Ecology and Conservation Biology MBiolSci
Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology, Plant Sciences and Zoology
You are viewing this course for 2021-22 entry.
This course is designed for students who want to pursue 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.
This course explores the interactions between humans, animals, plants and the Earth's atmosphere that determine their abundance, distribution and activities. You'll learn about human impact on ecological interactions, climate change, biodiversity and sustainability, as well as what we can do to manage natural resources in the face of changing environments.
Our degrees all start with core subject and skills modules that provide the foundation for your studies. As you progress through your degree, you'll have a chance to explore your core subjects in greater depth, choose optional modules across the biosciences to help broaden your knowledge and skills and participate in a research activity. Moving to a different degree course is possible, especially in the first year, and depending on your qualifications.
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 directly.
Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:
UCAS code: C189
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.
- Skills for Biologists 1
The Skills for Biology module introduces students to the fundamentals of scientific writing, presentation skills, practical skills, experimental design and data analysis, information technology, the role of science in society and career development. Concepts will be introduced in a series of lectures and seminars that students will then develop through practical sessions and independent study using printed and online module material and activities. Key transferable skills will then be developed and integrated using small group tutorials.30 credits
This course introduces the concept of biodiversity - what it is and how we measure it. Biodiversity will be explored through two case studies: (i) the plant kingdom; (ii) the animal kingdom. Both kingdoms will be considered in terms of their characteristics, classification, evolutionary history, biodiversity and biogeography.10 credits
This course presents evolution as the central unifying theme of modern biology. It begins with a brief overview of the origin of life and important events in the early history of life on earth. It goes on to explore evolutionary mechanisms: essentially how evolution works. The course finishes with three case studies in evolution.10 credits
- Genes in Populations
Familiarity with classical population and quantitative genetics is fundamental to the modern synthesis of biology. This module provides an introduction to the principles of genetics at the levels of the individual and the population. Topics include Mendelian inheritance and gene interaction, linkage, heritability, sources and maintenance of variation in populations, divergence of populations and speciation. Lectures will emphasise an approach to understanding genetics at the individual and population level by learning how genetic inferences are made through quantitative analyses. Assessment will be by formal examination.10 credits
- Molecular and Cell Biology
In this module, we will explore the basics of genes and genetics and of cell biology, including (i) the structure and replication of DNA, (ii) the molecular biology of gene function, (iii) transcription and translation, (iv) the inheritance of DNA, (v) the generation and consequences of genetic variation,(vi) mitosis, meiosis and recombination, (vii) the structure of plant and animal cells, (viii) the cell cycle, (ix) how cells communicate and (x) how cells move. An emphasis will be placed on how genetics and cell biology can provide great insight into many topics in Biology, e.g. human medicine and agriculture.10 credits
- Population and Community Ecology 1
This unit provides an introduction to the ecology of individuals, populations and communities. The ecology of individuals includes a consideration of resource acquisition, territoriality, reproduction and life history trade-offs. Population ecology includes a consideration of population growth and regulation, interspecific competition, and niche differentiation. Communitiy ecology is concerned with describing and understanding the diversity and stability of ecological communities; including a consideration of intraspecific competition, predation and predator-prey interactions. This unit also considers aspects of applied ecology including: conservation principles and priorities, sustainable harvesting of populations, pest control and management.10 credits
- Animal Behaviour
This unit will provide an introduction to behaviour, focussing on the four fundamental questions: (i) the evolution of behaviour; (ii) the function of behaviour, (iii) the ontogeny of behaviour and (iv) the causation (or mechanisms) of behaviour. The course will introduce the major concepts and information on specific topics, including sexual behaviour, foraging behaviour and social behaviour in humans and non-humans. A central theme will be the extent to which animal behaviour can inform us about human behaviour and in particular the similarities and differences between the evolutionary approach to animal behaviour and evolutionary psychology.10 credits
- Animal Physiology, Reproduction and Development
This course is an introduction to the physiology, reproduction and development of animals. The course will explore how animals acquire and process energy, nutrients and water, and will examine fertilisation in mammals and embryonic development in a range of vertebrates.10 credits
- Ecosystems, Climate and Environmental Change
The module provides an introduction to ecosystem development and processes, how these are impacted by environmental change, and how ecosystems influence climate. It uses examples of both British and globally important ecosystems to understand the effects of environment on vegetation change and succession. It describes the importance of climate in the geographical distribution of terrestrial ecosystems, and the responses of ecosystems to disturbance. The prediction of the responses of ecosystems to global environmental change is also explored.10 credits
- How Plants Work: Physiology, Reproduction & Development
This course is an introduction to the physiology, reproduction, development and growth of plants and fungi. The course will explore: the ways in which plants and fungi acquire and process energy, nutrients and water; and how plants and fungal colonies reproduce, grow and develop. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between structure and function.10 credits
In your second year, your modules will cover more advanced scientific topics and techniques across ecology and conservation biology. Some students choose to take our science communication module 'Talking the Talk: Getting Science on Film' where you'll get the chance to make factual science documentaries, with support and advice from professional filmmakers. All of our ecology and conservation biology students receive training in modern data analysis techniques and get the opportunity to go on an optional two-week long field course between second and third year, giving you the chance to design and carry out research and develop an understanding of the ecology and biodiversity of different habitats across the globe.
