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FGC0 Natural Sciences MSci Undergraduate  2019


UCAS code FGC0
Degree MSci
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 4 years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications
Department(s) Website

Course Summary


MSci Degrees

The MSci degree offers you the chance to also take research-based study in your fourth year. There are two types of MSci degree available via the Natural Sciences route:

  • The MSci in Natural Sciences allows you to take modules from a range of subjects, but you would normally specialise in at least one of the following subjects in your fourth year: Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Mathematics and Physics.
  • The MSci Joint Honours degrees are available in the following combinations: Biology and Chemistry, Biology and Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics, Computer Science and Mathemetics, and Mathematics and Physics.
  • The two degrees above allows you the option of completing a replacement Year Abroad in Year 3. Note that the Year Abroad is competitive and so applicants cannot apply for these pathways through UCAS.

Flexibility and choice

It is possible to transfer into the second year of an MSci degree programme from a BSc, if you have successfully completed your first year of study and if you have taken the appropriate modules.

Pattern of study

The MSci degrees are four-year programmes with the emphasis on research-based study in your fourth year. In Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Mathematics and Physics it is possible to spend the final year studying modules from just one of these subjects, provided you have taken the appropriate modules in earlier years.

University academic timetable

The restrictions of the University’s academic timetable will mean that not all combinations of modules or subjects will be possible. Please contact the Natural Sciences Admissions Selector if you would like further information on combinations of modules or subjects.

Year 1

You must study at least two subjects, but no more than four, which give you a good progression into your second-year subjects. You can specialise by taking up to four modules in one subject from 'Group 1' which are the science subjects listed in the BSc course content. Other subjects are available to study but these could not be taken through to Year 4, see the BSc course content. Students who intend to specialise in a single science subject in their final year, such as Earth Sciences, will typically need to take three or four core modules from that subject.

For instance, students who want to do the MSci Joint Honours degree in:

  • Biology and Chemistry must do five core modules, which leaves them free to choose one optional module.

  • Mathematics and Physics must do six compulsory modules.

MSci Natural Sciences students often take two modules from three subjects although other combinations are possible, but this combination would normally allow progression with any or all three of these subjects. The design of the programme is constrained by the limits of the University’s academic timetable and entry requirements, such as ensuring sufficient background knowledge for progression into a Year 4 subject.

Year 2

You must study at least two subjects, but no more than three, which gives you reasonable progression into your third-year subjects. You can specialise by taking up to four modules in one subject from Group 1, see the BSc course content.

For instance, students following the MSci Joint Honours degree in:

  • Mathematics and Physics must do the five core modules leaving them free to choose one module from the Mathematics or Physics List to achieve an equal subject balance.
  • Biology and Chemistry must do six core modules equally balanced between the two subjects.

Students who are following the MSci in Natural Sciences where they will specialise in a single science subject in their final year, such as Earth Sciences, typically:

  • Need to take three or four core modules
  • Have considerable freedom which is only limited by progression and the timetable
  • Build on one or two subjects studied in the first year
  • Have the option of starting a new subject by taking a first-year module.

Year 3

You must study at least two subjects, but no more than three. You can specialise by taking up to four modules in one subject from Group 1, see the BSc course content. You may also take a second-year module.

For example, students following the MSci Joint Honours degree in:

  • Chemistry and Physics must do the six core modules.
  • Chemistry and Mathematics must do five core modules and one module from the Mathematics list.

Students not taking the Joint Honours have considerable freedom; they are able to combine advanced modules in subjects already studied.

Year 4

In addition to the project module, students take a selection of taught modules. Module availability can change, but taught modules available to current students following the MSci Joint Honours degrees are:

  • Biology and Chemistry: Bioactive Chemistry 4; Biomolecular Analysis
  • Biology and Physics: Atomic and Optical Physics; Biological Imaging; Theoretical Physics 4
  • Chemistry and Mathematics: Chemical Physics 4; Computational Chemical Physics 4; Modules from the Level 4 Mathematics List
  • Chemistry and Physics: Chemical Physics 4; Computational Chemical Physics 4; Atomic and Optical Physics; Theoretical Physics 4;
  • Mathematics and Physics: Modules chosen from the Level 4 Mathematics and Physics lists.

Students taking the MSci in Natural Sciences have continued freedom where the main subjects studied will be listed on the degree certificate. Typically:

  • They combine advanced modules in subjects already studied
  • They can specialise in or combine: Chemistry; Computer Science; Earth Sciences; Mathematics; Physics.

Please note that Biology can only be studied in Year 4 as part of a Joint Honours degree.

We review course structures and core content (in light of e.g. external and student feedback) every year, and will publish finalised core requirements for 2019 entry from September 2018.

