Biological Sciences MBiolSci

2025-26 entry
School of Biosciences

This MBiolSci is designed for students who want to pursue a career in industrial or academic research. The first three years of your course have the same structure as the BSc, and the majority of the fourth year is devoted to a major research project.

Key details

Explore this course:

    Course description

    Biology students

    Study the full extent of biological sciences, tackling global challenges such as the biodiversity crisis, antibiotic resistance, and cancer. Gain invaluable research experience in your final year working alongside world-leading academics.

    Study biological sciences at the University of Sheffield and discover a broad and vibrant spectrum of study across all scales of biological systems. Our four-year masters degree gives you an opportunity to focus on a major research project that builds on the broad and vibrant spectrum of modules you’ve studied in your first three years.

    From year one, you can begin to shape your own path - choosing to specialise or maintain a broad approach - from organisms and the environment, to biomedicine, human health and the molecular biosciences.

    At Sheffield, you’ll be encouraged to be creative, think independently, and express your ideas. You can contribute to work on cancer and ageing in conjunction with the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. Or you might choose to do field research projects in the Peak District National Park, or travel for a field course in the UK or abroad.

    As you progress through your degree, you’ll have the option to specialise in aspects of human biology, molecular biology, biotechnology, biodiversity or sustainability. You’ll have the chance to carry out your own research projects in the lab and the field, where you can use the latest equipment to get hands-on experience.

    Your final year is devoted to a major research project in the lab or in the field. You’ll work alongside our world-leading academics and explore a topic of your choosing in depth.

    Why study this course?

    • Four year course - finish with a masters degree, with your fourth year focused on a major research project of your choosing.
    • 4th in the UK for research quality - the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 rated 98% of research and impact from the School of Biosciences as world-leading or internationally excellent.
    • Make the course your own - enjoy the freedom to take a broad approach, or choose the topics you want to study across the breadth of biology.
    • Close links with the NHS - complete research on cancer and ageing in partnership with the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

    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 MBiolSci 2023 / Biological Sciences 2024 course structure
    UCAS code: C109
    Years: 2023, 2024
    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

    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:

    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
    Molecular Biology

    This module provides an introduction to the fundamental molecular processes that occur in the cells of living organisms that allow the storage, expression and inheritance of genetic information. The molecular mechanisms by which the chemical form of genetic information is copied and how genes can be switched on and off will then be addressed, together with an overview of how scientists have harnessed molecular biology tools for experimental purposes. Concepts and examples will be introduced in lectures and online teaching materials provided; students will then develop their understanding through practical sessions and independent study.

    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
    Fundamental Maths for Bioscientists

    Proficiency in basic calculations is essential for all scientists. In this module, designed for first-year students in the School of Biosciences who have not studied maths to A-level or equivalent, we will develop the mathematical skills needed to excel as a biologist. Using video tutorials, worksheets, and in-person workshop sessions, students will have the opportunity to build their skills and confidence and develop strategies to tackle complex calculations. Topics covered include arithmetic; concentrations, dilutions and molarity; logarithms; equations and functions; graphical representation of data and descriptive statistics; and probability. 

    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
    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
    Ecology and Conservation

    This module is an introduction to the principles of ecology and conservation. It covers ecological concepts about the factors controlling the abundance and distribution of species, coexistence and biodiversity at multiple geographic scales. It combines this with key ideas from tropical and marine communities about conserving populations, communities and habitats. The module includes lectures, a lab practical, an introduction to mathematical modelling in conservation biology and a field trip to Potteric Carr, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve where you'll put into practice by collecting data to test some of the ideas you've learned in class.

    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
    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
    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

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Learning and assessment

    Learning

    Our courses are taught in a wide range of methods. We include traditional lectures and small group tutorials, where our world-leading academics will share their latest research findings with you.

    You'll also do research projects and practical lab sessions where you’ll be working with the latest technology for DNA and protein analysis, as well as field trips to zoos, aquaria and wildlife reserves.

    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:
    AAA
    including Biology and a second science

    A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
    AAB including Biology and a second science + B in Core Maths
    International Baccalaureate
    36 with 6 in Higher Level Biology and a second science
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    (RQF) D*DD in Applied Science (Basic, Biomedical Science, or Analytical & Forensic Science* streams only), or Health and Social Care**
    BTEC Diploma
    DD in Applied Science + A at A Level
    Scottish Highers + 2 Advanced Highers
    AAABB + AA in Biology and a second science
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    A + 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 39 at Distinction (to include Biology and a second science), and 6 at Merit
    Other requirements
    • Second science subjects include Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Psychology, Environmental Science, Geology or Geography. Human Biology accepted in lieu of Biology, but Biology and Human Biology cannot be accepted in combination as the two sciences

    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    • *Applied Science (Analytical & Forensic Science) must include the units: Practical Chemical Analysis, Applications of Organic Chemistry, and Applications of Inorganic Chemistry; and at least one of the following units: Physiology of Human Body Systems, Human Regulation & Reproduction, Biological Molecules & Metabolic Pathways, Diseases & Infections, Microbiology & Microbiological Techniques, Biomedical Science, or Medical Physics Applications
      **Health & Social Care must include at least two of the following units: Infection Prevention and Control, Microbiology for Health Science, Genetics, Biomedical Science, or Biochemistry for Health

