BSc single honours or in combination with another subject Biosciences 2017/18

Year of entry

Our degree in Biosciences has an 88% overall student satisfaction rating.

National Student Survey, 2016

Increasingly, the traditional boundaries between the science disciplines have become blurred, with much of science now operating in a truly interdisciplinary manner and the design of this course reflects this.

With a focus on transferable skills in oral and written communication, on the use of computational and statistical approaches, and on application of specialist skills and knowledge, our Biosciences course will prepare you to work within the science sector. We also have close links to the businesses and industries that need science graduates.

Our graduates go on to work in cancer research, in medical microbiology, and in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Many others have gone on to continue their studies or to train as teachers.

This course is for you if you are excited by the Biosciences and seek employment within the science sector. It offers an interdisciplinary approach to the Biosciences, providing experience in a wide area of practical and theoretical subjects.

“This is a fantastic course. I won’t be forgetting it any time soon. The support was fantastic, it’s good to be pushed and to work out of your comfort zone.”

Tansy Vallintine , 3rd year Bioscience student (2015)

Many Bioscience students have published research completed as part of their Individual Study project in science journals.

With a foundation in molecular biology and genetics, our Biosciences course starts broadly and introduces options to specialise in years two and three. In your first year you will study all aspects of the Biosciences from ecology to molecular biology. In years two and three, your core modules will adopt a systems approach to the Biosciences, covering molecular biology, bioinformatics and biochemistry.

Optional modules will allow you to focus on a particular aspect of the Biosciences or to maintain breadth in your studies, with the course embracing topics as diverse as microbiology and cell culture, plant and animal taxonomy, pollution, anatomy and physiology, and both plant and animal pathology. 

Work experience

Students are able to compete for internships over the summer breaks. These usually involve working with lecturers on their research projects.

“As a molecular ecologist with a background in biological sciences, I have been able to study and work in several research institutes in the UK, the USA and in Mexico. Having a broad range of scientific skills, from molecular biology techniques to general ecology and in basic bioinformatics, as well as an interest for combining field work with lab work, has been an important factor in my career prospects.”

Dr Rodrigo Vega , Biosciences Lecturer

You can study French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish as part of, or alongside, your course.

more info

Year 1

Core modules

Core Science

This double module gives you the background skills in science necessary for the rest of the course. These include sufficient laboratory skills to perform experiments safely and successfully; the necessary mathematical and statistical skills for quantitative analysis of data. It also introduces the broad body of knowledge of chemical, biological and physical sciences necessary for the study of the biological and environmental sciences.

Variety of Life

Life on earth is amazingly diverse, colourful and multifaceted. The Variety of Life module introduces you to this diversity, tracing the tree of life from its roots to its branches. Beginning with simple, single-celled organisms like bacteria and protists, you discover the various forms of complex life that have evolved and how to classify them in a taxonomic system using characteristic features of each group. The module features a large number of practical sessions in which you engage with plants, animals and other organisms.

The Organism and its Environment

You will learn about the physiological, genetic and behavioural mechanisms that organisms employ to cope with the dynamic nature of Earth’s environment. This course has a significant practical component, so in addition to the theory you will hone your lab and field skills. The first half of the course focuses on behaviour and physiology, the second half is devoted to applied population genetics.

Microbiology and Cell Culture

This will introduce you to principal taxonomic groups of micro-organisms; examines their growth, physiology and culture, and their importance to humans and the biosphere. The module equips you with the necessary skills to carry out safe, aseptic practices with such organisms in a laboratory environment. It is an intensive module in which you spend an entire week in the laboratory. Currently, the laboratory week is taken during the Easter vacation.

Likely optional modules

Introduction to Environmental Systems

You will investigate animals and plants living in selected habitats and review factors which control populations and methods of determining distribution and abundance. It will also introduce you to the concept of energy in physical and biological systems. In this way the theme of energy will be seen as unifying all the various aspects of the relationships between organisms and their environments.

Year 2

Core modules

Plant Control Systems

This module investigates the physiology of a range of plant groups, integrating biology with the underlying physics. By studying communication and homeostatic processes as unifying themes, you will develop a holistic approach to the investigation of biological control systems and the means by which they respond to the environment.

Communication and Analysis in Science

Scientists must be able to effectively analyse, present and communicate scientific data, whether it originated from their own research or whether they are engaging with literature produced by other researchers. In addition, successful research depends on the careful and considerate planning and design of experiments and studies in the laboratory and field. This module helps you to develop your critical thinking skills as scientists, introduces you to various mathematical and statistical methods for analysing and presenting scientific data and explores important concepts relating to experimental design, measurement and sampling.

