Research-led teaching

Throughout your degree you'll get hands-on research experience, learning from and working alongside our expert academics, putting the skills and knowledge you've mastered in lectures into practice.

Research-led teaching

Our lecturers are experts in a remarkable range of subjects, from genetics, physiology and antimicrobial resistance, to neuroscience, biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture. They’ll introduce you to key concepts and the latest research findings - but you won’t just learn through lectures. In small group tutorials, you’ll work through scientific problems and increase your analytical abilities with supportive academic staff.

We’re proud to have been in the top five nationally in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) for 20 years, meaning you will be learning from many of the best researchers in the country

You’ll also learn by doing. We put a big emphasis on developing your practical skills in our state-of-the-art labs and in the field. A big chunk of your week is devoted to practical sessions and research projects, designed to challenge you once you’ve mastered the essentials.

How we teach

Lectures, tutorials and workshops

Lectures are a big part of university life – a chance to learn the fundamentals from recognised experts and get insights into the latest research. You'll also have tutorials and workshops to build on the topics you've covered in lectures and show you how to apply concepts to solving real problems. These small group teaching sessions are led by your personal tutor who is there to guide and support you through your studies and help you to start planning your next steps, during and after your degree.

Our lecture recording system means you can watch your lectures again later to reinforce your knowledge and understanding of certain topics. These recordings are a great resource for revisiting content between lectures, during exam revision, or catching up if you were absent.

Practical teaching

In your first and second year you’ll spend between three and six hours every week in our dedicated teaching labs, developing the practical science skills that every bioscientist needs, including how to handle equipment, design experiments and interpret data, ready to put your new skills into practice in third year with a semester long research project. If you are studying aspects of plants, animals, microbes and soils, you’ll also partake in practical work outside in local green spaces, local and regional Wildlife Trust sites and even the Peak District National Park that’s on our doorstep.

Research projects

Project work is built into our degrees from the beginning, allowing you to start developing your research skills.

Your first week at University involves research projects associated with your degree.  You’ll have a chance to do more research projects throughout your first and second years.  And in the third year of your BSc, you'll tie your scientific skills together with an in-depth, captstone research project and dissertation. Working in a team, you'll go from a concept and hypothesis, through all the research and analytical stages, to produce a written report of your findings. If you do one of our research-intensive integrated masters degrees (MBiolSci or MBiomedSci), you'll get to do an even bigger project in fourth year, where 80% of your time is dedicated to research..

We’re top 10 in the UK for teaching across Zoology, Genetics, Microbiology and Cell Science

National Student Survey 2022


You'll have lots of opportunities throughout your degree to be creative, think independently, and express your ideas. No matter which programme you choose, you'll get the chance to put your new knowledge into practice in a variety of ways, gaining new skills and experience to put on your CV throughout your course. Here are some highlights:

Field courses

All of our Biological Sciences and Zoology students have the opportunity to do a field course between second and third year. We give you a choice of fascinating habitats to explore, from dramatic landscapes in remote corners of the globe, to complex ecosystems operating right under our noses.

But you won't have to wait until then to get out in the field - there's also lots of field work built into the rest of your degree. You can spend time in the first week of first year on a field trip exploring Sheffield's green spaces, and there are regular visits to zoos, aquariums and nature reserves.

Ireland field course image

Explore our field courses

Talking the Talk: Getting Science on Film

Many of our students are inspired to study biology by seeing the natural world captured on screen. Our Talking the Talk: Getting Science on Film module gives Biological Science and Zoology students the chance to make their own factual science documentaries, with support and advice from professional filmmakers.

Science communication is a popular career route for many of our graduates and this is just one way that you'll be able to gain experience in this area.

View more student videos

Work in the Julia Garnham Centre

Each year, a number of our Genetics students get the opportunity to spend time working in our Julia Garnham Centre, based here in the School of Biosciences. The centre is a genomic pre-screening facility which helps NHS geneticists to diagnose blood cancers.

As part of the third-year project research project in clinical diagnostics, students get the chance to use the skills and knowledge they've gained so far to help the NHS in dealing with backlogs in cancer diagnosis, potentially saving a life before they even graduate.

Students receive clinical training in diagnostic genomic analysis, and get to work under the supervision of NHS Geneticists from the Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust.

Students in the lab

 Find out more about the Julia Garnham Centre

Excellence in teaching

All of our staff are committed to great teaching. Several have been given awards from the University of Sheffield, or have earned professional recognition for the innovative and engaging ways they have helped students learn across the biosciences.

University of Sheffield Senate Awards for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

  • Professor Louise Robson
  • Dr Emma Jones
  • Dr Rebecca Barnes
  • Dr Nicola Hemmings
  • Dr Nicola Nadeau

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