Biological Sciences

BSc (Hons)

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

Location: Aston University, Birmingham

Course type
Full-time
Entry requirements
Duration

3 or 4 years

UCAS code(s)

C112

Start date

Course overview

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.

Our Biological Sciences BSc (Hons) 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 master's programme; giving you the platform to be a research and development leader and innovator of the future.

biological science student smiling

"Having undertaken my undergraduate degree in biology here, I knew Aston well, and I really liked the modules taught and that we get a lot of contact time with our lecturers. I then chose the MRes as I found I really enjoyed working in a laboratory setting where I could apply knowledge I learned into my research."

Jaspreet Bansal
Biological Sciences BSc
MIBTP PhD student at Aston University

Why Biological Sciences at Aston University?

Royal Society of Biology
Accredited programme
Accredited by the Royal Society of Biology
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Student experience
97.9 % of students felt positive about teaching on their course (NSS 2024)
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Student satisfaction
Top 3 in the UK for Biological Science Student Satisfaction (Complete University Guide, 2024).
Career - suitcase
Professional experience
Work based learning within industry through placement
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Earn more
Our graduates are among the highest paid in the country, earning on average £36,100 five years after graduating (Longitudinal Education Outcomes, 2023)
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Excellent prospects
Aston University was named runner-up in the University of the Year for Graduate Employment Award (Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2024)

Course description

BSc Biological Sciences

The Biological Sciences BSc degree at Aston will equip you with the skills, insights, and confidence required to become an outstanding biological scientist, well-equipped to address the complex challenges of today's world, from advancing medical breakthroughs and preserving our environment to solving critical issues in agriculture and biotechnology.

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What we will provide
First-class teaching in the UK's second-largest city, delivered by a diverse array of staff who will inspire and excite you, fantastic facilities that will bring your course to life through hands-on, practical experience; years of close industry collaboration that is harnessed to provide you with learning based on real-world needs. 

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What you will provide
It is important you learn how to adapt a growth mindset to your studies - understand that intelligence and success come from applying yourself, you must be able to demonstrate critical thinking and have ambition and drive to excel.

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What skills we teach
As a Biological Sciences student, you will learn the skills to work as a competent scientist in various professional settings. Royal Society of Biology (RSB) accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, preparing you to address the needs of employers. The criteria set by the RSB require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.

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Placement year
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. With hands-on laboratory experience, cutting-edge research opportunities, and expert faculty guidance, you'll be poised to make a meaningful impact in the field of biological sciences.

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Career prospects
Our Biological Sciences BSc degree is valued by some of the best-known companies in the world. Recent graduates have successfully secured careers with employers such as Abbott Laboratories, Asterand Bioscience, Aston University, Berwick Partners, IVC Brunel Healthcare, National Milk Laboratories, NHS Trusts, The Binding Site, Secondary Schools, and the University of Warwick.

How you will learn

Our teaching style is modern and innovative, with a hands-on approach that bridges the gap between theory and practice. This enables you to apply your skills as you progress through your course, marrying your learning with practical examples, all designed to prepare you for the world of work.

What you will learn

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.

Year 2

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

After year 2, students who achieve a minimum of 65% in their second year will be given the option to transfer onto the integrated masters MBiol programme. You can choose to take the placement year as MBiol Biological Sciences is available as 4 years without placement or 5 years with a placement year.

Placement year

You will have the opportunity to gain valuable career-boosting experience by setting your studies in the 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, and Biotechnology companies.

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. 

Facilities

Biological science students have access to a range of specialist facilities that reflect the hands-on learning within the field. In these settings, you gain practical experience alongside like-minded students, with workshops and lectures guided by industry professionals and expert technicians.

Biological Sciences facilities

  • Teaching laboratories 
  • Cell culture facilities  including laminar flow hoods, CO2 incubators, and bioreactors

Cutting edge laboratory equipment

  • Light microscopes and electron microscope
  • Centrifuge for separating components of a mixture
  • High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and Gas Chromatography (GC)

Course objectives

  1. Provides you with the opportunities to realise your academic potential through a range of learning experiences.
  2. Encourages you, through a practical approach, to have a passion for Biological Sciences and an enthusiasm for learning.
  3. Increases your understanding of the living world with particular emphasis on the human species.
  4. Develop your knowledge, skills and understanding of the professional biologist.
  5. Promote an awareness of the application of biological knowledge to human health and welfare.
  6. Provides you with an up-to-date and professionally focused curriculum satisfying the accreditation requirements of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
  7. Develop your creativity and innovation to become a graduate with skills and qualities for research, appropriate employment and a valuable contribution to Society.