Molecular Biology

The Molecular Biology module offers you a unique practical experience of diverse laboratory skills associated with the isolation, handling and manipulation of DNA and proteins. During two weeks of intensive practical sessions, lectures and tutorials, this module will cover the main areas of theoretical molecular biology knowledge and its practical applications in current research. The module currently takes place during the summer vacation.

Chemistry for the Life Sciences

This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the fundamental concepts and practical applications of chemistry in a biological context. It aims to introduce you to the study of organic compounds and the links between molecular structure and properties, establishing connections with the behaviour of these compounds in biological systems. The module also aims to introduce some of the different methods that can be used in the identification of chemical compounds, and to encourage a critical approach to these methods.

Anatomy and Physiology

By examining mammalian anatomy and physiology and comparing these systems with those of a range of other animal groups you will develop an integrated understanding of animal form and function. Throughout this module, communication, evolutionary history and homeostatic processes are used as unifying themes.

Likely optional modules

Chemistry for the Environmental Sciences

Chemical processes shape the world we live in; the soil we use to produce food, the air we breathe and the water we drink. This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the fundamental concepts and practical applications of chemistry in an environmental context. You will be introduced to the chemistry of soil, water and the atmosphere and you also will learn how these three environments interact. The impact of human activity on the chemistry of the environment will be discussed in topics like the ozone layer, greenhouse gases, freshwater quality and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). This module has weekly lectures, supported by practical lab sessions, workshops and two local field trips.

Applied Plant Genetics

This module will cover some exciting topics explaining genetic/epigenetic mechanisms by which plants grow, make flowers, know when to flower and can turn different genes on and off to achieve these goals. We will also look at strategies to map and clone desirable genes. In this module, you will also do various experiments (9-5 for 5 days) and will explore how different genes are expressed under different temperature regimes. You will also clone these genes and use DNA markers to look into mapping populations etc. The laboratory part of the exam is currently taken in the first week of the Christmas vacation.

Reproduction and Development

This module examines the genetic and endocrine control of reproductive behaviour and other aspects of reproduction, of embryological growth and subsequent ontogeny of selected vertebrates and invertebrates. This allows you to develop an understanding of how the processes underpinning animal reproduction and development function and have evolved. 

Animal Care and Behaviour

Here you will learn to quantify behaviour and consider the deeper meaning behind the different motivations and mechanisms behind various expressions of behaviour. You will also be introduced to some of the hot topics in modern animal care, and relate these topics to practical care for a variety of animal groups.


Underpinning all of the biosciences, evolution is central to understanding the diversity of life and the behaviour of biological systems. By studying the processes and drivers that result in evolutionary change, you will consider the nature of evolution, developing an understanding of both macro- and micro-scale evolutionary change.

Year 3

Core modules

Introduction to Bioinformatics

This module examines all aspects of the gathering of biological sequence data, and introduces the application and approaches to their analysis. Particular reference is made to the manipulation and analysis of DNA sequence data and three dimensional protein structural data. Topics include: molecular biology, genomics, phylogenetics, proteomics, metabolomics and online databases. A major focus is on practical use of bioinformatics tools and techniques and on understanding how bioinformatics can be used to address real research questions. The module aims to develop a systematic understanding of the role of computing in biological research, the fundamentals of molecular biology and to introduce the key concepts and techniques in bioinformatics.

Individual Study

For the Individual Study module, you choose a topic of interest to carry out a research project. You will develop your project and then carry out research in the laboratory or field to address one or more research questions with the support of an academic supervisor. You present your results in the form of a log book record of your work, a written thesis in the format of a manuscript submitted to an international scientific journal and an oral presentation to your fellow students and academic staff. The Individual Study module allows each student to develop their independent research skills. 

Likely optional modules

Pests, Parasites and Pathogens

This module aims to teach you about pests, parasites and pathogens which affect animals and plants, and how they affect the wider world. The course begins with introduction to the taxonomy and biology of these organisms, the economic impacts they have on societies around the world, and the ways in which plants and animals have evolved to fight infection and infestation. We then discuss and critique the mechanisms by which humans have attempted to control pests, parasites and pathogens such as the use of antibiotics, pesticides, vaccination and biological control.

