Undergraduate Course

BSc Biological Sciences

(Including Foundation Year)

Now In Clearing
BSc Biological Sciences

Overview

The details
Biological Sciences (Including Foundation Year)
CD00
October 2021
Full-time
4 years
Colchester Campus
Essex Pathways

Our BSc Biological Sciences (including foundation year) will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the three-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your academic skills to support your academic performance.

This four-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study. During your Year Zero, you study three academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory academic skills module, with additional English language for non-English speakers.

After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with our School of Life Sciences.

Integrative biology brings together all the tools of modern biology to unravel the complexity of living systems. Our BSc Biological Sciences covers the breadth of biology from molecules and cells, to whole organisms and ecosystems. In our School you’ll discover how new developments in technology are driving current research, with research-based teaching delivered by leading scientists investigating global biological challenges.

The vast and diverse world of living organisms offers a huge range of opportunities for study and work, and at Essex we give you the flexibility to shape your degree to suit your interests. Your first year offers broad insights into cell and molecular biology, genetics, ecology and evolution, as well as an overview of animal, plant, and microorganism diversity. Our Integrative Biology pathway allows you to choose from a broad selection of modules across different disciplines. Alternatively you can customise your degree to specialise in an area you enjoy most, choosing from either Molecular and Cell Biology, Biotechnology, or Ecology and Conservation Biology.

Choose to follow one of our four pathways:

  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Integrative Biology

You’ll receive hands-on experience to develop important practical skills both in the lab and in the field throughout your course. In your final year you’ll carry out an independent research project allowing you to pursue your own interests and play your own part in adding to the ever-growing knowledge within biological sciences.

Why we're great.
  • Study in our brand new £13.2m STEM Teaching Centre which is equipped with cutting-edge facilities including modern teaching laboratories and an IT-rich exploratory learning space.
  • You have the opportunity to carry out your own unique ten-week research project under the supervision of our leading academics.
  • We are ranked top 25 for overall student satisfaction for Biology in the National Student Survey 2021.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

Two-thirds of our research is rated as “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and you learn from and work alongside our expert staff.

Our research covers a wide spectrum of biology – from the cell right through to communities and ecosystems. Key academic staff for this course include Dr Alex Dumbrell who specialises in ecology and biodiversity, Dr Tracy Lawson, who researches stomata, using chlorophyll and thermal imaging to measure plant productivity, and Dr Phil Reeves, who works on the molecular mechanism of vision loss.

The University of Essex has a Women's Network to support female staff and students, and our School was awarded the Athena Swan Silver Award in October 2020, which reflects the work carried out by staff in our School to continue to improve equality, including a mentorship scheme, support for postdoctoral research staff, and financial help towards childcare costs for academics who wish to attend conferences.

Specialist facilities

By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our department to support you:

  • We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
  • Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
  • Our social space is stocked with magazines and newspaper, and provides an informal setting to meet your lecturers, tutors and friends

Our School of Life Sciences has leading research facilities for cell and molecular biology, genomics, and ecology. Depending on your choice of pathway and research project you have the opportunity to use these facilities, which include:

  • Receive training in your first year on using the Oxford Nanopore MinION, a portable handheld device that can sequence genomes in real time
  • A high performance computing cluster with 368 CPUs, 5.4Tb of RAM and 700Tb of storage for analyses of large biological data sets
  • An advanced bioimaging suite to visualise and process images of biological processes in real time
  • An X-ray Crystallography and Macromolecular Interactions facilities for the biophysical characterisation of proteins and other macromolecules
  • Fully automated laboratories with robotic liquid handling systems and equipment for cell culture, molecular biology and gene editing
  • A fleet of remote-sensing drones for carrying out remote field surveys
  • Aquariums, mesocosms and other facilities for ecology and behaviour studies

Your future

Demand for qualified biologists continues to grow and our course will equip you with the analytical and computational skills that are in high demand by employers. Recent graduates have gone on to work in a range of different careers in organisations which include GlaxoSmithKline, the Sainsbury Laboratory (University of Cambridge), ALS Laboratories, the National Health Service, Suffolk County Council, Essex Wildlife Trust and Natural England. Others have chosen to enhance their career opportunities by studying for MSc, MSD (Masters of Research) or PhD degrees.

