BSc/MSci Liberal Arts and Sciences (Natural Sciences)

Tackle the challenges of 21st century science and utilise your intellectual curiosity across a range of sciences to be part of the next generation of leaders.

Our Natural Sciences route through our prestigious Liberal Arts and Sciences programme offers you the opportunity to concentrate on the sciences.

Over four years, you will draw upon the  University’s rich heritage and pioneering spirit of discovery to explore a unique range of science subjects. You will work closely with your academic advisor to design a personal and flexible programme of study which will challenge you to develop your skills. Considering that a modern scientist often works in multidisciplinary teams, drawing on the expertise and knowledge of different subjects, following our Natural Sciences route will make you stand out in the increasingly competitive job market.

Applications should be made to our Liberal Arts and Sciences programme. You will have the opportunity to graduate with a BSc or MSci Natural Sciences depending on the amount of science that you choose to study – see Course Details for more information. 

Why follow the Natural Sciences route at Birmingham?

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Birmingham is a uniquely flexible degree programme which allows students the freedom to pick and choose what they study from subjects across the University.
  • Our Liberal Arts and Sciences course is science-friendly, so you can combine science disciplines with those from the humanities and social sciences, and if you decide to focus your studies across the sciences you have to option to graduate with a degree in Natural Sciences.
  • You will normally spend your third year overseas. We have partnerships with universities all over the world, from North America and Europe to Australia and Hong Kong. This is a great opportunity to experience life, and to study, in a different part of the world. Read our long list of partner universities around the world.
  • We also have a well-established Cultural Programme, which brings poets, writers, academics and scientific specialists to speak to you on campus, whilst also taking you on trips beyond the University to theatres and exhibitions. Recent highlights have included a guest lecture from Mervyn Morris, the Poet Laureate of Jamaica; Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro performed by the Welsh National Opera; and various performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • This is complemented by Café Culturel – a series of thought-provoking discussions held in cafes around the city which are organised collaboratively by students and staff. Topics have included the evolution of complexity and the impact of neuroscience on society.

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Alex Klein

Alex Klein

3rd Year, Liberal Arts and Sciences

“Creating my own study programme has been the highlight of the course, as the huge flexibility has allowed me to follow all of my interests, whilst simultaneously training and learning for the future career I hope to have in science.”

Become a modern scientist with the ability to work in a multidisciplinary team.

The Natural Sciences route through the Liberal Arts and Sciences programme is the perfect option if you would mostly like to concentrate on scientific study. You can study multiple sciences in combination, whilst also having the option to study the arts. This flexible programme will give you a diverse scientific education so you stand out in a competitive graduate market.

If you choose predominantly scientific subjects, it is possible to graduate with a BSc or MSci Natural Sciences on completion of the degree programme, as opposed to a BA Liberal Arts and Sciences qualification.

To qualify for BSc Natural Sciences, you need to complete at least 320 credits of the total 480 credits (120 credits per year) in scientific subjects. The remaining credits will consist of 40 credits from the Liberal Arts and Sciences core modules, and 120 credits from the whole range of subjects on offer at Birmingham: sciences, arts or humanities.

To qualify for MSci Natural Sciences, you need to complete 440 credits of the total 480 credits (120 credits per year) in scientific subjects – at least 100 of these credits should be achieved at Masters level. The remaining 40 credits are from the Liberal Arts and Sciences core modules.

Both options follow the same Liberal Arts and Sciences structure, which means you will:

  • complete the Liberal Arts and Sciences core modules
  • spend a Year Abroad in your third year
  • experience a range of activities through the Cultural Programme
  • explore the diversity of subjects on offer at Birmingham, including the arts and humanities.

Year 1

The first year of the Liberal Arts & Sciences programme will challenge you to think independently. You will study a range of diverse modules that will increase your knowledge and deepen your understanding in your chosen fields of study.

From 120 credits across a year, you will typically study 40-60 credits in your chosen subject Major, 20 credits of the Liberal Arts and Sciences core breadth module, and the remaining 40-60 credits from across the University.

