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 2019. 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.
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. You also take a Widening Horizon Module, which allows you to access to content from other Schools, from Humanities to the Sciences to Engineering.
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.
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
Cell Biology and Physiology - Tissues, organelles, reproduction and development.
Ecological Concepts and Plant Sciences - This module provides a broad overview of the biology of our environment, including topics such as climate change, conservation, ecophysiology and cell biology of plants.
Genetics I - Storage of genetic information, gene expression and regulation, mitosis and meiosis, gene linkage and chromosome mapping.
Widening Horizon Module (WHM) - allows you to explore content from other academic programmes of this university in the form of a stand-alone module. More information on WHMs 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
Core modules (taken by all students on the Biochemistry programme)
Communication and Skills in Biosciences - Science communication in videography, writing and speaking, 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.
Example optional modules may include:
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.
Evolution of Humans and Other Animals – The primary aim of this module is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of comparative animal biology in an evolutionary context.
Human Structure and Function – Human anatomy and how it relates to its function and evolutionary origin.
Critical Issues for 21st Century Ecosystems - Core skills in ecosystem knowledge
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
You will spent the third year at an overseas institution, studying biochemistry in English. There is a wide range of possible destinations. You can find details of partner institutions and other information here . You will need to apply formally for the international year during your second year, and the application involves a personal statement and why you wish to study at the chosen overseas institution. Your tutor will support you in this process. Note that you will be asked to identify three possible destinations, as not everyone can be accommodated at their number one choice.
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.
Final year modules
Choose four optional modules*
Example optional modules may include:
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.
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.
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.
* This module is under review and content will likely change from 2018/2019 onwards
Which courses should I apply for?
You may apply either for the main Biological Sciences degree programme or for one of the specialist degree labels eg, Genetics or Zoology . The selection criteria are identical in either case, and there is no advantage in applying for more than one of the courses. The design of our courses allows students to delay specialisation until the second year, or to transfer between specialist degree labels as interests develop or change.