We also work with our University's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

“Biology has always been the subject that's interested me the most, and choosing BSc Biological Sciences as opposed to a specialised biology course meant that I could get a taste for a range of disciplines and make an informed decision as to what I'd like to pursue for a career."

Sam Williams, BSc Biological Sciences (including Placement Year), 2016

Entry requirements

Clearing entry requirements

Specific entry requirements for this course in Clearing are not published here but for most of our degree courses you will need to hold a Level 3 qualification. If you are interested in applying and have already received your results, use our Clearing application form to apply for 2021 entry and find out if you are eligible. You will be asked to provide details of your qualifications and grades.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 5.5 overall. Specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Student visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

Our Year 0 courses are only open to UK and EU applicants. If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to your chosen degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College.

Structure

Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed as subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: CORE

Introduction to Biology
(30 CREDITS)

The module aims to provide you with a general understanding and curiosity about biology with a balance of plant biology, animal biology and microbiology. This involves an understanding of the diversity, lifecycles and evolution of life on Earth, together with the biological processes that enable organisms to live, sense and adapt to the ecosystems that they inhabit. It will develop an appreciation of the relevance of sustainability to all aspects of scientific developments relating to biological sciences.

View Introduction to Biology on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: CORE

Chemistry for Biology
(30 CREDITS)

The module aims to provide you with the knowledge and understanding of chemistry needed to underpin advanced study in biology. This involves an understanding of the basic facts, concepts and terminology of chemistry relevant to modern biology.

View Chemistry for Biology on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: CORE

Maths and Statistics for Biological Sciences
(30 CREDITS)

The module covers the mathematical skills needed to proceed to any degree course within the School of Life Sciences. The syllabus covers the mathematics of basic arithmetic and algebra, graphs and rates of change as well as statistical distributions and hypothesis testing. The associated work in classes and lab sessions develops the skills used to solve problems applicable to the study of biological sciences, with classwork and online assignments being set and full solutions provided as part of the feedback process.

View Maths and Statistics for Biological Sciences on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: CORE

Research and Academic Development Skills
(30 CREDITS)

This blended-learning module is designed to support students in their academic subject disciplines and to strengthen their confidence in key skills areas such as: academic writing, research, academic integrity, collaborative and reflective practices. The students are supported through the use of subject-specific materials tailored to their chosen degrees with alignment of assessments between academic subject modules and the skills module.

View Research and Academic Development Skills on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 01: CORE

Quantitative methods for Life Sciences
(15 CREDITS)

Develop your skillset and boost your CV. This module prepares you for the coursework, laboratory practicals and research projects that you will encounter during undergraduate study. Get to know referencing systems and learn how to effectively communicate scientific information. Use scientific units and simple algebra and demonstrate understanding of logarithms, exponentials, geometry and elementary calculus. Learn how to design experiments, handle data and display, interpret and analyse basic statistics. Teaching and learning will be through a mixture of lectures, classes, practicals and tutorials, with an emphasis on developing the key transferable skills needed for a career in biosciences.

View Quantitative methods for Life Sciences on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: CORE

Molecular Cell Biology
(15 CREDITS)

The building blocks of life, plants and animals depend on the actions of individual cells. Investigate the biochemical characteristics of the small molecules and large macromolecules that allow cells to function. You examine the origins of life, cell structure and function, energy transductions, synthesis of molecules, and the eukaryotic cell cycle.

View Molecular Cell Biology on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: CORE

Genetics and Evolution
(15 CREDITS)

Why do we all look different? Are some illnesses hereditary? Are animals born ready-suited to their environment? From the early theories of Mendel to modern studies in molecular genetics, you explore how scientists have answered these questions over the last 150 years. Examine how the structure and function of DNA allows genetic material to be expressed, replicated and inherited, and consider how genetic variation leads to adaptive evolution. From developing new technologies in gene cloning to the applications for modern medicine, you explore how geneticists are building on the earlier achievements in this fundamentally important field to enhance our understanding of life on earth.