Bioinformatics 2

The module aims to extend the techniques and analyses introduced in the co-requisite module Introduction to Bioinformatics, focussing on building the computational skills to allow students to undertake complex analyses. The module develops an understanding of how to analyse and investigate bioinformatic questions using various development tools and how to make results available via differing visualisations. Central to this is building an understanding and ability to use various industry standard open source tools and to work in Linux. The module therefore develops an integrated understanding of various bioinformatic development and analysis tools and of how to build these into analysis pipelines.

Plant Responses to the Environment OR Animal Husbandry OR Animal Health and Genetics:
Plant Responses to the Environment

In this module you study how plants (despite being immobile) encounter various environmental threats (drought, high temperature, disease) and employ sophisticated genetic and biochemical mechanisms to thrive under stressful conditions. We need to grow 70% more food in the next forty years from ever shrinking land and lower quantities of fresh water. Understanding plant survival mechanisms especially those of crop plants is therefore vital for our food security in the coming decades. This module covers topics explaining plants/crop interaction with their environment to maximise productivity and is complemented with latest developments published in high impact peer reviewed journals.

Animal Husbandry

The aims of the module are to explore the importance of animals in society and the scientific background to animal welfare issues. This includes the study and analysis of nutrition, good husbandry, pain perception, the ability of animals to cope with their environments and the physiological and behavioural aspects of welfare.

Animal Health and Genetics

Here you will study the major causes of ill-health in animals and will then examine the role of the immune system in fighting diseases and the effects of stress upon it. Diseases which pose zoonotic or anthroponotic threats and those which are notifiable will be emphasised. With a focus on student-led seminars of case studies you will gain an in-depth understanding of the biological, ecological and biochemical problems associated with a selection of the more important diseases.

Practical Ecology

You will spend 8 days in the mountains and coastlines of Snowdonia, North Wales. During this intensive course you will go from being a novice at quantifying habitats and asking ecological questions of the environment to an expert at turning the natural world into a form that can be quantified and objectively measured. Due to its intense nature, this module is one of the most mentally challenging of all the science modules you will take at Christ Church, but according to our student feedback, also one of the most enjoyable, both from an academic and general life skills point of view. There is a limit on the number of students who can take this module. This module is currently taken during the summer vacation.


Through the study of the fundamental science of radiobiology, you will bring together many aspects of physics, chemistry and biology, especially in the context of the damage done by ionising radiations to biological information processing systems. You will also be introduced to some of the medical and industrial applications of radioactivity.

Biological Imaging and Photography

This module will enable you to use a range modern photographic and other image capture and processing techniques as tools for studying of biological organisms. With a focus on using these techniques to extract biological information, and on developing an awareness of the limitations of the different approaches, you will learn to evaluate critically imaging approaches in a contextual setting.

Ecology and Conservation

In order to conserve we must first identify underlying ecological issues that make conservation necessary. In the first two thirds of this course you will explore the underpinning ecological concepts that help us to effectively plan and carry out conservation work. In the final third of the course, which is partly student led, you will apply these concepts to modern conservation themed issues.

Applied Biological Chemistry

The focus of this module is on analytical chemistry techniques applied to biological systems. You will gain practical experience in protein purification techniques such as ion-exchange, gel filtration and affinity chromatography using modern fast protein liquid chromatography equipment. Combined with a solid theoretical foundation you will become familiar with many analytical spectroscopic methods including infrared (IR), UV-VIS, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and crystallography, together with separation techniques like gas chromatography (GC), fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC) and high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). By the end of this module, in addition to the practical skills, you are expected to be able to interpret and analyse experimental data independently. There is a limit on the number of students who can take this module.       


The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this course are:

Full-time £9,250* £11,000**
Part-time £4,625  N/A

Tuition fees for all courses are payable on an annual basis, except where stated.

*Full-time courses which have a Foundation Year 0 will have a 2017/18 UK/EU tuition fee of £6,165 in Year 0.

**Tuition Fee Scholarship discounts of £1,500 are available to eligible overseas students. Visit the International webpages for further information.

Please read the 2017/18 Tuition Fee Statement for further information regarding 2017/18 tuition fees and year on year fee increases

Further information

Additional course costs

Although we aim to minimise any additional costs to students over and above the course tuition fee, there will be some additional costs which students are expected to meet.

