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MBiol Biology


Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

You will gain in-depth knowledge and research experience in all major disciplines in biology in a comprehensively integrated way in this exciting four-year Masters (MBiol) Biology course. There is some flexibility in programme content and emphasis, which allows you to choose a broad or specialised route within biology. This programme is supported by cutting edge facilities and is taught by internationally recognised researchers who integrate their research into the delivery of the modules. 

You have the opportunity to demonstrate competence in a range of practical procedures and techniques including experimental design, execution and interpretation, risk assessment, and good laboratory practice. This allows you to embed theory, hone practical skills and enhance the use of analytical methods and procedures. You are given a wide choice of subjects with an extensive range of acceptable or optional modules available from Year 2 onwards. 

There is ample opportunity to develop transferable skills, such as communication, leadership and teamwork which are highly sought after by employers. In this way, the course prepares you effectively for professional employment or doctoral studies in the biological sciences.


Typical offers

UCAS Tariff points: 128 - preferred subjects include Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Environmental Sciences and Geography

Available start dates

September 2018 / September 2019

Teaching location

Headington Campus

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.

  • You will have opportunities to study animal, plant and microbial systems from the (sub-)cellular levels to the interactions of organisms with the environment. These sciences are at the forefront of the continually expanding global biosciences industry sector.
  • Course structure allows you to maintain a broad perspective or to focus on specific themed pathways in cell and molecular biology, evolution and developmental biology and environmental biology. 
  • Our research groups' activities underpin all our teaching, and comprehensive skills in research planning, design and execution of experiments, problem-solving, team working, creative thinking and effective communication introduced, developed and practiced throughout the four year degree.
  • Further study beyond BSc level is becoming increasingly important for professional scientists and this programme offers a route to acquire higher-level specialisation and scientific experience sought by employers and PhD recruiters.
  • Our strong emphasis on laboratory and fieldwork allows you to develop laboratory expertise in the use of modern microscopy techniques and you will have the opportunity to undertake residential courses in the Cévennes (in the south of France) and Devon.
  • We have great links with regional biological organisations, providing exciting work placement and career opportunities. As a result, many of our students go on to work in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, research institutes, conservation organisations, environmental consultancies, forensic science and academic research labs. 

Year 1 and 2 are the same as our BSc Biology degree and provide a foundation in the subject. In Year 3 you will do both compulsory and optional modules, including a module designed to prepare for the Research Practice in the fourth year. In Year 4, the Research Practice is undertaken within a research active group on an original topic specific to one of the following areas: environmental biology / conservation, evolution, developmental biology, cell and molecular biology, ecology, genetics, plant and animal biology. This research project comprises two thirds of the final year and develops research skills in greater depth and as well as substantial subject-specific specialisation, preparing you for a career in biology. 

Year 1 provides a foundation in biodiversity, cell biology, data analysis and chemistry. You will develop skills in safe laboratory and field working, data handling, statistics and information technology. A feature of your first year is a series of tutorials with your academic adviser (a member of the teaching staff who is responsible for overseeing your academic progress). The tutorials are designed to help you adjust to academic life at university and establish good study habits.

In subsequent years you can choose from modules including Molecular Biology, Genetics, Developmental Biology, Microbiology, Animal Behaviour and Plant Science, allowing you to either maintain a wide perspective over several inter-related subject areas or specialise in a focused area.

Study modules

As courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the module list you choose from may vary from that shown below.

Years 1, 2 & 3

Year 1

Year 2

  • Animal Behaviour
  • Biochemistry of Cell Function (double)
  • Data Science and Bioinformatics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Environmental Processes, Pollution and Climate Change (double)
  • Field Course: Surveys and Licensing
  • Genetics
  • Haematology and Immunology
  • Human Structure and Function (double)
  • Infection, Immunity and Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology 
  • Plant Science
  • Research Methods for Biology and Environmental Sciences
  • The context of the Cell
  • Threatened Species
  • Work Experience
Year 3
  • Advanced Topics in Cell Biology
  • Advanced Topics in Wildlife Conservation
  • Advances in Biotechnology
  • Enterprise Skills for Life Scientists
  • Environmental Change: Fieldwork and Research (double)
  • Environmental Consultancy
  • Evolution and Animal Development (double)
  • Haematology and Immunology
  • Independent Study in Life Sciences
  • Infection, Immunity and Immunology
  • Project (double)
  • Science and Humanity

Year 4 (Masters Level)

  • Research Practice
And a choice from:
  • Advanced Molecular Techniques
  • Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 
  • Ecology for Conservation
  • Taxonomy & Identification
  • Independent Study 
  • Research Methods
  • Bioinformatics
  • Molecular Ecology and Population Genetics
  • Developmental Biology

Work placements

The work experience and final-year Research Practice modules provide you with opportunities to gain invaluable professional experience in an area of interest to you. They also enable you to develop links with biological and environmental organisations, which will enhance your career prospects.

You can also take your degree as a sandwich course with a full year in industry (minimum 9 months) gaining extensive experience in laboratory, fieldwork or related skills and various aspects of the industry.

We work closely with senior professional scientists as part of our Bioinnovation Hub. Our partners come from a range of organisations, from larger multinational organisations to smaller and medium sized enterprises; including the Universities spin-out companies (OET, Wildknowledge) and the Centre for Ecology, Environment and Conservation (CEEC).

Field trips

We currently run three specific field courses in Oxford, the Cévennes (in southern France) and Devon, aimed at enabling students to put their skills into practice.

Field course: Identification and Methodology
A one-week trip to the Cévennes in the south of France - a most spectacular and diverse landscape that is rich in natural history. You will identify animals and plants in the field and apply a wide range of field techniques learnt in the classroom.

