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BSc Biological Sciences

This programme is designed to equip you with the skills necessary to succeed in an established, yet dynamic, area. You’ll gain a broad understanding and awareness in biological sciences during the first two years of the programme, before choosing either to continue on the general pathway or to specialise in cell and molecular biology or microbiology and immunology. If you pick a specialism, your final degree title will reflect this.

Why choose this course?

  • High student satisfaction: 
    • 96% of students were satisfied with their course (2016 National Student Survey)
    • Ranked 6th in the UK for overall student satisfaction and for satisfaction with teaching (Guardian University League tables 2017)
  • Internationally recognised research: 
    • 94% of research in the School was rated as being internationally excellent or world leading in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) 
    • We are in the top 10 nationally for research quality (Complete University Guide 2017)
  • Top employability prospects: 
    • Enhance your employability on an integrated placement year in a wide range of health, medical and commercial settings
    • 81.3% of our Biology graduates are in a graduate level destination 6 months after graduating (DLHE 2014/15)
Hear from Niranjini, Edyta and Kristian as they discuss their experiences of studying biological sciences at Aston University. All students take a common first and second year, before choosing to remain on either the general pathway or to specialise in cell and molecular science or microbiology and immunology.
 

Entry requirements & fees

4 years full-time with integrated placement year or 3 years full-time

UCAS Codes: Biological Sciences (C112)

Typical offers

 A Levels: ABB-BBB including Biology or Human Biology. You would also be required to successfully complete the practical element of your Biology A-level.

 IB: 33 points (Biology Higher Level 6 points)

Access to Science for mature students (21+) considered on an individual basis.

BTECs

  • BTEC Subsidiary Diploma: D plus two A Levels including Biology at grade AB    
  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Applied Science: DD plus A level Biology at grade B
  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Applied Science: D*DD plus A level Biology at grade C
  • We welcome applications from students who have taken BTEC qualifications as a first option and who achieved five or more GCSEs (including Maths and English) at grade C or above.You must also meet the additional A-Level requirements listed above.
  • We do not consider applications from students who are unsuccessful in obtaining the required number and/or standard of A-levels for admission to our programmes and subsequently embark on a BTEC as a second option. Instead we would encourage you to resit your A-levels (see our resit policy below).
  • All BTEC students taking A-levels will also need to pass the practical element of their A-levels.
  • For 2017 entry only we will accept BTEC students with an AS-Level in Biology instead of the full A-level.
International Foundation Programme in Science (Aston University)
We also welcome international students with equivalent qualifications to apply for our programmes. For international students without equivalent qualifications, it is also possible to gain entry to this undergraduate degree programme by completing an International Foundation Programme  at Aston University, although please note the progression requirements to our programmes.
   International applicants expected to gain foundation diplomas from other providers are welcomed and will be considered on a case by case basis.

Foundation Programme in Science (Aston University)
For students with good A-level (or equivalent) grades, but who narrowly miss our standard requirements, it is also possible to gain entry to this programme by completing a
Foundation Year, although please note the progression requirements to our programmes. The minimum A level grades we consider for entry to Biology programmes via the Foundation Programme in Science are CCC, including a C in A level Biology.


Specific subject requirements

  • A level: Biology / Human Biology at A level grade B or above. Chemistry at A/AS level welcomed but not essential.
  • GCSE: Five GCSEs at grade C including English and Maths

Whilst the grades listed here are our entry requirements, we understand that predicted grades are only an estimate. We will therefore consider applicants with predicted grades of CCC If the application is of a high standard. However, any offer made will not be lower than stated above.

Resit Students

  • We welcome applications from students who have tried to improve their examination grades by taking a maximum of one set of resits. We treat these applications in exactly the same way as other applications. However, if you have had more than one attempt at improving your grades, your application will be considered on an individual basis and we reserve to make an amended (higher) offer, or not make an offer.

Please note, your full educational background is taken into account and all qualifications are considered when we make a decision on your application.

Applicants receiving offers are invited to an open day.


Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification. Find out more about our English language requirements

Tuition fees

£9,000 (£1,000 during placement year) for UK/EU students. More on fees

£16,850 for International students

As a BSc Biological Sciences student you will follow a common first and second year allowing you to develop a thorough understanding and awareness of the subject. In your final year you will choose modules that mean that you continue on the general biological sciences pathway, specialise in cell and molecular biology or in microbiology and immunology. The modules that you choose will determine the degree title, for example if you choose to specialise in cell and molecular biology, your final degree title will be “BSc Cell and Molecular Biology”.

The titles of the first and second year modules are listed below. Each one of these modules typically includes lectures, tutorials, practical classes, directed student-centred learning and preparation for coursework assignments and examinations

Year 1

  • Microbiology I - provides the student with an introduction to bacterial physiology, pathogenicity, infectious diseases and clinical microbiology.
  • Biochemistry - provides the student with an overview of the structure of biological macromolecules and the small molecules from which they are assembled.
  • Physiology - provides students with a theoretical and practical approach to the physiology of nerves and the nervous system, muscle, brain, endocrine glands, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, blood, kidneys, gastro-intestinal tract and digestion.
  • Inheritance and Population Genetics - examines the modes of inheritance of the gene. This module also introduces students to some of the underlying principles of population genetics.
  • Development and Human Anatomy - reviews the principles and foundation elements of embryology and the study of human anatomy.
  • Cell Biology - provides a basic introduction to cellular components and processes involved in the birth, life and death of cells.
  • Molecular Biology - provides students with a basic introduction to the nature, properties, structure, function and replication of genes.
  • Introductory Immunology - provides the student with an understanding of the immune system as an integrated system of tissues, cells and molecules.  This module also explores the cellular and molecular basis of immunity and examines how these may be controlled.
  • Key Skills - comprises a series of academic tutorials with a personal tutor and a series of workshops on career management and IT skills.

Year 2

  • Microbiology II - covers microorganisms of medical importance including Gram-positive, Gram-negative and intracellular bacteria from the perspective of clinical manifestations, microbial pathogenesis; infection control and prevention.
  • Metabolism - provides the student with an understanding of major pathways of intermediary metabolism and their integration and regulation.
  • Molecular Genetics - describes the molecular basis for the regulation of gene transcription and presents the key techniques in gene manipulation. 
  • Biotechnology - provides an insight into the importance of biotechnology and commercial biology including fermentation, large scale microbial culture, antibiotic production and tissue culture.
  • Endocrinology - provides a detailed study of the endocrine system, extending and developing information covered in earlier parts of the course.
  • Molecular Pathology - examines some of the molecular mechanisms involved in cell growth, differentiation, maturation and senescence.
  • Immunology II: provides the student with an understanding of the immune system as an integrated system of tissues, cells and molecules.
  • Key Skills II: focuses on personal and professional development, group work, scientific communication and preparation for the placement year.

Year 3 - Optional placement year

See placement year section or find out more about the Aston placement year.

Final Year

In the first term of the final year you will study five modules. This is the point at which you will choose to specialise, or remain on the general biological sciences pathway. 

Biological sciences students may choose any of the modules listed below. 

Microbiology and immunology students will take “Immunology”, “Food Microbiology” and “Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease” and two other modules of their choice from the list below. 

Cell and molecular biology students will take “Cell Biology”, “Applied Molecular Biology”, “Cell Biology of Cancer Metastasis” and two other modules of their choice from the list below.

  • Human Physiology: provides a detailed study of the mechanisms and processes through which the body achieves and maintains homeostasis.
  • Immunology: explores the cellular and molecular basis of immunity and examines how these may be controlled.
  • Food Microbiology: provides a study of the relationship between food and health including the scientific, technical and manufacturing factors which influence food quality and safety.
  • Applied Molecular Biology: provides in-depth explanation of genetic engineering techniques and their applications.
  • Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease: provides an overview of microbiology and infectious diseases within the community and hospital setting and methods of diagnosing infection.
  • Cell Biology: investigates current models of how proteins regulate and execute the cellular process of differentiation, migration, protein trafficking, synapse formation and vesicle release.
  • Medical Biochemistry: provides a detailed study of the application of chemical and biochemical methods to the study of disease.
  • Toxicology: informs the student of the basis of the toxicity of xenobiotic compounds including drugs and environmental toxins.
  • Cell Biology of Cancer Metastasis: provides an insight into the organisation of the cell cytoskeleton and how modification of this structure leads to changes in migratory properties that occur when cells become malignant.
  • Bioethics: considers ethical issues related to social factors, healthcare and research in the biological arena.
  • Biological Basis of Human Disease: considers the basic biological principals underlying the development of diseases in man.
  • Cancer Biology: considers the causes of cancer, its detection, prevention and treatment from the perspective of a Human Biologist.
  • Stem Cell Biology: develops a basic understanding of what a stem cell is and of how stem cells are being developed as research tools and medicines.

