Human Biology Module Information

For BSc Human Biology (C103) and MSci Human Biology (C106)

This overview also covers modules studied in the MSci Professional Placement (C105), BSc International Year (C301) courses.

The Fundamentals

Each academic year includes 120 credits. Most modules comprise 20 credits, with about 25-30 lectures per term, in addition to practicals and workshops. During the teaching terms (Oct–Dec, Jan–Mar), you will have 10-15 hours of timetabled sessions per week. End-of-year examinations follow for most modules in the summer term (April–June).

To pass a module you need to achieve at least 40% (50% in the Masters year, when studying for the MSci). Practical reports, workshops or short class tests can contribute up to 40% to a module mark, but progression primarily depends on the end-of-year examination. In order to progress to the second and third year, you need to pass modules worth at least 100 credits in each year.

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.


Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2024. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


First Year

The Human Biology course begins with an introduction to key concepts in biology, from molecular and cellular features to the concept of evolution, including genetics and physiology. Skills training is an integral part of the course at all levels.

First year modules

Key modules

Human Biochemistry - covers 3 main areas of human biochemistry: human nutrition and digestion;  biological enzymes and their regulation; and basic primary metabolism and its control.

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.

Other modules:

Cell Biology and Physiology - Tissues, organelles, reproduction and development.

Genetics I  - Storage of genetic information, gene expression and regulation, mitosis and meiosis, gene linkage and chromosome mapping.

Fundamentals of Biochemistry - Fundamental biochemical processes taking place inside cells

Introduction to Microbiology  |   Watch video  - Broad introduction to microbiology with a focus on infectious disease, covering bacteria, fungi, protists, archaea and viruses

WHM - Biochemistry

Beth Pattle, first year student "I chose human biology because I really felt that I wanted to specialise after previously studying a wide spectrum of topics at A level. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year; it is hard work but very rewarding."

Anatomical model of human face

Second Year

The second year features a combination of core modules that all students on the Human Biology course follow, and elective modules, where you can start to define your personal direction in the course.

Second year modules

Core modules(taken by all students on the Human Biology programme)

Molecular Biology and its Applications – Genetic analysis and gene cloning, DNA fingerprinting and forensics, genomics and computational approaches to genetics.

Communications and Skills in Biosciences – Science communication in videography, writing and speaking, ethics in science, analysis of the scientific literature.

Human Structure and Function – Human anatomy and how it relates to its function and evolutionary origin.

Choose four optional modules
Example optional modules may include:

Cell and Developmental Biology – Development of multicellular organisms, interaction between cells and the cellular matrix, regulation of stem cell function.

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.

Topics in Medical Biosciences – Neurobiology and neurotransmitters, pharmacology and anaesthetics, blood constituents and haemostasis, complement and immunity.

Genetics II – Organisation of genes and genomes, generation of genetic diversity, gene transmission and analysis of problems in transmission and molecular genetics.

Microbes and Man – The impact of microbes on humans, bacteria, fungi and viruses, common themes of infectious disease mechanisms.

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.

Final Year

The core component of the final year is the Project, which covers 40 of 120 final year credits and stretches over both Semester 1 and 2. In dialogue with a lecturer or professor, you will do your own research and be led to intellectual independence. A diverse spectrum of elective modules allows you to explore individual facets of human biology according to your personal preference and interests.

You may choose between a laboratory project, a two-part library research or a computing-based project. Students choose their project from an extensive list near the end of their 2nd year. Some even arrange a project independently in collaboration with an academic member of staff. Whichever path you choose, you will find that the project is particular highlight of your academic training and experience.

Final year modules

Core content


Choose four optional modules* 
Example optional modules may include:

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.

Cancer Biology – Regulation of cell division and aberrations in malignant tumours, genetic bases of tumourigenesis, programmed cell death.

Cellular Signalling** - Signal transduction in and between cells, G-protein coupled receptors, phospholipid and Ca2+ signalling, ligand-gated ion channels and electrical responses.

Molecular Basis of Bacterial Infection |  Watch video - Evolution of bacterial virulence, antibiotics and antibiotics resistance, genomic data in analysing pathogenicity.

Structures of Destruction - Bacterial and viral pathogens explored from the perspective of their molecular structures, protein misfolding and amyloid diseases.

Bacterial Gene Regulation - How genes are switched on or off in response to external stimuli, how control of gene expression can be explored experimentally.

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.

Genetics III - Genetic variation in humans and model organisms, dynamics of chromosome organisation during mitosis and meiosis, genome instability.

Cellular Neurobiology** |  Watch video - Neuronal function and neural development, synaptic function, transmitter receptors and ion channels.

Applied and Environmental Microbiology- Microbial communities, how they compete, and behave socially.

Eukaryotic Gene Expression - The central processes in gene expression are transcription and translation. Control of gene expression plays an important role in development, homeostasis and disease. This module explores the molecular mechanisms used to control gene expression, including transcription initiation, post-transcriptional control and epigenetic.

* Modules run either in Semester 1 or Semester 2. Particular combinations of modules may not be advisable, especially if all 4 choices were to run in the same semester.

** This module is under review and content will likely change from 2018/2019 onwards

Masters Year (MSci)

The 4-year MSci course builds on the 3-year BSc course, and offers a research-focused fourth year, where the 80-credit research project takes centre stage. Along your lab-based research, you will take a Research Development Module, where you attend and track seminars by guest speakers visiting our School, get training in problem solving and data handling, as well as working on research-related assignments. A taught module drawn from the specialist modules of the third year complements the programme. We are proud that the Society of Biologyhas accredited our Human Biology degree programmes, vouching for teaching excellence and skills employers are looking for.

Professional Placement (MSci)

The Human Biology with Professional Placement (MSci) course (4 years) draws on the same spectrum of modules as the corresponding 3-year course. During second year you start applying for your placements on the back of specific training sessions. The placement follows in your third year, and you return to the University for your fourth and final year. Placements are not limited to the UK.International YearThe International Year gives the opportunity to study your subject at an overseas University. There are 50+ possible destinations, including Europe, but the language of teaching will always be English. For more information visit this link here.

Module in a minute videos

Meet some of the undergraduate lecturers in the School of Biosciences as they describe the content of a selection of modules from the Human Biology degree programme in more-or-less a minute.