Our modular degree offers a solid knowledge base in the biological sciences and the opportunity to follow your interests and curiosity as the course unfolds. This course particularly emphasises practical training and research skills, as well as the development of transferable skills that can be deployed in a wide range of professional settings. The Placement year, which is intercalated between the second and final years of the course, is invaluable in providing opportunities for networking, on-the-job training and honing professional skills early on.
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 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 have the opportunity to participate in field work.
Third year (Professional Placement year)
During the second year, you will prepare your placement applications, aided by a range of support mechanisms. We have a large database of organisations that accept placement students, and are frequently approached by companies or organisations offering placement opportunities in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. The placement year is academically assessed by a report and a seminar presentation at the conclusion of the year.
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. Central to final year studies is the research project, which makes up one-sixth of your final year. All students are offered the opportunity to join one of our many research groups, providing the fascinating opportunity to experience research at first hand and to contribute to current research projects. Not all projects are laboratory-based, but instead may involve fieldwork or may be computer-based. We offer field projects alternating between Trentham Estate (studying primates) and Florida (studying bird behaviour) in alternate years.
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.
2013 National Student Survey "94% of students said that overall they were satisfied with the quality of our Biology courses."
In today’s competitive jobs market having work experience will look excellent on your CV. The experience of working as a professional bioscientist during the course of your degree will also help you to defne your career objectives.
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.
On the ‘professional placement’ degree programmes, you will follow the same modular structure as students on the mainstream programmes for the first two years. We will guide you through the process of selecting and applying to suitable employers for your placement year. Your third year will be spent working in your chosen placement; we will keep in touch with you during the year by visiting you in the workplace. On your return you will join the final year of the degree programme. Students returning from their placement are often better organised, more confident and motivated and have improved academic performance when they graduate.
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:
Skills for Biosciences
Plant Sciences & Environmental Biology
Introduction to Evolution and Animal Biology
Cell Biology & Physiology
Microbiology and Infectious Disease
You take core courses in molecular biology and Science Communication Skills. 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)
Third year (Professional Placement year)
During the second year, students prepare their placement applications, aided by a range of support mechanisms. We have a large database of organisations that accept placement students, and are frequently approached by companies or organisations offering placement opportunities in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. The placement year is academically assessed by a report and a seminar presentation at the conclusion of the year.
Current final year elective modules include the following:
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Molecular Basis of Bacterial Infection
Structures of Destruction
Prokaryotic Gene Regulation
Molecular and Cellular Immunology
Adaptation to Changing Environments
Advanced topics in animal behaviour
Integrated Whole-Organism Biology
Fees and funding
Number of A levels required: 3
Typical offer: AAA - AAB
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 Professional Placement 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 three year course should they fail the higher, but meet 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: 35-36 points excluding bonus points from TOK and Extended Essay. 6, 6, 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
Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com
Learn more about applying
NB You should apply through UCAS for the preferred four-year option at the outset. Students will retain the flexibility of changing their registration to one of our three-year degree courses during the second year.
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