School of Biosciences
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You are viewing this course for 2022-23 entry.
Explore the genetic basis of cell function and disease on our BSc. This course spans human, plant and microbial genetics, genomics and molecular biology. You'll study the structure and expression of genes, inheritance and mutations and learn about the latest molecular techniques for modifying genes, including CRISPR. You’ll learn how modern genetics helps us to understand and treat a range of diseases, as well as tackle global challenges like food sustainability and security.
From your first year, you’ll study modules that span the molecular biosciences covering genetics, biochemistry and molecular and cell biology. Alongside these modules, you’ll have the freedom to explore complementary topics across the breadth of bioscience, such as microbiology, biomedicine, ecology, plant science and zoology, so you have the option to study genetics in greater depth, keep your interests broad or even switch to another degree programme within the biosciences.
No matter what modules you choose to study, you’ll develop the practical laboratory and transferable skills that make our graduates attractive to employers including project management, problem solving, communication skills and data analysis.
We’ll give you plenty of opportunities to apply your new skills and knowledge too. You’ll be in the lab completing in-depth practicals across molecular genetics, DNA manipulation and protein structure analysis and you’ll get the chance to use cutting-edge equipment to run your own research projects in an area such as clinical diagnostics or brewing biotechnology.
Whether you choose to focus solely on genetics or study a range of topics across the molecular biosciences and beyond, your personal tutor will assist you in tailoring your degree to your interests and career goals.
This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology, which shows employers that you've developed the practical skills and scientific knowledge that they're looking for.
A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.
Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:
UCAS code: C400
Years: 2022, 2023
In your first year, you'll spend six hours in the lab each week learning the practical skills and knowledge that every bioscientist needs, including how to establish bacterial cultures, assess bioenergetics and perform gene cloning. Analysis classes will equip you with the skills you'll use outside the lab, from interacting with your data to interpreting your findings. Your lectures will give you a broad understanding of the molecular biosciences, allowing you to explore what you're most interested in.
- Biochemistry 1
This module provides a broad introduction to Biochemistry and examines the molecules that carry out and control all the chemical reactions in biological cells. The basic chemical concepts underlying the structures, functions and mechanisms of action of biomolecules.20 credits
- Molecular & Cell Biology
This module considers the fundamental processes at the heart of all life on this planet. Students will learn about the basic molecular processes that enable cells to store and use genetic information to make proteins, as well as the mechanisms that allow cell growth, division, and ultimately cell death. Learning materials will be delivered through a combination of lectures, videos, practical classes and independent study.20 credits
- Principles of Evolution
This course is an introduction to evolution as the central unifying theme of modern biology. Students will examine evolutionary patterns from the geological past to the present, and investigate evolutionary mechanisms of selection, adaptation and the origin of species. They will be introduced to the approaches used to study evolution including classical population and quantitative genetics, phylogenetic trees, and the fossil record. Students will learn through lectures, videos, practical sessions, quizzes, and independent study.20 credits
- Genetics 1
This course is an introduction to the principles of genetics. Students will explore the genetics of pro- and eukaryotes by studying the mechanisms of gene transmission, genetic exchange, mutations and gene mapping. Additional topics are the genetic basis of diseases, prenatal diagnosis, genetic counselling, gene therapy and genetic basis of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Students will learn through lectures and videos and independent study.10 credits
- Skills in Molecular Bioscience
The Skills for Biology module introduces students to the fundamentals of scientific practice: lab practical skills, experimental design, information technology, data visualisation and analysis, writing and presentation skills, skills reflection, professionalism and career development.30 credits
A student will select approved modules from the School of Biosciences to the value of 20 credits.
In your second year, you'll begin learning more advanced scientific techniques, both in the lab and in lectures, with topics including experimental design, genome editing using CRISPR/Cas9 and protein purification. You'll continue to take analysis classes to develop your data handling skills further and you can choose to study modules that allow you to work in teams to come up with pioneering science enterprise ideas to launch a virtual business.
