Biological Sciences with Professional Placement MSci (Hons)

Start date
September
Duration
4 years
UCAS code
C102
Course Type
Undergraduate, Industrial professional experience, Single Honours
Fees
£9,250 (Home/EU - 2019-20)
£21,180 Fee Band 3a (International Students - 2019-20)
More detail

The Biological Sciences with Professional Placement MSci course offers the opportunity to combine an academic degree course with a full year of professional training in a setting outside the University.

The course builds on the content and structure of the corresponding 3-year BSc Biological Sciences course. Its key feature is the placement between second and final year, while you have access to all modules available in the corresponding 3-year course.

Royal Society of Biology - Advanced Accredited Degree This programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology following an independent and rigorous assessment. Advanced Degree accreditation highlights the degrees that have the potential to educate the life science leaders and innovators of the future.

This flexible Biological Sciences with Professional Placement degree programme combines academic education with professional training in a non­-University setting. The modular course programme allows you to explore the full spectrum of biology, from ecosystems and organisms to molecular biology, keeping either a broad perspective or focussing on a narrowly defined area.

Students on the MSci Professional Placement course cannot be awarded one of the 3-­year specialist degree titles (Genetics, Zoology). Nevertheless there are no restrictions on your ability to choose modules of these areas.

The placement extends over 10-11 months, intercalated between the second and final year. The project you will pursue during your placement 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
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Pfizer
  • Centre for Population Biology
  • Cambridge Antibody Technology
  • Forsite Technology
  • The Field Studies Council
  • Medimmune
  • National Sealife Birmingham
  • The Binding Site
  • Basilea (Switzerland)
  • Celltech
  • Florida State University
  • Kew Gardens
  • University of Melbourne
  • Archipelagos
  • Mars Petcare
  • Harper Adams University

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.

Why Study this Course?

There are many reasons to study Biological Sciences with Professional Placement MSci at Birmingham:

  • We rank 5th for graduate employability in the Russell Group Universities. Our graduates work in diverse careers such as medicine, conservation, agriculture and more.
  • World top 100 for Biological Sciences in the QS World University Rankings by subject 2018
  • Adding professional placement experience to your resume will help you to stand out.
  • At Birmingham, teaching and research go hand in hand. Module content in the final year of the course leads right up to the cutting edge and in your project work you can become involved in research that matters
  • We pride ourselves in our 'enquiry-based learning' strategy that will equip you with the skills to achieve full potential in your future career.

Modules

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.

First Year

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. 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.

Second Year

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 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 

Global Challenges and Plant Science | 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. You will have an academic mentor based at Birmingham and a supervisor at the placement site. 

Final 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. 

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?

Fees

Standard Home/EU student fees 2019-20

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2019, 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.

Standard international student fees 2019-20

International fee
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 3a (Laboratory) £21,180

Standard fees apply (you will find information regarding the standard fee for a placement year).
Learn more about fees and funding 

Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

 


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

EU Referendum

Answering your questions and concerns about the outcome of the EU referendum.

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. 

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
AAA
Required subjects and grades:
A level Biology/Human Biology and a second science°. Minimum of five GCSEs to include Mathematics, English and double award science at grade 4/C.

°Subjects accepted as 'second science': Chemistry, Mathematics (or Further Mathematics or Statistics), Physics, Geography, Geology, Psychology

Specified subjects excluded for entry:  General Studies, Critical Thinking, Citizenship Studies, Applied Science, Communication and Culture, Critical Studies, Global Perspectives, Science in Society, Use of Maths 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 Extended Diploma in Applied Science with sufficient Biology and Chemistry content is only accepted when combined with an A level in a required subject. Grades D*D*D* required in addition to grade A in a required subject A level.

BTEC Diploma accepted when combined with two acceptable A levels.

BTEC Subsidiary Diploma is not accepted.

Access to HE (Science) with sufficient Biology and Chemistry content is considered. Contact Admissions Team for details.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International Students

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6, 6, 6  in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall. Higher level subjects need to include the required subjects as defined for the A-level qualification.

Standard English language requirements apply
Learn more about international entry requirements

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.

The Collaborative Teaching Laboratory is a brand new state-of-the-art facility designed to support the latest methods in laboratory teaching for STEM subjects.

Collaborative Teaching Laboratory

As a Birmingham student you will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent thinker, however you will have plenty of contact with the staff who teach you.

Your personal tutor

Tutor groups include a maximum of 6 students and each tutor looks after one tutorial group in each of the years. You will have one-on-one meetings with your tutor at least once a term.

