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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

We operate a modular system in which you will study six modules each year. The degree route will provide rigorous and quantitative training in the molecular processes that govern cellular function – from enzyme catalysis to metabolic pathways to signalling between cells. Optional modules in Years 2 and 3 allow you to broaden your knowledge in different areas of biology, such as Cell Biology, Development, Physiology, Plant Biology, and the Biology of Disease.

Course Structure

Year 1

The first year covers fundamental aspects of the molecular basis of life with an introduction to core biochemical and biological concepts through a set of three required modules covering the following topics:

· Biochemistry and Cell Biology

· Genetics and Molecular Biology

· Animal Physiology

A pair of Chemistry modules will provide fundamental conceptual knowledge and practical skills necessary to understand the basis of biomolecular function and activity.

The module-linked tutorial system provides support for taught material and an introduction to essential scientific and transferable skills.

The remaining optional module, including a language option, completes the first year requirements.

Year 2

The second year of the course focuses on the molecular underpinnings of living cells through a set of core modules.

· Biochemistry

· Biomolecules - Structure and Function

· Molecular Biology

· Cell Signalling

A compulsory Year 2 support module, “Research Skills” is also offered, in which skills required for research-led learning at Year 3 are covered. As in Year 1, learning is supported by a module-linked tutorial system. Second-year modules provide integrated skills training in an oral and written presentation, science communication, data analysis and acquisition and critical analysis skills through linked tutorials and workshops.

The sixth optional module can be selected from themes including:

· Developmental Biology

· Cell Biology

· Applied Physiology

· Plant and Algal Physiology

· Microbiology

· Immunology

Optional module choice in Year 2 provides the required knowledge to continue study in that area in Year 3.

Year 3

Year 3 of the degree places the strongest emphasis on research, with taught content directly linked to research being carried out in the Department. You will undertake three major pieces of work, each constituting its own module; a workshop, a literature review and a research module.

The “Workshop” (laboratory-based) module involves hands-on research experience that will deepen your understanding of quantitative aspects of biological systems. The "Literature Review" module involves the study of current research literature in a topic area selected by you, under personal supervision. The final year of the BSc (Hons) also includes the research module, which can be either a five-week laboratory-based “Research Project” or "Biological Enterprise", where you will develop the science and business case for a potential biotech-based product.

You will study two advanced taught modules linked to your degree:

· Advanced Biochemistry

· Biochemistry and Biotechnology

One optional Year 3 taught module can be chosen from topics which previously have included:

· Crops for the Future

· Stress and Responses to the Environment

· Advanced Topics in Development

· Ageing

· Advanced Cell Biology

· Genomics

· Biology of Disease


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


You will learn by lectures, supplemented by practical classes and workshops. Lectures represent the largest proportion of the contact hours and allow the effective delivery of large amounts of knowledge, which forms the factual basis of a science subject. You will take five compulsory taught modules at Year 1, six taught modules at Year 2, and three taught modules at Year 3, with three modules aligned to major pieces of research work.

At Year 1 the emphasis is on core knowledge essential to understanding the molecular basis for life and cell structure and function. At Years 2 and 3, you will advance your knowledge of biomolecules and their function in a variety of biological contexts. An optional Department of Biosciences module in Years 2 and 3 enables you to broaden your knowledge of biological topics.

As the degree progresses, there is an increasing emphasis on showing that biochemical knowledge 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 at Year 3 than in preceding years, to allow a greater emphasis on your own research activities. The lectures are supplemented by timetabled surgery sessions, which are used for revision and problem-solving. Lecturing staff answer specific questions about the material they have taught through email, and by personal meetings when necessary; the Department has an "open-office" policy for responding to such queries. Typically, taught modules contain 24 one-hour lecture slots, two workshops, and one surgery session.

Practical classes are a major component of contact hours and are an essential part of training in an experimental science like biology. Year 1 classes are used to train you in the basic techniques required for experimental work in biochemistry and molecular biology, you will specialise in biochemical techniques and areas of experimental work through the core modules in Year 2.

The practical classes are supplemented by workshops in which you will learn data handling techniques. At both Years 1 and 2, the load of practical classes overall is one to two three-hour sessions per week. There are no practical classes at Year 3 since you will carry out three research modules at this level. The first is an extended workshop either in the laboratory or computer-based, both of which offer you approximately two working weeks' contact with staff engaged in developing key quantitative and analytical experimental skills allied to biochemical research. The second is a literature review, with a topic chosen from current areas of interest in biochemistry within the broader area of biological sciences. This involves approximately six-eight hours of non-timetabled contact with a supervisor. The third research module is a project, in the lab or interfacing with the commercial sector (Biological Enterprise). All will involve you in a large amount of contact time with staff that is not formally timetabled, but which averages approx. 16-40 hours.

The course philosophy is based on a directed programme of teaching and learning at 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 at Year 3.

Academic support is provided by a dual system of tutorials and academic advisers. Tutorials are in small groups and are used to deliver specific content related to academic support, whereas the academic adviser sessions are on a personal level, and are used to deal with issues relevant to you, such as feedback on exam performance. The tutorial/academic adviser system offers students regular termly sessions with a tutor or academic adviser throughout their academic career. A course leader provides overall academic support.

Entry requirements

A level offerAAA including Chemistry and Mathematics.

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 Chemistry and Mathematics.

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.
  • 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.

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

Full Time Fees

Tuition 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

Career opportunities


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

Department information


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.


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

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.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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