- Animal and Plant Science Tutorials
This module provides training in the generic and subject-related skills necessary to undertake research in biology and communicate biology effectively. Students will learn: different forms of scientific writing (including essays, abstracts and scientific papers); experimental design; analysis and evaluation of biological information; synthesis of material from a variety of sources including the primary literature; and presentation of scientific information (seminars and debates). Teaching will be in small-group tutorials, during which students will discuss key topics and recent developments in biology. Evaluation will be based on continual assessment of written work, exercises and presentations. Tutors will provide both academic and pastoral support.10 credits
- Careers for Biologists
The Career Development for Biologists module will explore career paths open to biology graduates including employment as a professional biologist, postgraduate study, teaching, enterprise activities and the development of transferable skills. Students will identify and research career options and the skills that they have, or need to acquire, to pursue these options. They will develop and implement an action plan during the course of the module, and participate in the APS careers fair. Teaching methods will include seminars, group work and portfolio development.10 credits
- Conservation Principles
This module will introduce students to the fundamental principles of conservation biology that influence conservation programmes around the globe. Following a brief examination of the rationales for conservation the course discusses some of:(i)the fundamental issues in conservation planning, such as selecting appropriate units for conservation and priority assessment(ii)the research tools commonly used by conservationists, such as population viability analysis(iii)the ways in which ecological theory guides conservation action. These topics are illustrated using case studies of animal and plant conservation in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems from temperate and tropical regions.10 credits
- Plant Habitat and Distribution
This course will: provide experience of work in the laboratory and in the field; provide an introduction to the techniques employed in the study of plants in relation to their habitats and the vegetation in which they occur; develop skills in record keeping, observation, sampling, identification, problem solving, task-oriented team work, data interpretation, communication and the application of biological principles; and help develop an understanding of aspects of the plant environment and the importance of environmental variables and plant traits in controlling species distributions. This course consists of an integrated series of 12 sessions which include lectures and practical work relevant to understanding controls on plant distributions and community composition. The course includes 2 field excursions (soil and vegetation sampling), 7 practical classes (soil chemical analysis, experimental ecology, vegetation data analysis and vegetation processes), 8 lectures and 1 session for synthesis, interpretation and presentation of the data for the module as a whole.10 credits
- Population and Community Ecology 2
This unit will examine major themes in population and community ecology, across plants, animals and their interactions with each other and their environment. It focuses on cross-cutting themes in ecology and evolution including life history, predation, competition, disease and biodiversity. It builds deep, conceptual and theoretical understanding of life cycles, population growth, and species interactions. It provides insight into common patterns and unique properties among plants and animals of the factors that determine the abundance, diversity and distribution of species. It provides insight into the role of species interactions and the environment in controlling biodiversity and ecosystem function.10 credits
- Animal Diversity
This course will examine the major animal phyla that make up the animal kingdom. It will discuss their structure and how this is related to function and way of life. The major invertebrate groups will be considered including the Porifera, cnidarians, protostomes and deuterostomes. The unique features of the vertebrates and the constituent vertebrate classes will be examined. The biology of the fishes, the evolution of the jaw, the colonisation of the land, the origins of flight and the evolutionary innovations of the mammals will be addressed. The emphasis throughout will be on natural history, development, behaviour, ecology and evolutionary relationships.20 credits
- Behavioural Ecology
