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Biological Sciences (Human Biosciences)
UCAS code: C1C9
Start dates: September 2023 / September 2024
Full time: 3 years
Part time: part-time study is possible
Location: Headington, Headington (Marston Road site)
Department(s): Department of Biological and Medical Sciences
Are you ready to learn how our bodies work? Do you want to make a difference to human health through innovative research and practice?
Our BSc Biological Sciences (Human Biosciences) degree will help you develop the skills you need in this new era of genomics. It’ll provide you with a solid foundation in key topics such as physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, cell biology, neuroscience, nutrition, and genomics.
Through a mix of academic and lab training, you’ll sharpen vital skills. Our labs are equipped with industry standard modern technology. And our reputation for outstanding research work stands us in good stead with the local Oxford biosciences industry and hospitals, especially when students come to apply for work placements and graduate jobs.
Our team of dedicated, research-active academics are committed to your success. As a graduate of our degree, you’ll possess an attractive set of skills for a career in the medical and health-allied industry, biological organisations, or university research and teaching.
Why Oxford Brookes University?
A range of teaching labs with industry-standard equipment, as well as research labs for projects.
We pride ourselves on the connection our staff have with our students. This will support your academic and personal development.
We offer modules to help you identify interesting career paths and to develop your professional skills. These are supported with the opportunity to gain work experience through a placement year, a work experience module and a research project.
Strong industry links
We're able to offer great guest speakers and work experience opportunities due to our excellent industry links. These include biotechnology, conservation, NHS Trusts, start-ups as well as local bioscience companies and top research centres.
Explore a different country and culture. Step out of your comfort zone. The option to study abroad is available for this course.
Free language courses
Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.
You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Brookes. Most exchanges take place in the second year. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.
On our BSc Biological Sciences (Human Biosciences) degree, you’ll examine the biology of humans at a systematic and whole-human organism level. Your first year will ground you in core topics such as cell biology, human physiology, anatomy, and basic science skills.
In your second year, you’ll study molecular biology. Specifically, the structure and function of prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. You’ll also examine integrated physiology. Your options include the biochemistry of cell function, genetics, and applied human nutrition.
We’ll encourage you to consider taking an industrial placement or doing a work experience module. Alternatively, you’ll be able to gain first-hand experience within a professional environment in your final year.
As part of your final year, you can showcase your knowledge and expertise in an area that interests you through a project. Your project will be conducted in a research setting or industrial laboratory.
Learning and teaching
Throughout the course we focus on applying fundamental biology to real life issues. You will focus on applying your knowledge in practical settings, either in the lab or out in the field.
You have the opportunity to gain a wide range of skills. These include:
- molecular techniques
- advanced light and electron microscopy
- field-based methods for species and landscape assessment
- cutting edge methodologies for the study of evolution and developmental biology
Our teaching methods include:
Assessment is designed to shape and develop learning, not simply measure it.
Our assessment methods include:
- laboratory or field notebooks
- scientific reports
- oral presentations
You’ll reflect on your progress with assignment feedback together with your diaries.
Biology of Cells
Human Structure & Function
The Practising Scientist
Introduction to Biochemistry A
Introduction to Biochemistry B
Introduction to Nutrition
Death, Disease and Doctors: Medicine and Society
The module aims to provide essential training in professional career management skills designed to assist you in actively planning and preparing for your future career. It will take you through a career development cycle starting with discovering your potential, exploring opportunities (jobs, post graduate study or training), plotting a way forward and making it happen.
A study of structure and function of prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes at the molecular level with an overview on the experimental evidence that has contributed to current concepts, models and paradigms and practical experience of key molecular biology laboratory techniques. The module focuses on aspects of genetic engineering and environmental applications of modern molecular tools, with emphasis on phylogeny, ecology and evolution.
An examination of aspects of sleep physiology and the physiology and selected pathophysiology of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and renal systems in humans. In many textbooks, these systems are treated in relative isolation, but in the functioning body, their activities are integrated and interdependent. For example, blood pressure is effectively regulated by both the cardiovascular system and the kidneys, similarly pH is regulated by the lungs and the kidneys and sleep will affect respiration and vice versa. In this module we will consider these individual systems from an integrated view point. This will also be reflected in the approach to the description of relevant pathological conditions.
Biochemistry of Cell Function
The module considers the biochemistry of eukaryotic cells with an emphasis on mammalian tissues. Using several approaches, we will explore the biochemistry of eukaryotic cells, including the chemical nature of the compounds that are involved in cellular processes. Examples of diseases caused by failures in these processes reinforce understanding and provide relevance and application. The module emphasises relationships between events at the cellular level and at the systemic level, building a clear picture of the importance of biochemical events in human health and disease. In addition, some of the most relevant biomedical diagnostic techniques will be discussed.
