Biology, BSc - 2018/19

BSc single honours or in combination with another subject Biology 2020/21

Year of entry

Biology-based enterprises often operate in a tightly regulated environment and require well trained, knowledgeable professionals with a knowledge of animal welfare, health and behaviour, or plant health and physiology. This is your chance to gain a strong foundation in the skills and knowledge you will need to forge a career in this fascinating area.

You will have the opportunity to interact with a range of employers in the field, including: The Life Sciences Industry Liaison Lab, Howletts and Port Lympne Zoos, Wildwood and Wingham Wildlife Park, Thanet Earth, and FAST Brogdale.

You will explore areas including:

  • taxonomy
  • animal anatomy and physiology
  • plant physiology and development
  • microbiology

Biology is one of the most diverse and integrated scientific disciplines, ranging from the study of microscopic molecules and their biological importance to the investigation of whole organisms and their behaviour. The design of our Biology BSc Single Honours course with foundation year reflects this exciting diversity and provides opportunities for you to develop key skills and knowledge across a range of biological subject areas.

Our Biology BSc  programme will prepare you for work in the science sector by placing a focus on practical work in the laboratory. The course also focuses on developing transferrable skills in oral and written communication and the use of modern computational and statistical approaches to working with biological data. We have close links to the businesses and industries that need science graduates and their input has helped shape this course to maximise the employability of our graduates.

Some graduates have gone onto work in cancer research, in medical microbiology, and in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Many others have gone on to continue their studies at MSc or PhD level or to train as teachers.

At level 4, the programme introduces you to key concepts and skills in biochemistry, genetics, and explores the vast diversity of life on earth. From this broad foundation, at levels 5 and 6 the programme introduces concepts of animal and plant anatomy and physiology and practical skills in molecular biology and gives you options to specialise your studies.

The optional modules will allow you to focus on a particular aspect of biology or to maintain breadth in your studies, with the course embracing topics as diverse as animal and plant pathology, immunology and bioinformatics.

Did you know? Some of our past graduates have published research they completed as part of their year three dissertation project in scientific journals or presented it at national conferences.

Work experience

The course includes an option to take a summer work placement as part of your studies. You will also be able to apply for internships over the summer breaks. These usually involve working with lecturers on their research projects in collaboration with external partners and potential employers in industry and research.

Core modules

In line with good practice, module content is regularly updated and module titles may on occasion change to reflect updated content in the advances in the field of study.

Year 1

Biochemistry (20 credits) Combined honours core module 

The aim of this module is to introduce you to the foundations of biological systems through the study of biochemistry and cell biology. You will learn about the essential biological components of cells and how they interact and work together to support life at the molecular level. This module also teaches you essential laboratory skills and prepares you for further study in more advanced cell biology and molecular biology modules.

Chemistry (20 credits)

Chemistry is fundamental to the understanding of the reactions and processes that happen inside all organisms. This module aims to give you the necessary theoretical background and practical skills in chemistry, which will be essential for your study of biological sciences.

Diversity of Life (20 credits) Option combined honours

This module aims to equip you with a fundamental understanding of the history of life on earth and the ancestral relationships between living things. You will learn about the physiological and anatomical features that distinguish various groups of organisms, as well as the characteristics that they have in common. The module also aims to develop your skills in identifying organisms and the use of dichotomous keys.

Genetics and Evolution (20 credits) Combined honours core module 

This module aims to give you the necessary background in genetics and evolutionary biology, providing knowledge of Mendelian genetics and the mechanisms of evolution which are essential for the study of biological and environmental sciences. The module also includes practical sessions on important molecular techniques such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and how to analyse genetic sequence data.

Microbiology (20 credits)

This module aims to develop your aseptic technique and microbiological laboratory skills while also investigating the classification and uses of microorganisms. The module aims to develop your independent research skills as you investigate the various diseases and other issues that are caused by microorganisms.

Science Skills and Introduction to Statistics (20 credits) Option combined honours

This module aims to develop your background in skills and methods essential for the study and communication of biological sciences. The module will introduce you to scientific publications and how to engage effectively with them, how to design experiments effectively as well as the statistical methods essential to the analysis of scientific data.

Year 2

Animal anatomy and Physiology (20 credits) Combined honours core module 

The module focusses on a detailed exploration of the vertebrate skeletal, muscle, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and nervous systems. The aim is to build a holistic understanding of animal physiology and anatomy and allow comparison with human anatomy and physiology. The concept of homeostasis and how it sustains animal life is a recurring theme throughout the module.