Field course: Surveys and Licensing
Visit a range of local environments to gain field techniques for assessing key habitat types and species for UK flora and fauna.

Environmental Change: Fieldwork and Research
Go to South Devon for a week to investigate environmental change using experimental design and advanced data analysis.

Field trip costs: your course tuition fee covers the field trip modules. However, the cost of any optional field trip is not included in your course tuition fee, and a separate fee will apply. For example, some students have researched the population dynamics of tigers and their prey in the Ranthambore National Park in northern India others have carried out research projects in South Africa.

There are also opportunities to gain real-life experience of environmental consultancy or other work experience. 

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.
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 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.

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 (150-200 hours of student effort). We have three residential field courses included in our module mix and these involve more practical time. There is an even split between modules that are a hundred per cent coursework and modules that are assessed partly by coursework and partly by a written exam albeit all the Masters year modules are coursework only.

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

On your MBiol Biology programme you will have access to our discipline-leading research facilities within our newly refurbished laboratories.  For example; confocal fluorescence and electron microscopes, high-speed computers and server access for bioinformatics and analyses of large datasets, equipment for molecular genetic analyses and tissue culture and whole organism growth facilities. You will also have opportunities to access field study sites from around the world. You will work alongside experienced research scientists as part of a thriving research team.

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.Throughout, there is a focus on the application of fundamental biology to real life issues.

The department has internationally recognised experience in science communication and public engagement. You are encouraged to help with activities (offline and online) which develops active citizenship.

This course is designed to develop strong theoretical (Academic literacy) and laboratory/field skills (Research literacy) in modern biosciences through lectures, assignments and practical work which will equip students with the ability to develop and apply methodologies and be decisive in solving research questions in any professional situation (Critical self-awareness and personal literacy). 

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences has a very strong cluster of research in the biosciences with particular focus on genome science, molecular biology, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, computational biology, bioinformatics, bio-imaging, cell biology, botany, ecology and conservation biology and commercial applications. The activities of our research groups underpin our teaching and support the development of research literacy.

Teaching and learning methods used in the course reflect the wide variety of topics and techniques associated with Biology. Lectures, laboratory sessions, student oral presentations, coursework assignments and workshops provide the framework, essential background and knowledge base for each module and you are encouraged to probe more deeply by reading widely. Analysis, synthesis and application of material introduced in lectures is achieved through practice and syndicate work with tutors and peer review.

Teaching is delivered by specialist staff who are actively involved in research work. This work is included in module content and you have opportunities to participate in research projects, reinforcing our commitment to integrate research into teaching.

Time spent in different learning activities

Year Lectures, seminars or similar Independent study Placement
1 25%75%0%
2 0%0%100%
3 0%0%100%
4 5%95%0%

Approach to assessment

Assessment is designed to ‘shape and develop’ learning and not simply to measure it. The role of formative feedback (ie feedback comments which may or may not be associated with a mark/grade) is central to facilitating your learning through assessment. Modules include at least one assignment where you will need to engage with feedback provided on earlier work. 
Assessment methods include essays, reviews, laboratory or field notebooks, scientific reports, posters, creating web pages and oral presentations. All these activities develop digital and information literacy. Reflective learning is encouraged through use of self, peer and 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 44%0%56%
2 0%0%100%
3 0%0%100%
4 0%0%0%

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

Home/EU - sandwich placement fee: 2018/19: £1,380. 2019/20: £1,380.

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

International - sandwich placement fee: 2018/19: £3,920

*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: 128 - preferred subjects include Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Environmental Sciences and Geography

A-Level: ABB - preferred subjects include Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Environmental Sciences and Geography

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: 32 points

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

Specific entry requirements

GCSE: Mathematics, English Language and Double Integrated Science (or equivalent) at grade C minimum

You must have studied science post-16, either at A-level or equivalent qualification. 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. This enables direct entry into Year 1 of Biology and you can transfer to the MBiol Biology after year 2 if your average is above 60%.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements

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

Full-time students should apply for this course through UCAS.

 Part-time students should apply directly to the university.

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

Oxford is surrounded by over a hundred Sites of Special Scientific Interest including Otmoor, Wytham Woods and Cothill Fen. Easy access to these sites provides excellent opportunities for fieldwork and we endeavour to make full use of the opportunities our local environment offers.

As a student in Oxford you'll be at the heart of the UK's most successful economic region and in a centre for leading industries, which provides you with a host of learning opportunities. Students also benefit from our strong links with local organisations such as NERC's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Because 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, and can gain free entry to the Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum.

Support for students studying MBiol Biology

Our Personal and Academic Support System (PASS) is gaining 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

The department has a range of specially designed facilities for studying biology and environmental science related subjects. For example, the developmental biology area boasts both a butterfly lab and a laboratory dedicated to one of the most studied organisms in developmental biology, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Furthermore, we have a number of environmentally controlled rooms and cabinets.

Alongside a range of microscopes enabling study of specimens from the organism to the cell level, the department also has a vast array of equipment for fieldwork and laboratory-based research at its disposal. From mass and atomic absorption spectrometers to bat detectors, moth traps and pond nets, students will get hands-on experience with chemical analyses and ecological surveys.

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 Biology 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; Environmental agencies; Agri-environment industries; Hospitals and public health laboratories; Government or charity-funded research laboratories and institutes; Universities and research institutes.

Further study

This course provides an excellent grounding for a PhD as well as a scientific research career in industry. The additional research training and skills developed can enhance your ability to compete for a PhD position.

Related courses

  • Animal Biology and Conservation
  • Biological Sciences
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Human Biology