Undergraduate Course

BSc Biological Sciences

(Including Foundation Year)

BSc Biological Sciences

Overview

The details
Biological Sciences (Including Foundation Year)
CD00
October 2019
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 Biological 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 Human Biology, Molecular and Cell Biology, Biotechnology, or Ecology and Conservation Biology.

Choose to follow one of our five pathways:

  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Human 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
  • Our students love studying with us! 93% of our biology students expressed overall satisfaction with their course (NSS 2018)
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 was awarded the Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award in November 2013 in recognition of its continuing work to support women in STEM.

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 Biological 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:

  • A next-generation genome sequencing facility. Receive training on using the Oxford Nanopore MinION, a portable handheld device that can sequence genome data in real time, which has been used to track recent outbreaks of zika and ebola, and has even been used on the International Space Station
  • 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 work alongside the University’s Employability and Careers Centre to keep you updated on the latest opportunities for relevant work experience, internships, placements, and volunteering.

“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. But doing a placement year was definitely the best decision I made; I can't stress enough how much easier it made things for me when applying for jobs. Having a good degree obviously also helps a lot, but gaining work experience in the field really helps you stand out. I’m now working as a Medical Lab Assistant in the microbiology department at my local hospital, hoping to become HCPC-registered and progress up to a Trainee Biomedical Scientist position in the near future.”

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

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A-levels: DDD, or equivalent in UCAS tariff points, to include 2 full A-levels and a science subject. Science subjects include Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Geography, Sports Science and Applied Science.
GCSE: Mathematics and Science C/4

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here.Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this 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 here.

Structure

Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. Below is just one example structure from the current academic year of a combination of modules you could take. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose.

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. Please note from the academic year 2019-20 we are upgrading our course structure to offer a modern, integrated approach to biology and the inclusion of pathways of specialism. This will result in the removal of some of the current optional modules and the introduction of some new, contemporary modules (subject to approval). To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Mathematics and Statistics

Want to use mathematical techniques to solve problems? And to calculate basic statistical measures? Develop mathematical skills like number work, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics that can be used on any course requiring mathematics above Higher GCSE standard. Learn to solve relevant problems and know how to present data clearly.

View Mathematics and Statistics on our Module Directory

Molecular Cell Biology

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

Genetics and Evolution

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

Microbiology

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

Plant Biology and Ecosystems

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

Animal Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour

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

Scientific and Transferable Skills for Biosciences

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 Scientific and Transferable Skills for Biosciences on our Module Directory

Enterprise and Employability for the Biosciences (Assessed in Following Year)

This module gives students the opportunity to further develop practical and experimental design skills, which are central to studies in cellular and molecular biology. Skills will be focused on improving your CV and further training in producing high quality scientific reports.

View Enterprise and Employability for the Biosciences (Assessed in Following Year) on our Module Directory

Marine Ecology

The marine realm covers 70% of the Earth's surface. It contains ice-covered seas and hydrothermal vents, muddy estuaries, deep ocean trenches and the clear blue open sea. The oceans and seas are also integral to the whole earth-ocean-atmosphere system, which controls the climate and conditions for life on Earth. Discover the different marine environments, the organisms that inhabit them and their ecological interactions. You also investigate the physical and chemical conditions that determine the diversity of marine life and consider how human activity is influencing marine ecosystems, through overfishing, pollution, and climate change.

View Marine Ecology on our Module Directory

Environmental Biology and Ecophysiology Field Course

New approaches to environmental biology focus on examining species interactions, rather than individual taxa in isolation, requiring a sophisticated, interdisciplinary skill set, which incorporates field, lab, and high-tech remote sensing work. Our one week, residential field course in Portugal is designed to get you thinking like a researcher, and to develop your knowledge of the most recent approaches in field biology. You will acquire crucial field-work skills alongside skills in experimental design, data analysis, and oral presentation. Please note that the cost of this trip is approximately £150.

View Environmental Biology and Ecophysiology Field Course on our Module Directory

Immunity in Health and Disease

Our bodies are under attack. So how do we defend ourselves against foreign invaders? Explore the anatomical and structural components of the immune system and assess what happens in the event of immunodysfunction. Utilising real-world case-studies (eg AIDS), and looking at specific examples (eg allergy and transplantation) you will review important aspects of clinical immunology and immuno-pathology, gaining an understanding of auto-immunity and immune-deficiencies. You will also consider the future of human immunology – evaluating how far vaccines can protect us against disease. Using the knowledge you have gained you will be able to identify areas of current immunology understanding that could lead to positive medical intervention.

View Immunity in Health and Disease on our Module Directory

Cell Biology

The study of cells is at the centre of modern biology.  Learn how cellular components determine cell structure and function, how cells communicate and how signaling pathways regulate cell fate.  You also explore the regulation of the cell cycle and cell death and learn about changes that occur in cells that have become cancerous. A solid understanding of cell biology opens doors to more specialist topics, such as plant biotechnology and cancer biology.

View Cell Biology on our Module Directory

Metabolism

We all know food is the fuel of life – but how do our bodies turn the things we put on our plate into the energy we need to function? Study the processes that coordinate metabolism of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, paying particular attention to organ specialisation, hormonal control, metabolic homeostasis and appetite and body weight. The consequences of disturbances to metabolism will also be discussed.