Modules

Modules and learning outcomes

Year 1 modules

In your first year, you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Biomolecules - Explore key biomolecules (sugars, lipids, DNA, RNA, amino acids and proteins), how they are formed, their structure and function. Includes a large practical laboratory component giving hands-on experience of key biochemical techniques that can be used to study these biomolecules.30
Cells to Systems - Examine the basic structure, organisation and function of cells and sub-cellular structures. How cells communicate, the cell cycle, cell death, and how cells come together to forms tissues and organs with specialised functions.30
Microbiology and Genetics - A comprehensive introduction to the basic principles and fundamental skills of microbiology, as well as the core concepts of genetics and the use of model organisms.30
Metabolic Physiology for Biology - Explore the major metabolic pathways at the molecular level and the relationships between metabolism and physiology. Learn the basic anatomy of the human body and look at the structure and function of key body systems, such as the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system and the urinary system.30
Total120

Year 1 outcomes 

On successful completion of the first year, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the structure, function, synthesis and degradation of biomolecules.
  • Describe how biomolecules assemble into complex structures including cells.
  • Describe the structures and key components of cells.
  • Describe how genetic material is stored and inherited.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental microbiological concepts.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of cellular metabolism and anatomy and how they relate to physiology.
  • Safely undertake laboratory work and demonstrate a range of transferable practical skills.
  • Demonstrate numeracy, oral and written communication skills including use of IT software and professionalism.

Year 2 modules

In your second year, you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Molecular Biology and Biotechnology - Find out how microbes, enzymes, mammalian cells and molecular genetic techniques can be utilised for biotechnology applications, molecular diagnostics, and therapeutics30
Mechanisms of Pathology - Investigate the principles underlying pathology of a variety of diseases, how the immune system responds to infection or damage, and the ability of pathogens to cause cellular and tissue pathology.30
Human Disease - Explore the biological basis for human disease: causes, molecular mechanisms and currently available treatments. Develop transferable and research skills such as science communication, problem-solving, group work, and experimental design30
Cell Signalling and Physiology - In-depth coverage of the role of homeostasis in endocrinological (hormone) systems and the cell signalling pathways that underpin them.30
Total120

Year 2 outcomes 

On successful completion of the second year, you will be able to:

  • Integrate molecular knowledge to explain disease states.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of molecular biology, microbiology and cell biology and how they are applied in a variety of biotechnological applications.
  • Apply fundamental biological concepts to experimental and real world problems.
  • Explain the role that cell signalling plays in life processes.
  • Select appropriate experimental approaches and test hypotheses including the application of statistical tests.
  • Apply critical thinking for problem-solving and demonstrate team-working skills.

Year 3 modules

In your third year, you will undertake a placement:

Module TitleCredits
Biosciences Placement120
Total120

Year 3 outcomes 

On successful completion of the third year, you will be able to:

  • Reflect on their own performance and identify their strengths and limitations within a working environment.

Final year modules

In your final year, you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Research Project Preparation - Demonstrate practical competency in a range of fundamental biosciences techniques. Select and critically analyse relevant scientific literature for your project, including elements of health and safety legislation and appraisal of the ethical impacts of research.15
Research Project - Undertake an independent research project. Generate, analyse, interpret, draw conclusions, and present your findings in both written and oral formats.30
Professional Development for Biological Scientists - Develop a range of research and translational skills, such as critical analysis of data, good practice, and self-reflection, that will equip you to undertake scientific careers and demonstrate professional behaviour.30
Total75

and three of the following optional 15-credit modules:

