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Biology, BSc

Biology, BSc

Course Overview


Our degree in Biology requires you to develop a broad understanding of the nature of living things, from molecules and cells to organisms and populations, communities and biomes, but crucially, it also allows you to become a specialist in the area that is of most interest to you.

Your courses (modules) will give you an excellent foundation in the theory and practical elements behind the study of life and provide you with the technical skills to pursue your own interests through your project work.

You will graduate with a deep understanding of the terrestrial and marine environments and the wealth of organisms that live there.

LEARNING MODE On Campus Learning
DURATION 48 months
What You'll Study

Each year you take a selection of compulsory courses and optional courses which can be chosen from those on offer across the institution. The first two years lay a foundation for the more specialised third and fourth years.

How You'll Study

Combine practice and theory

Typically, one third of your class time is practical and many courses include full-day practical classes and field visits. Most students take at least one residential field trip during their degree; these trips bring the subjects to life and provide the opportunity to make great friendships and get to know staff members.

Research experience

You are actively involved in scientific research throughout your degree. In Year 4, you conduct independent research which can be pivotal to your career choice whether it be in dolphins, water voles, rare plants, tropical forest ecology, climate change in the Arctic, or any one of a diverse range of other exciting topics!

Engaging and inspiring teaching

Our teaching methods are diverse, innovative and based on research on how students learn. For example, we use problem-based learning approaches, creative presentations, peer and self-assessment, presenting posters in public meetings, writing and editing wikis, writing grant proposals, science writing for publication, and the creation of portfolios using multi-media.

Opportunities for Study Abroad and work-related learning

You can take advantage of an optional year-out on a work placement in any of our degree programmes. Study Abroad is encouraged for students in their second year; we have established partnerships with institutions in the USA, Canada, Australia, China and numerous countries in Europe.

In year one you take eight courses, including five foundation Biology courses and a course in Chemistry. This leaves a choice of two further courses which would normally contribute towards enhanced study.

Compulsory Courses

Professional Skills Part 1 (NT1001)
Frontiers in Biological Sciences (NT1009) – 15 Credit Points
Diversity of Life 1 (NT1012) – 15 Credit Points
The Cell (NT1501) – 15 Credit Points
Ecology and Environmental Science (NT1511) – 15 Credit Points
Diversity of Life 2 (NT1512) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Plus 45 credit points from courses of choice.

Year two consists of eight courses, including a skills course in Life Sciences. This leaves a choice of two further courses for enhanced study.

Compulsory Courses

Genes and Evolution (NT2017) – 15 Credit Points
Biological Enhanced Skills Training (BEST) (NT2018) – 15 Credit Points
Ecology (NT2020) – 15 Credit Points
Plants, People, and the Environment (NT25P4) – 15 Credit Points
Principles of Animal Physiology (NT2510) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Choose one of the following field courses:

  • NT5F1 Plants and their Habitats in Northern Scotland
  • NT25F4 Fish and Shellfish Biology
  • NT25F3 Parasitology
  • NT25F2 Coastal Biodiversity
  • NT25F1 Freshwater and Terrestrial Ecology
  • NT25F1 Littoral and Sublittoral Marine Biology Field Course

Plus 15 credit points from first half-session courses of choice.

In year 3 you have the opportunity to follow a more focused curriculum or maintain breadth in the programme. Additional courses are selected from the range of courses offered in biological sciences.

Compulsory Courses

Statistical Analysis of Biological Data (NT3010) – 15 Credit Points
Animal Evolution and Biodiversity (NT3011) – 15 Credit Points
Plant Environment Interactions (NT3505) – 15 Credit Points
Environmental Physiology (NT3513) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Plus 60 credit points from courses of choice, at least 30 of which must be from courses delivered by the School of Biological Sciences at level 3.

In year 4, the Honours year, you will carry out a research project as well as writing an extended essay and completing four courses of your choosing. The research project can be undertaken in any of the biological disciplines.

Compulsory Courses

SBS Honours Project (Semester 1) (NT4016) – 45 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Plus 75 credit points from courses of choice, at least 45 of which must be from courses delivered by the School of Biological Sciences at level 4.