This module will provide introduce animal behaviour through lectures and a Student Centred Learning Exercise (SCLE). The focus will be on answering questions in animal behaviour, through testing hypotheses about the adaptive significance and mechanism of behaviours. The main areas studied will be foraging, reproductive behaviour, mating systems, cooperative breeding and communication. The course will also introduce the use of theory and mathematical modelling (game theory and optimisation modelling). This will involve simple mathematics and the analysis of simple figures and tables showing the costs and benefits of behaviours. The SCLE is based on short research papers on animal behaviour.The course will provide an introduction to animal behaviour through lectures, SCLEs and the course textbook. The main focus will be on answering questions in animal behaviour through testing hypotheses about the adaptive significance (“why”) and mechanism (“how”) of particular behaviours. More specific focus will be made on feeding, reproductive behaviour, eusociality and communication. The course will also introduce the use of game theory and optimisation modelling. This will require simple mathematics, and the analysis of simple figures and tables showing the costs and benefits of particular behaviours. There will be an SCLE which will involve special readings in animal behaviour.10 credits
- Biology Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme
This module will enable students to gain experience in the communication of biology to a non-scientific audience, including the preparation of teaching/public engagement materials and the planning and execution of a teaching/engagement programme either in a local school or as part of the departmental outreach programme. Students will be responsible for formulating and delivering an educational project about some aspect of biology. In the school context students will work under the supervision of a class teacher at all times.10 credits
- Biotechnology and Food Security
This course will consider agricultural productivity, crop protection, breeding and genetic engineering of plants in four blocks of lectures. These emphasise the production of both forest and agricultural crops, the biotic and abiotic factors which can affect productivity and the use of breeding and genetic manipulation to improve crop performance. Biotic factors include such topics as weeds, insect pests and pathogens and sink-source relationships in crop plants. Abiotic factors include economic constraints, the structure of canopies and light interception, effects of pesticides on the environment, genetic manipulation to provide resistance to pests and pathogens and the use of fertilisers and other chemicals.10 credits
- Ecosystems in a Changing Global Environment
Human impacts on the world¿s ecosystems are profound and without precedent in Earth's history. The urgent need to understand the impacts of overexploitation, land-use change and anthropogenic climate change has meant that ecosystem science has become one of the most important biological disciplines. This module will introduce students to the fundamental principles of ecosystem science by exploring human impacts on key marine and terrestrial ecosystems and their feedbacks on global climate. In doing so, it will cover the interacting roles of (1) climatic tolerance, trophic interactions, carbon sequestration and fire on land, and (2) biodiversity, energy, nutrients and extinction in the sea.10 credits
- Environmental Biology Practicals
In this practical module students will examine the effects of environmental factors on plant growth and development. Students will work in small groups to design, set up and execute an investigation of aspects such as growth and the carbohydrate and protein content of plants (using gel electrophoresis), in plants grown under different conditions, including among others, light intensities and nutrient regimes. The practical write-up will be aided by a group discussion of the interpretation of the results obtained by the whole class.10 credits
- Environmental Interpretation Field Course
This module provides interdisciplinary training in skills for environmental interpretation and assessment through field work, lectures and mini-projects. It will include studies of botany, geology, geography, history and environmental science. It will provide an in-depth study of some important habitats, major rock types and landscape processes. It will provide training in methods for description, sampling, quantification and data analysis in the environmental sciences. The field studies will be complemented by lectures that explain key concepts and techniques, together with an overview of regional, historical, political and economic factors governing land usage and the impact of human occupation on the landscape.10 credits
- Evolutionary Biology
This module will provide insights into major concepts in evolutionary biology, illustrated with a wide range of examples that cut across taxa. The course will cover the origins of variation, adaptation, and natural selection. Population genetics concepts will be briefly summarised, with particular attention to the persistence of genetic variation. Examples of microevolution will be used to show that evolution is a continuous and ongoing process. Species concepts and theories of speciation will be discussed and illustrated by examples of adaptive radiation. The evolution of sex and sexual selection, and the evolution of cooperation under kin selection, genomic conflict and coevolution will also be discussed.10 credits