    Access Sheffield offer

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

    A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
    AAB including Biology and a second science + B in Core Maths
    International Baccalaureate
    34 with 6,5 (in any order) in Higher Level Biology and a second science
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    (RQF) DDD in Applied Science (Basic, Biomedical Science, or Analytical & Forensic Science* streams only), or Health and Social Care**
    BTEC Diploma
    DD in Applied Science + B at A Level
    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 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 accepted in lieu of Biology, but Biology and Human Biology cannot be accepted in combination as the two sciences

    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    • *Applied Science (Analytical & Forensic Science) must include the units: Practical Chemical Analysis, Applications of Organic Chemistry, and Applications of Inorganic Chemistry; and at least one of the following units: Physiology of Human Body Systems, Human Regulation & Reproduction, Biological Molecules & Metabolic Pathways, Diseases & Infections, Microbiology & Microbiological Techniques, Biomedical Science, or Medical Physics Applications
      **Health & Social Care must include at least two of the following units: Infection Prevention and Control, Microbiology for Health Science, Genetics, Biomedical Science, or Biochemistry for Health

    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

    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.

    Graduate careers

    School of Biosciences

    As a Biosciences graduate, you’ll have a huge range of career opportunities open to you. Whether you want to work in industry, join a Top 100 graduate employer, or continue your studies, employers seek out our graduates because of the skills they develop during their time at Sheffield.

    Whatever you’re passionate about, we’ll make sure you get the scientific skills and knowledge to pursue it. Here are just a few of the exciting things our graduates are doing now:

    • Saving local biodiversity and developing solutions to global food shortages at the RSPB and local Wildlife Trusts
    • Working in industrial research at organisations including Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Reckitt
    • Working in healthcare, in the NHS or for private healthcare providers or charities
    • Studying for a PhD

    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.

    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.

    Photo of Tom Scott

    My MBiolSci year gave me the skills to secure my graduate job

    Tom Scott MBiolSci Biology

    During his MBiolSci research project, Tom had the opportunity to work with BirdLife International, a global conservation charity protecting birds. Thanks to the skills and knowledge he gained, Tom secured a graduate job with the organisation after he finished his degree.

    Headshot of Barbara Ojei Agwaziam

    Coming to Sheffield is one of the best decisions I made!

    Barbara Ojei Agwaziam MBiolSci Biology with a Year Abroad

    Barbara has worked for the Civil Service since graduating in 2017. Whilst her roles haven't been directly linked to Biology, the transferable skills that she gained during her degree have proven really useful, helping her to get to the heart of issues, coming up with innovative solutions, and presenting them clearly.

    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

      Number one in the Russell Group
    National Student Survey 2023 (based on aggregate responses)

      92 per cent of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
    Research Excellence Framework 2021

      Top 50 in the most international universities rankings
    Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023

      Number one Students' Union in the UK
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023, 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

      Number one for teaching quality, Students' Union and clubs/societies
    StudentCrowd 2023 University Awards

      A top 20 university targeted by employers
    The Graduate Market in 2023, High Fliers report


    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

    Student profiles

    Alice - How I chose my course at Sheffield
    Zara Ulrich - BSc Biology

    I loved the breadth of the biology course at Sheffield. Now I'm sharing by passion for science as a trainee teacher

    Zara Ulrich BSc Biology

    Zara chose to study biology at Sheffield because of the broad range of modules available which gave her lots of opportunities to develop skills in the lab and the field. Zara has now begun her teacher training with Teach First and hopes that by sharing her passion for the subject, she'll inspire some of her pupils to pursue a career in science.

    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.

    Placements and study abroad

    Placements

    You may have the opportunity to add an optional placement year as part of your course, converting the four year course to a five-year Degree with Placement Year.

    A placement year will help you to:

    • gain an insight into possible careers
    • develop a range of transferable skills
    • build a professional network
    • get a feel for what you do and don’t like doing
    • add valuable work experience to your CV
    • gain experience of applying for jobs and interview practice
    • apply elements of academic learning in the workplace

    If you know you want to do a placement we also offer a dedicated BSc Biological Sciences with Placement Year and MBiolSci Biological Sciences with Placement Year that you can apply for via UCAS. You can test out a career path between your second and third year - whether that's in the lab or applying your scientific knowledge and transferable skills in industry - and earn a salary while you're doing it. Our students have completed placements at organisations such as GSK, AstraZeneca, Mondelez International, Kew Gardens and Newquay Zoo.

    Another great way to gain extra experience is by applying to join the Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience 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.

    Study abroad

    Spending time abroad during your degree is a great way to explore different cultures, gain a new perspective and experience a life-changing opportunity that you will never forget.

    You can apply to extend this course with a year abroad, usually studying abroad between the second and third year at Sheffield. Or you can apply to replace a year of your time at Sheffield with a period abroad without adding an additional year to your course. 

    We have over 250 University partners worldwide. Popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

    Find out more on the Global Opportunities website.

    Visit

    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

    Offer holder days

    If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our offer holder days, which take place between February and April. These open 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

    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

    2025-2026

    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.

    This MBiolSci is designed for students who want to pursue a career in industrial or academic research. The first three years of your course have the same structure as the BSc, and the majority of the fourth year is devoted to a major research project.