- Practical Molecular Bioscience 2
This module provides detailed knowledge in key areas of practical molecular bioscience, emphasising the integration of the disciplines of biochemistry, microbiology and genetics. An important aim of the module is to provide experience in the preparation of written laboratory reports, and in the correct interpretation and representation of biological data. Laboratory, computer and data analysis sessions build on the skills gained during first year and allow students to develop a high level of technical competence and theoretical understanding. Tutorial-based support is also provided for the enhancement of transferable skills, such as the preparation and delivery of oral and written presentations.30 credits
- Biostructures, Energetics and Synthesis
This module aims to furnish students with a working knowledge of the structures and functions of proteins and nucleic acids, in order that they gain an appreciation of the crucial relationship between structure and function. Both cytosolic globular and membrane proteins will be considered, as well as an introduction to nucleic acid structure. The module also explains the basic principles of how energy is made available (transduced) for essential biological functions, such as ATP synthesis and solute and protein transport. To achieve this understanding, the nature of biological membranes and the energy transducing proteins associated with those membranes are considered, and the principles of chemiosmosis, light absorption and biological redox reactions are discussed. Finally the module provides an understanding of the general principles underlying the biosynthesis of complex biomolecules from simpler precursors, and the control of these processes, with particular relevance to biotechnology.20 credits
- Genes, Genomes and Chromosomes
This module aims to provide the student with a clear understanding of how genomes are organised within cells and how the expression of specific genes can be regulated. One part of the module addresses experimental approaches to address the function of specific genes and how genetic information is expressed in a regulated manner. Both classical and molecular genetics techniques to study gene function will be described. DNA repair and recombination mechanisms will be addressed, along with the use of reporter gene fusions. The regulation of gene expression at the molecular level will be explored through the consideration of (post-) transcriptional control mechanisms and intercellular signalling pathways. The other part of the module discusses the structural features of chromosomes and how they contribute to the maintenance and evolution of the genome; the development of sequencing techniques and their application to genome sequencing projects; the use of scoring systems to determine related DNA sequences and the application of sequencing technologies to measure gene expression, identify protein binding sites within DNA, analyse long range nucleic acid interactions within genomes and study DNA methylation patterns.20 credits
- Genetics 2
This module builds upon the introduction to genetics provided by MBB162 Genetics. A range of eukaryotic genetic systems will be considered, including humans and a number of model organisms, ranging from yeasts to Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, Arabidopsis thaliana and Mus musculus. Topics to be covered include methods for isolating and genetically analysing mutants with specific phenotypes, extranuclear inheritance, developmental genetics, quantitative inheritance, population genetics and evolutionary genetics. A collaborative group work exercise will give students opportunities to apply concepts introduced in the module to the analysis of genetic data, planning of experiments and the creation of a joint report.
- Biochemistry 2
This module provides an advanced treatment of the biochemical topics introduced in earlier modules, to provide a deep understanding of the underlying chemical principles and molecular interactions governing life in cells. Topics covered include reaction and ligand binding kinetics, enzyme catalysis and chemical mechanism, protein structure and function, small molecule drug development and methods in which these processes are studied experimentally.20 credits
- Microbiology 2
This module builds upon the microbiological topics introduced in earlier modules, including aspects of bacterial growth and gene regulation, microbial biodiversity and cellular differentiation, biotechnology, the mechanisms used by pathogenic bacteria to subvert and fool the host's defences, the use of vaccines and antimicrobial agents in controlling and treating diseases caused by pathogens, the problems associated with newly-emerging pathogens and the role that resistance to antimicrobial agents is playing in the re-emergence of certain diseases.20 credits
In your third year, you'll complete an extended research project alongside your chosen specialist modules. This will reflect an area of molecular bioscience that interests you. Depending on your interests and career goals, you can choose a project from: experimental science, clinical diagnostics, industrial biotechnology, molecular systems and computing, science communication or education and outreach.
This module is a research project in the molecular biosciences that allows students to apply their core subject knowledge to develop key skills in an area related to their career aspirations. Students have the opportunity to design, plan, and undertake an investigation, either within the Department or externally. Projects choices include laboratory-based research; biotechnology; computational biology and bioinformatics; science communication; science teaching in a local school; and clinical diagnostics.30 credits
All projects are undertaken under the supervision of a member of academic staff; most placements are within the Department, but a small proportion of students undertake projects in other locations, such as the Medical School. Students will develop skills in the collation, interpretation, presentation, and communication of data and ideas. Students will submit their work in the form of a formal written report and present their research to the department during a showcase poster event.
