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Durham University


CFG0 Natural Sciences BSc Undergraduate  2021


For the latest information on our plans for teaching in academic year 2020/21 in light of Covid-19, please see

UCAS code CFG0
Degree BSc
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 3 years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications
Contextual Offers You may be eligible for an offer which is one or two grades lower than our standard entry requirements. Find out more.
More information Still have questions?
Department(s) Website

Course Summary


BSc Degrees

The BSc Natural Sciences degree provides a wide choice of subjects to study and does not require applicants to study any particular subject. These subjects are divided into three groups:

Group 1

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Earth Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology.

At least half of your studies in the second and third years in Natural Sciences must be from the subjects listed in Group 1. Not all subjects can be taken together.

Group 2

  • Anthropology
  • Business
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Philosophy.

No more than half of your studies in the second and third years can be from subjects in Group 2. Each of these subjects contributes to at least one Joint Honours degree with the subjects from Group 1.

Group 3

These subjects are Sport and Education (excluding History of Art) and are based in Durham City. None of the subjects in Group 3 contribute to a Joint Honours degree in Natural Sciences (and so no combination with these subjects is guaranteed to work in the timetable) and no more than half of your studies in the second and third years can be made up of subjects in Groups 2 and 3. If you are interested in taking subjects from Group 3, you are strongly recommended to contact the Natural Sciences Admissions Selector to judge on the feasibility of combining subjects from Groups 1 and 3.

Typically, first-year BSc Natural Sciences students either take three modules from two subjects or modules from three subjects. Other combinations are possible, but this combination would normally allow you to progress with any or all three of these subjects, as well as starting some new subjects in your second year.

Flexibility and choice

The degree allows you to choose from a wide choice of subjects to include in your degree. It also allows you to delay the choice about the direction of your studies until the end of your first year (and in some cases to the end of your second year). Each year you can normally change your choice of modules within the first three weeks of the academic year.


The degree requires final-year students to undertake capstone modules which are student driven and involve independent thought, personal management of the work’s direction and are reflective of the degree's learning outcomes. Typically, these modules will have a very small taught component and staff act as mentors, rather than deliverers of information.

Patterns of study

As part of the BSc Natural Sciences degree you may follow one of the following patterns of study:

BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences 

With this route you could study the same three subjects each year. You could also build on your first-year studies in one or two subjects and then combine advanced modules in these subjects with a new subject(s) in your second year.

You could then study two or three subjects in your third year, all of which you must also have studied in earlier years. With this route you would graduate with a BSc (Hons) degree in Natural Sciences with your main subjects studied listed on the degree certificate.

At the end of Year 2, the BSc allows you the option of transferring onto either “with Year Abroad” or “with Placement” pathway.  Note that these options are competitive and so applicants cannot apply for these pathways through UCAS.

BSc Joint Honours Degrees within Natural Sciences

With a BSc Joint Honours degree in two subjects, you will study each of these two subjects in all of the three years of study. In the first year, there may be the opportunity to take modules in a third subject, if you wish. If you follow the requirements for a Joint Honours degree you graduate with a BSc Honours degree in A and B within the Natural Sciences degree (where A and B are replaced with the relevant subjects).  If a combination is not offered, it might still be possible for you to combine them with a third subject within a Natural Sciences degree that is not a Joint Honours degree. Please contact the Natural Sciences Admissions Selector for further details.  Note that the “with Year Abroad” and “with Placement” pathways are also offered as added extras with Joint Honours degrees. 

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.

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

  • Biology and Earth Sciences must do four core modules, which leaves them free to choose any two optional modules from any subject on offer.
  • Economics and Mathematics must do five core modules from these subjects leaving them one free module from any subject.

To find out the number of core modules for each subject you are advised to look at the Natural Sciences webpages as a guide.

BSc 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 course is constrained by the entry requirements and limits of the University’s academic timetable which is published five months before the start of the academic year.

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.

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

  • Mathematics and Physics must do five core modules leaving them free to choose another module from these subjects to achieve an equal balance.
  • Biology and Psychology must do six core modules.

Students who are taking the BSc in Natural Sciences have considerable freedom which is only limited by progression and the academic timetable, so in this scenario they do not need to adhere to the strict Joint Honours rules. They must build on one or two subjects studied in their first year, but also have the option of starting a new subject by taking a first-year module in their second year.

Year 3

You must study at least two subjects, but no more than three. You can specialise by taking up to five modules in one subject. Students may also take a second-year module during this year.

