Find a course

Expand

Biological Sciences

BSc (Hons)

Key facts


UCAS code

C900

Start dates

September 2020

Course length

Full time: 3 years, 4 years sandwich

Part time: part-time study is possible

Department

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

UCAS Tariff Points

104

Overview


Our Biological Sciences degree provides you with the flexibility to tailor the course to suit you. You can choose from an extensive range of modules or opt to move to one of our specialist degrees:

  • Biological Sciences (Genetics and Genomics)
  • Biological Sciences (Human Biosciences)
  • Biological Sciences (Zoology)

In year 1 you’ll study a diverse range of topics. In years 2 and 3 you can continue with a broad approach or choose a range of modules to become a specialist. In your final year you can join a research group as part of a research project.

Through extensive practical experience you’ll gain the skills employers look for, including:

  • laboratory techniques
  • data handling
  • computing
  • report writing
  • oral presentations
  • teamwork.

The Oxford area is an important centre for the bioscience industry. We are surrounded by world class research centres like the Nuffield and Churchill hospitals. You can access the UK's largest science collection at the Radcliffe Science Library.

Students in a lab

How to apply


UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29

BTEC: DMM

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.

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

A Level: Including one A Level or a comparable Level 3 qualification in a science subject (e.g. Biology, Chemistry, Maths, PE, Physics, Psychology).

GCSE: Grade 4 (C) in English, Maths and Science. For English and Maths, Level 2 Functional Skills are accepted as alternatives to GCSEs.

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.

International qualifications and equivalences

Go

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.

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.

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

Many of our courses consider applications for entry with credit for prior learning. Each application is individually assessed by our credit entry tutors. 

If you would like more information about whether or not you may be eligible for the award of credit, for example from an HND, partly-completed degree or foundation degree, please contact our Admissions team.

We operate 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.

Application process

Full time Home / EU applicants

Apply through UCAS

Part time Home / EU applicants

Apply direct to the University

International applicants

Apply direct to the University

Full time applicants can also apply through UCAS

Tuition fees


Please see the fees note
Home/EU full time
£9,250

Home/EU part time
£750 per single module

International full time
£14,280

Home/EU full time
£9,250 (subject to agreement by Office for Students)

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£14,800

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees


2019/20
Home/EU full time
£9,250

Home/EU part time
£750 per single module

International full time
£14,280

2020/21
Home/EU full time
£9,250 (subject to agreement by Office for Students)

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£14,800

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

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 below.

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, if any, are detailed below.

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

Learning and assessment


Year 1 compulsory modules are:

  • Biodiversity
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetic

In Years 2 and you will develop your studies. You can choose modules on diverse topics, such as;

  • Gentics 
  • Interrogating genomes
  • The molecular biology of cancer and conservation.

We will support your learning through practicals. 

Two students listening intently

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

Biodiversity (double credit module)

This module takes an integrated approach to the diversity of life. It looks at the classification of the living world, the theory of evolution that links all biology and interactions between organisms and their environment. The module concentrates on major structures and patterns in plants, animals and fungi, how they vary within each kingdom and the interrelationships of some of the phyla.

Cell Biology and Genetics

Cell biology is the study of how cells work and how they differentiate to form multicellular organisms. This module is an introduction to cell function - students will study the different types of molecules within cells and learn about cellular organelles and their functions. Medicine, and food and energy production are areas of increasing importance for the survival of humanity. It is with a comprehensive understanding of the basics in cell biology that a student will be equipped to go into the world of biological research. By the end of this module, students will have enough basic experience with cells and biological research that they will be capable of tailoring their module choices in the following years of their degree to best serve them as they graduate into their chosen field.

The Practising Scientist

A module designed to introduce, extend and apply the fundamental skills that underpin the practice of science. Key themes include hypothesis testing and the design of scientific investigations, mathematical topics and their application, the principles and application of statistical methods, and the recording, reporting and presentation of science.

Introduction to Biochemistry A

The module provides a general introduction to the chemical principles that underpin a contemporary understanding of cell function at the molecular level. An overview of stoichiometry and reactions, chemical bonds and structures, and chemical equilibrium underpins content exploring the chemistry of familiar cellular macromolecules (DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, fats).

Optional modules

Introduction to Biochemistry B

Cellular pathways for synthesis of these macromolecules will be outlined, and a study of protein structure will be linked with enzyme function and the chemical changes occurring within cells (kinetics and mechanisms). Catabolic pathways will be studied along with cellular energy metabolism.

 

Field course: Identification and methods

The module introduces and develops key field study skills during a week-long residential field course to an area characterised by a rich natural history, habitat and landscape diversity. The field-work comprises a various group activities focussing on identification of terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna, ecological sampling techniques for terrestrial and aquatic environments, quantitative description and analysis of group data, and designing field investigations. The field course runs early in the summer vacation, but is preceded by assessed preparatory exercises

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.

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.

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.

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.

Optional modules

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.

Animal behaviour

The module emphasizes the importance of observation and experimentation to our understanding of behaviour and develops deep reading skills through the study of key primary research papers. Consideration is given to the influences of resource type and quality on animal behaviour, the evolution of behavioural traits and the acquisition of new behaviours.

Animal developmental biology

This module will present students with an in-depth introduction to the principles of developmental biology, and provide a broad overview of development processes and their regulation in animals.