- Literature Review
In this module students are required to write a literature review on a topic chosen from a wide range suggested by members of staff. Students will develop a range of transferrable key skills associated with searching for, analysing and critically evaluating information from the literature, together with presentation skills in writing and presenting their review.20 credits
- Genetics Data Handling
The module aims to develop interpretative skills by the study of deductive questions drawn from the broad area of molecular genetics and cell biology. Students will gain experience in the analysis, interpretation and evaluation of published data of different types through a directed programme of reading, discussion and question answering. The module also contains an element that develops the skills required by the students to write on a broad topic drawn from across all their areas of study.10 credits
- Genetic pathways from zygote to organism
Multicellular organisms develop from a single zygote and in the case of humans, culminates in a mature human body consisting of over a trillion cells and around 200 different cell types. This module will examine the developmental mechanisms and genes that regulate pattern formation and cell identity in multicellular eukaryotes. We will focus on the role of key genes in the regulation of different developmental processes and the mechanisms that determine the correct temporal and spatial expression of these genes. We will illustrate these principles using examples from model organisms such as Mus Musculus, Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster and Arabidopsis thaliana. These systems have significantly informed our understanding of human disease but also demonstrate the different mechanisms through which cell fate and complexity are controlled.10 credits
- Genome Stability and Genetic Change
The module examines in detail the mechanisms that maintain genome integrity and generate genetic variation, both of which are essential to eukaryotic life. The lectures illustrate how preventing and creating changes in DNA make use of the same biochemical machinery. The main emphasis is on eukaryotes, reference is made to prokaryotes mainly as an aid to understanding the importance of conserved processes. Mechanisms studied in detail include single-strand break repair, protein-linked DNA break repair, homologous and non-homologous recombination, avoidance of replication errors, mismatch repair, excision repair and mutagenesis. Throughout the module experimental detail is included to illustrate how conclusions on gene function and interactions have been determined.10 credits
- Genomic Science
A top-down approach to biology, simultaneously investigating the structure and function of the entire genome and its products, both contrasts with and complements the traditional gene-by-gene approach, allowing us a birds-eye view. In this module, we cover how genome sequencing can be used to understand the structure of human populations, profile microbial diversity and to trace the origins of disease outbreaks. We then discuss how methods such as RNA-seq, ChIP-seq and 4C can be used to investigate the genome-wide transcriptional profile, the chromatin landscape and the three-dimensional structure of the genome. Finally we describe the use of technologies such as mass spectrometry to investigate the complete proteome of a cell. The module builds on the material from the level 2 module Genes, Genomes and Chromosomes, to illustrate how cutting-edge genomic and proteomic methods can be used address fundamental biological questions.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
- Human Reproduction and Fertility
This module will address some of the processes underlying human fertility: that is, hormonal regulation of the reproductive systems, gametogenesis and fertilisation. The module will then consider methods of contraception, reasons for infertility, and issues relating to the assisted reproductive technologies. Finally, the importance of genetic imprinting will be discussed, together with a consideration of the impact of failures in imprinting.10 credits
- Plant Biotechnology
This module considers the application of biotechnology to plants, for both agricultural and research uses. It covers the production of transgenic plants and how this technology has resulted in genetically engineered crop plants that show novel traits or produce novel products. It also covers traditional methods of plant breeding for the development of novel crops without the use of genetic engineering. The release of genetically engineered crops has and is having a major impact on society, raising issues of ethical, economic and ecological importance. An appreciation of these issues will be developed.10 credits
- The Genetics of Human Disease
This module will address the ways in which genetic factors influence our lifetime health. The module will focus on the methodology used to identify genetic factors involved in human genetic disease; that is, next generation sequencing, diagnostic PCR, karyotype analysis, fluorescence in-situ hybridisation (FISH) and microarray, and how genetic abnormalities result in disease. The rapid advance in the understanding genetic basis of disease has led to the importance of genetic diagnostic testing in healthcare. The scientific tests used in this industry and the real-life patient cases will be addressed in this module.10 credits
- The world of RNA
This module will analyse the vital roles that RNA plays in the life of a cell and how RNA is increasingly used as a tool to understand biology. The module will cover the following 'cutting edge' research topics: RNA interference, CRISPR Genome Editing, non-coding RNAs, together with the latest work on well known RNA based activities. These include transcription, RNA splicing, RNA stability, RNA export and translation and how all these processes are coupled in the cell to ensure efficient, quality-controlled gene expression. The module aims to present the latest innovations and discoveries in the RNA world and their application.10 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
You’ll learn from our top scientists who are working on global challenges from cancer, antibiotic resistance and healthy ageing, to saving the planet’s biodiversity and climate. Their expertise means that we can offer a huge range of modules for you to choose from across the full breadth of biology.
Through lectures, small group tutorials and workshops, field courses, research projects and practical sessions in the lab and field we’ll show you how you can help to tackle these problems. You'll have your own personal tutor who will be there to guide you through your time at Sheffield, and help identify the skills you need to work on in time for graduation.
To support your learning, you’ll always have access to a virtual learning environment with interactive course materials.
