Did you know that there are more than 10 trillion cells in your body, all working day and night carrying out hundreds of processes to keep you functioning?
You may know a little bit about the cell membrane, nucleus, cytoplasm, mitochondria, lysosomes, and maybe even processes like mitosis and meiosis, but delve further and you will discover a microscopic world bigger than you’ve ever imagined.
From the Greek word βίος, which means ‘life’, Bioscience will captivate those who have a fascination for our world of living organisms.
This guide will help you understand the differences between the various Bioscience fields, such as Biomedical Science, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, as well as the top Bioscience universities and job prospects for graduates.
#1. The Basics of Bioscience
a) What Is Bioscience?
Bioscience is the study of living organisms, from the largest mammals and plants to the tiniest cells and microorganisms.
Bioscience has numerous branches, ranging from the popular Biomedical Science and Biotechnology to more niche and specific areas such as Bioinformatics and Microbiology. The one thing that they all have in common is that they involve the study of ‘life’, hence the term ‘bio’.
New technologies that cure diseases, the transformation and cleanup of hazardous waste, or the improvement of taste and quality in food (think seedless grapes) are all practical examples related to the field of Bioscience.
b) What Are the Various Fields of Bioscience?
With so many various forms of life in the natural world, it is no wonder that Bioscience has a number of fields. Each field serves its own purpose to help improve the world’s ecosystems.
Here are a few popular fields in Bioscience.
|Field||What It Is All About|
|Biomedical Science||The study of the human body and its function in health and disease. Biomedical science applies biology-based science to medical use (e.g. developing a new drug to cure a disease).|
|Biotechnology||The use of living systems and organisms in technology to develop new products and technology (e.g. creating biodegradable plastics, using microorganisms to clean up waste).|
|Biochemistry||The study of chemical processes in living organisms (e.g. how proteins and enzymes function in living cells, how cells deal with DNA damage).|
More specific fields in the realm of Bioscience include: microbiology (study of microorganisms), bioinformatics (analysis of complex biological data, such as genetic codes), biophysics (application of physics to study biological systems) and food science (study of biological, physical and chemical makeup of food).
While some universities may offer these specific Bioscience fields as an undergraduate degree, others may offer these as elective subjects as part of a broader Bioscience Degree.
#2. Studying a Bioscience Course
a) Entry Requirements & Qualifications
In order to pursue a course in Bioscience, you will need to meet the entry requirements set by the universities.
(i) Diploma in Bioscience
To pursue a Diploma in Bioscience, you will generally need:
- SPM / O-Level: Minimum 5 credits, including Malay, English, Mathematics and at least one Science Subject (Biology / Physics / Chemistry / General Science)
A Diploma in Bioscience is typically 2.5 years long, covering the foundation of Bioscience.
Upon completing your Diploma, you can either choose to start working, or continue on with a Bioscience Degree, entering Year 2 of a Degree.
(ii) Degree in Bioscience
To pursue a Bioscience Degree, you will need to have completed SPM or equivalent, AND completed a Pre-University or a Foundation course.
In general, the requirements that you must have for Pre-University or Foundation level are:
- A-Level: Minimum 2Cs, including Chemistry and Biology / Physics; or
- STPM: Minimum 2Cs, including Chemistry and Biology / Physics; or
- Australian Matriculation: Minimum of ATAR 65, or
- Foundation in Science: Minimum CGPA of 2.50
- Asasi or Matrikulasi: Minimum CGPA of 2.50
In addition, you must also have 5 credits for SPM, where 3 must be from the following subjects: Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and English.
For Bioscience Degrees, the required subjects are usually Biology and Chemistry, so make sure you immerse yourself in them during your Pre-University and Foundation years.
A Degree in Bioscience is usually 3 – 4 years long, depending on your field of study.
b) How Does Your Education Pathway Look Like?
After completing your SPM or an equivalent qualification, you can choose to take either a Pre-University course (e.g. A-Level, STPM, Matrikulasi, etc.) or a Foundation in Science. You may also opt to do a Diploma in Bioscience.
Completing one of those courses will allow you to progress to a Bioscience Degree.
c) What Will You Study in Bioscience?
Generally, you will study the foundation of biology and chemistry, in addition to specific subjects that are within your chosen Bioscience discipline.
Here are some of the subjects that you may study as part of your Bioscience Degree.
|Biomedical Science||- Anatomy & Physiology
- Cell Biology
- Environmental Microbiology
- Human Molecular Genetics
- Plant & Agricultural Biotechnology
|Biochemistry||- Analytical Biochemistry
- Cell Biology
- Environmental Biochemistry
- Molecular Immunology
- Plant Biochemistry
Most Bioscience students will also spend a significant amount of time in the laboratory, gaining experience in lab management, as well as research methodology and scientific report writing.
#3. Why Should You Study Bioscience?
Whether it’s because of your endless curiosity for the microscopic world, or because you have every intention to make the world a better place, here are some reasons why Bioscience might be the right choice for you.
(a) You have a deep fascination for science and life
The complexities of life do not scare you – at least, not on a cellular or molecular level. You have an insatiable curiosity for biology, chemistry and life, and you want to spend your undergraduate years exploring this further.