View Genetics and Evolution on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: CORE

Animal Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour
(15 CREDITS)

The diversity of life on planet Earth is breath taking. We share our home with a vast number of species, a large portion of which are animals. We will discover the diversity of animal forms and functions and the role of natural selection in determining individual behaviour such as foraging, breeding and predator escape. You also investigate the idea that nothing in ecology and evolution makes sense in isolation.

View Animal Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: CORE

Microbiology
(15 CREDITS)

Get to know the culprits of some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Despite major advances in treatment and prevention, incidences of infectious disease continue to rise. Vast diversity, rapid evolution and the opportunistic nature of micro-organisms present a significant challenge. You examine how different viruses and bacteria invade, interact and replicate within living hosts, and explore the consequent impact on ecology, industry and disease. A series of four practical sessions allows you to get hands-on and develop valuable skills. You learn how to purify, observe, count and kill micro-organisms in our purpose-built labs, gaining experience of aseptic techniques, serial dilution, response to antibiotics, and staining.

View Microbiology on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 06: CORE

Plant Biology and Ecosystems
(15 CREDITS)

Living life on a knife’s edge – explore the vital role plants play in our biosphere, their diversity and intricate relationships that support our planet. Examine the value of these natural resources; examine the consequences we face when the balance is disturbed. From studying how plants affect and are affected by their environment you learn what we can expect from a changing world. Examine how we influence the world around us. You apply this knowledge to the field, learning to collect, present, analyse and eventually interpret data. Understanding the fundamentals of ecology and plant diversity allows you to explore possible solutions to our environmental problems.

View Plant Biology and Ecosystems on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 07: CORE WITH OPTIONS

BS131-4-SP or BS112-4-AU
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 08: COMPULSORY

Transferable Skills in Life Sciences
(15 CREDITS)

You will develop your transferable skills in scientific writing (including referencing and avoiding plagiarism), teamwork and communication through oral presentations, study and research skills (including essay writing, lecture note taking, use of library and databases). Teaching and learning will be through a mixture of lectures, classes, and tutorials. The emphasis will be on small group, tutorial-style teaching and interaction with other students on this module, with assessments tailored to your degree subject area.

View Transferable Skills in Life Sciences on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

BS211-5-AP or BS257-5-AP
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 02: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 03: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

Option from list
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: CORE WITH OPTIONS

BS417-6-SU or BS418-6-SU
(0 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Research Project in Life Sciences
(45 CREDITS)

This module aims to prepare you for carrying out an individual scientific investigation on a topic relating to your degree. Develop skills to identify a suitable question and then design an experimental approach to obtain data addressing this question. The assessment focuses on your analysis and presentation of these data in a suitable scientific paper format report, on the research, understanding and critical writing about the scientific literature relating to your project. Your oral project presentation skills and response to questions, the planning and management of your project work, your progress reflection and your employability skills will also be evaluated.

View Research Project in Life Sciences on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

BS303-6-SU or BS304-6-AP
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 03: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250

International fee

£16,850

EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fees and funding information

International fees and funding information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.

2021 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, August 14, 2021
  • Saturday, September 18, 2021
  • Saturday, October 23, 2021

How to apply during Clearing

Once you’ve checked that we have the right course for you, applying couldn’t be simpler. Fill in our quick and easy Clearing application form with as much detail as you can. We’ll then take a look and get back to you with a decision. There’s no need to call us to apply; just do it all online.

Find out more about Clearing

Interviews

We don’t interview all applicants during Clearing, however, we will only make offers for the following course after a successful interview:

  • BA Multimedia Journalism
  • BSc Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc Nursing (Mental Health)
  • BA Social Work

The interview allows our academics to find out more about you, and in turn you’ll be able to ask us any questions you might have. Further details will be emailed to you if you are shortlisted for interview.


Apply now
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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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