- Genomics and Wildlife Forensics
This unit will introduce students to a range of genomic and molecular technologies including DNA sequencing, transcriptomics and metagenomics and illustrate how they can be used to address questions in ecology, environmental biology, medicine, and forensics sciences. The course will consist of eight lectures, and five practical classes during which students learn how to apply molecular techniques to answer questions in the field of wildlife forensics.10 credits
- Insect Biology Practicals
In this module students will examine insect behaviour and some of its underlying mechanisms. Each practical will consist of a set exercise, a taxonomic demonstration and a class discussion of results. Students will investigate insect locomotion, feeding, sexual behaviour, grooming and gas exchange.10 credits
- Molecular Evolutionary Genetics
This unit will introduce students to molecular evolutionary genetics. Students will investigate how DNA sequences evolve and how they can be used to reconstruct phylogenetic history. They will also examine some of the genes underlying phenotypic variation and adaptation. Through a mixture of lectures and practical classes students will learn how bioinformatics can enhance our understanding of the evolution of species genomes and will acquire skills in analysing DNA sequence data and identifying whether genes have evolved adaptively.10 credits
The task of palaeobiology is to provide greater integration between palaeontology and biology. This course examines recent developments in the field of palaeobiology, and demonstrates how fossils are used to generate testable theories about pattern in the history of life. This course will begin with 9 lectures outlining modern concepts in palaeobiology, and demonstrated using examples from all aspect of palaeontology, but concentrating on dinosaur palaeobiology. These same principles will then be explored using human evolution as a case study (9 lectures).10 credits
- Plant, Cell and Environment
Plants differ from many other organisms in that their growth and development is highly tuned to the environment. This course examines how plants respond to diverse environmental factors (focussing on light, water, temperature and disease) integrating developmental, biochemical and physiological studies. We explore the processes that control photomorphogenesis from seed germination through to flowering, responses to extremes of temperature and defence responses to pests and disease.Plants differ from many other organisms in that their growth and development is highly tuned to the environment. This course examines how plants respond to environmental factors.10 credits
In this module, we will explore the nature of symbiosis between plants, animals, bacteria and fungi. We will investigate the 'continuum of symbiosis' from parasitism to mutualism using specific examples drawn from natural and agricultural ecosystems to demonstrate how symbionts regulate the structure and function of host communities and the challenge their control poses. We will investigate methods of controlling parasites as well as how symbionts may be harnessed to regulate host communities in restoration ecology, for biological control and ecosystem service provision (e.g. pollinators) using an integrated teaching approach employing lectures and guest seminars from specific experts in the field.10 credits
- Talking the Talk: Getting science on Film
This intensive, week-long module (run during the Easter vacation) covers an introduction to science communication using the medium of video- making. The focus will be to turn technical scientific information into a form accessible to multiple audiences, working within the confines of a brief. A key feature will be developing a project as a group: recognising strengths and appropriate division of labour to implement innovative ideas. Individually, it will develop strengths in presenting ideas and technical skills in shooting footage and editing. The module will be delivered in collaboration with staff from the University of Sheffield Creative Media Team and industry professionals.10 credits
- Tropical Forest Ecology and Conservation
This module will provide students with an understanding of tropical forest ecology, from species to ecosystem levels, and of the suite of conservation threats that tropical forests face. This will be achieved through lectures, independent reading, and a fieldtrip to a zoo or museum. Topics covered may include: How species coexist in tropical forests; how hyperdiversity evolved and is maintained; how species interact in food-webs and mutualistically; how tropical trees survive and forests regenerate; how forest clearance, forest degradation and hunting threaten tropical biodiversity, and the role of ecosystem services in tropical conservation.10 credits
In your third year, you'll complete a research project and dissertation in an area of ecology and conservation biology that interests you alongside your chosen specialist modules. 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.
