Plant Sciences

Plant Sciences emphasises the central role of plants in understanding how the natural world works, sustainably feeding the planet and mitigating climate change.

Plant Sciences student

About Plant Sciences at Sheffield

Our Plant Sciences courses will give you in-depth insight into fundamental plant biology, exploring photosynthesis, the genetics of disease resistance and the conservation of plant diversity. You’ll study these topics whilst considering the role of plants in solving global food and energy shortages, mitigating the effects of the climate crisis, and developing sustainable and green technologies.

You'll cover two main themes at Sheffield: plant physiology - how plants harvest light energy, acquire nutrients from the soil and convert this to sustain growth, and plant ecology - how plants interact with each other and their non-living environment, from disease resistance to biodiversity.

Top 15 in the UK for Biological Sciences

The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022

Our courses are designed for students who have a passion for understanding the role of plants in sustainability and the science and technology of food production. Sheffield is home to the Institute for Sustainable Food which brings together our expertise in this area in order to find dynamic solutions to the challenges of food security and sustainability. It’s research like this that you’ll be able to get involved in throughout your studies.

Our courses

Courses with a placement year 

Courses with a foundation year

2022 entry:

What our students say


As a plant sciences student you'll learn in lots of different ways, from lectures and small group tutorials to learning by doing during field work, practical lab sessions and research projects.

Alongside your specialist plant science modules, from your first year you’ll have the flexibility to study topics across the breadth of biology to complement your knowledge. Topics range from molecular genetics, developmental biology and biochemistry, to evolution, zoology and physiology.

Our staff are committed to great teaching and you'll have lots of opportunities throughout your degree to be creative, think independently, and express your ideas. You’ll be in the lab completing in-depth practicals, out in the Peak District conducting your own research projects, visiting zoos, aquariums and other scientific spots around the country and embarking on a once-in a lifetime field course in the UK or abroad. All giving you plenty of chances to gain new transferrable skills and experience to put on your CV.

Find out more about our teaching

Research projects

Project work is built into our degrees from the beginning, from field courses, to research projects based around first and second year modules on genetics, computer modelling, behaviour, species interactions, conservation and climate change.

In your third year, you'll get the opportunity to complete a major research project and dissertation in an area of plant sciences that interests you. Conducted under the supervision of one of our world experts, you'll work in a small group to define questions, develop experimental protocols, conduct the research, analyse the data and ultimately produce a written report in the form of a scientific publication. Example research projects include:

  • Crying out for help with root exudates: adaptive mechanisms by which stressed plants assemble health-promoting soil microbiomes;
  • Transcription factors regulate plant immune defences;
  • The genetic basis of drastic eco-functional variation within a grass species.

Our integrated masters courses allow you to complete a further in-depth research project whilst embedded in one of our specialist research groups.


    Advance Register for Clearing

    We have places on our undergraduate courses this autumn. If you've already got your results you can apply now, or if you're still waiting for results get your name on the list by advance registering.