The second term of your final year is devoted to a research project which is supervised by an individual member of academic staff. 

We use a range of assessment methods, although the typical methods are coursework and an end of year examination.  Exams generally take the form of unseen essay, short answer and multiple choice questions.  Coursework assessments take many forms and could include essays, reports of individual and group practical assignments, oral presentations and laboratory reports.  We specifically encourage team working in some assignments in which there will be peer assessments where you will assess the contribution of your colleagues and vice-versa.

The year involves a twelve-month professional work placement (sandwich course) between the second and final years of the degree.  This offers you the opportunity to gain valuable experience and set your studies in the context of a working environment alongside professional biologists.  

Our recent placements have been with: 

  • Research institutes
  • Breweries
  • The food industry
  • Pharmaceutical companies (e.g. AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline)
  • Clinical trial companies
  • Medical sales
  • Biotechnology companies.

Find out more about placement years in the Life & Health Sciences. 

Graduate employment for Biology students mirrors the outstanding success of Aston University as a whole. 30-40% of our graduates go into research, while others enter a wide range of careers in health, welfare and the biological industries.  In addition to scientific positions, some graduates take on general management, product development, teaching or marketing roles.

Students interested in becoming teachers can benefit from our collaboration with Newman University.

Graduates in Biological Sciences will leave university equipped with key skills including:

  • Fundamental laboratory techniques
  • Record keeping
  • Project development
  • Management
  • Critical analysis
  • Communication (written/oral)
  • Presentation
  • Team working
  • Report development
  • IT
  • Problem solving
  • Debating.
  • Modern lecture and tutorial rooms equipped with full interactive AV facilities
  • Modern laboratories with up-to-date equipment and projection facilities for demonstration purposes
  • 130-seater computer laboratory equipped with Pentium workstations and linked to key networks 
  • Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) using Blackboard 9 software to support learning
  • Wide range of learning resources – such as up to date key texts, scientific journals and e-journals and databases, CD-ROMs and media publications.
  • newly refurbished and extended Aston University Library open 7 days a week all year round and 24 hours a day, 6 days a week at key times of the academic year.
Teaching Lab
Microscope
Shaker
Pipette

There are over 30 teaching and research staff in our biology group, with other School of Life and Health Sciences staff also undertaking biology related teaching.

Programme Director: Dr Ann B Vernalis 

Ann is the Programme Director for the BSc programmes in biology and biomedical sciences. She teaches Cell Biology and Developmental Biology in year 1, Endocrinology (signal transduction), Molecular Pathology, and Molecular Genetics (including Bioinformatics) in year 2. In the final year, she teaches options in Cell Biology (including cell culture) and supervises final year projects. Her main research interest is in cytokines and other mediators of inflammation. She collaborates with Prof Peter Lambert and others on the host response to bacteria infection and the therapeutic potential of tetracyclines to reduce inflammation.

Admissions Tutor: Dr Tony Worthington

Tony is the Admissions Tutor for the undergraduate biomedical & biological sciences programmes. He has been at Aston since 2000, and his current role is that of reader in clinical microbiology and infectious disease. He is currently conducting research into areas such as clinical microbiology and healthcare associated infection (diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infection), and Clostridium difficile and staphylococcal infections.

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Luke Aston-Abbott
I chose the human biology programme as it covered all of the modules which I developed an interest in at school such as; immunology, cancer biology and stem cell biology. I also liked that you had the option of taking a year in industry, something that many other universities do not offer.

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