Costs applicable to all students

Text books Own purchase text books
Travel to other sites Where travel to other sites is required, this will be payable by the student
Library Fees and Fines Where students fail to return loaned items within the required time they will be responsible for the cost of any Library Fees and Fines applicable
Printing & Photocopying The cost of printing and photocopying undertaken by students to support their individual learning are payable by the student
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire / photography are additional costs payable by the student

General principle policy

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIncluded in the tuition feeAdditional cost to student
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) Yes, if the trip contributes to the course (whether it is part of an optional or compulsory module), but not including food and drink. Yes, if the trip is not an essential part of the course but is offered as an enhancement or enrichment activity, or for a student’s personal development.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  No

Travel and accommodation costs for professional placements within the Education and Health & Wellbeing Faculties.

Travel and accommodation costs for other work placements. 
Text books No Own purchase text books.
DBS / Health checks No Yes
Professional Body registration No Yes
Travel to other sites (e.g. travel to swimming pool for lessons) No Yes
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons. Yes, where the clothing is kept by the student and not essential for health and safety reasons.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course. Additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student.
Library fees and fines No Yes
Printing and photocopying No Yes
Social events No, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student.

The broad, multi-disciplinary nature of the course is well suited to anyone seeking opportunities in science-based industry in a technical, managerial or public relations role. Our graduates have found employment in research laboratory management, conservation management, the pharmaceutical industry, medical physics, public health laboratories and in analytical laboratories.

Our graduates have an excellent record of progressing to study for higher degrees. Some go on from this programme into a career in teaching, either at primary, secondary or post-compulsory level. The level of scientific literacy developed by this programme is also valuable in other non-scientific areas of industry, commerce and the media.

“I am currently enjoying a successful career as a molecular biologist for the biggest provider of genetic services in the private sector at the cutting edge of diagnostic technology. All possible thanks to the staff at Canterbury Christ Church University and the excellent guidance, tuition, patience etc. of all the staff I have had the pleasure of working with.”

Oliver George , BSc Biosciences, graduated 2009

Each taught module has a standard 60 hours of student contact. This will typically be composed of lectures, seminars, practical work, labs, workshops, field based activity, tutorials, feedback on assignments. You will also be expected to engage in 140 hours of self-directed study per taught module.

Academic input

All of the modules you will study are led by experienced academic staff and all lectures are delivered by staff with PhDs and who have, or are studying for, a higher education teaching qualification or membership of the Higher Education Academy.

Within this framework, modules may feature guest lectures by subject specialists undertaking research on a specific topic, or from those working in that particular field. The lecturing staff includes those specialists in many areas of biology, and also chemistry and physics.

Assessment of the modules is varied. Some modules are assessed entirely by coursework and some by a combination of coursework and examination. Coursework will include one or more of essay, calculation and problem solving exercises, practical write ups,  portfolios, log books, group and or individual work, group projects, oral presentations, assessed practical, laboratory work, graph drawing exercises, (group) poster presentation, computer based assessment, group presentation, data handling exercises, multiple choice questionnaire, seminar presentation, paper presentation, seminar papers, case study (involving the analysis of biological data) audio or video presentation.

Students are often able to use modern, research-grade equipment.

October 2015 saw the launch of the Life Sciences Industry Liaison Laboratory at Discovery Park. Discovery Park, the enterprise zone based at Sandwich, is a fabulous site with well over 100 companies now based there.

The potential of the Liaison Lab lies in the work we and our students will do with the businesses based at Discovery Park. It will allow all of our students to have the chance to experience an industry environment and will, for those seeking to work in the field, allow them to do research in that environment for a substantial period. This represents a major change in the scale of student opportunity and there are exciting times ahead.

BSc Hons Biosciences with Science Foundation Year

This course can also be studied over four years with an additional foundation year (Year 0) for those without the formal entry qualifications. The foundation year is designed to provide you with the grounding you need to progress on to the degree.

Find out more.


Full-time study

Apply via UCAS

Part-time study

Apply directly to us


Full-time study

Need some help?


For advice on completing your application please contact the Admissions Enquiry Team:

Tel:+44 (0)1227 782900


Contact our International Team

Fact file

UCAS code

  • C191 Biosciences
  • C192 Biosciences with Foundation Year

Institutional code

  • C10


  • 3 years full-time

    4 years full-time including a Foundation Year

    6 years part-time


  • September 2017

Entry requirements



More about


Biosciences was ranked joint 1st in the UK for helping students to improve their academic performance or results.

The Guardian 2018 League Table

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Last edited: 29/08/2017 15:52:00