- Research Project
In this module students will consolidate the skills and knowledge they have gained in earlier levels of study and apply these in a research project. Students will work in small groups, guided by a member of staff, to identify and plan a biological study. They will collect and statistically analyse data, interpret their results and set them in the context of related studies identified from the literature. They will then present their project in the format of a scientific paper. The project may be lab, field or computer based.30 credits
- Biological Field Research
Field research is an essential component of the biological sciences. The module starts prior to entering the field, with students considering risk assessments and preparing talks on the concepts to be studied. Students will then enter one of a range of environments, which may include inter alia the Peak District, North Wales, Portugal or Borneo. Following a period of familiarisation with the habitat and wildlife, students will identify a biological question, design a field research study, collect observational data, design and carry out experiments, analyse data and present their findings in a series of talks. On returning from the field, students will develop their writing and analytical skills and prepare a report on their field projects. The module will develop skills in specific areas of the biological sciences, such as tropical ecology and conservation, behavioural ecology, population and community ecology, and coastal and marine ecology.20 credits
- Conservation Issues and Management
This module aims to provide the opportunity for students to develop (i) their knowledge of topical issues in conservation, (ii) their ability to identify potential solutions to real-world conservation problems and assess the likely effectiveness of these (iii) their skills in accessing, interpreting and synthesising the primary scientific literature in the field of conservation and (iv) their ability to think independently. This will be achieved by introducing students, through lectures and independent reading, to a range of topical issues in conservation biology, by showing how research can inform the development of action plans and by illustrating how the success of applied measures to mitigate conservation problems can be assessed. Students will then apply their learning by developing action plans for specific conservation problems.20 credits
In this module students will consolidate the skills and knowledge they have gained in earlier levels of study and use these to produce a dissertation. Students will work individually, guided by a member of staff, to identify and plan a biological study based on a literature review. They will collect and synthesise information from a variety of sources, interpret and critically assess their findings. They will then present their dissertation in the format of a review paper.20 credits
- Topics in Modern Ecology
This module provides students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge of topical issues in modern ecology. Students will be introduced, through lectures, independent reading, discussion and problem solving to a core set of topical questions in pure and/or applied ecology, and they will explore how data and theory combine to inform our understanding of these topics. Students will apply their learning by developing and critically evaluating research or management proposals that will address for specific real world ecological questions and problems.10 credits
- Biology and Ethics
As the pace of biological research continues to increase, society and scientists are continuously faced with ethical issues which, in many cases, we are ill-prepared to consider. This course examines areas where biology and ethics interact using a series of topical examples including medicine, agriculture, industry and the environment. In each case ethical concepts will be examined and discussed in the context of the right to privacy, ownership, current regulation, historical perspectives and the public understanding of science.10 credits
- Cooperation and Conflict
This module aims to provide the opportunity for students to develop (i) their knowledge of cutting-edge research in behavioural ecology, (ii) their skills in understanding and interpreting the primary scientific literature in this field and (iii) their ability to think independently and synthesise information. This will be achieved by introducing students to a range of issues and topics of central theoretical importance in the field of behavioural ecology and by showing how a combination of observation, and field and laboratory experimentation can be used to test hypotheses originating from theory. Specifically, the characteristics and implications of cooperation and conflict among animals will be studied in a variety of contexts.10 credits
- Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems
This module examines the evolution of terrestrial ecosystems, from the invasion of the land by plants and animals in the Ordovician (475 million years ago) up to the present day. All of the major events will be covered: the origin of land plants; the invasion of the land by invertebrate animals (worms, insects, etc); the first forests; the origin of amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds; beginnings of phtogeographical differentiation; origin of the flowering plants etc. Throughout the course the evolution of terrestrial ecosystems will be considered in light of: (i) the interrelationships between global change and evolving terrestrial ecosystems; (ii) plant-fungal-animal interactions and coevolution.10 credits
- Evolutionary Ecology
Why do some organisms weigh a fraction of a milligram and others many tons? Why do some organisms mature in a few days and others need several years? Why make a myraid of tiny eggs rather than few large offspring? This module will address these, and other questions in life history evolution, using a range of modern approaches. All the main approaches of studying evolutionary ecology will be taught (optimality models, evolutionarily stable strategies, quantitative genetics, comparative methods) and their strengths and weaknesses explored. Equal weight will be given to plant and animal systems.10 credits
- Future Plants: From Laboratory to Field
This module explores current research themes in plant biology, examining how fundamental plant science, often using model organisms, can be translated into real-world applications. The course will highlight different research areas encompassing plant development and productivity, responses to environmental stresses and interactions with other organisms (beneficial or pests and diseases). Students will be introduced to the science that underpins these processes in plants and how this knowledge can be exploited to address problems such as food security, sustainability and environmental change.10 credits
- Global Change