You will work closely with your tutor to hone your academic skills and ensure that you are on the right track to develop a meaningful portfolio of expertise. As well as this, you will also participate in a wide range of extracurricular activities, including a team-development trip to Lake Coniston.

Year 2

Alongside the Liberal Arts and Sciences core breadth module, Year 2 will normally see you consolidate your expertise in your Major subject by taking more advanced modules. During this year, with your tutor's help, you will also be planning your year abroad. You will benefit from our alumni mentoring scheme, matching you with a professional from outside the University to discuss module choices, CV building and interview practice.

Year 3

You will spend your third year at one of our international partner institutions. This may involve further study in your Major subject, deepening your overall knowledge, but can also include branding out into new academics areas. Your year abroad gives you the chance to experience a also different portfolio of modules and to learn from a fresh academic context.

Towards the end of the year, you will be thinking about how to shape your final year of study and modules that will define your degree. Learn more about your Year Abroad

Year 4

During your final year, you will undertake a dissertation or extended project, either in your Major subject or within Liberal Arts and Sciences.  Typically, this independent project enables you to develop your expertise in your Major to a high level, but may also involve further interdisciplinary research. You will also decide (based on the portfolio of modules you have studied and fulfilling any prerequisites) whether to opt to graduate with a BA, BSc, MArt, MSci in Liberal Arts and Sciences or Natural Sciences qualification based on your credit attainment.

Your choice of Major may be subject to restrictions on numbers and to any specific entry requirements which might apply. For further details and to explore our range of options available, visit the Majors at Birmingham page.

These examples of real student programmes show how six of our students progressed throughout their four years of study - the modules they chose, where they spent their year abroad and which subject they hope to major in. As you can see, every programme is completely unique!

Why study this course

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Birmingham is a uniquely flexible degree programme which allows students the freedom to pick and choose what they study from subjects across the University.
  • If you decide to focus your studies across the sciences you have to option to graduate with a degree in Natural Sciences.
  • You will normally spend your third year overseas. We have partnerships with universities all over the world, from North America and Europe to Australia and Hong Kong. This is a great opportunity to experience life, and to study, in a different part of the world. Read our long list of partner universities around the world.
  • We also have a well-established Cultural Programme, which brings poets, writers, academics and scientific specialists to speak to you on campus, whilst also taking you on trips beyond the University to theatres and exhibitions. Recent highlights have included a guest lecture from Mervyn Morris, the Poet Laureate of Jamaica; Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro performed by the Welsh National Opera; and various performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company. 
  • This is complemented by Café Culturel – a series of thought-provoking discussions held in cafes around the city which are organised collaboratively by students and staff. Topics have included the evolution of complexity and the impact of neuroscience on society.

Open day talk

Modules

Core modules

Year 1

Year 2

Year 4

During Year 4, you will have the opportunity to undertake an independent research project either in your Major or an interdisciplinary project in Liberal Arts and Sciences. This will be either 40 credits, or 20 credits, depending on your Major and modules selected.

Optional Modules

Throughout your degree programme you will have the opportunity to undertake a range of optional modules from across the University. These will you allow you to become a flexible, interdisciplinary thinker with the ability to understand a range of challenges and issues in the Arts, Sciences and Social Sciences. You will learn how to respond creatively and to pursue imaginative solutions to interesting and significant problems. 

Natural Sciences Combinations and Majors

Students on the Liberal Arts and Sciences programme will usually have one Major subject that makes up approximately half of their degree programme. The full list of Majors can be found on our possible Majors page, along with information about any specific entry requirements. 

The remainder of the programme will consist of a range of modules in subjects of your choosing. Due to the broad range of modules available, it may not be possible to combine every Major with your desired additional modules, but we will always do our best to accommodate your academic interests. You can contact us at any time to discuss your choices in more detail.

To emphasise the breadth of modules taken by our students, you can view these examples of real student programmes.

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2017, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Fees for 2017/18 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250
  • Overseas: £15,570

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
A*AA-AAA and admissions essay

Additional information:

Admissions essay: Applicants will be asked to complete an admissions essay shortly after submitting their UCAS application. 

IB Diploma: 36-35 points and admissions essay. Standard English language requirements apply.

