Undergraduate Course

BSc Human Biology

BSc Human Biology

Overview

The details
Human Biology
C200
October 2024
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

How does the body respond to challenges such as infection? What is the future of stem cell therapies? How does our lifestyle and genes affect our risk of disease?

Understand the structure and function of the human body, from the cells and molecules that perform the chemical reactions for life, to the mechanisms of disease and how our immune system fights infection. Our BSc Human Biology builds on the foundations of biology to explore the complexity of the human body using cutting-edge technology. You learn how recent advances in understanding our genetic make-up and cellular function is leading to exciting new developments in treating and preventing human disease.

Our course provides you with a cellular and disease-focused understanding of human biology, covering topics including:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Cell biology
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology

A major research area at Essex is centered on the relationships between protein structure and mechanisms of disease. This sheds light on the complex cellular pathways involved in cancer and brain cell damage. Another research area uses computational approaches to study the role of epigenetics and DNA structure in human disease. In your final year, you carry out an individual research project. Popular topics have ranged from mutagenesis of proteins linked to human diseases such as blindness and cancer and mechanisms of cell death and antibiotic resistance.

Visit our biological sciences subject page for more information and content.

Why we're great.
  • Study in our STEM Centre, equipped with cutting-edge facilities including modern teaching laboratories, a suite of iPad-enabled Zeiss microscopes and an IT-rich exploratory learning space.
  • 86% of our Life Sciences undergraduate graduates are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2024).
  • You gain valuable research experience by being involved in cutting-edge project work.

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university.

Placement year

You can also undertake a placement year in which you gain relevant work experience within an external business, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.

If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

Our expert staff

As one of the largest schools at our University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high quality teaching, where you will learn from and work alongside our expert staff.

Our academic staff carry out research that tackles key issues in human biology, including:

  • Course Director for BSc Human Biology, Dr Greg Brooke – developing novel therapeutics and diagnostics for cancer
  • Professor Nelson Fernandez – expertise in the immune system during development and pregnanc
  • Dr Gareth Wright – developing new therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases
  • Dr Angela Pine – designing novel methods to treat and diagnose high-risk HPV infections and HPV-driven cancers
  • Dr Efstathios Giotis – expert in virology, including COVID, Zika and Dengue Fever

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

  • Carry out practical work in our state-of-the-art teaching laboratory, equipped with a suite of iPad-enabled Zeiss microscopes
  • A next-generation genome sequencing facility. Receive training on using the Oxford Nanopore MinION, a portable handheld device that can sequence genomes in real time
  • A high performance computing cluster with more than 3,000 CPUs, each with up to 6Tb of RAM, allowing for the analysis of large biological data sets
  • An advanced bioimaging suite (including mutiple types of fluorescent microscopes and flow cytometry) to visualise and process images of biological processes in real time
  • X-ray Crystallography and Macromolecular Interactions facilities for the biophysical characterisation of proteins and other macromolecules, and also drug screening
  • Fully automated laboratories with robotic liquid handling systems and equipment for cell culture, molecular biology and gene editing

Your future

Human biology is a rapidly developing field. It's an exciting time to be working in human biology - our understanding of the human genome and epigenetics, the importance of the human microbiome in health, the introduction of stem cell therapies and manipulating ageing cells are all hot topics on the brink of changing modern society. BSc Human Biology will prepare you for graduate careers in education, research, teaching. science communication, and with further study could lead to medicine, dental science, diagnostic radiography, physiotherapy, biological and medical science, forensic science, sports science and more.

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

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

  • GCSE: Mathematics C/4.
  • A-levels: BBB - BBC or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A-levels, including B in Biology (or equivalent). Acceptable A-level equivalents are Chemistry and Life and Health Sciences. Please note we are unable to accept A-level Applied Science to meet the Biology (or equivalent) requirement.
  • BTEC: DDM - DMM or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of the equivalent of 2 full A-levels. The acceptability of BTECs is dependent on subject studied and optional units taken - email ugquery@essex.ac.uk for advice.
  • Combined qualifications on the UCAS tariff: 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A levels or equivalent including B in Biology (or equivalent).Tariff point offers may be made if you are taking a qualification, or mixture of qualifications, from the list on our undergraduate application information page.
  • IB: 30 - 29 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555-554. Either must include Higher Level Biology or Chemistry. Our GCSE Maths requirement can be met with either: 4 in Standard level Maths; 3 in Higher level Maths; or 4 in IB Middle Years Maths.
  • IB Career-related Programme: We consider combinations of IB Diploma Programme courses with BTECs or other qualifications. Advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions.
  • QAA-approved Access to HE Diploma: 6 level 3 credits at Distinction and 39 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions.
  • T-levels: For our Life Sciences courses we can consider T-levels taken in Science on a case-by-case basis. The offer for most courses is Distinction overall. Depending on the course applied for there may be additional requirements, which may include a specific grade in the Core. We cannot accept the T-levels in Health or Healthcare Science.

Contextual Offers:

We are committed to ensuring that all students with the merit and potential to benefit from an Essex education are supported to do so. For October 2024 entry, if you are a home fee paying student residing in the UK you may be eligible for a Contextual Offer of up to two A-level grades, or equivalent, below our standard conditional offer.
Factors we consider:

  • Applicants from underrepresented groups
  • Applicants progressing from University of Essex Schools Membership schools/colleges
  • Applicants who attend a compulsory admissions interview
  • Applicants who attend an Offer Holder Day at our Colchester or Southend campus

Our contextual offers policy outlines additional circumstances and eligibility criteria.

