Biological Sciences BSc 2021

From the gene to the cell, to the whole person; if you have a passion for exploring how the human body works, study Biological Sciences BSc at Aston University, Birmingham.

Location: Aston University, Birmingham

Course type

Full-time

Course format

Optional placement year

Duration

BSc 3 years or 4 years with placement year / MBiol (optional) 4 years or 5 years with placement year

UCAS code(s)

 C112

Start date

Overview
Explore Biological Sciences BSc at Aston University

Meet Homayra who chose to study at Aston because of our Royal Society of Biology accreditation and practical course focus.

biological sciences at aston testimonial

“My placement gave me the tools to carry out research effectively and efficiently. I can now employ these tools (such as teamwork, time management and organisation) in any career I go on to do, whether that be in research or a commercial setting.”

Chloe Wilmot, MBiol

Placement role:  Research Assistant, Aston University and Redoxis

biological sciences at aston testimonial

“My placement gave me the tools to carry out research effectively and efficiently. I can now employ these tools (such as teamwork, time management and organisation) in any career I go on to do, whether that be in research or a commercial setting.”

Chloe Wilmot, MBiol

Placement role:  Research Assistant, Aston University and Redoxis

Course outline and modules

Biological science asks deeper questions about the human body and challenges facing humankind such as;

Why are some people more prone to certain diseases and medical conditions than others?

How can we ensure that people remain healthier as they get older?

Why do bacteria evolve to defend themselves against antibiotics and what can we do about it in the future? 

In its attempt to answer these questions, biology encompasses many areas of scientific study such as living organisms, life cycles, adaptations, and the environment. Biological science also incorporates a wealth of exciting and diverse topics from biochemistry and biotechnology to genetics, microbiology and physiology.

Biological Sciences at Aston offers you an incredible mix of top-quality teaching, world class research and the opportunity to gain real world experience with our optional placement year. For those who achieve the required grades in the second year, you will be given the option to enhance your learning by transferring onto our integrated masters MBiol programme; giving you the platform to be a research and development leader and innovator of the future.

Professional accreditation

Our BSc Biological Sciences course is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB). RSB accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, preparing graduates to address the needs of employers. The criteria set by the RSB requires evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.

Students who achieve a minimum of 60% in their second year will be given the option to transfer onto our integrated masters MBiol programme. Our MBiol Biological Sciences course holds Advanced Degree Accreditation by the RSB*. This advanced accreditation recognises academic excellence in the biosciences, and highlights degrees that educate the research and development leaders and innovators of the future. The criteria require evidence that graduates from the course meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including gaining a substantial period of research experience.

Placement year

The best way to prepare you for your future career is to gain experience in the real world of work. That's why our course offers you the option to complete an integrated placement year, taken between the second and final years of your degree.

Designed to make you stand out in the graduate crowd, you can undertake placements in hospital, industrial or research laboratories, as well as non-laboratory settings.

International students and post-study work visa

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students. Students from over 120 different countries choose to study with us every year. Aston is not only a great place to study, based in the centre of Birmingham it’s also a great place to live.

The new post-study work visa enables international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies to find work.  For more information visit the government website.

 

Course outline

At Aston, studying biological science will give you the opportunity to delve far deeper into the detail of how the human body works, and how organisms interact and evolve.

You’ll be taught by experts in their specialist fields of biosciences whose broad range of experience allows us to highlight the real-world applications of the knowledge you are gaining.

During the course you’ll get the opportunity to:

  • Produce penicillin, and show how it affects the survival of a clinically-important human pathogen.
  • Do real-world research focused on the world’s biggest health challenges.
  • Take part in an optional fermenting practical where you can brew beer to your own recipe, bottle, label and share with staff and students during a beer-tasting event.

 

Modules

Year 1

Study a range of key bioscience topics where you will gain knowledge of the structure, function, synthesis and degradation of biomolecules, how genetic material is stored and inherited, and how to work safely in a laboratory setting.

Core modules:

  • Biomolecules
  • Cells to Systems
  • Microbiology and Genetics
  • Metabolic Physiology for Biology
Year 2

Build your knowledge gained in your first year, as well as discovering exciting new topics all while developing the skills to apply fundamental biological concepts to experimental and real world problems.

Core modules:

  • Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
  • Mechanisms of Pathology
  • Human Disease
  • Cell Signalling and Physiology
Placement year

Placement (optional)

Opportunity to gain valuable career boosting experience by setting your studies in a real world context of a working environment alongside professionals.

Our students have completed placements in:

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

Year 4

BSc final year/penultimate MBiol year

Develop the skills required to complete a substantial original research project and choose from a selection of advanced subjects those that most suit your future career aspirations.

