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Degree type


Course length

3 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAA
International Baccalaureate 37

Course details

With science and its challenges making today’s global headlines, studying this research-led modular degree will help you develop the skills you’ll need to pursue a career in the science sector and beyond. The course offers flexibility so that you can follow specialised routes within Biological Sciences by offering module combinations to address your specific areas of interest.

The curriculum links academic theory with practical experience, with themed routes covering Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biomedical Science, Cell Biology, Plant Science, Genetics, and Ecology and Environmental Science.

The first year covers fundamental aspects of biology including evolution, biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, genetics, physiology, an overview of the diversity of organisms and the basics of scientific research.

Year 2 concentrates on providing the skills required for research-led learning.

The final year of the degree places the strongest emphasis on research, with taught content directly linked to research being carried out in the Department. Three core modules, a workshop/field course, a literature review and a research module, are combined with three modules linked to your interests and career aspirations. 

As well as the three-year course, you can consider a work placement or a year abroad.

Course Structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Molecules and Cells gives an overview of cells and their molecular components. It explores the structure and functions of proteins and biological membranes; cellular metabolism and energy-generating processes; and communication and signalling between cells.

Genetics introduces the development of genetics and the processes linking genotype to phenotype in living organisms. It provides an overview of modern technologies for genetic analysis and manipulation.

Introduction to Physiology covers mammalian physiology as a model for processes in other organisms, describing a range of tissues and processes and connecting them at a molecular and cellular level.

Organisms and Environment looks at the diversity of life, from adaptation of organisms to a range of environments to diversification via the concept of evolution. It introduces the concepts of ecology and the role of behaviour in determining interactions between species and individuals, along with a survey of ecosystems and their responses for changing global conditions.

Fundamentals of Research develops the basic toolkit of skills required for research, including communication, presentation, handling source materials, analysis, problem solving and reporting.

Year 2

Core module:

Research Skills for Biosciences, in which the skills required for research-led learning at Year 3 are covered.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Ecology 
  • Behaviour 
  • Evolution 
  • Plant and Algal Physiology 
  • Cell Signalling 
  • Development 
  • Cell Biology 
  • Molecular Biology 
  • Biochemistry 
  • Integrated Physiological Systems 
  • Microbiology 
  • Immune Systems

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a placement year or year abroad)

Core modules:

Literature Review involves the study of current research literature in a topic area selected by you, under personal supervision. The results of the review will be presented in a critical review article.

Research Module, with options of a research project; an enterprise task developing the science and business case for a potential biotech-based product; an education project incorporating hands-on practice of teaching at primary school level; or a communications option which culminates in the production of a report.

Either a Workshop (laboratory-based) or Field Course (field-based, currently held in South Africa or Scotland), involving research experience.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Advanced Topics in Ecology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Ecology in the Anthropocene
  • Advanced Topics in Development
  • Stress and Responses to the Environment
  • Crops for the Future
  • Biochemistry and Biotechnology
  • Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering
  • Ageing
  • Advanced Cell Biology
  • Genomics
  • Biology of Disease.

Additional pathways

Students on the BSc in Biological Sciences can apply to be transferred onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway during the second year. Places on these pathways are in high demand and if you are chosen your studies will extend from three years to four.


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


Lectures allow the effective delivery of knowledge forming the factual basis of this science subject. Practical classes provide hands-on experience of experimental techniques.

Year 1 provides teaching across the full spectrum of bioscience sub-disciplines alongside practical experience and workshops on data handling techniques to help you develop a range of adaptable skills.

Building on this knowledge and understanding, Years 2 and 3 offer specialised modules and experimental techniques with an element of choice in the sub-disciplines studied. 

The degree develops in Year 3 with workshops, research-based projects and literature reviews taking the place of practical classes. An emphasis on independent learning, provides opportunity for further developing of interests and research skills as you prepare for postgraduate life and employment.


Modules are assessed via a combination of examinations as well as coursework including essays, laboratory reports, case studies, oral presentations and posters.

Literature reviews (dissertation), project reports and laboratory workshop/fieldwork reports are an important part of this degree.

Entry requirements

A level offerAAA including Biology or Chemistry or Human Biology plus another science subject.

Contextual offer – ABB including Biology or Chemistry or Human Biology plus another science subject.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma DDD and A level requirements as above.

IB Diploma score37 with 666 in higher level subjects including Biology or Chemistry plus another higher level science subject.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Programme 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.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home 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 and EU 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 Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Department of Biosciences

Students receive an outstanding education in biosciences, also gaining valuable transferable skills to prepare them for future challenges, enhancing personal development and improving their employment prospects. These skills can be applied to roles across a range of sectors preparing students to be active thinkers and future leaders.

Graduates have gone on to roles in teaching, the health sector, industrial R&D and biotechnology, management, accountancy, conservation, ecological and environmental services, broadcast and print science journalism, environmental and biological patent law, the pharmaceutical industry, the civil service, and the armed services. Graduates have also entered the NHS scientist training program. A large number also progress to postgraduate study at universities across the UK and overseas.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 82% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 89% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £29,550

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information

Department of Biosciences

The ever-changing discipline of Biosciences gives us valuable insight into life in its many different forms, from molecules to global populations. Biosciences explores many of the fundamentally important questions facing humankind – finding the answers will shape the future of life on Earth.

The discipline of Biosciences is wide ranging, with many different branches of study. Spanning topics from botany to food science, immunology to zoology, it has the potential to transform societies, economies and tackle global challenges. In a changing world, bioscience has never been more important. 

We are a community that shares a passion for education and development. Our work addresses many of the important challenges facing humankind, including climate change and biodiversity conservation, developing new technologies for healthcare, and feeding an increasing human population. 

Our research-led approach to teaching has been designed to immerse you in a mix of theoretical and practical learning from day one, equipping you with a wide range of analytical and practical skills that will prepare you to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

You can choose to follow a three-year BSc route, add a work placement year or a year abroad, or take a four-year MBiol route with a research focus. Students have the option to undertake a residential field course as part of the degree, with recent locations ranging from South Africa to Scotland and the neo-tropics where students learn how to use tools that can measure the carbon flux induced by climate change.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2024

  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Biosciences Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 100% internationally recognised research environment (REF 2021)


We are located just a short walk from the historic centre of Durham, with other academic departments and university services nearby.

We are equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology. Our equipment includes electron and confocal laser scanning microscopy, transgenic studies, genomics, DNA analysis and proteomics, bioinformatics, remote sensing, ecological field sampling and computer modelling. Teaching and research in the Department covers the breadth of the biological sciences, and often collaborate on projects with other disciplines such as the physical sciences.


Find out more:

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