Data Handling (20 credits)  Option combined honours

This module aims to develop your ability to do quantitative biological data analysis and introduce you to bioinformatics analysis and the analysis of “big data”. Central to the first aim will be introducing you to the powerful statistical programming language, R and how it can be used to carry out statistical analyses and display data effectively.

Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (20 credits) Option combined honours

This module aims to provide you with an in depth perspective of the theory, practical and commercial applications of molecular biology. The practical emphasis of this module permits you to further develop a range of fundamental molecular biology techniques, which are not only essential for studying biomolecules within a laboratory research setting, but also highly desirable for future employability.

Natural Product Chemistry (20 credits)

This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the chemistry of natural products and the links between their molecular structure and properties that determine their behaviour in biological systems. It also introduces purification methods and other analytical methods that can be used to isolate and identify these compounds.

Plant Physiology and Development (20 credits) Combined honours core module

This module aims to equip you with a sound knowledge of the basics of plant physiology and development. The module also aims to develop your ability to analyse and interpret published data through student-led discussions of the role of plant hormones (plant growth regulators) in controlling physiological processes and developmental switches.

Year 3

Advanced Plant Physiology and Development (20 credits) Combined honours optional module 

This module aims to develop in you an advanced knowledge of plant physiology and development. The module also aims to develop your ability to analyse, interpret and critically discuss published data through student-led discussions of the molecular basis of acclimation responses to abiotic stresses.

Animal Reproduction and Development (20 credits) Combined honours optional module 

This module aims to provide you with an understanding of both reproductive and parental strategies in animals, and the various stages of embryogenesis in a range of vertebrate and invertebrate organisms. This includes genetic regulation of embryogenesis and development and assisted reproductive technologies for the treatment of infertility.

Current Science Issues (20 credits) Combined honours core module

This module allows you to develop your wider understanding of how science impacts and affects society. You will develop your independent research and analysis skills by commenting on important current science issues that you discover and present yourselves or that are presented by visiting speakers.

Honours Project (40 credits) Combined honours optional module 

This module allows you to undertake a piece of commercially/socially relevant research. You will be required to identify an area of biological research related to the content of the biology programme you have studied and design and undertake appropriate experiments. The module aims to give you experience of independent research, analysis and how to present findings effectively in two styles: a written scientific paper and a poster presented to a non-specialist audience.

Likely optional modules

Options are subject to availability and may change. The work placement module is offered based on suitable work placement being available and the student being accepted by the employer offering the placement. 

Year 2 

Animal Pests and Diseases (20 credits)

This module will encourage you to develop the necessary knowledge to make reasoned arguments on current issues in the field of animal pests, parasites and pathogens. You will develop a holistic view of the relationship between pests, parasites and pathogens, their target host species and their environments. You will also develop an understanding that human activities can profoundly affect virulence in pests, parasites and pathogens.

Chemistry of the Environment (20 credits)

This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the fundamental theoretical concepts and practical applications of environmental chemistry in aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric environments. It aims to familiarise you with some of the chemical analytical methods that can be used in the monitoring of these environments and address issues of environmental pollution.

Plant Pests and Pathogens (20 credits)

This module enables you to develop a knowledge of common important plant pests and diseases, their effects on plant growth and yield, and how to recognise them in the field. The module also aims to develop your ability to analyse and interpret published data through student-led discussions about specific pests and diseases and their control.

Work placement (20 credits)

This module provides you with the opportunity to develop key skills and experience while working in a commercial environment. You will be enabled to develop critical reflection skills as you review your own competencies as they expand and diversify.

Year 3

Options are subject to availability and may change

Animal Health and Husbandry (20 credits)

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

Bioinformatics 1 (20 credits)

This module aims to develop a systematic understanding of the role of computing in biological research, how these link to the fundamentals of molecular biology. You will learn how to apply key concepts and techniques in Bioinformatics to answer real research questions.

Immunology and Cancer Biology (20 credits)

This module aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the biology and genetics of cancer and of the role of the immune system in tumour development in humans and other animals. It will introduce a range of medical techniques used to diagnose cancer and you will study the latest cutting-edge treatments and the molecular mechanisms targeted by these treatments. You will also participate in discussions on the impact of cancer on lives and how patients are cared for, including end of life care.

Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions (20 credits)

This module allows you to develop skills in critical analysis, interpretation and presentation of experimental data. The module enables you to develop a detailed knowledge of the molecular and genetic processes that underpin the interaction of plants with a range of different microbes.

The broad, multi­disciplinary 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.

Other graduates have progressed to study for higher degrees, including taught and research Masters degrees and PhDs, while others go into a career in teaching, either at primary, secondary or post compulsory level. The transferrable skills and level of scientific literacy developed by this programme is also valuable in other non-scientific areas of industry, commerce and the media.


