Biological Sciences (Human Biosciences)

BSc (Hons)

UCAS code: C1C9

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 3 years

Part time: 6 years

Location: Headington, Headington (Marston Road site)

Department(s): Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

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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.

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Amazing facilities

    A range of teaching labs with industry-standard equipment, as well as research labs for projects.

  • Student support

    We pride ourselves on the connection our staff have with our students. This will support your academic and personal development.

  • Employment success

    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.

  • International exchanges

    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.

  • Study abroad

    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.

Course details

Course structure

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.

Students working at a table

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
  • bioinformatics
  • 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: 

  • lectures
  • practicals
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • surgeries.


Assessment is designed to shape and develop learning, not simply measure it. 

Our assessment methods include:

  • essays
  • reviews
  • examinations
  • laboratory or field notebooks
  • scientific reports
  • posters
  • oral presentations.

You’ll reflect on your progress with assignment feedback together with your diaries.

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Cell Biology and Genetics

    Cell biology is the study of how cells work and how they differentiate to form multicellular organisms. 

    This module is your introduction to cell function - you will study the different types of molecules within cells and build your knowledge about cellular organelles and their functions. You’ll explore the increasing levels of complexity and the diversity of cell types that have arisen through evolution.  

    On this module you’ll also look at genetics. What are genes and how do they work to bring about the traits that we observe in organisms? We will examine cell division in detail and look at how DNA is transcribed into RNA which translates into proteins that do most of the work in the cell.

  • The Practising Scientist

    This module will help you build and apply the fundamental skills that underpin the practice of science. The key themes you’ll look at include:

    • hypothesis testing
    • the design of scientific investigations
    • mathematical topics and their application
    • principles and application of statistical methods
    • recording, reporting and presentation of science. 

    The timing of the introduction of these skills will help you to practise them in an incremental way on your other science modules, you will be taking alongside this one.

  • Human Structure and Function

    Through this module you’ll build detailed insight into physiology - the way that the human body performs vital functions. Body function is dependent on the form or structure of the body and we’ll also study relevant areas of anatomy to gain a greater understanding. 

    Body functions are complex and individual organs don’t function in isolation, they work within organ systems. You’ll explore systemic physiology, which is the study of these organ systems. We’ll use examples such as the cardiovascular, respiratory and renal systems to illustrate this way of looking at and understanding the human body.  

    Organ systems also work in an integrated way, each affecting the others to try to maintain a physiological equilibrium. We will explore how the body maintains its balance, and also think about when things go wrong.

Optional modules

Introduction to Biochemistry A

This module is an introduction to the chemical principles that underpin cellular functions. You’ll study the chemical concepts that range from stoichiometry and reactions, chemical bonds and structures through to chemical equilibrium and chemical change, taking in the organic chemistry of cell macromolecules:

  • DNA
  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids

along the way. This will help you build crucial knowledge and skills for the field of biological sciences.

Introduction to Biochemistry B

Build your knowledge of chemical concepts. You’ll study energetics and cellular metabolism to biochemical change (enzyme kinetics and mechanisms) and you’ll consider cellular macromolecules, broadly looking at 

  • bioenergetics
  • cellular metabolism
  • enzyme kinetics
  • protein structure and function. 

To further develop and progress your knowledge and skills in Biochemistry and what you also learnt on the module Introduction to Biochemistry A.

Introduction to Nutrition

There are few things more fundamental to life than food and water. 

In this module you’ll develop a basic understanding of the Science of Nutrition. You will study the concepts of human energy supply and energy expenditure, learning about the different nutrients. You’ll build your skills through training in how to assess dietary intake and nutritional adequacy, as well as body size and body composition. Helping to further your expertise in the field of nutrition.

Module leader Dr Vasiliki Iatridi says: “Studying Nutrition was one of the best decisions I've ever made: in the Introduction to Nutrition module it's my turn to convey that enthusiasm to our future Nutritionists and Health Care Professionals and provide them with the fundamentals to value the principles of Nutrition Science during their studies and later careers.”

Food Groups

You’ll look at foods based on their biological origins, biochemical composition, culinary use, nutritional importance and how they contribute to the varied human diet.  

You’ll study the changes that occur to the biochemical components in staple foods as they are transformed to different food products, which is an important aspect of your lectures. The key groups are based around the basic food commodities, which are cereals and pulses, fruit and vegetables; meat and fish; dairy products; and tropical products such as cocoa, coffee, tea and spices. Building your knowledge of food groups so you gain a deep understanding of food production and the human diet.

Module Lead Dr Rianne Costello says “This module will provide you with the all-important foundation knowledge of the core food groups, from farm to fork and the importance of food security around the globe. This knowledge will help you become a more well-rounded Nutritionist or Nutrition Scientist.”

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Molecular Biology

    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.

  • Career Development

    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.

  • Integrated Physiology

    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. 

Optional modules

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.

Interrogating Genomes

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.

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.

Data Carpentry

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.

Interrogating Genomes

Cell Biology

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.


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.

Year 3

Compulsory modules

  • Research Project

    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.

Optional modules


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.

Clinical Nutrition

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.

Genomic Medicine

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.

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 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 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.

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.

Work Experience

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)

Optional modules

Work placement

The Industrial Placement module lets you gain first-hand experience of applying theoretical and practical science within a professional environment, for example within an industrial biotechnology company or a laboratory. You will gain insight into the work of a professional scientific employer and develop both practical laboratory skills and the ability to self-assess. We will suggest employers but experience tells us that successful students are usually those who are pro-active in searching out their own placements. Many placements do come with a salary, but sadly some employers do not feel they are obliged to offer a salary, and that the expenses they incur by hosting and training you are sufficient outlay for them. This issue of salary will have implications for you and for your funding status. We will give you advice on this during the application process, but you should make sure you understand your situation fully by talking with the Student Finance department.

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:

  • researcher
  • clinical trials coordinator
  • food technologist
  • teacher
  • lecturer
  • biotechnologist
  • lab technician
  • microbiologist
  • 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.

Related courses

Entry requirements

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.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29


Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27


International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

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. Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students. 

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

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

Full-time study

Part-time study

Programme changes:
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.