Students study biology in a lab

Biology BSc

School of Biosciences

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    You are viewing this course for 2023-24 entry.

    Key details

    Course description

    This course gives you the flexibility to discover what kind of biologist you want to be. Whether your interests lie in the environment, biomedicine, the molecular biosciences or span all three, from your first year you’ll have the freedom to choose the topics you want to study across the breadth of biology. Topics include:

    • biochemistry
    • microbiology
    • genetics
    • molecular and cell biology
    • physiology and pharmacology
    • neuroscience
    • stem cells and development
    • pathobiology
    • evolution
    • zoology
    • animal behaviour
    • plant science
    • ecology and conservation
    • global change and sustainability.

    You’ll learn in lectures, practicals, workshops and field trips to zoos, aquaria and wildlife reserves.

    As you progress through your degree, you'll explore your chosen topics in greater depth, specialising in one area or keeping a broad overview across the biosciences. You’ll learn the core practical laboratory skills that are used across biology, including microscopy, cell culturing and DNA preparation.

    No matter what modules you choose to study, you’ll be ready to address your own research questions. You’ll also learn key transferable skills that make biology graduates very attractive to employers, such as problem solving, communication skills, critical evaluation and data analysis.

    We’ll give you plenty of opportunities to apply your new skills and knowledge too. You’ll have the chance to carry out your own research projects in the lab, using the latest cutting-edge equipment to analyse stem cells, sequence DNA and study proteins and enzymes. You might choose to do field research projects in the Peak District National Park or to embark on an ecology field course in the UK or abroad. You can also make the most of our links with the NHS and complete research in conjunction with the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

    Biology at Sheffield is all about studying what you’re passionate about. From genes and molecules to biodiversity and ecosystems and everything in between, your personal tutor will assist you in tailoring your degree to your interests and career goals.

    If you want to study this course but don't meet the entry requirements our Biosciences (with Foundation Year) could be for you. After successfully completing the one year programme, you'll progress onto the first year of one of our bioscience degrees.

    Modules

    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:

    Title: Biology BSc course structure
    UCAS code: C100
    Years: 2022, 2023
    First year

    In your first year you'll spend your first week conducting a biology project, learning how we do science in Sheffield and getting to know your fellow students. Throughout the year, you’ll maintain a broad overview of bioscience whilst studying topics of your choice such as biodiversity, sustainability and climate change, cell and molecular biology, genetics and biochemistry, and biomedicine, human health and disease. You'll also develop practical skills in the lab, ranging from microscopy, electrophysiology and DNA analyses, to regular field trips to zoos, aquariums and nature reserves, depending on the modules you choose. You'll have lectures and take part in small group tutorials where you'll enhance your writing, data analysis and presentation skills, develop employability skills and learn about the latest research findings from our world-leading academics.

    Core modules

    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
    Skills in Biology

    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

    Optional modules:

    Principles of Zoology

    This course is an introduction to the scientific study of animals. Students will explore the wonders of the animal kingdom through investigations of the physiology, reproduction, development, form and function of a wide diversity of both invertebrates and vertebrates. Students will learn through lectures and videos, practicals and independent study.

    20 credits
    Climate Change and Sustainability

    This course introduces the core scientific issues required to understand climate change and sustainability. Students will learn the causes of climate change, its impacts in natural and agricultural ecosystems, the influence of biogeochemical cycles in these ecosystems on climate, and strategies for sustainably managing ecosystems in future. Learning will be achieved via lectures and videos, practicals and independent study.

    20 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
    Introductory Developmental, Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology

    This module aims to provide students with a general introduction to Developmental, Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. The approach will be concept-based, with an emphasis on the importance of techniques and the interpretation of experimental data. Topics covered include life cycles of the main animal model systems, how cell differences are generated during development, the basic principles of regenerative biology and wound healing as well as stem cell biology. Teaching will take place in a formal lecture environment, supplemented by online tutorials. Assessment will be by formal examination.

