BSc Biological Sciences

UG Biological Sciences student profile
I decided to pick Aston because of its excellent reputation. When I visited I saw how alive and vibrant the campus is."

BSc Biological Sciences

Entry requirements

A Level: ABB-BBB

IB: 32 points

This course is for you if you wish to gain the knowledge and 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 human biology, cell and molecular biology, or microbiology and immunology. If you pick a specialism, your final degree title will reflect this.

Optional placement year
Employed Biological Sciences Aston graduates earn £1,800 (11%) more than the UK average one year after graduating (LEO, 2017)
Top 10 for research quality (Biological Sciences, Complete University Guide, 2017)
92% of Biology students at Aston were satisfied with the Teaching on their course (NSS, 2017)

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

UCAS Code: C112

Please note:

  • All candidates are considered on an individual basis based on all previous and predicted qualifications, experience, references and motivation. 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 below.
  • 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.
  • GCSE requirements: Five GCSEs at Grade C/4 or above including English and Maths Grade C/4.

  • All applicants receiving offers will be invited to an Applicant Visit Day to discover more about the course and Aston University.

  • Find out more about our admissions policy.

  • Application for second year entry will be considered by the programme director if there is space on that year of the programme. Typically, successful applicants for second year entry will:

    • Have A level (or equivalent) qualifications similar to those required for first year entry
    • Have gained (or be expected to gain) 120 credits on an equivalent programme at another recognised university
    • Obtained (or be expected to obtain) an overall average of 60% or above on an equivalent programme at another recognised university
    • Have not previously attempted the second year of a programme elsewhere
    • Individual programmes may have additional requirements in addition to those stated above. These will be clarified upon application.
  • The information contained on this website details the typical entry requirements for this course for the most commonly offered qualifications. Applicants with alternative qualifications may wish to enquire with the relevant admissions teams prior to application whether or not their qualifications are deemed acceptable. For less commonly encountered qualifications this will be judged on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the academic admissions tutor.

Typical offers:

ABB-BBB including biology or human biology. You are also required to successfully complete the practical element of your Biology A Level.

Chemistry at A/AS Level welcomed but not essential.

A Level applicants who select this course as their Firm UCAS choice may be eligible for our lowered offer scheme. This means that the grades that you will need in order to be accepted on to the course will be reduced.

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.

32 points overall, to include 655 at HL, which must include Biology at 6.
  • BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma / National Extended Certificate: D plus two A Levels including Biology at grade AB.
  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma / National Diploma in Applied Science: DD plus A Level Biology at grade B.
  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma / National 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 in A Levels section).

All BTEC students taking A Levels will also need to pass the practical element of their A Levels.

Applicants studying an Access to Science qualification will be considered on an individual basis. 

Our standard offer is 45 level three credits, with at least 30 at distinction (the rest must be at merit or distinction).

Other qualifications: If your qualification is not listed, please contact us using the form at the bottom of the page.

International qualifications: International students can discover more about the qualifications we accept on our international pages

International Foundation Programme in Science (Aston University): We also welcome international students with equivalent qualifications to apply for our courses. For international students without equivalent qualifications, it is also possible to gain entry to this course by completing an International Foundation Programme  at Aston University, although please note the progression requirements to our courses. 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 course by completing a Foundation Year, although please note the progression requirements.

2018 entry:

  • UK / EU students: £9,250 per year (£1,250 during placement year)
  • International students: £17,550 per year (£2,500 during placement year)

Explore the costs involved in university and the financial support that may be available to you.

RSB Accredited Degree

This course has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. RSB accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of employers. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.

Biology can be studied at several levels ranging from molecular interactions at a sub-cellular level to cellular interactions at a tissue level, or even the interactions of whole organisms. Biology therefore encompasses many academic fields that may be regarded as individual disciplines.

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 human biologycell 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”.

Hear from Niranjini, Edyta and Kristian as they discuss their experiences of studying biological sciences at Aston University. 

Student satisfaction for this course is very high. Our student and graduate profiles will give you an insight in to why so many of them are happy to be part of Biological Sciences and the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston.

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 for Biologists - 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.
  • Applied Microbiology - explore processes such as fermentation
  • 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)

The placement year is an opportunity for you to set your studies in context by taking a placement in hospital, industrial or research laboratory. Discover more about the placement year below.

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 biology students will take “Human Physiology”, “Medical Biochemistry”, “Biological Basis of Human Disease” 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 

The year involves a 30 week to twelve-month professional work placement 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. By obtaining relevant work experience you will also boost your future employment prospects.

Students undertake placements in settings such as hospital, industrial or research laboratories. Areas that recent placement students have undertaken their placements include: 

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

You will encounter a variety of learning opportunities, including

  • Lectures
  • Practical sessions
  • Interactive workshops and tutorials
  • Group work
  • Self-study courses.

You will be continuously assessed throughout the course. A wide range of assessments linked to learning outcomes are used, including

  • Examinations (unseen essay, short answer or multiple choice questions)
  • Essays
  • Practical reports (group or indiviual)
  • Presentations
  • Laboratory reports 
  • Project work
  • Computer based assessment
  • Peer assessments.

Graduate employment for Biology students mirrors the outstanding success of Aston University as a whole. 

Our graduates enter a wide range of professional careers, including research, health, welfare and the biological industries. In addition to scientific positions, some graduates enter general management and personnel work as well as product development and marketing. Some continue with postgraduate study. Recent roles include:

  • Adult Specialist Medical Sales Representative, Abbott
  • Assistant Laboratory Technician, Aston University
  • Cover Teacher, Trinity High School
  • Executive Researcher, Berwick Partners (an Odgers Berndtson company)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Aston University
  • Laboratory Assistant, National Milk Laboratories
  • Laboratory Assistant, The Binding Site
  • Master's Degree, Molecular Microbiology, 
  • Postgraduate Researcher, Aston University
  • Research Assistant, Asterand Bioscience
  • Teacher, Teach First
  • Trainee Teacher, Waverley School 
  • Vice President Education and Welfare, Aston Students' Union.

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

Personal development 

Our course helps you develop the knowledge and skills needed to maximise your career prospects. This course will enable you to develop 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.
You will benefit from:
  • Extensive and well equipped laboratories, with up-to-date equipment and projection facilities for demonstration purposes;
  • Refurbished lecture theatres and seminar rooms with modern audio-visual equipment;
  • A large computer laboratory;
  • A virtual learning environment used for general study, revision and assessment. This platform allows you to access a comprehensive range of study materials, scientific journals, e-journals, databases and much more.
  • Course texts and relevant journals are available from the library either electronically or in book form;
  • A newly refurbished and extended Aston University Library. The Library is open 7 days a week all year round, and at key times of the academic year, it is open 24 hours a day on 6 days a week.
Teaching Lab

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 Vernallis 

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 James Brown

James is the Admissions Tutor for the undergraduate biomedical & biological sciences programmes. He has been at Aston since 2009, and his current role is that of lecturer. His research interests include the regulation of cellular ageing by obesity and metabolic disorders, frailty in older adults with diabetes and the role of aquaporins in breast cancer.

James is happy to discuss the structure of the course and its content. If you need any guidance on the entry requirements, please direct these questions to our admissions team on ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk or call +44 (0)121 204 3302.

Meet the Biological Sciences team.

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