Biological applications, whether in industry, academia or health care, are increasingly reliant on generating and analysing high-throughput global level (“-omic”) data. Analysing such high-throughput data requires a new breed of biologists with some level of competency in bioinformatics and computational biology. This module provides an introduction to computational thinking in the biological sciences. This involves learning programming to tailor bespoke solutions to biological problems and developing a capacity to approach biological problems from a computational perspective (computational thinking). Additionally students are introduced to a variety of –omic data types (RNA, DNA, Protein-level), public databases and publicly available software for bioinformatics applications. Bioinformatics provides key highly transferable skills that can be used in academia, or in other work case scenarios.
This module introduces students on how to get biologically meaningful answers from data while providing a generic introduction to concepts of ‘big data’ and machine learning. This conceptual framework is delivered via a more practical approach where students learn how to program, analyse, manage and communicate data from diverse biological disciplines using the R language for statistical computing.
This module focuses on patterns of genetic inheritance at different scales from individuals to populations to evolutionary lineages. It will develop an understanding of Mendelian/transmission, quantitative, population, ecological and evolutionary genetics and an ability to analyse and interpret genetic data.
This module focuses on eukaryotic cell structures and functions and highlights examples from animals, plants and fungi. The composition and functions of the cytoskeleton, cell membranes and cell components including chloroplasts, mitochondria and the nucleus will be discussed. In addition, cellular processes such as cell division and cell death will also be examined. Students will use well established methods such as fluorescent microscopy of living cells to experimentally investigate topics from lectures in lab classes.
Human Nutrition and Metabolism
This module provides a detailed examination of sources of metabolic energy and other nutrients required by human metabolism, including their sources in food and the UK diet and the consequences of sub-optimal intake or excess. The students will gain a detailed understanding of nutritional biochemistry including the mechanisms for the integration of metabolism at the molecular, cellular and whole body levels. Nutrient requirements will be discussed with reference to UK Dietary Reference Values.
Applied Human Nutrition
This module is a detailed study of the features and problems of nutrition-related disease in the UK, Europe and other prosperous countries and communities. The module will explore the relationship between food, health and chronic disease. The module is composed of three broad sections: nutrigenomics (the role of nutrients on gene expression and the genetic susceptibility to disease stages); chronic diseases (e.g. obesity, diabetes mellitus, cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome); and specialist topics (vegetarianism, alcohol). Students participate in a laboratory-based class activity that explores the challenges of preparing nutritionally-adequate meals for people with special dietary requirements. This involves learning how to use specialist dietary analysis software (Nutritics), which is a key skill for any nutritionist. The practical session is also a useful opportunity to encourage students to take a food-based approach to nutrition.
An individual project related to some aspect of the student's degree subject. The associated practical work may be conducted in a research or industrial laboratory or in the field, depending on the nature of the project.
Professional Skills & Techniques
This module focuses on the development of the professional skills, personalised to your career ambitions. You will select three ‘podules’ from a selection of podules, which draw upon our research expertise and links with external partners. Podules will cover a wide range topics relevant to your degree, such as advanced microscopy, protein biochemistry, species identification, geographic information systems, entrepreneurship or science communication. Each podule consists of an introductory lecture, plenty of hands-on experience, and a seminar in which you will learn more about the application of ‘your’ skill in different contexts.
Molecular Biology of Cancer
An exploration of the nature and causes of cancer with particular emphasis on the molecular biology of underlying mechanisms. The role of oncogenes, tumour suppressor genes, and cell signalling is explored. The role played by other cellular processes such as the cell cycle, apoptosis, cell growth and division, and DNA repair in cancer development is also explored. The module is framed around the concepts of the ‘hallmarks of cancer’ and will also explore the emerging field of cancer genomics as well as cover the therapeutic options for tumour patients.
Advanced Genetics and Genomics
The module will specifically focus on the use of natural variation for the study of population history, selection inference, and analysing variation in complex traits; the use of comparative genomics and phylogenetics to understand evolutionary relationships and investigate gene and genome evolution; the role of microbiomes in human health and ecosystems and the study of gene function. Key techniques discussed include access and retrieval of data from public resources, population statistics, phylogenetics (including co-evolution between genomes), genome-wide association studies, gene annotation, transcriptome analysis, transcription factor binding prediction and characterisation of epigenetic modifications. Students will apply knowledge to devise a research programme addressing one such current challenge in biological and medical science.
The key areas of genomics, human genetics and genetic variation will be introduced. An understanding of genetics in disease and how genomic medicine can be utilised to elucidate disease mechanisms and biology will be developed. Basic genetics and genomics will be discussed to enable development of understanding the role of genetics in disease and how genomic information can be utilised to elucidate disease mechanisms and biology. Effects of gene mutations and gene polymorphisms in human health including an in-depth discussion of linkage and association studies.
