Biology, Zoology, Ecology and Conservation Biology and Plant Sciences: course structure

Explore the structure and content of our undergraduate courses across whole organism biology at Sheffield.

Teaching and learning changes for 2020-21

Due to the coronavirus pandemic we have made some changes to teaching and learning for some courses in the 2020-21 academic year.

Find out about teaching and learning changes

These pages will be updated regularly, so please check back for the latest information about your course.

We offer over 60 modules to tailor your degree to your interests which have been designed to give you the essential skills and knowledge that every professional scientist needs. All of our Biology, Zoology, Ecology and Conservation Biology and Plant Sciences courses include lots of practicals and opportunities for field course learning, allowing you to experience the different areas of this broad subject, and guide you towards the specialism that’s right for you. You can even take modules outside of the department or the sciences if you wish.

All of our courses are built from the same range of modules but what's compulsory depends on your chosen degree course. To discover which additional modules are compulsory for our specialist courses in Zoology, Ecology and Conservation Biology and Plant Sciences, just look out for the following letters:

  • (EC) - compulsory module for Ecology and Conservation Biology
  • (PS) - compulsory module for Plant Sciences
  • (Z) - compulsory module for Zoology

Our four-year MBiolSci degrees are the same as our BSc degrees for the first three years, but have an extra year of research training.

Throughout your degree you'll be taught in a variety of ways, with lectures and tutorials allowing you to build valuable transferrable skills in writing, data analysis and presentation to complement your scientific knowledge.

Compulsory modules for all programmes:

  • Biodiversity
  • Evolution
  • Genes in Populations
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Skills for Biologists 1

Optional modules within the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences - choose from:

  • Population and Community Ecology 1 (EC)
  • Ecosystems, Climate and Environmental Change (EC) (PS)
  • Plant Physiology, Reproduction and Development (PS)
  • Animal Physiology, Reproduction and Development (Z)
  • Ecological Identification Skills
  • Animal Behaviour

Options from across the biosciences:

  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Neuroscience
  • Pathobiology

Compulsory modules for all programmes:

  • Animal and Plant Science Tutorials
  • Careers for Biologists
  • Data Analysis

Optional modules within the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences - choose from:

  • Conservation Principles (EC)
  • Freshwater Ecology Field Course - Peak District (EC)
  • Population and Community Ecology 2 (EC)
  • Plant and Habitat Distribution (EC) (PS)
  • Plant, Cell and Environment (PS)
  • Biotechnology and Food Security (PS)
  • Animal Diversity (Z)
  • Animal Diversity Practicals (Z)
  • Environmental Biology Practicals
  • Insect Biology Practicals
  • Inside Animals Practicals
  • Genomics and Wildlife Forensics
  • Talking the Talk: Getting Science on Film
  • Behavioural Ecology
  • Biology Projects
  • Ecosystems in a Changing Global Environment
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Insects
  • Molecular Evolutionary Genetics
  • Palaeobiology
  • Symbiosis
  • Tropical Forest Ecology and Conservation
  • Biology Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme
  • Arctic Ecosystems Field Course - Sweden
  • Environmental Interpretation Field Course - Ireland

Options outside Animal and Plant Sciences - choose modules from across the university

    Research project and dissertation

    All third year students will complete a compulsory research project and dissertation. You'll choose a topic and be allocated a supervisor who'll help you decide what you're going to investigate, design your experiments, write up your findings and draw your conclusions. Your dissertation forms a critical review of your chosen topic, under the supervision of an academic who is an expert on the subject.

    Optional subjects

    • Conservation Issues and Management (EC)
    • Topics in Modern Ecology (EC)
    • Future Plants: From Laboratory to Field (PS)
    • Topics in Modern Zoology (Z)
    • Applied Molecular Biology
    • Biology and Ethics
    • Cooperation and Conflict
    • Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems
    • Evolutionary Ecology
    • Global Change
    • Human Evolutionary Genetics
    • Issues in Environmental Science
    • Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems
    • The Ecology of Landscapes
    • Topics in Evolutionary Genetics
    • Biological Field Research
      • Tropical Rainforest Biology Field Course - Borneo
      • Animal Ecology and Behaviour Field Course - Peak District
      • Behavioural Ecology Field Course - Portugal
      • Marine Ecology Field Course - Anglesey

    If you do one of our MBiolSci courses, you'll complete a more advanced research project in your fourth year. You'll be based in one of our research laboratories, working alongside professional scientists and with access to state-of-the-art equipment with 80% of your time devoted to research.

    You'll get extra training for a career in research, including data analysis, applying for grants and publishing your findings which accounts for your remaining time. Some students' research has appeared in peer-reviewed academic journals before they've graduated.

    Find out more

    Spending a year on placement

    If you choose to complete a "with placement year" degree, you'll spend 12 months on a paid work placement between your second and third year. This can be a lab or non-lab based position at a local, national or global organisation including businesses, charities or government.

    Placements aren't guaranteed – it’s your responsibility to secure one but we’ll do everything we can to help.

    Find out more

    Spending a Year Abroad

    If you take our Biology with a Year Abroad course, you'll spend your second year studying at another top university in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore or Hong Kong.

    This unique course counts towards your final grade and allows you to gain international experience without extending your degree.

    Your place at another university isn't guaranteed – it’s your responsibility to secure one but we’ll do everything we can to help.

    Find out more

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Information last updated: 8 September 2020

    Image: student working; Text: Futures. Sheffield Made.

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