Microbiology

An introduction to microbiology considering the structures, metabolism, regulatory signals, replication and growth exhibited by microorganisms. You will be introduced to a number of examples of microbes, including viruses, bacteria and protozoa, particularly those that are pathogenic in humans. The interaction and impact of microbes with humans will be considered, along with an introduction to the challenges facing medical interventions against pathogenic microbes in different parts of the world. You will learn how to work in a Category 2 microbiology laboratory and have the opportunity to plan and execute simple experimental procedures that are important to work with bacteria and viruses. You will practise aseptic techniques, and several procedures used in diagnostic labs for bacterial identification.

The green planet

Without plants, life on Earth would look very different to what it is now. Plants provide us with energy and food, shelter, and the oxygen that we breathe. They form the biggest biomass on earth, outnumbering all other organisms by far. We cannot afford to ignore plants when it comes to tackling global issues like climate change, sustainability, preserving biodiversity, finding new medicines, understanding societal inequalities, and living a healthy life.

Genetics

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.

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.

Year 3 (optional placement year)

Optional modules

Industrial placement

An Industrial Placement helps you get experience of applying science in a practical environment. You will develop practical skills that enhance your employability. On placement you gain an insight into various aspects of working in a scientific environment. Although it is your responsibility to secure your placement our team will do everything we can to assist you. We can suggest suitable employers through our network of industry contacts. You should look carefully into the financing of placements but this is something we will guide you through every step of the way.

Year 4 (or year 3 if no placement)

Compulsory modules

Professional skills and 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.

Project/Dissertation

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.

Optional modules

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.

 

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.

Advanced topics in wildlife conservation

The module will identify and deliver the concepts and practical skills used in wildlife conservation, integrating conservation at the landscape scale with other wider countryside land management. This will develop understanding of the use of practical conservation management in maintaining and enhancing biodiversity. The inter-disciplinary nature of the module is emphasised in identifying the role of policy and statutory controls for wildlife management, and the role of conservation science in their development and delivery.

Animal neurobiology and behaviour

The module aims to explore the neurobiological mechanisms underlying behaviour, including memory acquisition, learning and cognition, perception and consciousness at an individual level as well as in a social and ecological context/setting. This module will also cover the major technological advances in the study of neural function and behaviour and the development of diagnostic and therapeutic tools in the treatment of neurological disorders.

Evolution and animal development

The shape, size and colour of each animal are produced during its development. This means that in order to study the evolution of animal biodiversity we need to study the evolution of development. In this module, we will not only discuss animal evolution at various timescales and levels, but we will also follow the development from egg (cell) to adult in a variety of animal species and compare the developmental programmes involved. We will investigate how morphological variation can be generated by tinkering with the expression patterns of a conserved set of toolkit genes, both over evolutionary time and in response to environmental variation, and the central role mothers play in generating morphological variation and modulating the effect of environmental change on development.

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.

Science and humanity

Science has had a huge impact on all aspects of our lives, and the overall aim of this module is to set that influence in its social and historical context. We will address alternative views of the world, how they have been developed or replaced in the context of science and have a clear look at the strengths and weaknesses of a scientific world view. We will address ideas about the value of other life forms and introduce environmental philosophy.

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 - (single credit module that can be taken in either semester)

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.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

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.
  • Lectures and seminars
  • Placement
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.)

Year 1

  • Lectures and seminars - 27%
  • Placement - 0%
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.) - 73%

Year 2

  • Lectures and seminars - 27%
  • Placement - 0%
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.) - 73%

Year 3 (optional placement year)

  • Lectures and seminars - 0%
  • Placement - 100%
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.) - 0%

Year 4 (or year 3 if no placement)

  • Lectures and seminars - 18%
  • Placement - 0%
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.) - 82%

Learning and teaching percentages are indicative. There may be slight year-on-year variations.

Field trips

At the end of your first year there is a field course module in southern France. You can experience one week of field study in the Cevennes region. This area is known for its rich natural history, habitat and landscape diversity. The field work allows you to broaden your UK experiences by encountering unfamiliar plants and animals. As the field trip is an alternative compulsory module the cost is covered within the course fees. Depending on your choice of modules there will be other half-day visits and these are at no extra cost. 

Assessment

Assessment methods used on this course

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.

  • Written exams
  • Coursework
  • Practical exams

Year 1

  • Written exams - 45%
  • Coursework - 55%
  • Practical exams - 0%

Year 2

  • Written exams - 45%
  • Coursework - 55%
  • Practical exams - 0%

Year 3 (optional placement year)

  • Written exams - 0%
  • Coursework - 0%
  • Practical exams - 100%

Year 4 (or year 3 if no placement)

  • Written exams - 42%
  • Coursework - 58%
  • Practical exams - 0%

Assessment method percentages are indicative. There may be slight year-on-year variations.

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.

After you graduate


Career prospects

Our graduates enjoy good career prospects working with many diverse organisations. These are some of the destinations of our recent graduates:

  • medical school
  • teaching
  • working in local authorities
  • working in research laboratories

As many as 50% of our graduates each year are appointed to research posts. These are within universities, research institutes or biotechnology companies. Many others pursue careers allied to medicine. 

Our courses are designed to equip you with the skills you need for employment. The university places a strong emphasis on developing its students to be equipped for 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.

Our Staff


Dr Anne Osterrieder

"My main research interests are the formation and structural maintenance of the plant Golgi apparatus; and the role of Golgi body dynamics, at single stack and population level, in intracellular protein trafficking and plant homeostasis."

Read more about Anne

Dr Casper Breuker

"My teaching strongly reflects both my multidisciplinary research interests as well as my commitment to shaping and influencing curriculum development within the department."

Read more about Casper

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.

Information from Discover Uni


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.