Core modules:

  • Research Project Preparation
  • Research Project
  • Professional Development for Biological Scientists

In addition, you will complete three of the following modules*:

  • Bench to Bedside
  • Biology of Ageing
  • Cancer Biology
  • Immunology and Inflammation
  • Industrial Biotechnology
  • Metabolic Disease
  • Molecular and Applied Microbiology
  • Pharmacology and Toxicology
    MBiol

    Final year MBiol (optional)

    Complete a substantial six-month research project, where you will get the opportunity to work alongside postgraduates and post-doctoral fellows in addition to studying advanced masters level modules.

    Core modules:

    • Advanced Lab Skills with Data Analysis and Interpretation
    • Laboratory Competence Training
    • MBiol Key Skills
    • MBiol Laboratory Research Project

    In addition, you will complete one/two (dependent on credit mix) of the following modules*:

    • Professional Development and Research Communication
    • Cell and Molecular Biology
    • Applied Biotechnology
    • Stem Cell Biology and Cellular Differentiation
    • Tissue Regeneration
    • Ageing and Regenerative Medicine

    Please note the availability of any optional modules will be subject to staff availability and a minimum number of students who express an interest in studying the optional modules.

    Entry requirements

    Typical offers:

    A Level

    BBB to BCC including Biology (depending on EPQ, Core Maths or Contextual offer)

    BTEC

    Are welcome with the relevant A Level subjects, please see below for further details

    International Baccalaureate Diploma

    31 Overall (HL 5, 5, 5 must include Biology)

    GCSEs

    Five GCSEs which must include Maths and English Language all at grade C/4. Please note we do not accept Key skills or Functional skills in place of these.

     

    Further details

    A Levels
    • BBB in three A Level subjects including Biology.
    • BBC in three A Level subjects including Biology and B in either Core Maths or Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).
    • BCC in three A Level subjects including Biology for our contextual offer scheme.

    The following subjects will not be considered as one of the core three A Levels - General Studies, Critical Thinking, Citizenship Studies.

    We welcome applications from students who have tried to improve their examination grades by taking resits and only your latest grades will be accepted. We treat these applications in exactly the same way as other applications.

    BTEC

    Contextual offer applicants need to achieve a grade C as listed below.

    BTEC qualification name

    BTEC grades required

    A Level requirements

    Extended Diploma (QCF/National)

    Distinction, Distinction, Distinction (DDD)

    With this BTEC you must also achieve grade B in A-Level Biology

    Diploma (QCF)

    National Diploma

    Distinction, Distinction (DD)

    With this BTEC you must also achieve grade B in A-Level Biology

    Subsidiary Diploma (QCF)

    National Extended Certificate

    Distinction (D)

    With this BTEC you must also achieve grades BB in two A levels of which one must be Biology

    90 Credit Diploma (QCF)

    Distinction, Distinction (DD)

    With this BTEC you must also achieve grades BB in two A levels of which one must be Biology

    National Foundation Diploma

    Distinction (D)

    With this BTEC you must also achieve grades BB in two A levels of which one must be Biology

    International Baccalaureate Diploma

    31 points overall and must include grades 5, 5, 5 in Higher Level subjects which must include Biology. You must also have Standard Level grade 5 in both Mathematics and English Language.

    Access to Higher Education

    We accept the QAA-recognised Access Diploma which must consist of 45 credits at Level 3. You must obtain a minimum of 30 distinction and the rest must be at merit or distinction. Please note that we do not accept the English and Maths components within the Access qualification and you must meet the GCSE entry requirement. Subjects Accepted: Applied Science, Biology combined with Chemistry, Biomedical Science, Biosciences, Combined Sciences, Health Sciences, Health Sciences Professions, Life Sciences and Sciences.

    Foundation programmes

    • 5 GCSE’s at grade C/4 or above including Maths and English.
    • CCC at A-Level must include Biology
    Foundation Programme in Science: Bioscience and Pharmacy (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 the Foundation Programme in Science.

    External Foundation Programmes from another University

    We consider external foundation programmes for entry into our year 1 programmes on a case-by-case basis. We will always require applicants to have met the following criteria prior to application:

    • 5 GCSE’s at grade C/4 or above including Maths and English.
    • CCC at A-Level, must include Biology

    If you meet the above pre-requisite qualifications, we will be required to review the programme specification of your foundation programme. After we have reviewed the programme specification a decision will be made. Any conditional offers made will be based on meeting a specific grade in your foundation programme.

    International Students

    International Foundation Programme in Science (Aston University)

    For international students without equivalent qualifications, it is also possible to gain entry to this course by completing an International Foundation Programme in Science. International applicants expected to gain foundation diplomas from other providers are welcomed and will be considered on a case by case basis.

    International qualifications

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

    Other

    Degree

    We consider applicants for year 1 entry who are undertaking a degree in a related field elsewhere. You must meet the GCSEs and A level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. Alongside this you must have gained (or be expected to gain) 60% overall and 120 credits with no fails at another recognised university. If you do not meet the A-Level (or equivalent) requirement but have attained a relevant degree and meet the GCSE requirement, we will be able to consider you on a case-by-case basis. We may also conduct an informal interview. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.

