expand their methodological knowledge through literature analysis, assessing the benefits and limitations of state-of-the art-techniques, which will enable them to eventually design their own research strategy to answer a given scientific question. The module "RNA Biology" will comprehensively address the structural and functional versatility of this biopolymer, ranging from the discrimination of different RNA types to methodological advances in next generation sequencing and genome editing by CRISPR/Cas. The "Biomedicine" module will analyze how biological processes can go wrong in disease, which molecular regulators are targeted in designing therapeutic approaches and new treatment options and how diagnostic tools can be developed.
Industrial applications will be addressed in the CBT Specializations "Microbial Engineering" and "Chemical and Pharmaceutical Technology". For a detailed description of the CBT Specialization modules, please refer to the handbook of the Chemistry and Biotechnology Study program. Please note that these CBT Specialization modules might have specific pre-requisites.
As a core element of Jacobs University’s employability approach students are required to engage in a mandatory two-month internship of 15 CP that will usually be completed during the summer between the second and third year of study. This gives students the opportunity to gain first-hand practical experience in a professional environment, apply their knowledge and understanding to a professional context, reflect on the relevance of their major in employment and society, reflect on their own role in employment and society, and find professional orientation. As an alternative to the full-time internship, students interested in setting up their own company can apply for a start-up option to focus on the development of their business plan.
The Jacobs Track, an important feature of Jacobs University’s educational concept, runs parallel to the disciplinary modules across all study years and is an integral part of the study program. It reﬂects a university-wide commitment to an in-depth training in scientific methods, fosters an interdisciplinary approach, raises awareness of global challenges and societal responsibility, enhances employability, and equips students with extra skills desirable in the general ﬁeld of study. Additionally, it integrates (German) language and culture modules.
Methods and Skills modules
Methods and skills such as mathematics, statistics, programming, data handling, presentation skills, academic writing, and scientific and experimental skills are offered to all students as part of modules within the Methods and Skills area. Students are required to take 20 CP in the Methods/Skills area.
BCCB students take the following Methods modules:
- Methods Module: Mathematical Concepts for the Sciences (5CP, Semester 1)
- Methods Module: Physics for the Natural Sciences (5 CP, Semester 2)
- Methods Module: Plant Metabolites and Natural Products (5CP, Semester 4)
And can choose among the following ones:
- Methods Module: Programming in Python (5 CP, Semester 3)
- Methods Module: Analytical Methods (5 CP, Semester 3)
Big Questions modules
The modules of the Big Questions area intend to broaden the students’ horizon with applied problem solving between and beyond the disciplines. The offerings comprise problem-solving oriented modules that tackle global challenges from the perspectives of different disciplinary backgrounds and that allow, in particular, a reflection of the acquired disciplinary knowledge in economic, societal, technological, and/or ecological contexts.
BCCB students select 2-4 modules (10 CP) from a broad portfolio of Big Questions modules.
Community Impact Project
In their 5th semester, students are required to take a 5 CP Community Impact Project (CIP) module. Students engage in on-campus or off-campus activities that challenge their social responsibility, i.e., they typically work on major-related projects that make a difference in the community life on campus, in its neighborhood, in Bremen, or on a cross-regional level.
Jacobs University supports its students in acquiring and improving these skills by offering a variety of language modules at all proﬁciency levels. Emphasis is put on fostering German language skills of international students as they are an important prerequisite for non-native speaking students to learn about, explore, and eventually integrate into their host country and its professional environment.
All students take four language courses in the first and second year.
The curriculum of the study program is outlined in the schematic study plan: