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Biological Sciences

BSc (Hons) - single

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Our Biological Sciences degree course is designed to help you decide where your interests lie before choosing advanced modules. This degree will be particularly interesting to students who have wide-ranging interests with first-year modules acting as doorways to more specialised pathways in the second and third years or even to one of our named specialist degrees Biological Sciences (Genetics and Genomics), Biological Sciences (Zoology), Biological Sciences (Human Biosciences).

This Biological Sciences degree is designed to prepare you for a wide range of careers in Biosciences and has a strong focus on employability throughout the course, including an optional placement year. In this degree you will be taught by biologists who research and have their finger on the pulse of current research findings and techniques but are also passionate about developing you. There is on emphasis developing skills as a scientist by hands-on experience in the lab, with coursework or in the field.  This will provide you the opportunity to build an understanding of the techniques that employers are looking for.

Oxford Brookes has an international reputation for outstanding research work in the biological sciences, and the Oxford area is an increasingly important centre for the bioscience industry. This combination makes our university the ideal place to study.

Typical offers

UCAS Tariff points: 112 - preferred subjects include Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Human Biology and Physics

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus / Headington Campus, Marston Road site

Course length

  • Full time: 3 years, 4 years sandwich
  • Part time: part-time study is possible

UCAS code


For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • Students can tailor the course to suit their needs.  Choose between taking a broad approach, based on the principles and methods of different aspects of biology, or focus on a narrower range of modules with a view to becoming a specialist. 
  • Students will gain the practical skills employers require through extensive practical experience including laboratory techniques, data handling, computing, report writing, oral presentations and teamwork. 
  • We encourage and support the inclusion of work placements in the degree structure.
  • Students can join a research group in their final year as part of a research project, using advanced techniques and state-of-the-art equipment, such as electron and confocal microscopes.
  • You will benefit from high-quality teaching, supported by some of the best learning resources in the country, including access to the UK's largest science collection, the Radcliffe Science Library.
  • You also have the option to choose a named specialist degree in Biological Sciences (Human Biosciences), Biological Sciences (Genetics and Genomics), Biological Sciences (Zoology).

Biological Sciences is a broad flexible course and you have the option to choose a named specialised degree, or to keep broad. The broad biological science degree will develop your understanding of organisms from microbes to animals and their structure, function, evolution and diversity. You will be able to make choices in molecular biology and how to work with genomes, cell biology and specialist areas such as stem cells and cancer.

Subjects studied in Year 1 include cell biology and genetics, evolution, diversity, science skills introductory biochemistry, animal biology, ecology and current challenges facing the living planet.

In  Year 2 subjects include molecular biology, career development, research methods, cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, developmental biology, animal behaviour, plants, microbiology, interrogating genomes.

Year 3 subjects include stem cell biology, advanced cell biology, evolution and animal development, animal neurobiology and behaviour, wildlife conservation, genetics and genomics. 

Study modules

As courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you choose from may differ from those shown here.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Biodiversity
  • Cell Biology and Genetics
  • The Practising Scientist

Optional modules (Alternative Compulsory Modules) 

  • Introduction to Biochemistry A
  • Introduction to Biochemistry B
  • Field course: Identification and methods


Year 2 and final year

Compulsory modules

  • Molecular biology
  • Cell biology
  • Career development
  • Interrogating genomes
  • Research Project
  • Professional skills and techniques


Optional modules

  • Data carpentry
  • Animal behaviour
  • Animal developmental biology
  • Microbiology
  • The green planet
  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry of cell function
  • Special study in life sciences
  • Advanced genetics and genomics
  • Advanced cell biology and bio-imaging
  • Animal neurobiology and behaviour
  • Evolution and animal development
  • Molecular biology of cancer
  • Science and humanity
  • Work experience
  • Independent study in life sciences


Work placements

We encourage our students to undertake a work placement  as the experience will give you the competitive edge when you are applying for jobs. There are two optional work experience module, work experience over the summer or during the final year and an industrial placement for a year between the second and final year.

Work experience module

The ‘Work Experience’ module is a work-based, supervised learning experience, in which you will spend at least 115 hours in a working environment that has relevance for your subject. This is equivalent to 3 weeks full-time (7.5 hrs/day) or 6 weeks part time (~4 hrs/day) work. As part of the module, you will practice career management skills by reflecting on your interests and career aspirations and approaching potential employers about opportunities in their organisation. These will be integral elements linked to enhancing your overall employability.

We strongly believe that arranging a placement yourself will give you a head start after graduation, as you will have practiced essential career management skills. Ideally, it will be your responsibility to find, apply for and secure your work experience placement. If you get stuck, your subject lead, your academic advisor or your dissertation supervisor will be able to provide you with some contacts in a wide range of suitable organisations.

Cost of the opportunity: There may be some costs such as travel associated with work experience and these are not included in the course tuition fees

Industrial Placement

The Industrial Placement module provides the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the application of theoretical and practical science within a professional environment, for example within an industrial biotechnology company, a research or hospital based laboratory. You will have the chance to gain insight into various aspects of the work of a professional scientific employer and develop both practical laboratory skills and the ability to self-assess.

We will do what we can to suggest employers who may offer placements but experience tells us that successful students are usually those who show themselves to be pro-active in searching out their own placements.

You should also look carefully into what you will be paid as a placement student. Whilst many placements do come with a salary, sadly some companies and institutes 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. It is often hard to predict what a company or institute might be prepared to offer if they do not usually host placements; this should not discourage you from approaching potential hosts but you should likewise not feel bound to accept a non-paid placement if it is not possible in your financial situation. This issue of salary (or no salary) will have implications for you in terms of your finances and also for your funding status. We will guide you as best we can and give you advice on this during the application process, but you should make sure you understand your situation fully by talking about your placement, any salary and what this means for you, with the Student Finance department.

Study abroad

Great opportunities to study or work 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.

Studying abroad provides an amazing opportunity to add value to your studies by:

  • increasing your employability within an international market
  • boosting your language skills
  • building your confidence in adapting to new situations
  • improving your knowledge of different cultures.

While on exchange you will have the opportunity to study for comparable courses, allowing you to gain credits which count towards your degree.

We have more than 100 partner universities around the world. Funding is available through the Erasmus scheme, and also via some international programmes such as the Santander Student Awards.

There is also a European work placement programme which gives you the chance to work abroad as part of your studies.

For more information, visit our pages on studying abroad and exchanges.

This is an optional part of the course so any costs e.g travel,living expenses associated with it are not covered in your tuition fees which does cover tuition at the exchange institution.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

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.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

Attendance pattern

Most of our modules include lectures and laboratory- or field-based practicals. There are on average 20 hours of lectures and 12 hours of practicals per single-credit module (which equals 150 hours of student effort). This represents a minimum of 12 hours contact per week.

Additional costs

You will need to buy some basic personal protection equipment for laboratory practicals (lab coat, safety glasses), at a cost of around £25.

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.

Teaching and learning

Teaching focuses on applying theory in practical settings, either in the lab. or out in the field, developing skills for employment. You have the opportunity to gain a wide range of skills including molecular techniques, bioinformatics, advanced light and electron microscopy, field-based

methods for species and landscape assessment, and cutting edge methodologies for the study of evolution and developmental biology. Throughout, there is a focus on the application of fundamental biology to real life issues. Teaching and learning methods include lectures, practicals, tutorials, seminars and surgeries.

Time spent in different learning activities

Year Lectures, seminars or similar Independent study Placement
1 27%73%0%
2 27%73%0%
3 18%82%0%

Approach to assessment

Assessment is designed to ‘shape and develop’ learning and not simply measure it. Assessment methods include essays, reviews, examinations, laboratory or field notebooks, scientific reports, posters and oral presentations. Reflective learning is encouraged through use of self, peer or staff formative feedback on assignments, group work and project work, and reflective diaries.

Breakdown of assessment methods used on this course

Year Written exams Practical exams Coursework
1 45%0%55%
2 45%0%55%
3 43%0%58%

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2018/19: £9,250. 2019/20: £9,250.

Home/EU - part time fee: 2018/19: £750 per single module. 2019/20: £750 per single module.

International - full time: 2018/19: £14,000 2019/20: £14,280

*Please note tuition fees for Home/EU 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 and EU students at the maximum permitted level.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see:

Typical offers

UCAS Tariff points: 112 - preferred subjects include Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Human Biology and Physics

A-Level: BBC

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. This combination of A-level grades would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

IB Diploma: 30 points



Students studying more than one science subject may receive a lower offer.

We seek to admit students who have the potential to make good scientists and accept that qualifications are not the only indicator of future potential. Typical offers also include:

  • A-level grades BB plus 2 AS-levels at grade C (equivalent to 112 UCAS Tariff points)
  • 1 12-unit vocational A-level at grade BB plus 1 A-level or 2 AS-levels at grade C
  • other recognised qualifications, eg BTEC Nationals or Scottish qualifications (equivalent to 112 UCAS Tariff points).

If your combination of qualifications doesn't match our typical offer, please contact our admissions tutor.

Specific entry requirements

GCSE: 4 GCSEs at Grade 4 (C), or above, including Mathematics, English Language and 2 Sciences

You must have studied science post-16, either at A-level or equivalent. If you do not have a background in science, we encourage you to consider our Life Sciences foundation year taught at Abingdon and Witney College.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard 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.

