Our modular BSc degree offers a solid knowledge base in the biological sciences and the opportunity to follow your interests and curiosity as the course unfolds. You can choose to maintain a broad view on biology by enrolling on the main degree course, Biological Sciences BSc, or to specialise in Environmental Biology as you move through the course. The decision on specialisation can be made as late as in the second year.
In the first year, you will take modules reflecting the full range of biology - from molecules to cells to organisms and to the environment. Up to a third of the timetabled sessions will be devoted to practical work, as the hands-on experience of working with living organisms supports and enhances a solid understanding of biological concepts.
In addition to core courses in molecular biology and a Science Communication skills module, you will spend two-thirds of your time studying modules that you have chosen. We offer a range of topics, including animal biology, plant biology and ecology. If you are interested in organisms and how they interact with their environment you will have the opportunity to participate in field work in Birmingham, Wales, Shropshire and Norway.
Central to the final year is the research project, which makes up one-sixth of the credits earned in the final year. All students are offered the opportunity to join one of our many research groups for two semesters, providing the fascinating opportunity to experience research at first hand and to contribute to current research projects. Project work does not necessarily mean that students are in the laboratory. Some students will do computer-based projects and some ecology-oriented fieldwork projects. Current field courses in the final year lead you to a research site in Florida, or, in alternate years, to Trentham Estate where you will study behavioural ecology and sociobiology of free roaming Barbary macaques.
Which courses should I apply for?
You may apply either for the main degree course, Biological Sciences BSc or for the specialist degree Environmental Biology. The selection criteria are identical in either case. The design of our courses allows students to delay specialisation until the second year, or to transfer to the Environmental Biology degree as your interests develop or change.
Why study this course
We have a large and internationally recognised School of Biosciences offering expertise that is the foundation of our research-led teaching.
You will encounter a broad range of topics on our courses, ranging from studies on the three-dimensional structure of individual molecules through to the study of whole ecosystems. We pride ourselves in our ‘enquiry-based learning’ strategy that will equip you with the skills to achieve full potential in your future career.
We increasingly incorporate new areas of science relating to biology, such as bioinformatics, and the School has major high-technology facilities for research in genomics, structural biology and optical imaging.
Specialist field courses for those involved in the study of animals, plants and ecological aspects are also available.
2012 National Student Survey "93% of students said that overall they were satisfied with the quality of our Biology courses."
The way in which living organisms interact with their surroundings and each other is the basis of environmental biology. The outcome of the interactions between organisms is the basis of evolution, the process by which all living things have been shaped. A major current challenge is climate change, altering the balance between organisms and creating problems in conservation and agriculture. An understanding of the interactions between organisms and their environment is essential if sustainable strategies are to be developed to solve these problems.
Biology is the science of life. When you study Biological Sciences you will learn about animals, plants and microorganisms, from their genes and cells to how they interact in our natural environment.
Our flexible degree course will provide you with a core of modern biology and incorporate considerable flexibility, permitting either a broad-based degree or progressive specialisation.
First year modules provide a thorough introduction to ecology and methods of study. In the second and third year, specialist options allow you to refine your environmental interests. Field courses are a central part of teaching and learning in Environmental Biology. These options allow you to experience first-hand how organisms interact with their environment and to develop the necessary practical skills.
For more detailed descriptions of modules download Biological Sciences Module Descriptions (PDF 459KB).
The following list represents the current set of first year modules attended by all Biological Sciences students:
In addition to core courses in molecular biology and a Skills course, you will spend two-thirds of your time studying elective modules. We offer a range of topics, including animal biology, microbiology, genetics and ecology. If you are interested in organisms and how they interact with their environment you will have the opportunity to participate in field work. Elective modules offered include the following, of which students normally choose five:
Plant Sciences: from cells to the environment
Biodiversity assessment techniques (field course)
Cell and developmental biology
Animal sensory systems: neurobiology and behaviour
Microbes and man
Alpine and Glacial Ecology in Norway (Field Course) - Watch video
Field Ecology in Birmingham
Human evolution: adaptation & behaviour
Adaptations to aquatic environments (field course)
All students of the Biological Sciences programme participate in the compulsory module, Biology, Communication and the Media. Students of the Biological Sciences (Environmental Biology) degree can choose to take the following modules:
Applied an Environmental Microbiology
Adaptation to Changing Environments
Central to the final year is the research project, which makes up one-sixth of the credits earned in the final year. All students are offered the opportunity to join one of our many research groups for one semester, providing the fascinating opportunity to experience research at first hand and to contribute to current research projects. Project work does not necessarily mean that students are in the laboratory. Some students will do computer-based projects and some ecology-oriented fieldwork projects. We offer field projects alternating between Trentham Estate (studying primates) and Florida (studying bird behaviour) in alternate years.
Fees and funding
Number of A levels required: 3
Typical offer: AAB-ABB
Required subjects and grades: Biology/Human Biology A level and one other from Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Geography, Geology, ICT, Maths, Physics, Psychology or Sports Studies/PE. Five GCSEs at grade C (minimum) in Double Award/Integrated Science, English and Mathematics.
General Studies: We do not accept General Studies, Critical Thinking, Citizenship Studies, Applied Science, Communication and Culture, Critical Studies, Global Perspectives, Science in Society and World Development.
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (Applied Science) is accepted only in combination with a science subject at GCE A2 level at grade B or better. Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.
International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34-35 points excluding bonus points from TOK and Extended Essay. 6, 5, 5 at HL to include Biology and one other science at HL. 5 points in each of SL English and Maths if not offered at GCSE or equivalent.
Standard English language requirements apply
Learn more about international entry requirements
Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.
How to apply