Course Detail

To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University please click here.

Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.

Course Learning and Teaching

The key characteristics of the Natural Sciences degree at Durham are choice, flexibility and depth. The Natural Sciences degree programme has a wide choice of subjects and there is choice between modules within subjects. It is also a flexible degree programme and with most subjects you can delay choosing your subjects until you get to Durham and you can also change the shape of your degree at the end of the first year.

The Natural Sciences degree programme has the following features:

  • The degree programme is based at the Durham campus.
  • The University operates on a system of undergraduates studying 120 credits each year drawn by combining modules offered by departments.
  • There are two types of degree that you can obtain, a 3-year BSc (degree code CFG0) or a 4-year MSci (degree code FGC0). The MSci is only available in certain subjects, namely Biology, Computer Science, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Maths and Physics. Both the BSc and the MSci contain BSc Joint Honours and MSci Joint Honours degrees as well as the more broad BSc Natural Sciences and MSci Natural Sciences degrees.
  • You should note that not all combinations of all modules in all subjects are feasible. Choices are constrained by the limits of the University timetable, which changes every year.

MSci in Natural Sciences

To take an MSci in Natural Sciences you must be taking at least one of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Mathematics, and Physics. Biology has a very limited range of modules at fourth year level, so Biology can only be included in a Joint Honours degree with Chemistry or Physics. An MSci in Natural Sciences can be a slight variation from one of the MSci Joint Honours degrees below. Alternatively, it could be just one of the subjects above (say Chemistry) with modules from other subjects (say Anthropology and Philosophy) for the first three years. In this case, your fourth year would have to consist of all six modules from the subject listed above (Chemistry in this case).

Joint Honours MSci within Natural Sciences

The MSci is available as a Joint Honours degree in one of five pairs namely:

Biology and Chemistry; Biology and Physics; Chemistry and Maths; Chemistry and Physics; Maths and Physics.

Students on the Natural Sciences programme design their own programme, so depending on their choices they learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical classes, fieldwork, informal but scheduled one-to-one support, and self-directed learning, such as research, reading, and writing. All of these are supported by a virtual learning environment, Durham University Online (DUO).

Tutorials, seminars, workshops, and practical classes are much smaller groups than lectures, small enough to allow one-to-one interaction with a member of staff. Practicals also allow hands-on experience of the work of professionals in the disciplines studied on the programme. The same is true of fieldwork and consists of engaging in, for example, geological, biological, geographical, or anthropological work in the field with members of academic staff. This emphasis on small-group and practical teaching reflects a conscious choice to enhance the quality of the learning experience rather than the number of formal sessions.

The degree programmes in Natural Sciences are designed to feature fewer formal sessions and more independent research as students move from their first to their final year. Small-group teaching and one-to-one attention from the personal academic advisor (provided for all students when they enter the programme) are part of the learning experience throughout, but by the final year classroom time gives way, to some extent, to independent research, including a major project that makes up a minimum of a third of final year credits. In this way, the degree programme systematically transforms the student from a consumer of knowledge in the classroom to a generator of knowledge, ready for professional or postgraduate life. These formal teaching arrangements are supported by “drop-in” surgeries with teaching staff and induction sessions that begin in the week before the start of the programme and continue at key times throughout each year of the programme. Students can also attend an extensive programme of research-focused seminars where staff and visiting scholars in various academic departments present their cutting-edge research.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

Provisional subject preferences must be declared in decreasing in order of interest (see here for further details of appropriate abbreviations). Using the first two subject preferences the offer is then augmented with specific grades as outlined above.

• All applicants taking A levels will need three A levels with at least one Science (Biology; Human Biology; Chemistry; Mathematics; Physics.) The standard offer is A*AA and you will need specific A level grades to study:

o Biology: A in either Biology or Chemistry. 
o Chemistry: A*A in any order in Chemistry and Mathematics.
o Computer Science: A in Mathematics.
o Economics: A in Mathematics.
o Mathematics: Either A*A in any order in Maths and Further Maths at A level or A* in Maths plus A in AS Further Maths for students unable to take A2 Further Maths.
o Physics: A*A in any order in Maths and Physics.
o We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking A levels as part of our offer. 

  • All applicants taking the International Baccalaureate will need a score of 38 points overall including either 766 or 666 at the Higher Level with at least one of these in a Science (Biology; Chemistry; Mathematics; Physics.) You will need specific Higher Level grades to study:

o Biology: 6 in either Biology or Chemistry.
o Chemistry: 76 in any order in Chemistry and Mathematics.
o Computer Science: 6 in Mathematics.
o Economics: 6 in Mathematics.
o Mathematics: 7 in Mathematics.
o Physics: 76 in any order in Mathematics and Physics.
o If the augmented offer includes a 7 at the Higher Level in any subject, then the offer will be 766 at the Higher Level, otherwise, it will be 666 at the Higher Level.