This course will provide a framework for understanding the causes of climatic changes and the nature and scale of evolution, adaptation and ecological responses of plants to these changes. The course will describe the nature of controls of past, present and future climatic change. This provides a framework for understanding the types and scale of evolution, adaptation and ecological responses of plants to changes in climate and atmospheric CO2. The course will address land plant evolution over the last 400million years; responses to geological extinction events and global to local space scales of plat responses to past, present and likely future carbon dioxide concentrations and climate. The view of the Earth System is introduced, with examples of feedbacks between climate, the cryosphere, the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere.10 credits
- Human Evolutionary Genetics
This module will provide students with an understanding of how genomics has shaped our understanding of the evolution of modern humans. This will be achieved through lectures, independent reading and a computational biology practical. Topics covered will include: the evolution of modern humans; the history of how humans colonised the world; how the Neanderthal genome has revealed hybridisation between Homo sapiens and Neanderthal man; how human genomes can tell us about the history and causes of modern genetic disorders; how our genomes reveal past episodes of selection; and how life history theory is used to study natural selection and evolution in pre-industrial humans.10 credits
- Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems
This module highlights the threats to global sustainability, with a particular focus on food production and ecosystem functioning, being caused by human impacts on the environment. The module considers how we have got into the present unsustainable mess ¿ of poor land and natural resource management, under valuing of farmers, life-threatening soil degradation causing flooding, pollution of fresh water and soil insecurity, as well as large numbers of people overconsuming and wasting food whilst others don¿t have enough. It shows that how we sustainably manage agro-ecosystems now, and in the immediate future, will determine the fate of humanity. Soils are the foundations of terrestrial ecosystems, food and biofuel production, but are amongst the most badly abused and damaged components of the ecosphere. Climate change, agricultural intensification, biofuels and unsustainable use of fertilizers and fossil fuels pose critical threats to global food production and sustainable agro-ecosystems - and their impacts on soil ecosystems are central to these threats. The module considers soil ecosystems function in nature and the lessons that we can then apply to develop more sustainable agriculture and ecosystem management.10 credits
- Topics in Evolutionary Genetics
This course aims to provide the opportunity for students to develop (i) their knowledge of current leading-edge research areas in evolutionary genetics and (ii) their skills in accessing, interpreting and synthesising the primary scientific literature in this field. This will be achieved by examining three areas of current research activity in evolutionary genetics though detailed analysis of the questions, methods and interpretations in groups of recent publications.10 credits
In your fourth year, the majority of your time will be devoted to a major research project designed to 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 independent research and interacting with academics and lab staff as a professional scientist.
- Research Project
This module will give students the opportunity to develop skills relevant to a career in biological research. It will consist of a laboratory, field or computational research project in one of the Department's four research clusters where each student will work under the supervision of a member of academic staff. The student will formulate the hypotheses and questions to be addressed, plan and carry out observations and experiments to test these hypotheses, and analyse data. The project will be written up in the form of a scientific paper, the student will also keep an appropriate record of their research and deliver an oral presentation of their work.60 credits
- Research Dissertation
The aim of this unit is to allow the student to write a critical review of a biological topic of choice. This will involve a critical analysis of hypotheses in the field and of the quality of the evidence used to support them. Where controversies exist, the dissertation should indicate which side has the stronger case. The dissertation should contain a quantitative element; this may be in the form of a comparative analysis, meta-analysis, or systematic search and quantitative review of prior studies. It should also identify gaps in our current knowledge and understanding and make suggestions for the future development of the field. The dissertation should also include at least one novel diagram/table that summarises an aspect of the dissertation. The preparation of the dissertation involves extensive reading of original research papers, reviews and books together with information extracted from other media. The dissertation will be written up in the form of a scientific paper.30 credits
- Advanced Biological Analysis
The aim of this module is to provide students with advanced training in the use of statistical methods and computers to visualise and analyse biological data which is necessary to pursue a research career in whole organism biology. Advanced principles of programming for data analysis, data interpretation and statistical analysis, and graphical presentation are stressed. The course is based on the statistical programming language R, the Integrated Development Environment RStudio. The course is comprised of 7 introductory sessions, and then a choice of two out of six specialist modules selected to support student-specific requirements in research.15 credits
- Research & Communication Skills in Biology
This module will provide training in fundamental generic skills necessary to pursue a research career in whole organism biology. Skills will involve learning and applying various forms of communication (both written and oral) to different audiences (professional and general public) and advanced science writing (e.g. journal publications and grant applications). Teaching will be through workshops, lectures, peer-review panels, and student-centred learning.15 credits
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. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
Learning and assessment
At Sheffield, you’ll learn from scientists who are helping to solve some of the biggest global challenges, from understanding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our food systems and discovering how to absorb up to 2 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, to combating the biodiversity and climate crises.