    Please note that second year transfers are not part of the standard admissions process and is up the discretion of the admissions team and tutor. Applications are only considered if there is space on that year of the programme. Typically, applicants for second year entry must meet the GCSEs and A level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. Alongside this you must have gained (or be expected to gain) 60% overall and 120 credits with no fails on an equivalent programme at another recognised university. The equivalency of the programme is reviewed by the Admissions Tutor and you will be required to provide an official copy of the programme specification of this. It is also expected that you have not previously attempted the second year of a programme elsewhere. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.

     

    View our Admissions Policy

    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 that fall below these entry requirements if the application is of a high standard (however, initial offers will not be lower than stated above).

    *For details on our Aston Ready contextual offer scheme, please see here.

    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.

     

    Learning, teaching and assessment

    There is a huge breadth of academic research undertaken across Aston which is integrated into our courses. It’s this integration that gives you a distinct advantage in your studies by ensuring you have access to the latest trends, thinking, issues and research.

    You’ll encounter a wide range of teaching approaches, from lectures and group work to practical sessions and interactive workshops and tutorials.

    Each year of study is worth 120 credits, with each credit equivalent to 10 learning hours. The learning hours may include but are not limited to lectures, seminars, tutorials, lab sessions, practicals, online activity, reading, other independent study, reflecting on assignment feedback, field trips and work placements.

    Assessments

    You will be continuously assessed throughout the course with a wide range of assessments linked to learning outcomes, such as:

    • exams
    • essay writing
    • practical and laboratory reports
    • presentations
    • peer assessment.

     

    Key course staff

    Programme Director: Dr Russell Collighan

    Admissions Tutor: Dr James Brown

    james-brown-biological-sciences-bsc-tutor

    “The shared experience of learning and teaching is the most fulfilling part of my job, I get to see scientists develop before my eyes.”

    Dr James Brown, Admissions Tutor and Senior Lecturer in Biosciences

     

    What learning facilities can I expect?

    • Extensive and well-equipped laboratories with a variety of equipment designed to support your learning in an industry-relevant environment.
    • Refurbished lecture theatres and seminar rooms.
    • Computer laboratories and 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 Aston Library, fully refurbished and equipped for the digital age. Open 24 hours a day at key points throughout the year with a variety of study spaces, academic support advisors on hand and course texts available electronically or in book form.

    Fees and scholarships

    UK students (2021/22)

    Annual tuition fees: £9,250

    During placement year: £1,250

    International students/EU students* (2021/22)

    Annual tuition fees: £19,300

    During placement year: £2,500

    The United Kingdom government has confirmed that European Union (EU), other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals commencing academic courses in England from August 2021 will no longer be charged the same tuition rates as Home students.

    *Tuition fees are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. When undertaking a placement year a placement year fee applies.

    More information on fees

    Scholarships

    At Aston University we are committed to supporting the most talented and hardworking students to achieve their potential by providing a range of scholarships to help lower tuition and living costs. Find out more about our scholarships here.

    Career prospects

    Our graduates enter a wide range of professional careers, including:

    • research
    • health
    • welfare
    • biological industries in roles such as laboratory technician and research assistant.

     

    In addition to scientific positions, some graduates enter general management and personnel work, as well as product development and marketing, while others move into teaching, continue with further research or study including MSc and PhD qualifications.

    Recent destinations include:

    • Abbott Laboratories
    • Asterand Bioscience
    • Aston University
    • Berwick Partners
    • IVC Brunel Healthcare
    • National Milk Laboratories
    • NHS Trusts
    • The Binding Site
    • Secondary Schools
    • University of Warwick.

     

    tony-worthington-aston-university-image

    “The impact of Biological Science within society and in our world is clear; the discipline provides accurate clinical information, which guides and influences clinical staff in the treatment and management of patients presenting with a vast array of different illnesses and diseases, ranging from infection to cancer.”

    Dr Tony Worthington, Reader in Biosciences

     

    Frequently asked questions

    What’s the difference between biological and biomedical science?

    In biological science, you delve much deeper into your understanding of how the human body works. You’ll help to answer some of the biggest questions in human biology. Biomedical science is focused more on developing solutions for these challenges in a healthcare context.

    What accreditations does the course have?

    Our Biological Sciences BSc course is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB). This means that when you graduate, you’ll have met a defined set of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills. Our MBiol Biological Science degree holds Advanced Degree Accreditation by the RSB.

    What careers can I expect to move into?

    After graduating, you will have all you need (including optional industry experience) to move into

    • research
    • health
    • welfare
    • biological industries in roles such as laboratory technician and research assistant.
    Why should international students choose Aston University?

    Study at Aston University and you will be part of a multi-cultural community located at the heart of the dynamic city of Birmingham. Our courses are practical, inspired by industry and many have internationally recognised accreditations. Renowned for our employability prospects and connections to business and industry, we provide outstanding careers support, advice and placement opportunities.

    For those interested in working in the UK after they have graduated, the UK Government have created a new post-study work visa. For more information visit the government website.

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