Seminars and tutorials

  • Lectures - At Birmingham, we support lectures through recordings of the session, so you can revisit and review parts of the session as needed. Lectures frequently include interactive elements, instance by using instant polling. Occasionally, we use 'flipped' lectures, asking you to study a particular topic prior to a session, and using the contact time to explore the topic in more depth through problem solving exercises, question-and-answer sessions or lecturer-led group discussions. Student interaction using discussion boards and social media is expressively encouraged.
  • Practical classes - Laboratory-based practical work is an integral part of our degree. A typical practical session will last 3 hours  delivering important transferable skills, experience of practical work is essential if you wish to move into a research career and is valued by a wide range of employers. You will be able to engage with academic and post graduate researchers who will help you during these practical sessions.
  • Field courses - Biological Sciences students have the opportunity to develop their field skills on a wide range of field courses in different environments. See the Course Modules tab for details.
  • Tutorials - A personal tutorial system is an integral feature of our degree programme and your tutors will help you in three important areas: supporting your academic progress, developing transferable skills and helping with any welfare issues. You will normally have the same tutor throughout the course, who will get to know you well as you progress towards graduation.
  • Project (final year) - A core component of your final year is the project, which principally comes in two forms: as a practical project (Laboratory, field, outreach or computational) or as an extended dissertation. In both situations, a lecturer or professor will guide and advise you. But the principal aim is to lead you to independence as a future graduate in your field. 

    You will join one of the research groups in the School for the practical project, and you will work on a topic or question that draws on current research activity. You will receive training in relevant research techniques and you will have to document your work and its results in a thesis-like report. 

    The dissertation project asks you to explore the research literature in a narrowly defined area of scholarship, with three aims: one, to write a comprehensive review of that area, two, to explore and analyse a small set of articles in depth, and three, to develop a new research proposal from your review and in-depth analysis.

    Our e-learning platform Canvas provides a wide range of learning resources. Recordings of lecture sessions, reading material and links to resources on external sites, quizzes, video material and so on. We use Canvas to provided individual feedback on some of the assessments, for instance on essays. Finally, Canvas serves as a discussion forum that can be tailored to individual classes or groups.

Lecturers and world leading researchers

You will be taught by our professors and lecturers, while doctoral researchers will support practicals as demonstrators. You can find out more about the members of academic staff in the School of Biosciences here where you can read about their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest.

Clinical anatomist, author and broadcaster Alice Roberts is the University's Professor of Public Engagement in Science. Alice carries out a range of academic duties which include teaching second year Biosciences students.

Resources and facilities

Our spacious state-of-the-art teaching laboratories are the training ground for your skills development, and you will have access to high-technology facilities during your final-year project.

Contact Hours

Throughout your Biological Sciences degree you can expect an average of about 15 hours of contact time per week over the two teaching terms (autumn and spring). This will be made up of lectures, practical laboratory workshops and seminars. The proportion of time spent in each will vary depending on which year you are in and the optional modules you choose.

Assessment Methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. Each module is assessed independently, and all modules contain some components of continuous assessment, that is, assessment taking place during the teaching terms. Continuous assessment generally accounts for one quarter to one third of the mark for a given module, while the remainder is contributed by the end-of-year examination in the summer term. A subset of modules is assessed entirely through course work, without an end-of-year examination.

At the beginning of each module, you'll be given information on how and when you'll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You'll receive feedback on each assessment within three weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You'll be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

More information about assessment methods and feedback is given below:

  • Feedback - You will be able to track your development by making use of a wide range of types of feedback, such as: written feedback on your assessments, class feedback and questions sessions and discussions with your tutor. An important avenue for providing individualised feedback is the e-learning platform Canvas.
  • Examinations - The end-of-year examinations take place in May, June each year. Length and format of the exams changes from first to final year. We give you access to marking criteria, while mock exam and marking sessions allow you to get a sense what to aim for, helping ease any apprehension you might have.
  • Continuous assessment - During the teaching terms you will gather marks through assessments in a variety of formats. Essays, poster or oral presentations, or group submissions will feature at various points. Most practicals require you to submit a write-up and some also feature a proficiency test prior to the session. The weighting of these assessments is small, therefore occasional missteps are not likely to jeopardise progression.
  • Projects and dissertations - You will choose the topic of your project from a wide range of titles. We offer a range of project opportunities, including practical work in the laboratory, field work, computer based projects, or literature reviews to give you the chance to demonstrate the full range of academic and transferable skills.

Almost 95% of our graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduating  2015/16 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey

Advances in the biosciences are having a profound impact on our daily lives in areas from human health to conservation. Biotechnology, biological pharmaceuticals, and personalised medicine are key growth areas in the health sector. Environmental remediation, climate change and related themes pose multi-faceted challenges for the coming decades. Expert knowledge in biology and the life sciences will be in high demand for the foreseeable future, with bright prospects for exciting and rewarding careers in research, teaching, industry, the NHS and the public sector.

A substantial part of our graduates choose to take a further degree, a postgraduate Masters or PhD. For many career paths, a further degree is an essential stepping-stone, including (but not limited to) careers in research. Our graduates are highly sought after by universities around the world, many stay in Birmingham and join one of our prestigious research groups. 

Careers Network

Careers Network, our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoringglobal internships and placements available to you.  Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Professional Accreditation

Royal Society of Biology - Accredited Degree This programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology following an independent and rigorous assessment. Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of employers. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.