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

  • Chemistry and Earth Sciences must do two core modules in Chemistry and at least two modules from Earth Sciences with the remaining modules from these subjects, which could be none, one or two.
  • Business and Computer Science must do at least two modules from each subject with the remaining modules from these subjects.

Students taking the BSc in Natural Sciences have continued freedom and are required to take a capstone module. They combine modules in subjects already studied to a higher level. The main subjects studied will be listed on the degree certificate having studied at least 50% science-subjects in Years 2 and 3.

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 2021 entry from September 2020.

Placement Year

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Course Learning and Teaching

The key characteristics of the Natural Sciences degree at Durham are choice, flexibility and depth. The Natural Sciences degree has a wide choice of subjects and in later years there is choice between modules within subjects. It is also a flexible degree 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 has the following features:

  • The degree is based at the Durham campus.
  • The University operates on a system of undergraduates studying 120 credits each year. There are 20, 40 and a few 60 credit modules, so students choose combinations of modules which add up to precisely 120 credits.
  • 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). 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.

As part of the BSc Natural Sciences degree you may follow one of the following patterns of study:

  • a BSc Natural Sciences degree in which you study two or more subjects and start a new subject in your second year or carry on with the three subjects you have studied in your first year.
  • a Joint Honours BSc degree within Natural Sciences which involves studying the same two subjects in each of the three years (it is usually possible to study three or even four subjects in the first year).
  • take a Year Abroad in between the second and third years.
  • do a placement in between the second and third years.

Students on the Natural Sciences course 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-on-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 course. 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 quantity of formal sessions.

The degrees 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 course) 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. In this way the degree 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 degree. 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 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:

  • Biology: A in either Biology or Chemistry.
  • Chemistry: A*A in any order in Chemistry and Mathematics.
  • Computer Science: A in Mathematics.
  • Economics: A in Mathematics.
  • 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.
  • Physics: A*A in any order in Maths and Physics.
  • We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking A levels as part of our offer.

All applicants wishing to study Psychology will need to have achieved Grade 5 (or grade B) in Mathematics at GCSE, or equivalent.

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:

  • Biology: 6 in either Biology or Chemistry.
  • Chemistry: 76 in any order in Chemistry and Mathematics.
  • Computer Science: 6 in Mathematics.
  • Economics: 6 in Mathematics.
  • Mathematics: 7 in Mathematics.
  • Physics: 76 in any order in Mathematics and Physics.
  • 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.

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. 
  • There is no advantage in applying for both MSci and BSc degrees.
  • Entry requirements are the same for both  MSci and BSc degrees.
  • We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking as part of our offer.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Entry requirements are the same for both Natural Sciences degrees.

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 2021/22 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

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 (see below for a fuller explanation). 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.

A Natural Sciences degree gives students added qualities compared to the more usual single honours programmes. It appeals particularly to highly motivated students, as the degree allows and indeed encourages students to adapt their studies to their changing interests and to add to their employability. This creates responsibility in the student for their own learning and decision-making. They have to learn time management skills, caused by having to resolve timetabling issues, varying workloads and meeting conflicting deadlines. Academically the degree facilitates students adding breadth to their knowledge and understanding, whilst staff guidance ensures appropriate depth and academic progression to each student’s studies. By following at least two subjects, students embrace different study, research and analytical methodologies, varied assessment methods, and the need to develop different verbal and written presentation skills appropriate for the subjects. The result produces students who not only have breadth, but importantly a very good range of transferable skills for the workplace: time management, adaptability, self-directed working, reflectiveness, appreciation of diversity, application of different approaches to suit the situation or problem and presentation skills.

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

Natural Sciences
Faculty of Science Office
Level 3 Chemistry Building
Durham University
United Kingdom

External Enquiries? Get in touch using our enquiry form. Have you seen our helpful FAQs?

Internal Enquiries

WWW: Natural Sciences home page

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


Studying a Combined degree at Durham can provide considerable flexibility and choice across Durham University’s breadth of world-renowned, research-led education. It allows you to create an academically ambitious degree, suited to your individual interests, strengths and career plans.

The key characteristics of the Natural Sciences degrees at Durham are choice, flexibility and depth. The Natural Sciences BSc (Hons) and MSci (Hons) courses have a wide choice of subjects not limited to the natural sciences, and within most subjects there is a choice of which pathway to follow. These are very flexible degrees, and you can even delay choosing your subjects until you get to Durham.


  • 90% of courses are in the UK Top 10 in The Complete University Guide 2019.
  • Top 40 globally for employer reputation in the QS World University Rankings 2019.
  • Top 100 in the QS World University Rankings 2019.


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


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