Study biological sciences at Birmingham and you'll learn about animals, plants and microorganisms - their genetic make-up, their cellular structure and how they interact in our natural environment. This degree gives you a solid base in the subject with the opportunity to specialise in areas such as genetics or zoology.
The professional placement is intercalated between the second and final year, and allows you to apply your skills at an early stage in industry, non-governmental or public sector organisations.
Over the past few years our students have worked for the following organisations and companies:
- Sanger Institute
- Astra Zeneca
- Centre for Population Biology
- Cambridge Antibody Technology
- Forsite Technology
- The Binding Site
- Basilea (Switzerland)
- Florida State University
- Kew Gardens
- University of Melbourne
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 define your career objectives.
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.
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.
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.
First year modules
Choose two from:
Microbiology and Infectious Disease | Watch video - Broad introduction to microbiology with a focus on infectious disease, covering bacteria, fungi, protists, archaea and viruses.
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.
At this stage you begin to tailor the degree towards your own particular interests. In addition, 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.
Second year modules
Core modules (taken by all students on the Biological Sciences programme)
Communication and Skills in Biosciences - Science communication in writing and oral presentations, ethics in science, analysis of the scientific literature.
Molecular Biology and its applications - Genetic analysis and gene cloning, DNA fingerprinting and forensics, genomics and computational approaches to genetics.
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
Third year (Professional Placement year)
You will spend your third year working in industry, a research laboratory or in the field. The placement year is academically assessed by a report and a seminar presentation at the conclusion of the year.
The final 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 final year allows choice from a range of specialised topics. Central to the final year is the research project, which makes up one third of the credits earned in the final year. This allows you to 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. Current field courses in the final year lead you to a research site in Florida, or, alternatively, to Trentham Estate where you will study behavioural ecology and sociobiology of free-roaming Barbary macaques.
Topics available to Biological Sciences students include:
- Bioterrorism - should we be afraid, very afraid?
- Age-dependent fertility in human females, what's the problem.
- Animal dormancy: What purpose does it serve and how is it controlled?
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 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: 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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