View Metabolism on our Module Directory

Plant Molecular Physiology and Genetics

The aim of this module is to provide a view of how a fundamental understanding of plant processes can impact on the production of plants for the 21st century. Learn the essential processes and constraints on plant growth and development, and explore how innovative technological approaches in plant sciences may provide real solutions to our future predicted global food shortage. You’ll look into key aspects of plant physiology such as different photosynthetic mechanisms, and modern approaches to manipulating plant performance and growth.

View Plant Molecular Physiology and Genetics on our Module Directory

Marine Biodiversity

Our oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain 97% of the planets water. This vast underwater world supports a huge diversity of living organisms – get to know them. You learn how to assess biodiversity, measure species distribution and regulate populations. Systems of particular focus include biodiversity hot-spots such as coral reefs and rocky shores. You also have chance to practically apply your skills, examining the biodiversity of muddy and sandy shores, and investigating the morphological and genetic diversity in marine amphipods.

View Marine Biodiversity on our Module Directory

Coral Reef Biology

You’ll gain an insight into biology and ecology of tropical coral reef systems. By explaining the nature of the connection between coral reefs and tropical biomes, we help you gain a thorough understanding of the ecological functioning of coral reef systems. We explore the biology of coral reef systems, the landscape ecology of tropical coastal marine systems and examine the importance of the threats to these systems and the options for management.

View Coral Reef Biology on our Module Directory

Protein Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics have become an indispensable skill for the next generation of biochemists and biologists in order to retrieve, analyse and interpret data. You will learn how to access, search and extract data from publicly available protein databases, and analyse and display results using appropriate software.

View Protein Bioinformatics on our Module Directory

Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Field Module

Investigate the relationship between water chemistry and habitat structure, and biological diversity of coastal environments. Getting hands-on in the local Colne/Blackwater estuary you gain experience in assessing environmental variables, sampling protocols and general fieldwork skills. You learn to identify a wide variety of animals and plants at different salinities, as well as associated habitats such as freshwater grazing marshes and salt marshes. You are also trained in commonly used lab techniques, such as measuring phosphate concentrations and sediment properties.

View Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Field Module on our Module Directory

Issues in Biomolecular Science

How does modern biology affect our day-to-day lives? Consider the impact of recent advances on society. Transgenic crops, ever-increasing (and sometimes unwanted) prolongation of life, cloning of animals – to what extent can science be allowed to manipulate nature? And who has the final say?

View Issues in Biomolecular Science on our Module Directory

Stem Cell Biology and Ageing

This module describes the fundamental principles of stem cell biology and molecular mechanisms and factors that define their 'stemness'. It also covers the processes that govern their differentiation into specific cell types.

View Stem Cell Biology and Ageing on our Module Directory

Pollution: Impacts and Management

Pollution is the introduction of substances that are harmful to the environment. It can be local or widespread. Using a range of examples you consider the major pollutants in atmospheric, terrestrial and aquatic environments, their sources and ecological effects, as well as potential ways of controlling them.

View Pollution: Impacts and Management on our Module Directory

Molecular Basis of Cancer

The aim of this module is to provide you with current knowledge and understanding of cancer. We will discuss general aspects of cancer biology (cancer statistics and risk factors, origins and multistage nature of cancer, metastasis and angiogenesis). The identification and isolation of oncogenes and tumour suppressors and the mechanism of action of their products will be analysed. We will explore cancer molecular biology and signalling pathways in cancer. We will discuss cell cycle and apoptosis and their role in the maintenance of normal cell populations and in the emergence of cancer. The principles of some of the current approaches in cancer therapy will be discussed.

View Molecular Basis of Cancer on our Module Directory

Freshwater Ecology

Freshwater systems play an essential role in the ecology of many species. Explore the major types of freshwater habitats (streams, rivers, ponds, lakes) and examine how anthropogenic stressors such as water extraction, pollution and climate change place them under threat.

View Freshwater Ecology on our Module Directory

Animal Behaviour

Be introduced to the key concepts of animal behaviour from an ethological and comparative cognition viewpoint. By taking a critical look at published work and research and identifying the frameworks that underlie animal behaviour, you will become familiar with aspects such as the evolution of behaviour and the cognitive capabilities of different species.

View Animal Behaviour on our Module Directory

Evolutionary Psychology: Evolutionary Approaches to Psychology

You’ll be introduced to the key concepts of evolutionary theory as pertaining to human psychology, and will engage with current literature in this rapidly advancing area of science. You will develop your understanding of the relevance of evolution to the scientific study of human behaviour and cognition. You’ll also identify the basic concepts and frameworks that underlie evolutionary approaches to psychology, as well as the major findings and fields within evolutionary psychology.

View Evolutionary Psychology: Evolutionary Approaches to Psychology on our Module Directory

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250

International fee

TBC

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home and EU fee information

International fee 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.

2018 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018
  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018
  • Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

Please note that this course is not open to international applicants

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to over 13,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder 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 a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or 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 prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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