BSc Biology

The information on this page relates to September 2016 entry. For 2017 information, including grade requirements, please check our prospectus.

This BSc Biology Degree at Aberystwyth University will be taught in the highly prestigious Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences. The Biology degree (C100) is very popular offering a state-of-the-art teaching and learning experience, in a habitat renowned for its biological diversity and beauty.

When you successfully complete this Biology degree you'll have the technical and theoretical understanding that employers seek, and you'll have the modern skills and competences demanded for a successful career.

Read the sections below and find out more...


The BSc Biology programme will give you a solid foundation in the study of microbial, plant, animal and ecological biology. This course will also help you fine-tune your scientific approach and enable you to tailor your degree towards your future career or research specialism. This course will nurture both your intellectual curiosity and your general scientific practice. You will investigate subjects including genetics, cellular biology, animal behaviour, ecosystems, humanity's impact on the environment, and many more. As you study, you will receive expert tuition in scientific protocol and hands-on lab work, such as the correct experimental methodology for recording, interpreting and reporting data. 

Why study Biology at Aberystwyth?

This course is delivered by our Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), which is an internationally-recognised centre of excellence and an award-winning research and teaching centre. It is also one of the largest and most well-resourced institutions in the country, with over 300 research, teaching and technical staff conducting biological research from the molecular level right up to global level.

The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences is a recipient of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. The award recognises work of outstanding excellence and world-class achievement, and acknowledges the work of scientists at the institute in various disciplines.

The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences won the ''Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology'' category award at the Times Higher Education Awards 2013.

The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences also won one of the first ever Excellence with Impact Awards from the BBSRC, the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. The award recognises those university departments which aremost active in embedding a culture that promotes and values the achievement of impact alongside excellent research. In a joint entry to the Research Excellence Framework (2014) with Bangor University, the institute was placed in the top 10 in the UK for research intensity. It also found that 78% of research is world-leading or internationally excellent. 

93% of our 2014 IBERS graduates were in employment or further study 6 months after graduating, up 6 percentage points from the previous year (DLHE 2014). This increase reflects our investment in innovative and strategic student-focused employability initiatives which encompass all our academic Institutes and which we firmly believe are likely to improve our employability ratings still further.

The 2015 National Student Satisfaction survey results also show a significant improvement with 92% of students satisfied with the quality of the teaching on their course (5 percentage points higher than the UK average).

The Institute has excellent facilities for Biology students including the Biological Service Unit, Mass Spectrometry and Analytical Unit, the Modeling laboratory for spatial and temporal integration of biological data, the Computational Biological laboratory with a custom-built robotic workstation, and the Advanced Microscopy and Bio-imaging Laboratory.

You will have the opportunity to undertake fieldwork in the local vicinity or as part of a residential field course away from Aberystwyth. You will have a choice of several thematic field courses and locations, depending where your biological interests lie.

Aberystwyth itself is surrounded by a great diversity of beautiful environments, including marine, moorland, mountain, waterways, grassland and coast, which provides you with a fabulous variety of fieldwork and recreational opportunities.

The Department offers a number of modules taught through the medium of Welsh. Further details may be obtained from the department.

Course Content

Welsh medium modules available

Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.

Year 1 Core (70 Credits) You must take the following modules

Semester 1

Biology Of The Cell BR10310

Genetics BR11310

Animal Diversity BR11500

Biological Molecules And Methods BR11710

Semester 2

Animal Diversity BR11520

Metabolism BR12010

Molecular Laboratory Skills BR12210

Year 1 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 1

Sgiliau Astudio A Chyfathrebu BG12410

Study And Communication Skills BR12410

Year 1 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 2

Llystyfiant Ac Ecosystemau BG12920

Vegetation And Ecosystems BR12920

Year 1 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 2

Amrywiaeth Microbau BG12110

Microbial Diversity BR12110

Year 1 Options Choose 10 credits

Semester 1

Biological Thought And Discovery BR12510

The Biosphere BR13210

Year 2 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 1

Profiad Gwaith BG24200

Work Experience BR24200

Semester 2

Profiad Gwaith BG24210

Work Experience BR24210

Year 2 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 1

Dulliau Ymchwil BG23400

Research Methods BR23400

Semester 2

Dulliau Ymchwil BG23420

Research Methods BR23420

Year 2 Options SECTION A: You MUST choose at least 20 credits from this section.