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies learnt on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, year of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Biology?
  • Having over fifty members of staff with different research interests means that later in your degree you can work within one of our research groups, carrying out cutting-edge research in an area of biology that attracts you.
  • Our researchers work on birds, mammals, invertebrates in terrestrial and marine environments and plants in all environments from alpine to the tropics.
  • You will benefit from the extraordinary breadth of teaching and research we have to offer and have the opportunity to get involved in everything from advanced molecular research in the laboratory to pioneering field work in the mountains, deep sea and tropics.
  • You will gain invaluable experience from attending at least one of our highly-rated residential field courses in the Cairngorms, Shetland, Yorkshire, Spain or at one of our own facilities, namely The Lighthouse (Sea Mammal Research Centre) on the Black Isle, and the field centre at Bettyhill, on the north coast of Sutherland.
  • You will have the opportunity to get involved in our research through summer research assistantships, project work, and a compulsory final year research project.
  • At our regular careers events, you will have the opportunity to listen to and meet prospective employers from outside the university, giving you excellent opportunities to get a fulfilling and challenging job in a biological field.


Biology courses are designed to provide a broad set of specialist and generic skills. A considerable number of graduates continue their education by reading for higher degrees. Graduates find full-time employment in a wide range of careers. Typical employers include universities, research institutes, government agencies (e.g. SEPA, SNH), environmental consultancies, environmental charities, the National Health Service, and commercial enterprises in aquaculture, animal nutrition, and animal health.

One of the great advantages of having a biology degree from the Northampton University is that it provides you with a very broad range of skills to offer employers. Not only do we train students in scientific methodology in the laboratory and in the field, we incorporate what we call ‘graduate attributes’ into the whole curriculum. Employers now expect an impressive list of skills, knowledge and experience in their graduate recruits and we aim to help you acquire these.

      Entry requirements


      SQA Highers

      Standard: AABB*

      Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

      Minimum: BBB*

      Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

      Adjusted: BB*

      Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

      * Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

      A LEVELS

      Standard: BBB*

      Minimum: BBC*

      Adjusted: CCC*

      * Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

      International Baccalaureate

      32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL*.

      * Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

      Irish Leaving Certificate

      5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB*, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)

      * Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

      English Language Requirements

      English Language Requirements

      To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Northampton University it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:


      IELTS Academic:

      OVERALL – 6.0 with: Listening – 5.5; Reading – 5.5; Speaking – 5.5; Writing – 6.0

      TOEFL iBT:

      OVERALL – 78 with: Listening – 17; Reading – 18; Speaking – 20; Writing – 21

      PTE Academic:

      OVERALL – 54 with: Listening – 51; Reading – 51; Speaking – 51; Writing – 54

      Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

      OVERALL – 169 with: Listening – 162; Reading – 162; Speaking – 162; Writing – 169

      How to apply


      This programm by online learning has start dates in September and January of each academic year. 

      We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for applicants who may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test

      Documentation required

      Applications are made online via the University Application Service, EUCLID.

      Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you have included the following documentation with your application:

      • Degree certificates showing award of degree.
      • Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes.
      • A reference in support or your application. The reference should be academic and dated no earlier than one year from the start of study on the LLM programme.
      • Evidence of English language proficiency, if required.

      If you are currently studying for your degree or you are not in a possession of an English test result you may still apply to the programme. Please note that it is your responsibility to submit the necessary documents.

      After you apply

      After your application has been submitted you will be able to track its progress through the University’s applicant hub.

      Application processing times will vary however the admissions team will endeavour to process your application within four to six weeks of submission. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.

      You will be informed as soon as possible of the decision taken. Three outcomes are possible:

      • You may be offered a place unconditionally
      • You may be offered a conditional place, which means that you must fulfil certain conditions that will be specified in the offer letter. Where a conditional offer is made, it is your responsibility to inform the College Postgraduate Office when you have fulfilled the requirements set out.
      • Your application may be unsuccessful. If your application has not been successful, you can request feedback from us or refer to our guidance for unsuccessful applicants, which explains some of the common reasons we why we reach this decision.
        View the University’s guidance for unsuccessful applicants
      Terms and conditions of admissions
      • The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.

        Northampton University admissions terms and conditions