Course details

A Levels AAA Other entry requirements
UCAS code C109
Duration 4 years
Fees and additional costs Home students Overseas students Fee status help
Related subjects Biology

Any questions?

Admissions Secretary - Biology
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
Telephone +44 114 222 0123


Top 5 for biological research
Research Excellence Framework 2014

Top 10 in the UK for biological sciences
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020

Top 10 in the UK for overall satisfaction across our Biology degrees
National Student Survey 2019

Course description

Give yourself the best start in your pursuit of a career in industrial or academic research. The majority of your fourth year will be devoted to a major research project working in the lab or the field with our world-leading staff.

You'll learn about how cells and genes work, how organisms age, how populations evolve, and how organisms and ecosystems function. You'll also discover how we can work towards solving pressing global challenges, including antibiotic resistance, ageing, biodiversity, sustainability and climate change.

All of our students study an essential set of core modules that teach you the skills every professional biologist needs. You'll choose from optional modules that span zoology, ecology and conservation biology and plant sciences. You can mix and match these modules, covering genetics, structure, function, evolution, behaviour and ecology of all organisms, underpinned by the latest research discoveries from our experts across DNA, evolution, biodiversity and beyond.

In your first year, you'll spend your first week on a field course in Sheffield, collecting and analysing data throughout the city's green spaces and out to the edge of the Peak District. Throughout the year, you'll develop practical skills in the lab, including microscopy and genetics, complemented by regular field trips to zoos, aquariums and nature reserves. You'll also have lectures and take part in small group tutorials where you'll enhance your writing, data analysis and presentation skills as you learn about the latest research findings from our world-leading academics.

In your second year, you'll begin learning more advanced scientific topics and techniques. Some students choose to take our science communication module 'Talking the Talk: Getting Science on Film' where you'll get the chance to make your own factual science documentaries, with support and advice from professional filmmakers. All of our biology students get the opportunity to go on an optional two-week long field course between second and third year too, giving you the chance to carry out your own research and develop an understanding of the ecology and biodiversity of different habitats across the globe.

In your third year, alongside your chosen specialist modules, you'll complete a research project and dissertation in an area of biology 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.

In your fourth year, the majority of your time will be devoted to a major research project that will equip you with the advanced laboratory, data analysis and writing skills you'll need for a successful and rewarding career in science. You'll be embedded within one of our specialist research groups, conducting your own independent research and interacting with academics and lab staff as a professional scientist.

If you want to study biology, but don't meet the entry requirements to go straight into the first year, our Biosciences with Foundation Year could be for you. After successfully completing the one-year programme, you'll progress onto the first year of your chosen degree.

Modules: what you study and when

Financial help from the University - bursaries

If you're a UK student, you could be entitled to a University bursary. A bursary is the same as a grant - you don't have to pay it back.

How our bursary scheme works

Entry requirements

Qualification Grades
A Levels AAA, including Biology and a second science
A Levels + additional qualifications AAB, including Biology and a second science + B in the EPQ; AAB, including Biology and a second science + B in Core Maths
International Baccalaureate 36, 6 in Higher Level Biology and a second science
BTEC DD in Applied Science (with Distinctions in all Biology units if Biology not offered at A Level) + A in an A Level science
Scottish Highers + 1 Advanced Higher AAAAB, including a second science + A in Biology
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels A + AA in Biology and a second science
Access to HE Entry requirements for mature students
Other qualifications Other UK qualifications
Other EU/international qualifications
Other requirements
  • Human Biology is acceptable instead of Biology. Second science from Chemistry, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics or Psychology
  • GCSE Maths grade 4 or grade C
  • You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification
  • Equivalent English language qualifications
  • Access Sheffield - find out if you're eligible for additional consideration or an alternative offer
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department

Modules - what you study and when

The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department direct.

