Our modular degree offers you 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 in the main degree course Biological Sciences BSc or to specialise in Genetics, Zoology (Animal Biology), Biotechnology, Environmental Biology, Microbiology or Plant Biology. 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. All Biological Sciences students take the same modules in the first year, whether or not they have selected one of the specialised degree courses.
At this stage you begin to tailor the degree towards your own particular interests. In addition to the core modules you choose four specialist modules. In addition to core courses in molecular biology and a Science Communication skills module, 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 become interested in organisms and how they interact with their environment you also have the opportunity to participate in field work.
The modules we offer to final year students are strongly influenced by current research in the School of Biosciences. They reflect exciting developments across the biological sciences.
The final year is made up of a mixture of taught modules and independent study. It is here that the link between the teaching and the research in the school is particularly important.
Central to the final year is the research project, which makes up one-sixth of the credits earned in the final year. You are also offered the opportunity to join one of our many research groups for one semester, providing the fascinating opportunity to experience research first hand and to contribute to current research projects. Project work does not necessarily mean you will be based 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?
Applicants may apply either for the main course or for one of the specialist degree labels e.g. Biological Sciences (Genetics). 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 between specialist degree labels as 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."
Genetics, the study of biological information, is central to all areas of biology, from cellular differentiation and development, through reproduction, to biodiversity and conservation. Discoveries in genetics are having a major impact on society, ranging from the prospect for breakthroughs in the treatment of diseases and the understanding of individual differences emerging from the Human Genome Project, to improvements in food production through genetic engineering.
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 out natural environment.
Our flexible BSc degree course will provide you with a core of modern biology and incorporate considerable flexibility, permitting either a broad-based degree or progressive specialisation.
The Biological Sciences (Genetics) degree label is structured to give you a comprehensive introduction to modern genetics. The first year genetics module covers DNA structure and function, information flow, gene regulation and the genetics of bacteria and higher organisms. In the second year you will study the basis by which genetic variation arises and is transmitted from generation to generation. You will also look at the organisation, structure and dynamic nature of genomes, as well advanced topics in gene regulation in both bacteria and higher organisms, including man. The final year allows choice from a range of specialised topics in genetics and gives the opportunity to carry out a piece of research in genetics. In all three years, attention is given to the economic and ethical implications of advances in genetics for ourselves and for human society.
For more detailed descriptions of modules download Biological Sciences Module Descriptions (PDF 459KB).
The following is the current set of first year modules attended by all Biological Sciences students:
Skills for Biosciences
Plant Sciences & Environmental Biology
Introduction to Evolution and Animal Biology
Cell Biology & Physiology
Microbiology and Infectious Disease
Elective modules offered include the following, of which students in the second year 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)
Field Ecology in Birmingham
Human evolution: adaptation & behaviour
Adaptations to aquatic environments (Field course)
Students of the Biological Sciences (Genetics) degree course usually cover the following modules:
Prokaryotic Gene Regulation
Eukaryotic Gene Expression
Genetic variation in humans and other eukaryotes
Central to the final year is the research project, which makes up one-sixth of the credits earned in the final year and may be in the area of genetics. In alternate years, we offer field projects alternating between Trentham Estate (studying primates) and Florida (studying bird behaviour).
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
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