C103 Biological Sciences BSc Undergraduate 2019
|Mode of study||Full Time|
|Typical Offers||A Level|
|Please also check Requirements and Admissions.|
|Telephone||+44 (0)191 334 1200|
Durham University operates a modular system in which you will study six modules each year. The Biological Sciences BSc three year degree programme has been designed to allow you more choice between modules in each successive year so that you can follow specialised routes within Biological Sciences, or address specific areas of interest, as you progress.
Recommended module combinations (“routes”) to allow various themes of specialisation are available, although these still allow choice at each level of the programme. We have specified recommended routes corresponding to the following subject areas:
- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- Biomedical Science
- Cell Biology
- Ecology and Environmental Science.
Other module combinations are possible to give courses which specialise in “whole organism” biology, or plant sciences, or microbiology. Transfer to the four-year MBiol programme is possible up to the end of Year 2.
The first year covers fundamental aspects of biology including evolution, biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, physiology, and an overview of the diversity of organisms, through a set of four “core” modules covering the following topics:
- Organisms and Environment
- Animal Physiology
- Genetics and Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry and Cell Biology.
The module-linked tutorial system provides support for taught material and an introduction to essential scientific and transferable skills.
The Level 1 course also includes an integrated “Scientific Skills” module which covers underpinning chemistry and maths designed to support learning in the other modules. In addition, an optional module provides an introduction to all aspects of current research in the biosciences. A language module, provided by another department, can be taken as an alternative optional module.
The second year of the course allows you to select a degree programme to meet your interests and career ambitions by choosing modules from those available. Choices of modules made for Year 2 then feed forward into the third year. There is a wide range of module themes which have previously included:
- Developmental Biology
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Structure and Function
- Cell Signalling
- Applied Physiology
- Plant and Algal Physiology
A Year 2 support module, “Research Skills” is also offered, in which skills required for research-led learning at Level 3 are covered. As in Year 1, learning is supported by a module-linked tutorial system.
Level 3 of the degree places the strongest emphasis on research, with taught content directly linked to research being carried out in the Department. You will undertake three major pieces of work, each constituting its own module; a workshop/field course, a literature review and a research module.
The “Workshop” (laboratory based) or “Field Course” (field-based) module both involve research experience; field courses are currently held in South Africa or Scotland (residential field courses can incur an additional fee, which ranged from £150-£750 in 2016).
The "Literature Review" module involves the study of current research literature in a topic area selected by you, under personal supervision. The final year of the BSc programme also includes the research module, which can be: a five-week laboratory or field-based Research Project; "Biological Enterprise", where you will develop the science and business case for a potential biotech-based product; "Biology into Schools", where you will gain hands-on practice of teaching at primary school level; or "Contemporary Issues in the Biosciences", where you will gain experience in the communication of bioscience via production of a report.
In addition, you will study three modules linked to your interests from those offered. The Year 3 taught modules cover a wide range of topics, which previously have included:
- Advanced Topics in Ecology
- Conservation Biology
- Ecology in the Anthropocene
- Crops for the Future
- Stress and Responses
- Advanced Topics in Development
- Biochemistry and Biotechnology
- Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering
- Advanced Cell Biology
- Biology of Disease.
You can elect to follow a placement degree route, by transfer to a degree “With Placement” during Level 2. Placements are obtained by personal application to suitable placement providers, with assistance from the Department. The 40-week placement is taken between the second and the final year, for the award of the BSc “Biological Sciences with Placement” degree. The Department has links with a wide range of private, public and voluntary sector bodies that provide work experience opportunities for undergraduates.
Placements are typically with organisations such as the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the Natural History Museum, biotechnology companies such as AstraZeneca, pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline, government agencies, such as the Food & Environmental Research Agency and NHS laboratories, such as those at the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.
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.
You may be able to take a programme with a year abroad, in which case a year at a selected partner university in a range of overseas destinations (including Canada, Australia and China) is added between the second and third year at Durham. The year abroad is a normal year at the host institution, although marks for assessments and exams taken abroad do not contribute to the Durham degree outcome. The programme leads to the award of a BSc “Biological Sciences Degree with Year Abroad” degree. Places on "Year Abroad" degree programmes are limited and are subject to a competitive selection process in Durham during Level 2.
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 main method of programme delivery are lectures, supplemented by practical classes and workshops. Lectures represent the largest proportion of the allocated contact hours and allow the effective delivery of large amounts of knowledge, which forms the factual basis of a science subject.
At Level 1 the emphasis is on core knowledge across the broad spectrum of the sub-disciplines of biological sciences. At Levels 2 and 3, there are more specialised modules enabling students to focus on a particular sub-discipline, with elements of choice in the programme.
As the degree programme progresses, there is an increasing emphasis as the lecture programme progresses on showing that biosciences is based on experimental evidence gained through research. At Level 3 lecturing is research-led and based on staff research interests. The proportion of the programme delivered through lectures is less at Level 3 than in preceding years, to allow a greater emphasis on your own research activities. The lectures are supplemented by timetabled surgery sessions, which are used for revision and problem-solving. Lecturing staff answer specific questions about the material they have taught through email, and by personal meetings when necessary; the Department has an "open-office" policy for responding to such queries. Typically, taught modules contain 35 one hour lecture slots, two workshops, and one surgery session. You will take five compulsory taught modules at Level 1, six taught modules at Level 2, and three taught modules at Level 3, with three modules aligned to major pieces of research work.