The module aims to explore at an advanced level the pathogenesis, pathology and pathophysiology of common cardio-pulmonary disease conditions including obstructive and restrictive lung disease, heart failure and obstructive sleep apnoea. Module content will link key physiological principles (including expiratory airflow limitation, acid-base balance, ventilation/perfusion matching and pulmonary hypoxic vasoconstriction) to understanding pathophysiological mechanisms. Students will be exposed to cutting-edge and controversial issues in the field through a combination of problem-based learning case study, student debates, hospital visits and guest lectures by medical and healthcare professionals within the field.
The core of the module will comprise lectures on a range of topics that are currently major research fields in neuroscience. At the beginning of the module there will be a review of neuronal structure and function, human neuroanatomy, and the development of the vertebrate nervous system. Core lectures will then focus on the development of the brain, and how neural systems give rise to perception, memory and ultimately consciousness. The module will allow students to develop and study in depth their own particular interests in specific areas of neuroscience research, and this will be assessed by a written project and a presentation.
This module provides a detailed study of nutrition theory and practice within a clinical setting. It takes a 'process' approach to clinical nutrition and outlines the general principles and processes that underlie most clinical cases. The module will explore human energy requirements during health, disease states and in clinical settings. It also investigates the management of nutrition-related diseases, and the uses of clinical dietary therapy and therapeutic diets. It also examines the underpinning supporting research evidence for clinical practice as appropriate. The focus will be on nutritional management of common diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, renal/liver disease.
Advanced Topics in Cell Biology and Bio-imaging
This module is designed to give students an in-depth appreciation of currently topical areas in the cell biology of mammals, yeast and plants, and the techniques underpinning the associated research. Topics to be covered will include cell signalling, the endomembrane system, and the cell cycle. Control of these three aspects of cell biology is, ultimately, at the level of interacting proteins and these interactions will be explored. Advanced experimental bio-imaging is one of the most powerful experimental methods for investigation of cell biology and confocal light microscopy will be used in practicals to observe living cells of animals and plants and to measure the strength of protein interactions in different biological situations.
The ‘Work Experience’ module is a supervised work-based learning experience. You will spend a minimum of 60 hours in a working environment that is relevant to your future career path. By learning how to reflect on your learning and professional development, and how to present your insights in a written essay and in a video, you will develop useful skills for your future job applications.
Independent Study in Life Sciences
A study (normally library-based) of a topic of the student's choosing that is relevant to the student's programme but not formally offered as part of the taught course. A learning contract is agreed between the student and a supervising member of staff in the semester prior to the one in which the study is to be undertaken, and this must be approved by the Subject Examination Committee. Only once the learning contract has been formally approved will the module be registered on the student's programme of study.
Year 3 (optional placement year)
Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.
This degree equips you with the skills you need to make a difference as a professional scientist and practitioner. Previous graduates have gone on to work in a variety of fields: teaching and research, biotechnology, drug development, medicine and health care professions (e.g. physician associate and midwifery).
Popular job roles include:
- clinical trials coordinator,
- food technologist,
- lab technician,
- biomedical scientist.
Oxford provides many opportunities for our graduates. The city is surrounded by innovative bioscience companies and renowned research centres such as the Nuffield and Churchill hospitals.
Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.
UCAS Tariff Points: 104
A Level: BCC
IB Points: 29
UCAS Tariff Points: 88
A Level: CCD
IB Points: 27
Specific entry requirements
A Level: Including one A Level or a comparable Level 3 qualification in a science subject (e.g. Physical Education, Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics, Psychology).
If you do not have a background in science, we encourage you to consider our Life Sciences Foundation year..
Please also see the University's general entry requirements.
English language requirements
Pathways courses for international and EU students
If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, or if you would like more preparation before you start, you can take an international foundation course. Once you enrol, you will have a guaranteed pathway to this degree if you pass your foundation course with the required grades.
If you only need to meet the language requirements, you can take our pre-sessional English course. You will develop key language and study skills for academic success and you will not need to take an external language test to progress to your degree.
English requirements for visas
If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.
Many of our courses consider applications for entry part-way through the course for students who have credit from previous learning or relevant professional experience.
Find out more about transferring to Brookes. If you'd like to talk through your options, please contact our Admissions team.
Terms and Conditions of Enrolment
When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.
International qualifications and equivalences
How to apply
Full time international applicants can also apply through UCAS
Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088
Please note, tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students.
Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.
Financial support and scholarships
Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.
There are some additional costs for the course including the purchase of a lab coat, safety goggles, stationery such as a lab notebook, printing and text books (though the library will have some copies). If the student opts for the placement year then there will be living costs associated with this year but we encourage students to seek a placement with a bursary or a paid placement to mitigate this. Work experience also may also incur travel costs.
Information from Discover Uni
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.