Entry requirements are the same for both Natural Sciences programmes.

We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £9,250.00 per year
Home Student £9,250.00 per year
Island Student £9,250.00 per year
International non-EU Student £24,300.00 per year

Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding 

Career Opportunities

Natural Sciences

Durham has an excellent graduate employment record. You can open up a wide choice of careers with a Natural Sciences degree. Many employers prefer a broadly based multidisciplinary science degree rather than a specialism in a single field. Recent graduates have gone into accountancy, administration, law, advertising, the armed forces, banking, the City, the civil service, financial management, general management, information technology, marketing, publishing, retailing, teaching, telecommunications, industrial and academic research. For a fuller picture, you can visit the University Careers website.

Of students that left in 2017:

- 85% are in employment or study six months after graduating

Of those in employment:

- 94% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £28,000

(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2016/17 graduates. The DLHE survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing six months after graduation. Full definitions for the DLHE Record can be found

A significant number of Natural Science graduates progress onto higher level study following their degree. Several remain within their academic field of interest, notably at Durham but also other prestigious institutions including Oxford, Cambridge, York, Bath, Edinburgh to name a few. Others pursue vocational professional study such as teaching (PGCE) and Journalism. A small number take conversion courses in law (Graduate Diploma Law) in preparation for training as a solicitor or barrister.

A huge percentage of trainees join KPMG from Durham University to the full range of graduate training schemes ranging we offer, from consulting to compliance. This demonstrates that Durham produces consistently high calibre candidates each year who possess a wide range of competencies both personal and technical. It’s only the skills and abilities of our people which enables KPMG to achieve its global leadership status so in turn; we are committed to engaging with and providing development opportunities to Durham students throughout the academic year.

Employment development opportunities

Careers Advisers deliver regular talks to all undergraduate year groups

Year 1 focusing on developing employability skills, penultimate year on internships , work experience and final year on graduate employers/schemes , the recruitment cycle and making effective applications for jobs and further study.

Durham University Natural Sciences graduates progress into a diverse range of careers and employment sectors. The private,public and charitable sectors are all represented. Example roles include Nuclear Environmental Officer, Policy Adviser, Accountant, Research Analyst, Assistant Psychologist, Public Health Analyst, Investment Banking Analyst, Sports Trader, Assistant Scientific Commissioning Editor, Investment Consultant, Management, Recruitment Consultant, Auditor, Insurance Underwriter, Safety Policy and Environment Assistant Manager, Software Developer and Insurance Underwriter to name a few. Example high profile employers include Barclays, Deloitte, Dept for Business Innovations & Skills, Future Science Group, KPMG, NHS, DSTL, HM Treasury, Towers Watson, Bank of America, PwC, Deutsche Bank, Army, Casino Capital Management, JP Morgan, Natural History Museum, Sky News, RAF, United Nations World Conservation Centre

For more information about the Natural Sciences degree programme, please contact:

Dr. James Blowey
Deputy Head of Faculty
Faculty of Science Office
Level 3 Chemistry Building
Durham University

Tel: 0191 334 1014
Fax: 0191 334 1018

WWW: Natural Sciences home page

The Natural Sciences web pages are maintained by James Blowey

For an introduction to our Careers Service follow the link to

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments, and opportunities to explore college options, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.

Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place:

Discover Durham Tours

Discover Durham tours offer a brief introduction to the University. The tour begins at one of our undergraduate colleges, where you will receive an introductory talk from a member of college staff, followed by a tour of the college by current students.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

Natural Sciences


Follow your own path with this most adaptable and versatile of degrees.

This is a long-standing, challenging and rewarding degree programme for science students who wish to read more than one subject at degree level.  Key characteristics are choice, flexibility and depth.  It offers the option of 24 BSc and 5 MSci Joint Honours degrees provided by 12 departments and the opportunity of designing your own BSc or MSci programme major in at least one science, with the wide choice of subjects being supplemented by Education and Sport. 

Many pathways are accredited, so that by graduation you will have interdisciplinary training regardless of your route of study. Our ethos is research-led, with a range of modules being taught by leaders in their field.


  • Durham University is in the top 40 for employer reputation in the QS World University Rankings® 2018
  • 77% of the subject departments contributing to Natural Sciences are ranked in the UK’s top 10 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.


For a current list of staff, please see the Natural Sciences web pages.


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