Practical classes are a major component of contact hours and are an essential part of training in an experimental science like biology. Level 1 practical classes are used to train you in the basic techniques required for experimental work in the full range of biological sciences, whereas you will specialise in specific techniques and areas of experimental work through module choice at Level 2.
The practical classes are supplemented by workshops in which data handling techniques are taught. At both Levels 1 and 2, the load of practical classes overall is one-two three hour sessions per week. There are no, or almost no practical classes at Level 3 since you will carry out three research modules at this level. The first is a field course or laboratory based extended workshop, both of which offer approximately two working weeks' contact between students and staff. The second is a literature review, with a topic chosen from current areas of interest in biological sciences. This involves approx. six-eight hours non-timetabled contact with a supervisor. The third research module is a project, either in the lab or field, or in interfacing with the commercial sector (biology enterprise), or in school-based education, or in research programme design, or in science communication of contemporary topics in biosciences. All will involve you in a large amount of contact time with staff that is not formally timetabled, but which averages approx. 16-40 hours.
The course philosophy is based on a directed programme of teaching and learning at Levels 1 and 2, within which you are expected to develop self-guided and motivated learning, leading to a much greater emphasis on independent learning at Level 3.
Academic support is provided by a dual system of tutorials and academic advisers. Tutorials in small group format are used to deliver specific content related to academic support, whereas the academic adviser sessions are on a personal level, and are used to deal with specific issues relevant to the individual student, such as feedback on exam performance. The tutorial/academic adviser system offers students at least fortnightly sessions with a tutor or academic advisor throughout their academic career.
A course leader provides overall academic support for students; this role has proved very successful in dealing with the range of problems encountered by students during their programmes.
Subject requirements, level and grade
In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:
- We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. Please contact our Admissions Selectors
- Biology or Chemistry or Human Biology at A level or equivalent, plus another science subject at A level or equivalent is required. Psychology, Maths and Geography are all considered sciences for the purposes of admissions. Although PE is accepted as a third A level, it is not a science for the purpose of admissions
- There is no advantage in applying for both MBiol and BSc degrees
- We do not accept two AS levels in place of one A level
- We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking as part of our offer
- Typical IB score 37 to include 666 in higher level subjects. Higher level grade 6 Biology or Chemistry and another science Higher Level subject are required
- If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Centre offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses
- If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre
- 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
The tuition fees for 2019/20 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.
Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.
Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.
Scholarships and funding
Department of Biosciences
A degree in bioscience from Durham will give you an excellent start to your working life.
Not only will you receive an outstanding education in bioscience, you will also gain valuable transferrable skills to prepare you for future challenges, enhance your personal development, and improve your employment prospects. Durham bioscience graduates readily find employment in a range of careers, including further higher education such as university postgraduate research, medicine, teaching; the NHS sector; industrial research and development and biotechnology within the private sector; management; accountancy; conservation; ecological and environmental services; broadcast and print science journalism; environmental and biological patent law; the civil service; and the armed services. Graduates of the Biomedical Sciences degree also enter the NHS as trainee clinical scientists.
Of those students who graduated in 2016:
- 90% are in paid employment or further study 6 months after graduation
Of those in employment:
- 76% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £22,079
(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2015/16 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 here: www.hesa.ac.uk/support/definitions/destinations)
Approximately 30% of graduates progress onto higher level study following their degree in Biological Sciences. Some remain within their academic field of interest and pursue a taught or research Masters at Durham, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Imperial College, Warwick and King's College, London. PhD study is popular and graduates regularly compete successfully for funded places at Durham, York, Manchester, Exeter, Imperial College, Cambridge, University College London and Oxford. Others take a different route and pursue professional postgraduate programmes in law, journalism, finance and teaching to name but a few. Some students pursue careers in medicine and have competed successfully for a place on medicine degree courses at UK universities, including Durham, Southampton, Warwick, and Nottingham.
Employment development opportunities
The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre collaborates closely with the Biological Sciences Department. The link Careers Adviser delivers presentations to each year group on a range of areas including options with the subject, career decision making, successful applications and interviews, and advice for those considering further study. Additional CV drop in clinics are offered in the department where students can have 1 to 1 help and advice from the link Careers Adviser.
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: www.durham.ac.uk/opendays
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 of Biosciences
Bioscience is the fundamental science of life, and recent key developments make the twenty-first century a most exciting era, in which important biological challenges will be met and resolved. Our bioscientists are tackling challenges that include climate change and biodiversity conservation, developing new technologies for human healthcare, and feeding an increasing human population.
- 8th in the UK for world-leading research impact (REF 2014).
- 96% of Biological Sciences students were satisfied with their course overall in the National Student Survey 2018 (sector average 84%).
- 5th in The Complete University Guide 2018.
We have custom-designed buildings, equipped with modern teaching aids that create a stimulating learning environment. During their Research Projects undergraduates have access to the latest technology for electron and confocal laser scanning microscopy, transgenic studies, DNA analysis and proteomics, bioinformatics, remote sensing, ecological field sampling and computer modelling. We are close to extensive woodlands and a botanic garden, which provide additional teaching resources and opportunities for fieldwork.