    10 credits
    Maths for Molecular Bioscience

    Proficiency in basic calculations is essential for all scientists. In this module, designed for first-year students who have not studied maths to A-level (or equivalent) we will develop the mathematical skills needed to excel as a molecular bioscientist. Using video tutorials, problems classes, and worksheets, we will give students plenty of practice performing calculations, building their skills and confidence. Topics covered include arithmetic, exponential numbers and logarithms, mathematical and statistical notation, probability, functions, precision and accuracy of measurements, and the graphical presentation of data.

    10 credits
    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 in Plant Science

    This course is an introduction to the scientific study of plants and associated organisms. Students will explore plant origin, diversity, form, reproduction and development, photosynthesis, nutrient and water acquisition, as well as interactions with symbiotic and pathogenic microbes. Students will learn through lectures and videos, practicals and independent study.

    20 credits
    Principles of Ecology and Conservation

    This course is an introduction to the principles of ecology and conservation. It covers ecological concepts about the abundance and distribution of species and key ideas about conserving populations, communities and habitats.

    20 credits
    Introduction to Neuroscience

    This module aims to provide students with an introduction to neuroscience. It will introduce the fundamental principles of cellular and molecular neuroscience that govern neuronal excitability and neurotransmission. Building on these principles, it will introduce theories relating to how sensory information is processed, and how motor output and aspects of behaviour are controlled by the central nervous system. How the normal functioning of the nervous system is affected by disease and drugs will be examined. It will also provide an opportunity to perform neuroscience experiments and interpret the data. Although focussed on the understanding of human neuroscience, the module will demonstrate how the study of model organisms has contributed to this understanding.

    20 credits
    Microbiology 1

    This course is an introduction to the field of microbiology. Students will explore the diversity of microorganisms including Bacteria, Archaea, unicellular Eukaryotes and viruses. They will examine the diversity of the structure and the function of these microorganisms, emphasising the fundamental role that they play in our everyday lives by using examples in medicine and biotechnology.

    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
    Ecological identification skills

    This module is aimed at providing an initial training in the identification and research skills needed for ecological fieldwork. It involves a structured prgramme of online identification and research assignments over the academic year, with practical examination at the end of the semester. The course will develop familiarity with using identification guides, with a range of plant and invertebrate groups and the ecological issues associated with them. It will prepare students for fieldcourses and other practical work.

    10 credits
    Introduction to Physiology with Pharmacology

    This module aims to provide students with an introduction to human physiology and pharmacology. It will introduce the fundamental physiological principles that govern the functioning of all cells and tissues within the body. The physiology of normal bodily functions will be explained using a systems-based approach which encourages students' to integrate their understanding of events at a molecular and cellular level with the structure and function of tissues and whole organs. It will examine how these normal bodily functions are affected by disease and drugs, with examples of how model organisms can inform this understanding. It will also provide an opportunity to perform and interpret physiological measurements, giving students hands-on experience of the experimental methods that they will be learning about in lectures.

    20 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

    Learning

    Our research-embedded teaching comes from the forefront of the full breadth of biology. You’ll learn from top scientists who are working on challenges from antibiotic resistance to food security, and from climate change to cancer and Covid-19. This breadth of expertise means we can offer a wide range of modules for you to choose from across organisms and the environment, biomedicine and the molecular biosciences.

    You’ll learn through lectures, small group tutorials and workshops, field courses, research projects and practical sessions in the lab and field.

    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.

    We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

    Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

    Learning support facilities and library opening hours

    Assessment

    Throughout the course you will be assessed through a variety of methods, including exams, tests, presentations, coursework and practical work.

    Programme specification

    This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

    Find programme specification for this course

    Entry requirements

    With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible

    Standard offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    AAB
    including Biology and a second science

    A Levels + additional qualifications ABB, including Biology and a second science + B in the EPQ; ABB, including Biology and a second science + B in Core Maths

    International Baccalaureate 34, with 6, 5 in Higher Level Biology and a second science

    BTEC Extended Diploma DDD in Applied Science or Forensic Science with Distinctions in all Biology units

    BTEC Diploma DD in Applied Science or Forensic Science + A in an A Level science subject

    Scottish Highers + 2 Advanced Highers AAABB + AB in Biology and a second science

    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels B + AA in Biology and a second science

