Transcend the traditional boundaries of science
Do you have an interest in science but more than one favourite scientific discipline?
Perhaps you don't want to over-specialise too soon.
Or maybe, you just don't know which subjects to study.
Alastair Strain, Professor of Biochemistry, Natural Sciences Programme Director
"In the modern world, the chance to combine more than one of the Natural Sciences is a golden opportunity to exploit the exciting developments at the interface between scientific disciplines."
More than ever, science today transcends the traditional boundaries between physics, chemistry, the biological sciences and mathematics. Employers are looking for graduates with a broad experience and expertise in more than one disciplines, along with excellent transferable skills in communication, IT and teamwork. The Natural Sciences with a Year in Continental Europe programme is for students whose interests encompass more than one discipline of science, and who seek to combine expertise in the natural sciences with competence in a modern language.
The Natural Sciences programme is led by the School of Biosciences, but draws on the academic expertise of several other Schools in the Colleges of Life and Environmental Sciences and of Engineering and Physical Sciences. In combining two Major subjects, you can choose from the following disciplines:
Sport and Exercise Science
Because Natural Science students study in many different parts of the campus, they enjoy the benefit of a Base Room in the central Aston Webb Building. Here they meet up with their peers studying different major combinations and with Natural Sciences students from other year groups.
You will study two Major subjects throughout the course, and complement these with Minor subjects, one of which will be the language of the country where you intend to study in your third year. In the second year, the minor subjects (except for the language) are not compulsory, and, if you wish, the corresponding credits can be allocated to studying additional modules in the Major subjects. Both Majors are studied to degree level in that all modules of corresponding single honours courses are available to Natural Sciences students, limited only by timetable compatibility. The programme encourages you to pursue topics at the interface between those subjects. In the final year, the Natural Sciences programme provides the flexibility to retain breadth or to opt for more specialised study in one of the two Major subjects. You are also supported by a tutor for each of the Major subjects.
The Major subjects
Possible combinations of Major subjects include:
Biology can be taken with Biochemistry, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Maths, Physics, Psychology or Sport and Exercise Sciences
Biochemistry can be taken with Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Maths,
Geography can be taken with Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Maths, or Sport and Exercise Sciences
Chemistry can be taken with Biochemistry, Biology, Earth Sciences, Maths, Physics or Psychology
Earth Sciences can be taken with Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology or Sport and Exercise Sciences
Mathematics can be taken with Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Psychology or Sport and Exercise Sciences
Physics can be taken with Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, or Sport and Exercise Sciences
Psychology can be taken with Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Maths, or Sport and Exercise Sciences
Sport and Exercise Sciences can be taken with Biology, Biochemistry, Earth Sciences, Maths, Physics or Psychology
Due to incompatible timetabling, the following combinations of Major subjects are not available:
Chemistry/Sports and Exercise Sciences
As a student on the Year in Europe programme, a module teaching the language of the host country is a compulsory Minor in both first and second year. In addition, we have a wide variety of Minor subjects available. Popular selections in recent years have included Psychology, Pharmacology, or Sports Sciences. You may also choose a module from one of the other Majors as a Minor subject.
Why study this course
The structure of the Natural Sciences course at Birmingham is unique in combining two major subjects in the natural sciences with a high level of built-in flexibility to compose an individual programme of study. In many ways, the course becomes what you want it to be. In this course in particular, learning is a conversation, not simply a lecture. We welcome students who are keen to be challenged and encourage them to think independently. We nurture natural curiosity and enable original ideas to flourish through dialogue between different disciplines.
Research and teaching
Research at Birmingham has been making an impact on the world for over 100 years. From world-class cancer research to the development of a new generation of fuels, our academic expertise continues to address today’s key national and global challenges.
Most academic staff work concurrently as teachers and researchers. The passion that drives our research makes a direct impact on teaching, keeps our programmes up-to-date, stimulating and relevant for tomorrow’s graduates.
