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MBiol Biological Sciences

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Entry requirements

A Level: ABB-BBB

IB: 32 points

This course is for you if you wish to obtain the knowledge, understanding and skills to undertake a career in Biological Sciences research, particularly in the area of human health and disease.

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Royal Society of Biology Advanced Degree Accreditation
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96% Overall Student Satisfaction (Biological Sciences, 2017 Guardian University Guide)
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Top 10 for Research Quality (Biological Sciences, 2017 Complete University Guide)
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Optional placement year
  • UK / EU students: £9,250 (£1,250 during placement year)
  • International students: £17,200

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

Duration: 4 years full-time or 5 years full-time with integrated placement year

UCAS Code: C114

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 above.
  • 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 A*-C including English Language & Mathematics.

  • 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.

Typical offers:

A Level: ABB-BBB to include Biology or Human Biology at Grade B or above. You must also pass the practical element of your Biology course. Chemistry at A/AS level welcomed but not essential.

IB: 32 points (Biology Higher Level 6 points) 

BTEC, Access to HE, international and other qualifications: Contact us for further information.

Accredited Degree logo


This course has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. Advanced Degree Accreditation by the Society recognises academic excellence in the biosciences, and highlights degrees that educate the research and development leaders and innovators of the future. The Advanced Accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from the course meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including gaining a substantial period of research experience.

The purpose of the MBiol course is to produce graduates with the knowledge, understanding and skills to undertake a career in research particularly in the area of human health and disease.

The first two years of the MBiol course are the same as BSc Biological Sciences. Students must obtain a mark of at least 60% at the end of their second year to stay on the MBiol programme (if they do not they are required to transfer to BSc Biological Sciences).

Details of the first and second year modules are listed below. Each one of these modules typically comprises approximately 100 learning hours which include lectures, tutorials, practical classes, directed student-centred learning and preparation for coursework assignments and examinations.

In the third year a Literature Research Project, Immunology, Applied Molecular Biology, Bioethics, and a Practical Key Skills module are compulsory with two other modules chosen from the list of third year modules given below.

The highlight of the programme is a 6-month final year laboratory research project. You will take a Research Skills module and Laboratory Research Project, alongside four other modules chosen from the list below.

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.

Optional Placement Year

The placement year offers you the opportunity to gain valuable experience and set your studies in the content of a working environment. See below for further details.

Year 3

Core 

  • Research Project - Literature-based, using advanced techniques such as systematic review and meta-analysis
  • Key Practical Skills - three extended laboratory courses plus problem solving exercises
  • Immunology - explores the cellular and molecular basis of immunity and examines how these may be controlled.
  • Applied Molecular Biology - provides in-depth explanation of genetic engineering techniques and their applications.
  • Bioethics - considers ethical issues related to social factors, healthcare and research in the biological arena.

Optional (choose two) 

  • Human Physiology - provides a detailed study of the mechanisms and processes through which the body achieves and maintains homeostasis.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Final Year

Core 

  • Research Project - 6 month laboratory project
  • Research Skills - Research proposal, critical appraisal of research seminars, reflective practice.

Optional (choose four) 

  • Neurodegenerative disease - considers the theoretical background and experimental techniques that have led to the current understanding of the cellular basis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron disease and demyelinating diseases.  Regeneration of the damaged central nervous system
  • Obesity and metabolic disorders - provides understanding of the biology of energy metabolism and of adipose tissue, and the epidemiology and biomedical causes and consequences of obesity and associated metabolic diseases.
  • Stem Cell Biology - develops an understanding of what a stem cell is and of how stem cells are being developed as research tools and medicines.
  • Enzyme technology - provides a state of the art description of the applications of enzymes in a variety of commercial situations.  Laboratory-based practicals will demonstrate some of the key elements of enzymatic catalysis. The module will close with a discussion of possible future technologies.
  • Oxidative stress and inflammatory disease - provides students with an understanding of the role of redox signalling and oxidative damage in inflammation and disease.
  • ABC transporters in health and disease - considers the structure and function of ABC drug efflux transporters, their roles in the body and how they are linked to diseases.

The year involves a 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
  • Reseach institutes
  • Breweries
  • The food industry
  • Pharmaceutical companies (e.g. AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline)
  • Medical sales
  • Universities in other countries
  • Biotechnology companies.

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

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 assessment

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.

This new course aims to produce graduates suitable for a career in research within universities, research institutes or industry. Graduate employment for our 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 for our Human Biology and Biological Sciences graduates include:

  • Health Care Scientist Support Worker, Health Protection Agency
  • Administration Officer, Ministry of Justice 
  • Executive, CRISPR Division, Hanson Wade
  • Intern, Deutsche Bank
  • Trainee Teacher, Westfield Academy
  • 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.

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.

See for yourself on this virtual tour.

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.

Meet the Biological Sciences team.

You may also be interested in the following Aston School of Life and Health Sciences courses:

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