Human Biology BSc (Hons)

Start date
September
Duration
3 years
UCAS code
C103
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours
Fees
£9,250 (Home/EU - 2020-21)
£22,260 Fee Band 3a (International Students - 2020-21)
More detail

When you study for this Human Biology BSc degree at Birmingham, you’ll focus on the aspects of biology which are most relevant to our own species; genetics, physiology, cell biology, evolution and development, for example.

The Human Biology BSc is a flexible programme that gives you a broad understanding of biological principles, but also lets you pursue your own interests and helps you to fulfil your career ambitions.

Recent exciting advances, such as the human genome sequence or research into stem cells, have intrigued us all with their promise of new ways to treat complex diseases. Over the next decade, we’ll start to see the impact of these developments in our daily lives, but none of this would be possible without human biology.

Royal Society of Biology - Accredited Degree This programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of employers.

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Our Human Biology BSc degree course draws on our research expertise in this area.

Humans are arguably the most complex living species on this planet. From genetics to embryonic development to mechanisms of disease, studying human biology entails many facets. As a degree course, Human Biology is a platform from which you can embark on diverse careers, not limited to the life sciences.

The School of Biosciences encompasses over 60 academic staff with research interests across the full spectrum of biology. Immunity and infection, cancer biology and cellular signalling are represented as well research into human blood disorders, such as leukaemia or cardiovascular disease.

With a Human Biology degree, you will acquire a wide range of skills that enable careers not just in the life science, but across a wide range of professions. Taking advantage of one of the 4-year course options will add value to your CV and help you to stand out. However, a University degree course is not just about a professional education, it is first and foremost about studying was fascinates us most. For inspiration, check out our collection of related research stories

 

The beauty of a biology degree is there are so many paths to follow as it’s such a broad subject.

Phoebe, BSc Human Biology

Why Study this Course?

There are many reasons to study Human Biology BSc at Birmingham:

  • Employability – We are ranked 5th in the Russell Group for graduate prospects (The Complete University Guide 2019).
  • Accreditation - All UG programmes are accredited by the Royal Society of Biology as containing a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and preparing graduates to meet the needs of employers.
  • Research-led teaching – Our world-leading research feeds directly into our programmes, meaning you will learn from academics who are experts in their field.

Modules

The Human Biology course offers you a comprehensive view of man as a biological species. You will study genetics, physiology, cell biology, evolution and development. Each year of study will feature one or several signature modules that are exclusive to the Human Biology course, along with modules that draw on relevant content from our full spectrum of degree courses.

The modular structure of the course allows you to follow your specific interests in Human Biology. During your first year you will learn about the foundations of human biology by studying on our core modules to explore different aspects of human biology. Following this, you will enjoy an increasing level of freedom of choice. in the 2nd and final year. Below we outline the modules available for each of the three years.

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 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. 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


Human Nutrition and Metabolism - Exploring four broad themes: nutrition, energy metabolism, practical biochemistry techniques, and regulation and deregulation of metabolic pathways.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 40 credits from the following project modules:

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.

Living in Groups: Collective Behaviour in Animals - This module explores features and rules of group behaviour in animals.

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.

Genetic Variations in Humans and other Eukaryotes - 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.

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

Fees

Standard Home/EU student fees 2020-21

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2020, 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 2020-21

International fee
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 3a (Laboratory) £22,260

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

Standard offer

International Requirements



Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
AAB
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.

For applicants without AS (minimum grade C) or A2 Chemistry, grade 6/B GCSE Chemistry or double awards science is required.

°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 and World Development.

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 B 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, 5  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 also 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.

We have dedicated academic tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond. During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into University.  You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

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, for 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, 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 allowing you to complete the work at your own pace. In addition to 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.
  • Tutorials - A personal tutorial system is an essential 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 research students 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.

Contact Hours

Throughout your Human Biology degree you can expect an average of about 12 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 usually 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 coursework, 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 make use of a wide range of types of feedback, such as: written feedback on your assessments, class feedback 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.

 

walayat-qamar-large-new“My BSc qualification and knowledge proved a vital stepping stone to my postgraduate qualification in engineering.”

Qamar Walayat - Clinical Embryologist, Birmingham Women’s Hospital
Read more...

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 significant number 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. Did you know that PhDs are fully funded and that postgraduate students receive a tax free stipend equivalent to a salary?

We are ranked 5th in the Russell Group for graduate prospects (The Complete University Guide 2019).

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.