For further information about what a contextual offer may look like for your specific qualification profile, email ugquery@essex.ac.uk.

If you haven't got the grades you hoped for, have a non-traditional academic background, are a mature student, or have any questions about eligibility for your course, more information can be found on our undergraduate application information page or get in touch with our Undergraduate Admissions Team.

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 contact our Undergraduate Admissions team at ugquery@essex.ac.uk to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall, or specified score in another equivalent test that we accept.

Details of English language requirements, including component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

If we accept the English component of an international qualification it will be included in the academic levels listed above for the relevant countries.

English language shelf-life

Most English language qualifications have a validity period of 5 years. The validity period of Pearson Test of English, TOEFL and CBSE or CISCE English is 2 years.

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

Pre-sessional English courses

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.

Pending English language qualifications

You don’t need to achieve the required level before making your application, but it will be one of the conditions of your offer.

If you cannot find the qualification that you have achieved or are pending, then please email ugquery@essex.ac.uk .

Requirements for second and final year entry

Different requirements apply for second and final year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a visa to study in the UK. Details of English language requirements, including UK Visas and Immigration minimum component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

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

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. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

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

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

Microbiology
(15 CREDITS)

Microbes are essential for life, and they connect the health of humans, other animals and ecosystems. They help us digest our food, provide us with vitamins and are contribute to our health and wellbeing. Marine microbes provide about one-third of the oxygen we breath. And, by cleaning up pollutants and synthesising valuable products such as antibiotics, microbes are essential for the delivery of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. On the other hand, some microbes cause devastating diseases. Despite major advances in treatment and prevention, incidences of infectious disease continue to rise. You will learn about the vast diversity and evolution of these mostly beneficial microbes and learn about the pathogenicity of the harmful ones. You will examine how different viruses and bacteria invade, interact and replicate within their hosts. A series of four practical sessions in our new teaching laboratory will give you hands-on experience of growing, observing, purifying, counting and even killing microbes. This will provide you with sought-after skills, such as aseptic technique, serial dilution and data analysis.

View Microbiology on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: CORE

Biochemistry of Macromolecules
(15 CREDITS)

Explore the building blocks of life. From the proteins that make up our genetic code to the lipids that envelope our cells, explore the structure, function and biological role of the major macromolecules. You investigate the basic principles of protein structural bioinformatics and protein structural evolution, examine how ligand-binding equilibria may form the basis of diverse biological phenomena, learn the structure and properties of monosaccharides and polysaccharides and review the major types of lipids. This module develops key skills in analysis and interpretation of data, biochemical methodology and calculation of biochemical parameters.

View Biochemistry of Macromolecules on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 06: CORE

General and Organic Chemistry
(15 CREDITS)

Many recent advances in biological research have been born from an increased understanding of the molecules involved in systems and processes. But what do things look like beyond molecular level?<br><br>Study how molecules are formed from individual atoms, and how the properties of these constituent atoms influence molecular structure and reactivity. Examine the fundamental concepts of chemical bonding, electronegativity, acidity, basicity, hydrogen bonding and review the common organic functional groups and different types of isomerism.

View General and Organic Chemistry on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 07: CORE

Anatomy and Physiology
(15 CREDITS)

Explore the anatomical components and major systems of the human body. In this module you will build your vocabulary of the key terminology of anatomy and physiology, as well as learn the structure and functions of these major body systems and how the body is controlled by the nervous and endocrine systems.

View Anatomy and Physiology on our Module Directory

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

Employability Skills for the Biosciences
(15 CREDITS)

Develop your practical and critical thinking skills during this week-long summer module. Basic knowledge gained from molecular biology is now being applied to solve industrial scale biological problems. You will rationally design bacteria by engineering DNA and transforming your microbe in the lab before presenting your results to peers.

View Employability Skills for the Biosciences on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Molecular Biology: Genes, Proteins and Disease
(15 CREDITS)

Molecular biology is central to our knowledge of how biology "works" at a molecular level. This module explores the breadth of processes involved in the regulation of gene expression and the proteins that are made. You also discover the ever-expanding range of molecular biology techniques, including PCR, cloning and mutagenesis, and how these are applied to investigate and treat disease.

View Molecular Biology: Genes, Proteins and Disease on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Cell Biology
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

Option from list
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 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: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 03: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

Option from list
(15 CREDITS)

Placement

On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Teaching

  • In our School of Life Sciences you learn through a combination of lectures, seminars and practical lab sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask questions and develop skills by doing experiments at the laboratory bench.
  • Undergraduate students in the School of Life Sciences typically attend two or three hours of lectures per week per module, plus two or three laboratory practices per module.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250 per year

International fee

£22,100 per year

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

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.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 17 August 2024 - Colchester Clearing Open Day
  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day

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 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 EU applicants 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.

You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.

Offer Holder Days

If you receive an undergraduate offer to study with us in October 2024 and live in the UK, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Offer Holder Days. Our Colchester Campus Offer Holder Days run from February to May 2024 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus events run in April and May. These events provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. To support your attendance, we are offering a travel bursary, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Offer Holder Days, including terms and conditions and eligibility criteria for our travel bursary, please visit our webpage.

If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Offer Holder Days if you are able to - we will let you know in your invite email how you can do this.

A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.


View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

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.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

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. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

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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