Semester 1

Advances In Invertebrate Zoology BR22410

Molecular Cell And Cancer Biology BR22720

Understanding Biological Research BR24410

Semester 2

Immunology BR22220

Vertebrate Anatomy BR23710

Year 2 Options SECTION B: You MUST choose at least 20 credits from this section. Where modules are offered bilingually: choose your preferred language if applicable

Semester 1

Applied Molecular Biology And Bioinformatics BR20620

Infectious Diseases BR22310

Proteins And Enzymes BR23210

Understanding Biological Research BR24410

Semester 2

Sgiliau Ymarferol Microbioleg BG23010

Evolution And Molecular Systematics BR21720

Practical Skills For Biochemists BR22920

Practical Skills In Microbiology BR23010

Tropical Zoology Field Course BR23820

Advances In Human Biosciences BR24610

Year 2 Options SECTION C: You MUST choose at least 20 credits from this section. Where modules are offered bilingually: choose your preferred language if applicable

Semester 1

Climate Change: Plants, Animals And Ecosystems BR21120

Ethology BR21620

Marine Biology BR22620

Monitoring The Environment BR22810

Understanding Biological Research BR24410

Semester 2

Ecoleg Microbau Dyfrol A Daearol BG20810

Arolygu Ecolegol BG21420

Aquatic And Terrestrial Microbial Ecology BR20810

Ecological Surveying BR21420

Freshwater Biology BR22020

Tropical Zoology Field Course BR23820

Final Year Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually and in EITHER semester: choose your preferred language and semester

Final Year Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 1

Traethawd Estynedig BG32300

Dissertation BR32300

Semester 2

Traethawd Estynedig BG32330

Dissertation BR32330

Final Year Options If you choose to select a field course as part of your options you may choose ONE only. Where field courses are offered bilingually: choose your preferred language if applicable.

Semester 1

Cwrs Maes Ecoleg Ddaearol, Iwerddon BG32110

Tropical Rainforest Ecology And Conservation (trec) Field Course BR30120

Animal Behaviour Field Course BR32710

Evolution Field Course BR32810

Terrestrial Ecology Field Course BR33110

Final Year Options Choose 80 credits. EITHER entirely from the modules below, OR 60 credits with an accompanying 20 credit field course, OR 70 credits with an accompanying 10 credit field course. (Note: due to limited spaces on field courses, attendance must be agreed in advance with the module co-ordinator)

Semester 1

Bioinformatics And Functional Genomics BR31420

Behavioural Neurobiology BR31510

Conservation Genetics BR31810

Data-handling For Biochemists BR32110

Microbes In Industry And Research BR33620

Parasitology BR33820

Population And Community Ecology BR33920

Semester 2

Biochemistry And Pharmacology BR31220

Biodiversity Of Birds BR31320

Environmental Animal Physiology BR32420

Gene Expression And Developmental Genetics BR33320

Microbial Pathogenesis BR33720


Career Prospects

Your BSc in Biology opens up a range of exciting opportunities for employment and further training. You will be a strong candidate for work as a research scientist, a clinical molecular geneticist, a nature conservation officer, a higher education lecturer or secondary school teacher. Recent statistics from HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) show that biology graduates also undertake further training to become dentists, general practice doctors and science writers.

Transferable Skills

Studying for a degree in Biology will equip you with a range of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers. These include:

• research and data analysis skills
• enhanced mathematical and computational skills
• effective problem-solving and creative thinking skills
• a thorough grounding in information technology skills
• the ability to work independently
• time-management and organisational skills, including the ability to meet deadlines
• the ability to express ideas and communicate information in a clear and structured manner, in both written and oral form
• self-motivation and self-reliance
• team-working, with the ability to discuss concepts in groups, accommodating different ideas and reaching agreement

You will be able to gather, assimilate and interpret a wealth of information quickly and accurately, and you will be confident in selecting and deploying the most appropriate scientific methodology. You will also have proven your abilities in structuring and communicating ideas efficiently, writing for and speaking to a range of audiences, working effectively with others and working within time frames and to specific deadlines.

Year in Employment scheme (YES)
The University operates a Year in Employment Scheme (YES), which offers you a fantastic opportunity to take a year out between your second and third year to work in an organisation in the UK or overseas. YES provides a very rewarding and worthwhile experience, both personally and professionally, and can help you to stand out from the crowd in a very competitive job market. The University’s Career Service will help you to explore your options and secure a suitable work placement.

