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.
For a description of modules see Biological Sciences Module Information. The modules described here are the ones that we currently offer and will give you a good idea of the range of subjects that we teach. However as our undergraduate teaching is research led and we constantly review our teaching to ensure that the modules that we offer are up to date there may be changes to module titles and content.
The first year modules are designed to give you a broad and balanced view of modern biology. They will develop from what you have learned at school but you will soon be learning new material.
All Biological Sciences students take the same modules in the first year, whether or not they have selected one of the specialised degree courses.
First year modules
Introduction to Evolution and Animal Biology | Watch video - An overview of introduction from the pre-biotic era to Darwin and his impact. Natural selection, the origins of altruism and sexual reproduction, genetic determinants of evolution.
Biochemistry - Fundamental biochemical processes taking place inside cells
Microbiology and Infectious Disease | Watch video - Broad introduction to microbiology with a focus on infectious disease, covering bacteria, fungi, protists, archaea and viruses.
Cell Biology and Physiology - Tissues, organelles, reproduction and development.
Plant Sciences and Environmental Biology | Watch video - Part 1: Development, cell biology, physiology of plants and their responses to environmental change. Part 2: Assessing and quantifying biological diversity and the interactions b etween ecosystems and their inhabitants
Genetics I - Storage of genetic information, gene expression and regulation, mitosis and meiosis, gene linkage and chromosome mapping.
Skills for Biosciences - Laboratory skills, transferable skills training including basic mathematics, IT, literature search and scientific writing.
Module Outside the Main Discipline (MOMD) - allows you to explore content from other academic programmes of this university in the form of a stand-alone module. More information on MOMD can be found here.
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 from the list below. If you have chosen one of the specialist Biological Sciences degree courses this is where your degree starts to be specific.
Second year modules
Second year optional modules:
Animal Biology - This module explores how the central nervous system translates sensory stimuli to behaviour. Topics include comparative neurobiology, biological timekeeping, sensory biology, learning and behaviour and others.
Cell and Developmental Biology - Development of multicellular organisms, interaction between cells and the cellular matrix, regulation of stem cell function.
Microbes and Man - The impact of microbes on humans, bacteria, fungi and viruses, common themes of infectious disease mechanisms.
Genetics II - Organisation of genes and genomes, generation of genetic diversity, gene transmission and analysis of problems in transmission and molecular genetics.
Human Evolution, Adaptation and Behaviour - This module explores some of the most important features of human evolution, such as bipedalism, racism, leadership and how infectious diseases have shaped human evolution in the distant past and during modern times.
Human Structure and Function – Human anatomy and how it relates to its function and evolutionary origin.
Plant Sciences: from Cells to the Environment | Watch video - Plants interact flexibly with their environment. This module explores the cellular and molecular features facilitati ng such interactions, including interactions with parasites. The module introduces the model plant Arabidopsis, and you will design and test hypotheses in specific experiments
Field Course: Alpine and Glacial Ecology in Norway | Watch video
Field Course: Adaptations to Aquatic Environments | Watch video
The third year is made up of a combination of taught modules and independent study. It is here that the link between the teaching and the research in the school is particularly important. The final year modules are informed and inspired by the research being carried out in the school.
The third year allows choice from a range of specialised topics. Central to the third year is a critical review of literature in an area that you are interested in, this makes up one third of the credits earned in the third year.
Third year modules
Choose four elective modules* from:
Molecular and Cellular Immunology | Watch video - Evolution of the immune system, innate immunity, cell biology of immunity, structural basis of discrimination between self and non-self.
Cancer Biology - Regulation of cell division and aberrations in malignant tumours, genetic bases of tumourigenesis, programmed cell death.
Cellular Neurobiology | Watch video - Neuronal function and neural development, synaptic function, transmitter receptors and ion channels.
Adaptation to changing environments - This ecology-oriented module examines behavioural, physiological and molecular mechanisms of adaptation to environmental stress. It examines animals’ mechanisms to respond to changes occurring on varying timescales and over diverse geographic areas
Living in Groups: Collective Behaviour in Animals | Watch video - This module explores features and rules of group behaviour in animals. Introducing formal concepts such as Social Network Analysis, the module defines fundamental rules that govern collective behaviour, and how individuals partake in making and communicating decisions.
Eukaryotic Gene Expression - Control of gene transcription, chromatin structure, pre-mRNA processing, mRNA translation and degradation.
Genetics III: Genetic Variation in Humans and other Eukaryotes - Genetic variation in humans and model organisms, dynamics of chromosome organisation during mitosis and meiosis, genome instability.
Bacterial Gene Regulation - How genes are switched on or off in response to external stimuli, how control of gene expression can be explored experimentally.
Plant Science in the 21st Century | Watch video- Plant growth and development in relation to food supply, biofuels and climate change. Research-based module with emphasis on analysis of the current research literature.
Structures of Destruction - Bacterial and viral pathogens explored from the perspective of their molecular structures, protein misfolding and amyloid diseases.
Human Evolution - Genetics and genomics, development of bipedalism, development of society and how humans’ activity applies selective pressure on the evolution of HIV.
Human Health and Disease - This module builds on the 2nd year module 'Human structure and function', and discusses advanced concepts in anatomy and physiology. It also gives students an insight into how clinicians approach problems relating to diagnosis and management of disease.
Human Reproductive Biology and Development - A comprehensive view on reproductive biology, stem cells and embryonic development. Topics include gametogenesis, gamete maturation and transport, infertility and controversies surrounding reproductive technologies.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology- Microbial communities, how they compete, and behave socially.
Biodiversity and Conservation Management - Examining the scientific basis of conservation, the threats facing biodiversity and how those threats are assessed, why population size is critical and how biodiversity is maintained either in nature or at a backup location. The in situ management of diversity is given particular emphasis. The module is stand-alone but also complements Conservation Practice: Genes to Ecosystems.
Conservation Practice: Genes to Ecosystems - Examining the scientific basis for conservation and its genetic foundation.
Molecular Basis of Bacterial Infection | Watch video- Evolution of bacterial virulence, antibiotics and antibiotics resistance, genomic data in analysing pathogenicity.
The masters year is devoted to developing and honing your research skills. The central element to help you to achieve competence in research is the research project, which extends over both semesters of the year and which takes up about two thirds of the work effort. MSci students negotiate their own project in discussion with staff in the areas that interest them. You will join one of our many research groups, providing the fascinating opportunity to experience research first hand and to contribute to current research projects.
Project work is not limited to the laboratory; some students will do more ecology- based projects involving field work. In addition, MSci students take a bespoke module: Research Developments and Funding as well as a module drawn from the specialist modules of the third year.
Number of A levels required: 3
Typical offer: AAA
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.
The typical offer for the MSci course is higher than that for the corresponding three year BSc degree course. However, all candidates who firmly accept the offer as their first choice will be automatically offered a place on the corresponding BSc course should they fail to meet the MSci offer while meeting the standard offer.
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (Applied Science) is accepted only in combination with a science subject at GCE A2 level at grade A. Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.
International Baccalaureate Diploma: minimum 32 points. 6, 6, 6 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.
Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements
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.
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