Course information on Department of Animal and Plant Sciences website

First year

Core modules:

Skills for Biologists 1
Genes in Populations
Molecular and Cell Biology

Optional modules:

Animal Behaviour
Animal Physiology, Reproduction and Development
Ecosystems, Climate and Environmental Change
How Plants Work: Physiology, Reproduction & Development
Population and Community Ecology 1

Second year

Core modules:

Animal and Plant Science Tutorials
Careers for Biologists
Data Analysis

Optional modules:

Animal Diversity
Animal Diversity Practicals
Behavioural Ecology
Biology Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme
Biotechnology and Food Security
Conservation Principles
Ecosystems in a Changing Global Environment
Environmental Biology Practicals
Evolutionary Biology
Genomics and Wildlife Forensics
Insect Biology Practicals
Molecular Evolutionary Genetics
Plant Habitat and Distribution
Plant, Cell and Environment
Population and Community Ecology 2
Talking the Talk: Getting science on Film
Tropical Forest Ecology and Conservation

Third year

Core modules:

Research Project

Optional modules:

Conservation Issues and Management
Biology and Ethics
Cooperation and Conflict
Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems
Evolutionary Ecology
Future Plants: From Laboratory to Field
Global Change
Human Evolutionary Genetics
Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems
Topics in Evolutionary Genetics
Topics in Modern Ecology
Topics in Modern Zoology

Fourth year

Core modules:

Research Project
Research Dissertation
Advanced Biological Analysis
Research & Communication Skills in Biology

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's 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.

Learning and assessment

These figures give an indication of how you'll learn and be assessed. They're a combined average of all the years of the course. The learning and assessment percentages could vary depending on the modules you choose.

Scheduled teaching 18%
Independent study 82%
Placement 0%

Exams/tests 48%
Coursework 44%
Practical 9%

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

The Times Good University Guide 2019 puts Sheffield in the UK top 10 for biosciences. We think this means we're doing something right.

We combine lectures with small group tutorials. You'll also take part in cutting-edge field and lab research, giving you an exceptional breadth of experience. We're a close knit community where every student gets the support and encouragement needed to achieve their best work. Our staff are world leaders in their fields and much of what we teach is based on our own world-leading research.

Our state-of-the-art facilities include controlled environment chambers that simulate natural climates around the world. We also have experimental gardens and glasshouses, artificial stream and pond systems, leading equipment for DNA analysis, biomolecular and elemental analyses, and extensive computing resources.

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences website

What our graduates do

Wherever you choose to start your career, you'll be in demand. Each year our graduates join conservation and environmental consultancies, wildlife trusts, museums, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and local, national and international government. They use their transferable skills - in data analysis, project management and teamwork - and their specialist knowledge and skills to thrive in a range of organisations.

Here are some examples of what graduates in each area are doing now:

Our graduates work in business, IT, consulting, sustainability, museums, banking, agriculture and health. They also work in biodiversity conservation for local and national governments, charities, wildlife trusts and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Many go on to do PhDs.

Ecology and conservation
Ecology graduates are well qualified for careers in government, charity and industry sectors that focus on environmental management and consulting, sustainable forestry, agriculture and conservation. You could go into research, education, journalism, finance, law or a technical profession. Many of our MBiolSci students go on to PhDs.

Plant sciences
Our graduates have an understanding of ideas and techniques that are in demand, particularly in agriculture, biotechnology, crop protection, environmental management and climate change mitigation.

There are excellent career opportunities in government, academic and industrial research institutes focused on science and policy, as well as in teaching and consulting. Plant scientists are also needed in biotechnology companies and administration, including areas that require scientific training, such as computing, research and management skills.

Our students graduate with a deep knowledge of zoology as well as core transferable skills in data analysis, presentation and writing. They're well equipped for positions in environmental consulting, wildlife trusts, and international conservation organisations. Some choose to work in business, IT and consulting linked to sustainability, museums, banking, agriculture and health. Many go on to do PhDs.

Student profile

"One of the big assets of coming to Sheffield was the field courses on offer...being able to come out to the Peak District regularly with my tutor or my lecturer, or going on field courses further afield, even internationally. I'm now an environmental photojournalist."

Ben Cherry
Animal and Plant Sciences

All you need to know about undergraduate study in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at Sheffield.

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Admissions Secretary - Biology
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
Telephone +44 114 222 0123

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