Contact and FAQ

Contact us

If you have any questions about getting a place on one of our courses, you might find the answer in our frequently asked questions section below. Alternatively, contact our admissions secretary Mrs Edwina Whyers to request a departmental brochure, or the MBB Admissions Tutors for other enquiries about our degrees:

  • Telephone: 0114 222 2740
  • Fax: 0114 276 2787
  • Email: e.whyers@sheffield.ac.uk / mbb@sheffield.ac.uk
  • Post: Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Firth Court, The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN

General contact information for the department

Our prospectus

You can order a copy of the University's undergraduate prospectus by filling in the form below:

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Frequently asked questions

Can I change between different courses?
Yes – indeed, our courses are specifically designed so that you can change easily from one MBB course to another. However, change to or from other courses within the University of Sheffield (for example, Medicine) is usually not possible without starting again.

Can I change between three year BSc and four year MBiolSci courses?
Yes. We recommend that all students register for the 4-year course to keep their options as open as possible. Only about 20% of students actually stay on for the fourth year, implying that most students change their registration to the three-year course at some point: this is very simple to do.

Can I transfer into the course?
This is sometimes possible, but would depend on your qualifications and whether there is space available. We advise you to contact us (see link on left).

Can I enter directly into year two?
This is sometimes possible, but would depend on your qualifications and whether there is space available. We advise you to contact us (see link on left).

Can I do a work placement?
Yes - see the next two questions, which are the two main routes.

Can I do the fourth year in industry?
We encourage students to do this, because it is a valuable learning experience. We have good contacts with industry and will assist you to find a suitable placement. Students spend their entire fourth year in global industries like AstraZeneca, GSK and Eli Lilley. However, ultimately it is competitive to get a place, and it is up to you.

Do you run a degree with employment experience?
Yes. All of our degrees have the option for you to take a year out to work between years 2 and 3. You would then graduate with the BSc degree With Employment Experience. The work you do is likely to be less lab-based than what you would do in a fourth year placement, so your choice of which to do depends on what kind of job you are aiming for. We can discuss this with you. During the 2016 / 2017 academic year, 5 MBB students will be undertaking placements with GSK, Pfizer, Atlas Genetics, Schulke and Mayr, and local Biotechnology company, Kirkstall Ltd.

Can I get work experience over the summer?
MBB students have access to a wide range of summer work experience opportunities, from Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE), which offers funded opportunities for undergraduate students to work in partnership with academic staff on a dedicated piece of research, to paid summer placements in organisations as varied as Lloyds Bank, GSK, North British Distillery and The Babraham Institute. These are all summer placements completed by MBB students in the last 2 years.

Can I study abroad?
Our courses do not have a specific pathway to do this. The fourth year project can be done abroad, and it is always possible to intercalate a year abroad between levels two and three. There are opportunities to take language modules as part of your degree. It is also possible to spend a semester abroad on an ERASMUS exchange. We are supportive of these routes, and suggest that you contact us to discuss options in more detail.

What are your fees?
We charge tuition fees of £9250 a year for UK/EU students. Financial help is available. For UK students, nobody has to pay anything up front to come to University, and loans are available to cover tuition fees and living costs. You only start to repay the loan after you have graduated, and only if you are earning over £21000 a year.

What are the fees used for?
They cover the costs of the teaching, because from 2012 onwards the government no longer pays money to universities to cover teaching costs. We also use it to provide you with things essential for the course such as lab coats and printing out teaching material.

What sort of class sizes do you have?
In the first year, we teach all of our students together, giving a class size of about 180. The more specialist options in subsequent years are smaller. You also receive teaching in tutorials, which is either in groups of 5-6 or individual; teaching in practicals, usually on an individual basis; and teaching in projects, individually or in pairs.

What is the workload like?
You will have about eight hours of lectures and nine hours of practicals a week. You are however expected to do much more work than this in your own time. Our programmes are of a high academic standard, and we expect students to work hard.

How will I be assessed?
Most modules are assessed by formal exams at the end of the module, which is in January for modules taught in the first semester, and May/June for modules taught in the second semester. Practicals are assessed throughout the year. Many modules have some element of coursework, while some (notably the laboratory projects and long essay in level 3) are assessed entirely by coursework, such as a dissertation, poster presentation, or oral presentation.

Do I need my own computer?
There are excellent facilities in student residences and on the central campus, meaning that there is no need to have your own computer. We do however find that about 75% of our students do have their own computer, and do find it useful. We make a lot of additional material available on the University website, and generally require coursework to be typed. We use emails extensively to communicate with students.

Do you have your own library?
There is no departmental library. The University's undergraduate library (the Information Commons) and its main postgraduate library (the Western Bank library) are within 5 minutes´ walk of the department and have excellent facilities: the Information Commons is open 24 hours a day. Much of our required reading is available electronically.

How much do I need to spend on books?
You do not need to buy any books, though we strongly recommend that you do. We have negotiated a deal with publishers, to provide a package of our 4 recommended books, which should be the only books you need to buy. This package currently costs about £187.

What does the personal tutor do?
All academic staff within the department have groups of tutees, typically 5 students in each year. Your tutor is your main contact within the department. You will meet your tutor about 11 times in the first year and 9 in the second, some as a group and some as individual sessions. Tutorials are generally used for material not directly related to lectures, such as essay writing, presentation skills, calculations, CV writing and careers advice. At the start of your course, your tutor will be mainly teaching you academic skills. However towards the end of your course, he or she will be spending much more time on career advice.

What A level subjects do you recommend?
We recommend you to study subjects you enjoy! We normally require Chemistry A-level or its equivalent (or in some cases AS), and at least one other science. We consider maths and psychology as science subjects, but not geography. We are happy to consider other qualifications.
UK-based qualifications | International qualifications

Can I study a language with my degree?
Yes. You can study a language in the first and second year as part of your degree programme; and you can take additional language courses at any time. The Modern Languages Teaching Centre provides a very wide range of languages: visit www.sheffield.ac.uk/mltc.

What proportion of your students graduate with a First or 2.1?
This varies from year to year, but in a typical year about 15-20% get a First and 60% a 2.1. We would like to think that this fairly high proportion reflects on the high quality of the intake, as well as the high quality of our teaching!

What do your students do after graduating?
About half go on, either directly or after a year or so, to do PhDs. This is because most jobs that involve research in biosciences either require you to have a PhD or have much greater career prospects with a PhD. Some go into teaching and some to a Masters or a degree in medicine. Some go direct into industry, and the rest have a wide variety of jobs from banking, accountancy and management to ski instructor. You can find more details on our careers links (on the left).

Where do you come in league table rankings?
We usually come in the top 5 in the National Student Satisfaction Survey (see our News page for more details). We are 4th in the latest Times Good University Guide, 7th in the Complete University Guide and 9th in the Guardian Good University Guide for biological sciences. In the most recent Teaching Quality Assessment, we got full marks (24 out of 24). In the last Research Excellence Framework, Subjects allied to Medicine was 1st in the UK, and biological sciences was 5th in the UK. Biological Science at Sheffield is in the top 100 of the QS World University rankings, and Sheffield University is 80. In the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2016, our Students' Union was ranked #1 in the UK for the 8th year in a row; Sheffield was voted #1 for social life, good community atmosphere, and accommodation; and Sheffield was #3 for overall student experience.