Module TitleCredits
Applied Microbiology - Examine protein engineering techniques including site directed mutagenesis, high throughput mutagenesis, molecular evolution and gene editing, alongside other core molecular biology techniques including next generation sequencing, QPCR, and gene cloning.15
Advanced Molecular Biology - Gain an in-depth understanding of the use and study of microorganisms in research and biotechnology, including mechanisms of action of antibiotics, drug resistance and antibiotic drug discovery, as well as bacterial gene regulation and biogenesis.15
Bench to Bedside - This module provides in-depth knowledge and understanding of the principles and processes that are involved in translational research. It also focuses upon the challenges to overcome in order to successfully bring a therapeutic intervention from the bench to the bedside. In essence, how we go from basic science discoveries, to delivery in patients.15
Cancer Biology - This module provides an enhanced understanding of the biology of cancer, from its nomenclature and causes, to the mechanisms behind cancer metastasis (cancer spread). You will be introduced to conventional and novel cancer treatments, in addition to drug resistance in cancer.15
Immunology and Inflammation - The aim of this module is to provide advanced theoretical knowledge of the role of the immune system in health and disease.15
Metabolic Disease - Explore the biology that underpins metabolic disease, including the causes and consequences of obesity and associated metabolic conditions.15
Pharmacology and Toxicology - Understand pharmacological and toxicological concepts and apply these with team working and self-directed learning skills using problem-based learning approaches to interpret and communicate scientific data.15
Trends in Molecular Biosciences - Design and create materials to effectively communicate a complex biological
research topic to different kinds of non-specialist audiences.
15
Total45

Final year outcomes 

On successful completion of the final year, you will be able to:

  • Critically review scientific literature.
  • Create and test hypotheses using appropriate methodologies.
  • Gather, analyse and interpret data from your own studies and those of others.
  • Critically reflect on their own research and development to identify pathways for improvement.
  • Communicate effectively through a variety of media to a range of audiences.
  • Work within health and safety and ethical regulations within a research environment.

We regularly review our modules to provide the best possible teaching and learning experience, incorporating academic developments, student feedback and employer feedback.

There may be some change to some of the modules on this course for 2025/26 entry.

We’ll make sure to let you know of any changes to modules at the earliest opportunity by updating our course webpages. 
 
We’ll do our best to provide as much optional choice as we can, but timetabling constraints may mean it isn’t possible to take some module combinations. The structure of some courses means that the order of modules or the streams you choose may determine whether modules are core or optional. This means that your core modules or options may differ from what’s shown here.

Entry requirements

  • 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.*

  • Contextual offers

    Aston Ready is our contextual offer scheme that could reduce your undergraduate offer by one or two grades. Assessed at the point of application, there are no additional forms to fill in.

Contextual offer criteria

BTEC Qualification Name    BTEC grades required    A-Level Requirements
 
Extended Diploma 
 

Distinction*, Distinction*, Distinction*

OR

Distinction, Distinction, Distinction plus A Levels

This BTEC must be RQF – National in Applied Science D*D*D* (you do not require an additional A Level)

OR

This BTEC must be QCF in Applied Science DDD and you must also achieve grade B in A Level Biology

OR

If you are studying a non-science subject in this BTEC which is QCF or RQF – National then you must achieve DDD and 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 (D)    With this BTEC you must achieve grade BB in two science subjects including Chemistry PLUS Biology, Physics or Maths.
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 DiplomaDistinction (D)With this BTEC you must also achieve grades BB in two A Levels of which one must be Biology.

Standard offer: 31 points overall in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, which must include 5, 5, 5 in Higher Level subjects. These subjects must include Chemistry and one other science subject from Biology, Maths OR Physics. You must also have Standard Level grade 5 in both Maths and English Language. 

Contextual offer: 31 points overall, three Higher Level subjects at 5 5 5. These subjects must include Chemistry and one other science subject from Biology, Maths OR Physics. You must also have Standard Level grade 5 in both Maths and English Language for contextual offer students.*

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, and Medicine and Healthcare Professions.

Please note we do not accept Health and Social Care as it does not contain the amount of core science material required for subsequent undergraduate studies on this degree.

This qualification is not accepted for this course.

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

International students

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

Qualifications in your country

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification.

English language requirements

Aston University provides a range of opportunities for international students to join our community and study on our campus. A key part of our strategy is our relationships with teaching partners, providing multiple pathways to Aston.