Tuition Fees for 2020/21 have not yet been finalised. Course webpages will be updated with Tuition Fee information once these have been agreed.

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

Course specific costs

Learning Materials Textbook “Biology: How Life Works, by Morris et al”, ISBN-13: 978-1464138263. Currently £39.99. Includes one year’s access to Launchpad, an interactive web e-book which is integrated into some of the modules.

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) No, if the trip contributes to the course as an optional module. Yes if the trip is optional.
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.


You will be taught through a combination of lectures, laboratory practicals, field trips, visits to employers, seminars, invited speakers and practical workshops. At level 4 you typically have 18 contact hours per week.  The emphasis is on developing independent learners and learning by student experimentation and observation. At level 4 two thirds of each module is delivered as practical experimentation either in laboratories, IT labs or in the field. These sessions are supplemented by lectures, and seminars/workshops in which you feedback from your structured independent study. By level 5 laboratory and field based experimentation is complemented by analysis of published research and by level 6 the emphasis is on learning being driven by student led workshops discussing published research papers. All teaching material is posted on the internal VLE Blackboard. Learning is supplemented at all levels by tutorial sessions with an individual personal tutor and small group seminars (I2 sessions) which are requested by students to address specific topics.  All programmes are informed by the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy 2015-2020.  Your actual contact hours depend on the option modules you select.

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions you will continue learning through self-study.  Typically, this involves reading journal articles and books, undertaking research in the library, working on projects, and preparing for coursework assignments/examinations, workshops and seminars.  Your module director will direct you towards specific readings and/or activities to complete before class through the VLE blackboard.

For the 40 credit individual study at level 6 you will undertake independent research. You will work under the supervision of a member of the programme team. You will meet with your supervisor regularly.

Overall workload

Each 20 credit module requires 200 hours of study which comprises of formal contact (lectures, practicals, tutorials, workshops), structured independent learning (prescribed reading and/or online exercises) and independent learning. Each module at foundation level and level 4 has 60 hours of formal contact, supplemented with 40 hours of structured independent learning. As students develop and become more independent formal contact and structured learning reduces to 50 hours of contact and 30 hours of structured independent learning at level 5, and 40 hours of contact and 20 hours of structured independent learning at level 6.

Academic input

The team consists of highly qualified academics. They have a range of expertise and experience.

All our core team members hold doctoral qualifications and most hold or are working toward postgraduate teaching qualifications. They are research-active and encourage students to become involved in their research. They have experience in delivering research-informed teaching. You can find out more about the current teaching on our Meet the Team webpage. You should note members of the teaching team might change.

Postgraduate students sometimes assist in teaching and assessing some modules. However, experienced academics teach the vast majority of lectures and seminars.


Assessment is by both coursework and examination. The course provides you with opportunities to test your understanding of the subject informally before you complete the formal assessments that count towards your final mark. Each year you will be set formative assignments to go through with your tutor.  There will also be 'formative' assessment within some of the modules.  Practice assessments are developmental and any grades you receive for them do not count towards your module mark.

There are also formal or 'summative' assessment.  Assessment methods include written examinations and a range of coursework assessments such as essays, reports, portfolios, performance, presentations and your final year individual study project. The grades from formal assessments count towards your module mark.

Coursework assessments permit you to develop key scientific and transferable skills and assignments include: scientific lab/log books, written reports, written scientific papers, discursive essays, PowerPoint presentations and poster presentations. There is a maximum of two assessments per 20 credit module studied.

Percentage of the course assessed by coursework

The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose. The approximate percentage of the course assessed by coursework and exams is as follows:

Level 4

60 per cent coursework 40 per cent written exams

Level 5

50 per cent coursework 50 per cent written exams

Level 6

65 per cent coursework 35 per cent written exams


You will receive feedback on all practice assessments and on formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback on examination performance is available upon request from the module leader. Feedback is intended to help you learn and you are encouraged to discuss it with your module tutor.  We aim to provide you with feedback within 15 working days of hand-in.

Students are often able to use modern, research grade equipment during taught modules and for their individual research on their dissertation project. 

The Life Sciences Industry Liaison Lab at Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent was launched in March 2016. Discovery Park is a fabulous site with well over 100 companies now based there, many of which are active in the science sector.


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 Course Enquiry Team:

Tel:+44 (0)1227 928000 (0)1227 928000


Contact our International Team

Fact file

UCAS course code

  • C100 Biology

UCAS institution code

  • C10


  • 3 years full-time

    6 years part-time

    Professional placement option


  • September 2020

Entry requirements



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Last edited: 17/05/2019 14:06:00