Dr Dirk Hermans, School of Mathematics
"Combining Mathematics with other Natural Science disciplines makes a lot of sense because maths underpins all areas of science. Research has shown that 'thinking mathematically' promotes success in a wide range of careers."
Our Natural Sciences honours course is carefully designed to give you the flexibility to choose a programme, which matches your interests, while at the same time allowing you to study the individual subject matter in degree-level depth.
You take two Major subjects, plus the language of your host country in the third year as Minor. An addition, you will take skills modules in IT, Communications and Statistics. Studying two Major subjects to degree level becomes manageable through specifically designed pathways through the subjects, enabling you to focus on core topics of each subject, and studying those to the same depth as single honours students.
You will develop your Major studies further and can either continue with the same Minor or begin a different one. Alternatively, you can allocate the credits of the Minor subject to studying an additional module of your Major subjects. You also have flexibility in changing the weighting between the two Major subjects. You will also start preparing for the year in Europe, with support from the Year Abroad tutor.
Third year (year abroad)
You will study one of your Major subjects at University in Continental Europe. Classes are given in the language of the host country. You will have to sit some examinations at the host university, but the mark for your year abroad is determined by a 2-component language assessment set by your language tutor at Birmingham.
Fourth year (final year)
A core ingredient of your final year is a research project that you will do in one of your Major subjects. In the final year, you can focus entirely on one of your Major subjects, or retain breadth in studying both with flexible weighting. You can continue with your language as a Minor if you wish.
James Dacey, Natural Sciences student
"I didn't want to take a conventional degree course where you are committed to one subject throughout the 3 years. I wanted a more open style of degree which would give me the room to develop my interests over time. In this respect Natural Sciences has the advantage over combined honours courses."
Combinations of subjects that work well...
Majors and Minors may be chosen to complement each other, or you may choose Minor modules to explore areas that are novel to you. Here are some ideas.
Psychology and Biology is a combination that works particularly well, or Psychology with Mathematics, if you prefer the numbers game.
Modern molecular science increasingly employs Bioinformatics (eg the Human Genome Project) which makes a combination of Biochemistry or Chemistry, with Maths particularly relevant.
In the Physical Sciences, a strong combination would be Earth Sciences and Physics or Chemistry Majors, with a Mathematics Minor.
In the Life Sciences, a combination of Biology with Earth Sciences or Mathematics, plus a Geography or Psychology Minor would be very relevant in the areas of behaviour and ecology.
We also encourage less obvious combinations of Majors, such as Biochemistry in combination with Maths or Earth Sciences.
Or consider a language Minor, even if you do not intend to spend a year abroad.
Specialised pathways of modules offer additional choice within several Majors. For example, 'Metabolic' or 'Biomolecular Pathways' in Biochemistry; or our 'Astrophysics' pathway as an alternative in Physics.
Fees and funding
Number of A levels required: 3
Typical offer: A*AA
Required subjects and grades: at least two science subjects from Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics but see also Major subject admissions requirements. Five GCSEs at grade B (minimum) in Double Award/Integrated Science, English and Mathematics, and grade B in a language (French, German or Spanish).
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.
Major subject admissions requirements (minimum):
Biochemistry – A level Chemistry grade A
Biology – A level Biology grade A
Chemistry – A level Chemistry grade A
Mathematics – A level Mathematics grade A
Physics – A level Physics grade A and A level Mathematics grade A
Geography – A level Geography grade A
Natural Sciences Undergraduate booklet (PDF 1.15Mb)
Other qualifications are considered, except for BTEC and Access to HE – learn more about entry requirements.
International Baccalaureate Diploma: 36-38 points excluding bonus points from TOK and Extended Essay. 6, 6, 6 at HL to include two science subjects. 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
Key Information Set (KIS)
Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full or part time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.
From September 2012 all KIS information will be published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you will be able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.
The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) forms part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. It will give you access to robust, reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.
The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.