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MBiol (Biological Sciences)


Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

The MBiol Biological Sciences is designed for those students who are already interested in focusing on a career as a professional scientist. 

The programme will help students develop an in-depth understanding of a specialised area of biology. These include Environmental Biology / Conservation, Evolution, Developmental Biology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Ecology, Genetics, Botany or Zoology.

The course will help you develop the ability to adapt and apply methodology to solve unfamiliar problems, along with a critical awareness of advances at the forefront of these fields.

The Masters level Research Practice module is a key component of the final year. It will give you the opportunity to pursue a negotiated and extensive research project within a research active group within the University or an external organisation preparing students for bioscience research and development careers.

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: 4 years, or 5 years sandwich
  • Part time: part-time study is possible

UCAS code


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

  • The course will prepare you for a future career as a professional scientist by learning core knowledge and applying it in context.
  • 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.
  • You will be able to specialise in areas that interest you. The degree has a flexible approach allowing you to choose specialisms including cell biology, conservation, genetics and zoology.
  • You can put your skills into practice. The course provides the opportunity to develop a range of transferable skills, like communication, leadership and teamwork which are highly sought after by employers.
  • Expert supervision is provided by our internationally recognised researchers. The Oxford area is an important centre for human and medical research.

MBiol Biological Sciences may be studied as a single honours degree, either full-time or part-time. You will benefit from the department’s research expertise in areas such as Environmental Biology, Taxonomy, Genomics and Cell and Molecular Biology to gain the key theoretical and practical skills. 

Studies in Year 1 aim to develop a firm understanding of core topics such as biodiversity,cell biology and genetics, along with basic science skills. 

Year 2 and 3 allow you to expand your studies in both breadth and depth, and you can choose modules covering diverse topics. These include genetics, interrogating genomes, molecular biology of cancer and conservation. The topics are all supported by time spent in practicals, and you may wish to develop your scientific skills further by carrying out a research project with one of our staff members. 

Final year involves research allowing you to pursue an extensive research project in a research group at the university or an external organisation, essential in preparing you for a career. 

As well as developing your skills as a biologist, you will have the opportunity to gain invaluable professional experience, which will further enhance your career prospects.

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:

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

Year 2 and final year

Year 2

Compulsory modules:

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Career Development
  • Interrogating Genomes
  • 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
  • Advanced Topics in Wildlife Conservation
  • Animal Neurobiology and Behaviour
  • Evolution and Animal Development
  • Molecular Biology of Cancer
  • Science and Humanity
  • Work Experience
  • Independent Study in Life Sciences

Final year 

Compulsory modules:

  • Research Practice

Optional modules:

  • Advanced Molecular Techniques
  • Ecology for Conservation
  • Taxonomy & Identification
  • Independent Study 
  • Advances in Medical Genomics

With the option of a year in Industry generally between years 2 and 3.

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.

Field trips

There is the opportunity to go on a one week residential field course in the Cevennes (France) at the end of your first year (Field course: Identification and Methods).  This is often a highlight of the first year. The cost of the Field trip is included in your course fees.  Depending on your choice of modules there are many other day trips with no extra costs.

Study abroad

Students are encouraged to broaden their education by studying for a semester or year as part of their Brookes degree at a partner English speaking university 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, associated with it are not covered in your tuition fees.

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.

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 research and employment. There is the opportunity to gain a wide range of skills introduced, developed and then practiced through the levels of the degree. These include molecular techniques for the study of DNA, RNA and proteins, 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 (Academic literacy). Throughout, there is a focus on the application of fundamental biology to real life issues.

Approach to assessment

Assessment methods include reviews of the literature, laboratory/field notebooks, scientific reports, posters and oral presentations. All these activities develop Digital and Information literacy.

Assessment is designed to ‘shape and develop’ learning and not simply measure it (the notion of assessment for learning as well as assessment of learning). The role of formative feedback (i.e., feedback comments which may or may not be associated with a mark/grade) is central to facilitating student learning through assessment.

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 you think you may not achieve these grades please consider entering via our foundation route by taking the Life Sciences Foundation course.

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

Specific entry requirements

GCSE: 5 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

Apply direct »

For full-time study you can also apply through UCAS.

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 MBiol (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

The employment market for graduates in the biosciences is buoyant. The MBiol Biological Sciences offers a solid foundation for postgraduate entry to a scientific career. Industries and organisations seeking bioscientists for research and development careers include:

  • Biopharmaceuticals
  • Bioscience, biotechnology and healthcare industries
  • Chemical
  • Environmental agencies
  • Agri-environment industries
  • Food and drink
  • Horticulture
  • Hospitals and public health laboratories
  • Government or charity-funded research laboratories and institutes
  • Universities and research institutes

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.

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