Cookies

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences Freshers - Choosing your modules - Step 1

The first thing to do is to have a good think about which subjects you would like to study. In particular, which subjects would you like to study to third or fourth year level. You will need to study these subjects in your first year and normally will need to take at least two of your modules in each of those subjects (you have to choose precisely 120 credits or 6 single modules - most modules are single modules but there are some double modules, the final digit of the module code tells you the size of the module - for instance PHYS1122 is a double module and PHYS1101 is a single module).

Please note that in the B.Sc. Natural Sciences degree, 50% of the first year should be Science and in years two and three 50% needs to be from Science. Science counts as the following subjects:

Biology
Chemistry
Computer Science
Earth Sciences
Mathematics
Physics
Psychology

This will not affect the JH B.Sc. degrees (as all of these involve at least one of those subjects) or the M.Sci degrees (these only involve those subjects). I recommend that you take a total of at least three modules from the subjects above in your first year. If you have any queries about this, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Please note that you can only study the main first year Chemistry modules - Core Chemistry 1 and Practical Chemistry 1A, if you wrote down Chemistry as one of the subjects that you wanted to study in Section 3(f) on your UCAS form. If you have any doubt about this, please contact me. Any student can select the Chemistry module Molecules in Action (CHEM1061) as long as they satisfy the prerequisites, you do not need to have mentioned Chemistry in section 3(f) of the UCAS form to take this module. You should note that this does not allow you to study any Chemistry in your second or third year. If you have named Chemistry as one of the subjects in Section 3(f) on your UCAS form and no longer wish to study it, there is no problem with you changing your mind and studying other subjects. Some students do find the transition between A-level and University Chemistry challenging due to the mathematical and theoretical approach at University level.

You might like to think about studying subjects that you might not have studied before such as Anthropology, Business, Earth Sciences, Economics, Geography, Philosophy or Psychology, none of the modules in these subjects have any prerequisites (prerequisites are qualifications you need to take the module) except Economics which requires A-level maths or equivalent.

You can take modules from subjects outside the Natural Sciences programme (that is those subjects that do not contribute to a Joint Honours degree within Natural Sciences), subject to timetable, having the right prerequisites and there being space available. You can look at the modules available in subjects outside the Natural Sciences degree programme by visiting the Faculty Handbook. You should then select Level 1 modules (in the first year all your modules will be Level 1) in the subject in which you are interested.

Please note that if you wish to take:

  • Mathematics modules after the first year, you are strongly recommended to take:
    Calculus (MATH1061), Linear Algebra I (MATH1071). If you wish to also take
    • Physics or Chemistry or Earth Sciences or Philosophy: If you do not take Analysis I (MATH1051) in Year 1, then if it does not fit into your timetable in Year 2 (there are no guarantees that it will fit), you will only have a very small set of Maths modules that you could take.
    • Biology or Computer Science or Economics or Geography or Psychology: If you do not take Statistics (MATH1617) and Probability I (MATH1597) in Year 1, then if it does not fit into your timetable in Year 2 (there are no guarantees that it will fit), you will only have a limited set of Maths modules that you could take.
    You should note that if you do not have an A at AS-level in Further Maths at either AS or A2 level then you should not take Calculus (MATH1061) AND Linear Algebra I (MATH1071) (even if you do, you should expect them to be very hard and we don't encourage you to take them for "fun".) There is an alternative, namely taking Single Maths A and Single Maths B. This alternative will cover their content at a gentler pace and level, but you need to be aware that if you take this alternative, you cannot in future years take any Level 2 Maths modules or Calculus (MATH1061) or Linear Algebra I (MATH1071).

    If you are going to take Calculus (MATH1061) AND Linear Algebra I (MATH1071), you must complete the Summer Maths Workbook available from the BUYS page.

    If you are going to take Single Maths A and Single Maths B you need to follow the Physics Departments Freshers advice about their Maths Workbook.

  • Physics, you are recommended to take Foundations of Physics 1 (PHYS1122) and Discovery Skills in Physics (PHYS1101) (three Physics modules in total) in Year 1. If you do not take Discovery Skills in Year 1 (PHYS1101), then if it does not fit into your timetable in Year 2 (there are no guarantees that it will fit) you will be able to do very little practical work in Physics and you will not be able to take the fourth year dissertation module in Physics. You must also take 2 maths modules to support the Physics, so read above to determine whether you should take Single Maths A/B or Linear Algebra and Calculus.

  • Chemistry, Maths and Physics, then you have a tricky decision to make. It would be much easier if you prefer two of these subjects. For instance, if you prefer:
    • Chemistry and Physics, then I would recommend you take 2 Chemistry (Core Chemistry 1 and Practical Chemistry 1A), 2 Physics (Foundations of Physics 1) and 2 Maths (either (Calculus and Linear Algebra I) or (Single Maths A and Single Maths B)). This is the MSci in Chemistry and Physics. Note that taking these modules you cannot transfer to Physics at the end of Year 1, but you can transfer to Chemistry (with extra work.)
    • Chemistry and Maths, I would recommend 2 Chemistry (Core Chemistry 1 and Practical Chemistry 1A) and 3 Maths (Calculus (MATH1061) and Linear Algebra I (MATH1071) and Analysis I (MATH1051)) and one other (if you want to follow the M.Sci. in Chemistry and Maths, then the final modules must be Programming I (MATH1587), Dynamics I (MATH1607)). You will be able to transfer to either Department at the end of Year 1 (with extra work) regardless of this last choice.
    • Maths and Physics, you should take 3 Maths (Calculus (MATH1061) and Linear Algebra I (MATH1071) and Analysis I (MATH1051)) and 2 Physics (Foundations of Physics 1) and one other (if you want to follow the M.Sci. in Maths and Physics then the final module should be Discovery Skills in Physics or Programming I (MATH1587), Dynamics I (MATH1607)). Taking Discovery Skills is the most sensible option as you will be able to transfer to either Physics or Maths at the end of the first year. If you don't take Discovery Skills, a transfer to Physics is out of the question.

      If you can't decide between the three subjects then take the following: 2 Chemistry (Core Chemistry 1 and Practical Chemistry 1A), 2 Physics (Foundations of Physics 1) and 2 Maths (Calculus (MATH1061) and Linear Algebra I (MATH1071)). Then if you want to be able to proceed with Maths, you have to hope that Analysis I (MATH1051) will fit in the timetable with year 2 Chemistry and Physics, but we cannot guarantee that it will. This set of options only leaves open the option of a transfer to Chemistry at the end of year 1 (with extra work.)

  • Chemistry and neither Physics nor Mathematics: To progress through to Level 2 Chemistry then you must take Core Chemistry 1 (CHEM1078), Practical Chemistry 1A (CHEM1087) and (Mathematical And Experimental Tools Required In Chemistry (CHEM1111)
  • Biology has three distinct routes, Cell Biology, Ecological and Physiology. Note that:

    To see which modules are timetable, follow the links above to the Joint-Honours webpages and look at the bottom of webpage.

    If you are thinking of taking the Biology Ecological route, then you should read the requirements for clothing for field trips.

If you have a query please give me a ring on 0191 334 1028

Move to the Step 2