FGC0 Natural Sciences MSci Undergraduate 2019
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Learning and Teaching
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.
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
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Fees and Funding
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
Open Days and Visits
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