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 | ABB, including Biology and a second science + B in a relevant EPQ; ABB, including Biology and a second science + A in Core Maths
International Baccalaureate | 34, with 6, 5 in Higher Level Biology and a second science 33, with 5 in Higher Level Biology and a second science
BTEC | RQF: DDD in Applied Science or Forensic Science, including modules in Applications of Inorganic Chemistry, Applications of Organic Chemistry and Practical Chemical Analysis, and no more than one of the following: Forensic Evidence Collection and Analysis, Forensic Fire Investigation or Forensic Traffic Collision Investigation
Scottish Highers + 2 Advanced Highers | AAABB + AB including Biology and a second science AABBB + AB including Biology and a second science
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | B + AA in Biology and a second science B + AB in Biology and a second science
Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 36 credits at Distinction (to include Chemistry and Biology units) and 9 credits at Merit + interview 60 credits overall in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 30 credits at Distinction (to include Chemistry and Biology units) and 15 credits at Merit + interview
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
Second science subjects include Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths, Physics or Psychology
GCSE Maths grade 6/B
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
School of Biosciences
The School of Biosciences brings together more than 100 years of teaching and research expertise across the breadth of biology. It is home to over 120 lecturers who are actively involved in research at the cutting edge of their field, sharing their knowledge with more than 1,500 undergraduate and 300 postgraduate students.
Our expertise spans the breadth and depth of bioscience, including molecular and cell biology, genetics, development, human physiology and pharmacology through to evolution, ecology, biodiversity conservation and sustainability. This makes us one of the broadest and largest groupings of the discipline and allows us to train the next generation of biologists in the latest research techniques and discoveries.
The School of Biosciences is based at the heart of campus across the interlinked Firth Court, Alfred Denny, Florey, Perak and Addison buildings which house lecture theatres, teaching labs and research facilities. You’ll be over the road from 24/7 library facilities and the UK’s number one students’ union, a short walk from our student accommodation, sports facilities and the city centre, and just a bus ride away from the Peak District National Park.
Our students have access to world-class laboratory and computing resources for biological research and are trained in specialist teaching laboratories. The school is home to state-of-the-art facilities, including the Medical Teaching Unit where our students work alongside trainee medics to gain an excellent foundation for understanding human physiology and developmental biology. We also have the Alfred Denny Museum of Zoology that we use for teaching animal anatomy, biodiversity and evolution.
To further support our research and teaching, we have a world-leading controlled environment facility which allows our staff and students to study the impacts of climate change; multi-million pound microscopy equipment that’s helping us to understand and prevent diseases such as MRSA; and facilities for genomics, proteomics and metabolomics research, Biological Mass Spectrometry, and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance imaging.
Why choose Sheffield?
The University of Sheffield
A top 100 university 2022
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 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017
School of Biosciences
National Student Survey 2021
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022
Research Excellence Framework 2014
Graduate Outcomes 2020
School of Biosciences
Biosciences graduates have a growing range of career options available to them. Whether you want to work in industry, join a Top 100 graduate employer, or continue your studies, employers seek out our graduates because of their ability to communicate complex ideas to a range of audiences, handle data, and work to deadlines, independently and as part of a team.
A research career is a popular path, with our graduates choosing to work within higher education, for public bodies, or in research and development at institutions around the world. Others are interested in industrial research, joining pharmaceutical, biotechnology and consumer goods companies like Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Reckitt.
Many of our graduates pursue careers in healthcare, joining the NHS, private healthcare providers, or charities; working in analytical labs or specialised healthcare sectors. A number of students progress into postgraduate medicine, or begin training to become Physician Associates.
Further study in areas including veterinary science, physiotherapy and teaching, or taking the next step onto a PhD is another popular route.
A biosciences degree from the University of Sheffield can even take you into roles in marketing, teaching, human resources, IT, science communication and beyond. Each year our graduates apply their transferable skills and begin careers in these areas with Top 100 employers like GSK, Google and Aldi.
You can find out more about where a biosciences degree can lead to on our careers web pages.
Each year undergraduate students can apply to join the Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) scheme. This gives you the chance to spend around six weeks working in one of our research groups over the summer. It's a unique opportunity to pursue research in an area that you’re excited about and can help inform your future career aspirations.
You can choose to do a full year of work experience as a recognised part of your degree and we have a dedicated BSc Genetics with a Year in Industry degree. You can test out a career path that you're considering between your second and third year – whether that's in the lab or in industry – and earn a salary while you're doing it.
Our students have completed their year in industry at organisations including Pfizer, GSK and Unilever.
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 open days, which take place between November and April. These open days 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.
The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.