Taking a Bioscience course will allow you to gain deeper, scientific knowledge to take on global challenges, be it in agriculture, biofuel, manufacturing, healthcare or even fashion!
(b) You want to help save lives
Your foray into Bioscience will allow you to be at the forefront of new innovations for the betterment of mankind, whether it’s developing a new rice strain to combat malnutrition (biotechnology), reducing diabetes-related blindness via a new drug (biomedical science) or understanding the chemistry behind why life can’t happen without water (biochemistry).
You may not be a medical doctor, but you can still work to indirectly save lives through the various fields of Bioscience.
(c) You love the lab and have a keen interest in research work
Do you enjoy spending lots of time tinkering in the laboratory and getting your elbows deep in data? Feel a tingle down your spine when you experience the beauty of a well-designed experiment? And even if your tests fail spectacularly, you soldier on, determined to figure out what went wrong and how you can fix it.
While some may find this tedious and downright repetitive, it doesn’t bother you one bit. In fact, you’re quite happy to develop your skills to deliver groundbreaking research.
#4. What Skills Do You Need for a Bioscience Course?
In order to succeed and do well in a Bioscience course, here are some of the key qualities and skills that you need to develop.
(a) Strong foundation in science
Having an aptitude for science is the cornerstone of success for every Bioscience student.
Aside from Biology, you will need to be proficient in Chemistry, as well as Physics. A course in Bioscience will allow you to explore a variety of essential topics related to life sciences, from anatomy and cell biology to microbiology and genetics. In addition, you will find yourself gaining skills in research methodology as well as laboratory management.
You don’t have to be a genius in science, but having a solid science foundation will put you in good stead.
(b) Attention to detail with a high level of accuracy
From examining samples under a microscope to preparing lab reports, you will be training your eye for detail as part of your Bioscience course. Having a high level of accuracy when performing experiments and recording results is crucial, as the smallest change or error can significantly impact your experiment.
Developing this skill will be advantageous to your career as well. For instance, if you are working as a biomedical scientist, you will be testing and analysing medical samples to help doctors diagnose, monitor and treat diseases. A patient’s life is in your care, so being precise is of utmost importance.
(c) Tenacity and determination
Experiments and research can take time, sometimes requiring you to do repetitive tests over a long period. Tests can work and fail for no obvious reason, and cells can get infected with fungi, destroying weeks of work.
You will need to have the patience, tenacity and perseverance to remain dedicated to your work, and gradually work your way through the problems. In fact, this quality will continue to remain relevant throughout your life, especially if you pursue a career as a scientist and run your own research programmes.
#5. What Career Options Do You Have with a Bioscience Degree?
Completing a Bioscience Degree will prepare you for a career in various sectors, including healthcare, pharmaceuticals and food and beverage.
A Degree in Bioscience will give you a good grasp of the field, leading you to eventual specialisations to perform impactful research and solve emerging problems.
Here are some career options that you have as a Bioscience graduate.
|Biomedical Science||- Bio-entrepreneur
- Biomedical Scientist
- Healthcare Scientist
- Laboratory Technologist
- Medical Research Scientist
|Biotechnology||- Agricultural Biotechnologist
- Analytical Scientist
- Biotechnology Lab Technician
- Life Sciences Research Scientist
|Biochemistry||- Analytical Chemist
- Clinical Research Associate
- Healthcare Scientist
- Life Sciences Research Scientist
- Scientific Laboratory Technician
If you decide that research is not a right fit for you, there are also many other science-related jobs outside the world of research, where your scientific training can be put to good use.
Example of such careers include:
- Health & Safety Officer
- Medical Information Officer
- Biomanufacturing Quality Officer
- Science Journalist
- Pharmaceutical / Medical Sales Representative
#6. Where Can You Study Bioscience in Malaysia?
Here are some of the most popular universities for Bioscience in Malaysia.
Bachelor of Science (Hons) Biomedical Science
Campus: Kampar, Perak
Intakes: Jan, May & Oct
Estimated Fees: RM46,400
Scholarships: Up to 100% tuition fee waiver
UTAR delivers their content by emphasising on project-based & hands-on learning for a more immersive experience
Among other institutions offering Bioscience, UTAR is the most affordable and generous with scholarships
A team of external examiners ensure that UTAR’s quality is always maintained at world standards
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Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Hons)
Campus: Subang Jaya, Selangor
Intakes: Mar & Aug
Estimated Fees: RM105,661
Scholarships: Up to 100% tuition fee waiver
Strong research-focused curriculum reflecting the most current research initiatives
State-of-the-art facilities to assist students in learning
Strategic links with industry members and professional bodies to foster strong platforms for research and industrial attachments
Rated Tier 5 out of 6 overall by the Ministry of Education (MQA SETARA 2013)
Bachelor of Biotechnology (Hons)
Estimated Fees: RM134,590
Scholarships: Up to 35% tuition fee waiver
Close research and teaching links with Nottingham University in UK
Strong focus on research, particularly in plant and food production, food quality and safety, and environmental protection
Industrial partnership with Applied Agricultural Resources for palm oil research
Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biotechnology
Campus: Jalan Tun Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
Intakes: Feb, Jul & Oct
Estimated Fees: RM45,000
Study all the way from Foundation to Bachelor’s Degree with one fee structure
Transfer to University of Wales through their twinning programmes or semester study visit