GO Wales
GO Wales is administered by the University’s Career Service, working with local businesses to create paid work placements of a few weeks’ duration for students. It gives you the opportunity to gain valuable work experience which will enhance your CV and make you more attractive to potential employers.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

What will I learn?

In the first year you will develop your knowledge and understanding of the diversity of biological disciplines with modules covering the structure and function of plants, animals and microbes at the organismal, cellular and molecular (genetic and biochemical) levels. You will look at the major animal vertebrate and invertebrate groups, focusing on the physiology of these animals with respect to sensing the environment, muscle and locomotion, nutrition, endocrinology, cardiovascular respiratory systems, and homeostasis. You will be introduced to the diversity of microbial life, vegetation and ecosystems. You will also undertake a series of linked experiments that will develop the basic practical skills required for research.

In the second year you will have the opportunity to select modules from a range covering the major areas of Biology, including cell biology, immunology, genetics, and microbiology. Topics such as infectious diseases, marine or freshwater biology, or the impact of climate change on ecosytems will allow you to tailor your study programme to suit your own interests. You will become acquainted with the principles and practice of a range of basic quantitative and qualitative procedures of data analysis, coupled with an understanding of good research design and planning. You will also undertake a period of work experience which will enhance your employability skills and enable you to reflect on your future career development.

In the third year you will be able to specialise further in your chosen area, with optional modules ranging from bioinformatics, biochemistry, parasitology and gene expression to the biodiversity of birds. The opportunity to take part in a residential field course away from Aberystwyth will enable you to observe organisms in a range of settings and gain further experience of field sampling and laboratory analysis. A compulsory dissertation will allow you to perform in-depth research under the guidance of a supervisor. Your project may be based on laboratory experiments or fieldwork exercises, comprise a computer modelling exercise, or involve a critical review of published scientific literature.

Among many skills, you will learn to: synthesize information from scientific literature; understand and explain the implications of developments like genome sequencing; scrutinise data in terms of quality and quantity; and respond to new data through laboratory investigation.

How will I be taught?

The course will be delivered through a balanced programme of lectures, workshops, tutorials, and practicals. Some aspects of the course will rely on student-centered e-learning, supported by computer workshops. You will receive thorough training in biological concepts and practical scientific methods.

You will be assessed through numerous methods including essays, practical exercises, oral presentations, worksheets, reports, statistical exercises, dossiers, posters, portfolios, wikis, reflective diaries, literature reviews, magazine articles, field notebooks and exams.

You will be assigned a personal tutor throughout your degree course, who will help you with any problems or queries, whether these are academic-related or personal issues. You should feel free to contact them at any time for help and advice.

You will also have the opportunity to complete a Personal Development Plan (PDP) at Aberystwyth. This is a structured process of self-appraisal, reflection, and planning, which will enable you to chart your personal, academic and professional development throughout your time at university. By recording your academic performance, and highlighting the skills you already have and those you will need for future employability, the PDP portfolio will equip you with the necessary tools to plan effectively, develop successful approaches to study, and consider your future career options and aspirations.

The lectures, seminars and the Department's supportive staff will greatly assist you in your biological training. You will also benefit from the many opportunities within the department and the university to develop your academic rigour and professionalism so that, upon graduation, you are perfectly positioned for the next stage of your career.

Student Views

It's great, I get to cover a large range of topics which allows me to tailor my modules to my own taste and make it fit my interests and needs. Elizabeth Smith

It is very broad and caters for the interests of anyone wishing to study biology. The modules in the second year allow you to specialize in subject areas that you are interested in. The flexibility of the degree scheme is very attractive to a prospective student who is not yet sure where their true interests lie. The practicals are diverse and well spread over the academic year and reinforce lecture material. Jodie Ackland

Biology is the study of life. To me, that is the most important study of all. From the smallest Archaea in extreme conditions to the dense masses and diversity of a rainforest, Biology covers it all with unbelievable detail and fantastic enthusiasm, particularly at Aberystwyth University. The teaching at Aberystwyth has allowed me to explore certain aspects of biology that I find fascinating, allowing me to acquire skills that will help me succeed in the future with a career I want. Biology at Aberystwyth: I wouldn't have it any other way. Matthew Collins

Key Information Set

Key Facts

UCAS Code: C100

Tariff Required: 290 - 330

Entry Requirements: GCSE: grade C in English or Welsh and Mathematics and a science subject. A level: grade B in Biology or Human Biology required. Lower tariff points offers will be given to students studying more science subjects at A level, in addition to Biology or Human Biology.

Course Length: 3 Years

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