How to apply

International applicants

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.

Credit transfer

Oxford Brookes operates the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). All undergraduate single modules are equivalent to 7.5 ECTS credits and double modules to 15 ECTS credits. More about ECTS credits.

Why Oxford is a great place to study this course

Recognised as one of Europe's leading centres of enterprise, innovation and scientific knowledge, Oxfordshire is a bioscience hotspot with the Oxford, Milton, Begbroke and Harwell science parks in the county. The Oxford Brookes Student Bioinnovation Hub is a focus for partnerships with industry providing work experience through placements and projects.

Oxford is also home to leading health care providers such as the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust which offers excellent work experience and career opportunities.

Oxford is one of the world's great academic cities, it is a key centre of debate, with conferences, seminars and forums taking place across education, science, the arts and many other subjects.

In addition to our own excellent libraries and resource centres, our students have access to the world-renowned Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Science Library.

Support for students studying Biological Sciences

Our Personal and Academic Support System (PASS) has gained national and international recognition for its proactive approach to personal tutoring. It recognises that students need to make various adjustments as they move into higher education, whether from school or employment.

The system encompasses three elements:

  • a structured group tutorial programme
  • an academic adviser who will help you to plan your degree programme and future career
  • interaction with other students on your course.

The first stage includes regular seminars covering a wide range of subjects including research skills, understanding assessment criteria and making the most of coursework feedback. Our programme also helps students adjust to university life by developing their transferable skills.

Secondly our academic staff monitor your progress regularly to check that you are maximising your potential. If you experience academic difficulties we can arrange for you to receive academic mentoring support.

Thirdly if you are faced with challenges that affect your ability to study, such as illness, bereavement, depression, financial difficulties or accommodation issues, we will work with you in finding a way forward. Please talk to your academic adviser or our student support team. Oxford Brookes also offers a range of excellent services to support you.

Specialist facilities

Biological Science is a practical subject and we have amazing laboratory facilities. The labs have recently been completely refurbished and equipped. A significant addition to the Department was realised in the new Microscopy Annex which includes a state of the art bio-imaging suite used by researchers and students. We have new teaching laboratories and teaching equipment supporting taught modules and student research projects.  A high-speed PC cluster to support research, data science and bioinformatics teaching in your degree will be opened before September 2019. 

We have new electron microscopes, equipment for protein purification and analysis, tissue culture and molecular biology and a range of teaching equipment including spectrophotometers and fluorescence microscopes. These resources compare well with other Universities.   While students are accommodated in purpose-built teaching labs for their practicals many students also work in our research labs for their research projects.

All staff use the Virtual Platform Moodle extensively and successfully for module delivery and evaluation.  All modules place lecture and assignment content onto Moodle (along with the Module Handbook), and add to this to share with or signpost students to further sources of information, including links to websites and publications.  Moodle acts as a news platform for some modules and a place for discussion forums, both message-based and Skype (or equivalent) based.  All assignment are uploaded through Moodle, often in conjunction with Turnitin and/or Grademark.  In addition to the module and programme pages on Moodle, the Department has set up a page linking students to the BioInnovation Hub and employers

We have a fantastic library. Richard Persaud is Subject Librarian for the Programme. He is involved in the development of student literacy through library skills in the 1st year skills modules and library inductions to new students.  Richard liaises closely with staff and students in relation to module reading lists and other resource recommendations (books, journals, online talks such as the Henry Stewart Talks) for students, and is proactive in seeking texts that are available as e-books.  For sources beyond the scope of our own library, Brookes students are able to access the Bodleian library  In addition to this, our Programme has an arrangement that students can join the Cairns library, sited at the JR Hospital, from their 1st year, and through this site they can have access to Bodleian library resources.

The research of the Department is seen as a vital component of effective teaching with a high proportion of staff being research active with strong external links. You will be exposed to current high quality research with many undergraduate projects providing experience of this.

General support services

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

Career prospects

Our graduates enjoy good career prospects with diverse destinations, from medical school and teaching to local authorities and research laboratories. As many as 50% of our graduates each year are appointed to research posts in universities, research institutes or biotechnology companies, while others pursue careers allied to medicine and health care.

Our courses are designed to equip you with the skills you need for employment. We put a strong emphasis on developing the multidisciplinary graduate attributes needed to keep ahead in a rapidly changing workplace.

Further study

About a quarter of our graduates go on to further study, such as MSc courses, PhDs or PGCEs. One option for future study is the MSc in Medical Genetics and Genomics at Oxford Brookes.