4 years full-time
We operate a modular system where you will study six modules each year. The Biosciences MBiol four year degree is designed to allow you more choice between modules in each year so that you can follow specialised routes within Biological Sciences, or address specific areas of interest, as you progress.
Recommended module combinations (“routes”) allow various themes of specialisation, although these still allow choice at each level, 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, or which maintain a broad coverage of the whole Biosciences subject area.
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 gives you an introduction to essential scientific and transferable skills.
The Year 1 course also includes an integrated “Scientific Skills” module which covers underpinning chemistry and maths designed to support your learning in the other modules. In addition, an optional module provides an introduction to all aspects of current research in 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 to meet your interests and career ambitions by choosing modules 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, where you will gain skills required for research-led learning at Year 3. As in Year 1, learning is supported by a module-linked tutorial system.
In Year 3 of the MBiol course, there is an emphasis on personal research and research training in close collaboration with members of academic staff. You will undertake two major pieces of work; 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 £200–£750 in 2019). The "Literature Review" module involves the study of current research literature in a topic area selected by you, under the personal supervision of a member of staff.
In addition, you will study four modules linked to your interests from those offered. The Year 3 taught modules cover a wide range of topics, which have previously included:
- Advanced Topics in Ecology
- Conservation Biology
- Ecology in the Anthropocene
- Crops for the Future
- Stress and Responses in the Environment
- Advanced Topics in Development
- Biochemistry and Biotechnology
- Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering
- Advanced Cell Biology
- Biology of Disease.
The fourth year of the MBiol course contains a taught module on the principles and research practice in the biosciences, an additional field course or practical laboratory workshop and a four module (80-credit) Research Project which runs through the entire year. This major Research Project is a key component of the MBiol course and prepares you for research at postgraduate level.
Staff in the Department of Biosciences will offer suitable projects over a wide range of topics in modern biological and biomedical sciences. The projects will address the requirements of potential employers, as well as providing an opportunity for you to carry out work at the cutting-edge of biosciences research. The Research Project will be written up as a Master's Dissertation.
PlacementYou may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.
The main method of delivery in the first three years of study 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 Year 1 the emphasis is on core knowledge across the broad spectrum of the sub-disciplines of biological and biomedical sciences. In Years 2 and 3, there are more specialised modules enabling you to focus on a particular sub-discipline, with elements of choice in the course. As the degree progresses, there is an increasing emphasis on showing that biosciences is based on experimental evidence gained through research. At Year 3 lecturing is research-led and based on staff research interests. The proportion of the course delivered through lectures is less in Year 3, to allow a greater emphasis on your own research activities.
The lectures are supplemented by timetabled surgery sessions, which are used for problem-solving. Lecturing staff answer specific questions about the material they have taught through email, and by personal meetings; the Department has an "open-office" policy for responding to such queries. Typically, taught modules contain 35 one-hour lectures, two workshops, and one surgery session. You will take five compulsory taught modules in Year 1, six taught modules in Year 2, and four taught modules in Year 3, with two modules aligned to major pieces of research work. In the final year, there is a single taught Masters-level module on research skills, and five module equivalents based on research work.
Practical classes are a major component of contact hours and are an essential part of training in an experimental science like biosciences. Year 1 practical classes are used to train you in the basic techniques required for experimental work in the full range of biological sciences, you will specialise in specific techniques and areas of experimental work through module choice in Year 2. The practical classes are supplemented by workshops in which data handling techniques are taught. In both Years 1 and 2, the load of practical classes overall is one-two three-hour sessions per week. There are no, practical classes in taught modules in Year 3, since you will carry out two research modules at this level. The first is a field course or laboratory-based extended workshop, which offers you two working weeks' contact with staff. The second is a literature review, with a topic chosen from current areas of interest in biological sciences. This involves approximately six-eight hours non-timetabled contact with a supervisor. The fourth year of study will include an additional field course or workshop, and an extended research module extending across the majority of the year. This will involve you in a large amount of contact time with supervisory staff, typically involving weekly meetings during the project period, and working in close collaboration with research being carried out in the Department.
The philosophy is to have directed teaching and learning in Years 1 and 2, within which you are expected to develop self-guided and motivated learning, leading to a much greater emphasis on independent learning in Year 3, developing you to a Masters-level of research in Year 4.
Support is provided by a system of tutorial classes and academic advisers. Each taught module in Years 1 and 2 contains two tutorial classes, which are used to deliver specific content related to academic support, via small group interaction with academic staff. There is an emphasis on discussion and enhancement of the learning experience. Academic adviser sessions are used to deal with specific issues relevant to you, such as feedback on exam performance. Combined with project supervision, the tutorial/academic adviser system offers you fortnightly sessions with a tutor or academic adviser throughout your time here. A course leader provides overall academic support.
A level offer – AAA 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 score – 37 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 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; students can seek to transfer between these degrees at the end of Year 2.
- Continuation on the MBiol degree course after Year 2 is dependent on achieving satisfactory performance at Year 2, according to University regulations; failure to achieve this standard will result in an automatic transfer to the three year BSc.
- 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.
- 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.
International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.
Fees and funding
Full Time Fees
|Home students||£9,250 per year|
|EU students||£29,500 per year|
|Island students||£9,250 per year|
|International students||£29,500 per year|
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
Of those students who graduated in 2019:
- 86% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes
Of those in employment:
- 83% are in high skilled employment
- With an average salary of £28,000.
(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 www.graduateoutcomes.ac.uk)
The science of the 21st century. Bioscience is the fundamental science of life, and recent key developments make the 21st 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.
For more information see our department pages.
- 5th in The Times and Sunday Times for graduate employment 2022 and in The Complete University Guide 2023
- 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2022.
Research Excellence Framework
- 100% internationally recognised research environment (REF 2021)
Our research covers the breadth of the biological sciences, and we often work at the interface with other disciplines such as the physical sciences. We have outstanding research infrastructure and equipment in genomics, bioimaging and mass spectrometry, and plant and animal growth facilities.
The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!