Aston’s professional work placements can improve your chance of securing a graduate job. Placements give you experience, confidence and opportunities and, as an Aston student, you’ll be better prepared for your future career. One of the great things about Aston is our focus on employability. Our close links with businesses, industries and professions make this possible.

Find out more about applying

Post-study work visa

Aston University welcomed the creation of a new Graduate Immigration Route which enables international students to remain in the UK for two years after you complete your studies to find work. This new post-study work visa applies to international students completing full-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Graduate Immigration Route

Pathway Programmes

If you don’t meet our entry requirements, we have a range of pathway programmes offered by our partner, ONCAMPUS Aston, which you can complete to progress onto one of our degrees.

Other

Degree

We consider applicants for year 1 entry who are undertaking a degree in a related field elsewhere. You must meet the GCSE requirements and have at least BBB at A Level including Chemistry and one other science subject from: Biology, Maths OR Physics. A typical offer would be to achieve a 60% overall with no fails in any units. 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. 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.

Please note we do not accept year 2 transfers in any circumstance. This is due to integrated placements aspect of the course which starts from year one and also the accreditation of the content is for the whole course.

View our Transfers Policy

For further information regarding the transfers policy and Student Transfer Arrangements please check:  https://www2.aston.ac.uk/study/student-transfer

Age of qualifications

Applicants must normally have achieved their eligible academic qualifications for entry onto this course within the last two years. Applicants presenting qualifications older than two years will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Academic Admissions Lead.

External Foundation Programmes

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 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above including Maths and English. You need achieve a total of three A Levels, BBB in any subjects OR CCC including one science from Chemistry, Biology, Physics, or Maths.

Any conditional offers made will be based on meeting a specific grade in your foundation programme. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications.

 

Fees and scholarships

Course fees

UK students
(2024/25)

Annual tuition fees:£9,250
During placement year:£1,250

International students (2024/25)

Annual tuition fees:£20,700
During placement year:£2,500

Fees listed are for 2024 entry. For Sandwich courses the placement fee is £1250 for Home/UK students and £2,500 for International students. For Home students: Tuition fees for UK/Home students may change in line with government policy. When undertaking a placement year, a placement year fee applies. For International students: The International students fee is a fixed annual fee for the duration of the Programme, except whilst on placement when a placement year fee applies.

More information on fees

For Home students: Tuition fees for UK/Home students may change in line with government policy.

For International students: The International students fee is a fixed annual fee for the duration of the Programme, except whilst on placement when a placement year fee applies.

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.

Assessment

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.

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 and peer assessment.

Career prospects

Our Biological Sciences BSc programme will prepare you for a range of careers across the public, private and third sectors. Our graduates are among the highest paid in the country, according to the 2023 Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO). This data shows that five years after graduation, employed Aston University graduates have the 15th highest median salary among all UK Higher Education Institutions, with a median salary of £36,100.

Our graduates enter a wide range of professional careers, including research, health, welfare, and 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, and 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
Alumni

Be part of our community

Once you have joined us at Aston University, you’ll always be part of our community, even beyond graduation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between BSc Biological and BSc Biomedical Science?

In biological sciences, 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 accreditation 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 career support, advice and placement opportunities.

For those interested in working in the UK after they have graduated, the UK Government has created a new post-study work visa.

Is Birmingham a good place to study?

Our campus is based in the centre of Birmingham, the youngest major city in Europe and a great place to live, work and study.

  • Great music and entertainment with a vibrant nightlife. Bars, clubs, pubs, live music, festivals, concerts. Whatever your tastes, there's something here for everyone.
  • Fantastic food. Birmingham's diverse community means you can try anything from the famous Balti triangle, the Chinese Quarter, high street chains, halal and vegan food, and Michelin-star dining.
  • World-class shopping. The Bullring and Grand Central is a shopper's paradise. From the world's biggest Primark to luxury brands at the Mailbox.
  • Arts and culture. Museums, galleries, theatres, concerts and Birmingham's art collection is as wide as it is impressive - not to be missed.
  • Green, open spaces. One of the greenest cities in Europe, Birmingham has hundreds of publicly accessible parks and green spaces across the city.
  • Sporting action. Birmingham has some of the most exciting venues for watching or participating in sport in the UK.

Discover Birmingham

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