Our research-embedded teaching ensures you’ll gain knowledge and understanding from the forefront of the full breadth of biology. You’ll learn through lectures, small group tutorials and workshops, field courses, practical sessions in the lab and research projects.
To support your learning, you’ll have access to a virtual learning environment with interactive course materials. You'll also have a personal tutor throughout your course, to give you advice and guidance on both academic and pastoral issues.
Throughout the course you will be assessed through a variety of methods, including exams, tests, presentations, coursework and practical work.
This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.
With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
including Biology and a second science
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
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 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 34, 6, 5 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 DD in Applied Science (with Distinctions in all Biology Units if not offer at A level) + B in an A level Science
Scottish Highers + 1 Advanced Higher | AAAAB, including a second science + A in Biology AAABB including a science subject + B in Biology
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | A + AA in Biology and a second science B + AA in Biology and a second science
Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in a Science Subject with 45 at level 3 including 39 credits at Distinctions to include Biology and a second science, and 6 credits at Merit. Applicants are considered individually. 60 credits overall in a Science Subject with 45 at level 3 including 36 credits at Distinctions to include Biology and a second science, and 9 credits at Merit. Applicants are considered individually.
Mature students - explore other routes for mature students
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
Human Biology is acceptable instead of Biology. Second science from Chemistry, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, Environmental Science or Geography
GCSE Maths grade 4 or grade C
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology, Plant Sciences and Zoology
Biosciences at Sheffield is home to over 120 lecturers who are actively involved in research at the cutting edge of their field. You'll learn from scientists who are helping to solve some of the biggest global challenges, from understanding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our food systems and discovering how to absorb up to 2 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, to combating the biodiversity and climate crises.
Our staff are drawn from across the biosciences and are engaged in research in a wide range of areas, from molecular biology, human health and disease, to evolution, biodiversity, conservation, genetics and sustainability.
We’re a close-knit community where every student gets the support and encouragement needed to achieve their best work. Whether it’s joining one of our student-led societies and taking part in nights out, trips abroad and quizzes with lecturers, or volunteering, fundraising and organising your own events, there are lots of opportunities to get involved.
Biosciences students are based across Firth Court, the Alfred Denny, Florey and Addison buildings. We are at the heart of the University campus, adjacent to the Students' Union and just a 15-minute walk from the city centre.
Our students have access to world-class laboratory and computing resources for biological research and are trained in specialist teaching laboratories, supported by teaching assistants and our technician team.
Biosciences at Sheffield is home to state-of-the-art facilities, including super resolution light, cryo-electron and atomic force microscopy, NMR and X-ray facilities, a Biological Mass Spectrometry facility and the NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility, which provides molecular genetics facilities and training to the UK science community.
We also have controlled environment facilities that can simulate any past, present and future climate, entomology resources, experimental gardens, leading equipment for DNA analysis, and the Alfred Denny Museum of Zoology on campus.
Why choose Sheffield?
The University of Sheffield
A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings
Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014
No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017
Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology, Plant Sciences and Zoology
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021
Research Excellence Framework 2014
High Fliers Research 2020
Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology, Plant Sciences and Zoology
Our courses equip students for a wide range of careers, from scientific roles to graduate schemes with top employers. Whether you want to pursue a career in science, apply your skills in industry, or continue your studies, bioscience graduates are highly sought after due to their specialist laboratory and field skills, ability to solve problems, handle and analyse data, and effectively communicate complex ideas to a range of audiences.
As well as progressing onto a masters programme or PhD, our students secure roles in leading scientific organisations like Cancer Research, GSK, RB and Mondelez, and organisations linked to ecology and conservation such as the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum and the Environment Agency.
Transferable skills are embedded and developed throughout our degrees, which means year on year many of our graduates join big employers like Google, PwC, the BBC, Deloitte, United Kingdom Civil Service, Aldi and the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme. You can also apply your degree to other varied careers including bioinformatics, marketing and science communication, teaching and science policy.
Fees and funding
The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.
Funding your study
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.
Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.
University open days
There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.
At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.
If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.
Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Apply for this course
Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.