    Access to HE Diploma Award of Access to HE Diploma in Science, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 36 at Distinction (to include Biology and a second science), and 9 at Merit

    Other requirements
    • Second science subjects include Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Psychology, Environmental Science, Geology or Geography. Human Biology is accepted in lieu of Biology, but Biology and Human Biology cannot be accepted in combination as the two science subjects

    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    Access Sheffield offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    ABB
    including Biology and a second science

    A Levels + additional qualifications ABB, including Biology and a second science + B in the EPQ; ABB, including Biology and a second science + B in Core Maths

    International Baccalaureate 33, with 5 in Higher Level Biology and a second science

    BTEC Extended Diploma DDM in Applied Science or Forensic Science with Distinctions in all Biology units

    BTEC Diploma DD in Applied Science or Forensic Science + B in an A Level science subject

    Scottish Highers + 2 Advanced Highers AABBB + AB in Biology and a second science

    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels B + AB in Biology and a second science

    Access to HE Diploma Award of Access to HE Diploma in Science, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 30 at Distinction (to include Biology and a second science), and 15 at Merit

    Other requirements
    • Second science subjects include Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Psychology, Environmental Science, Geology or Geography. Human Biology is accepted in lieu of Biology, but Biology and Human Biology cannot be accepted in combination as the two science subjects

    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    English language requirements

    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

    Visa and immigration requirements

    Other qualifications | UK and EU/international

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for an International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    School of Biosciences

    Arthur Willis Environment Centre

    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.

    Facilities

    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.

    School of Biosciences

    Why choose Sheffield?

    The University of Sheffield

      A top 100 university
    QS World University Rankings 2023

      92 per cent of our research is rated in the highest two categories
    Research Excellence Framework 2021

      No 1 Students' Union in the UK
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

    School of Biosciences

    Top five in the UK for quality of research

    Research Excellence Framework 2021

    98% of our research and impact is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent

    Research Excellence Framework 2021


    Biology BSc

    Graduate careers

    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.

    Many of our graduates choose to pursue a bioscience research career, working within higher education, for public bodies and charities, or in research and development in leading organisations around the world. Some are saving local biodiversity and developing solutions to global food shortages, others are interested in industrial research, joining pharmaceutical, biotechnology and consumer goods companies like Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Reckitt.

    Our graduates are also applying their skills and training from Sheffield working in healthcare, in the NHS or for private healthcare providers or charities.

    If conservation or ecological consultancy is something that you’re passionate about, the RSPB, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Wildlife Trusts are just some of the places where our graduates now work. Roles often cover environmental management, sustainable forestry, crop protection and breeding, and climate change mitigation.

    Going on to further study in the biosciences, or in areas such as medicine, veterinary science, physiotherapy and teaching is another popular route, with graduates often completing masters courses and PhDs.

    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.

    Where a biosciences degree can lead

    Jennie Smith

    My course helped me secure a PhD scholarship to study marine biology in Australia!

    Jennie Smith MBiolSci Biology

    From gaining field experience through her field course in Borneo, to studying Heliconius butterflies as a research assistant in Ecuador, Jennie made the most of her time at Sheffield.

    Work experience

    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. We have a BSc Biology with Placement Year and MBiolSci Biology with Placement Year. You can test out a career path that you're considering between your second and third year - whether that's in the lab, the field or applying your scientific knowledge and transferable skills in industry - and earn a salary while you're doing it.

    Our students have completed their placement year at organisations such as GSK, AstraZeneca, Mondelez International, Kew Gardens and Newquay Zoo

    Fees and funding

    Fees

    Additional costs

    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.

    Examples of what’s included and excluded

    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.

    Visit us

    University open days

    We host five open days each year, usually in June, July, September, October and November. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

    Open days: book your place

    Subject tasters

    If you’re considering your post-16 options, our interactive subject tasters are for you. There are a wide range of subjects to choose from and you can attend sessions online or on campus.

    Upcoming taster sessions

    Applicant days

    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

    Our weekly guided tours show you what Sheffield has to offer - both on campus and beyond. You can extend your visit with tours of our city, accommodation or sport facilities.

    Campus tour: book your place

    Apply for this course

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    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.

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer

    2023-2024