Required subjects and grades: For some Majors, specific A-levels or IB higher levels are required. For further details, please visit the Majors page. In some other cases a Major can be pursued subject to satisfactory performance in identified first year modules or breadth modules.

International students:

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

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.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

If you would like to follow the Natural Sciences route, applications must be made through our Liberal Arts and Sciences programme. 

Applications for Liberal Arts and Sciences are made through UCAS at www.ucas.com using code: Y001.

University of Birmingham's UCAS code number is B32.

Learn more about applying.

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.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to 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.

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts.

Taught by academics who are finding innovative solutions to big issues, you will have access to the latest knowledge and thinking by studying at Birmingham.

We use a variety of approaches to help you learn during the course of your degree. Your teaching will involve a mixture of dedicated and innovative small group experiences with fellow Liberal Arts and Sciences students and studying alongside other students in your Major field or optional modules. Throughout the programme, you will move between different Schools and departments across the University, whilst retaining a home and core support network within the Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences team.

Depending on your Major area of concentration this may involve some, or all, of large and small lectures, small group seminars and/or laboratory work. You will interact closely with the core Liberal Arts and Sciences advisory staff and fellow students as part of both your core and extramural development.

Support

From day one, we will help you to adjust to university life and studying at degree level. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including academic staff and welfare tutors who can help with both issues relating to your studies and your personal welfare. You will also undergo a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

Contact hours

Contact time will vary depending on the modules you select and your level of study. In year one, the Liberal Arts and Sciences core modules involve 2 hours per week, with your additional contact time dependent on your choice of subjects and portfolio of modules. Typically, students Majoring in the Arts and Social Sciences can expect around 10 hours a week, with the remaining time allocated to research, preparation, and assignments. If you are Majoring in the Sciences, formally timetabled work rises to about 30 hours per week.

As you progress through your studies, you are typically expected to undertake a higher level of independent guided study and your formally timetabled contact hours will adjust accordingly. Contact time for Liberal Arts and Sciences students is supported by the advice and guidance time scheduled with your personal tutor, and in your final year you receive individual supervision in support of your dissertation or independent research project.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

·         coursework, such as essays

·         group and individual presentations

·         and formal exams

Feedback - You will receive feedback on each assessment, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

 

A Liberal Arts and Sciences degree will set you apart in a competitive job market.

University of the Year for Graduate Employment LogoThroughout the programme, our students develop skills in academic resilience, initiative, and intellectual independence. Liberal Arts and Sciences graduates have the ability to research and analyse complex information, work independently and as part of a team, and create compelling solutions to problems.

Supported by the University's Careers Network team, you will be encouraged to acquire and develop your skills for the jobs of tomorrow. Throughout the course of your degree, you will develop a range of abilities from communication to research, analysis to leadership which will equip you to succeed.

Many graduates find employment in areas far removed from their primary area of study at University – or are likely to change careers several times in their lives, sometimes engaging in a wider range of jobs with the same employer. Our Liberal Arts and Sciences programme recognises this phenomenon and is designed to meet the growing demand from leading employers in the UK and internationally, for a new breed of dynamic business, public service, and political leaders. 

"The multidisciplinary nature of the programme and the wide variety of opportunities it offers in terms of study abroad, internships, mentoring etc will develop graduates that are more well-rounded, robust and ultimately more employable. I believe that increased flexibility and later, more informed, subject specialisation will result in graduates who have a clearer vision of where they want to get to than students who have followed a more traditional UK single-subject disciplinary route" 
Dewan, CEO and Founding Partner, Hassium Asset Management LLP

Internationally, Liberal Arts and Sciences graduates progress to the legal professions, major consultancy and management firms, postgraduate study or graduate entry to medicine (subject to following an appropriate pathway during the programme). Other students will progress to graduate study, and this can be accelerated in selected cases by access to Masters levels modules in the final year.

Besides this, you'll benefit from unparalleled support. You will not only have the opportunity to learn from a Birmingham graduate through our alumni mentoring programme, but you'll have dedicated support for finding internships and making appropriate choices to become an influential graduate in your own right.