Life Sciences

Key Facts

Code C990
  • Typical A-level offer

    Available to candidates without formal qualifications who have suitable background education, experience and motivation

  • Course Length

    4 Years

Further details on entry requirements

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In choosing Aberystwyth University's Life Sciences Degree (C990), you will discover an effective way of entering university to study biological sciences if you lack the necessary qualifications to enter directly onto one of our three-year programmes. The first year is a foundation year covering the fundamentals of life sciences that includes biology, chemistry, microbiology, cell biology, and biochemistry amongst others. On successful completion of the foundation year of the Life Sciences Degree you will be able to transfer onto any of the three-year degree schemes offered by the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences. Alternatively you may choose to study Sport and Exercise Science after completing the first year of the Life Sciences Degree.

 Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS): 91% student satisfaction (NSS 2016)

92% of undergraduates from IBERS who graduated in 2015 were in employment or further education six months after graduating (DLHE 2015)

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Employability
  • Teaching, Learning and Assessment
  • Student Views


The BSc in Life Sciences is specifically designed to provide you with an alternative route into higher education to study biology or science if you lack the qualifications required for direct entry, or if you come from a non-traditional academic background. This course will give you a solid foundation in a range of scientific disciplines including biology, chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry and environmental biology. The course also includes instruction in mathematics, computing, higher education study skills and laboratory techniques. Successful completion of the first year of study is followed by transfer to one of our many prestigious BSc courses, including Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Zoology, and Ecology. You may also choose to study Sport and Exercise Science.

Why study Life Sciences 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 of its kind in the UK, with over 300 research, teaching and technical staff conducting scientific 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 excellence and world-class achievement, and acknowledges the outstanding 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 recently 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 are most 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. 

The Institute has a range of excellent facilities including aquaria for marine and freshwater organisms, the Biological Service Unit, Mass Spectrometry and Analytical Unit, the Modeling laboratory for spatial and temporal integration of biological data, the Advanced Microscopy and Bio-imaging Laboratory, an extensive range of growth rooms and glasshouses, the National Plant Phenomics Centre, and university farms and equine centre.

Aberystwyth itself is surrounded by a great diversity of beautiful environments, including rocky and sandy shores, estuaries, saltmarsh, moorland, mountain, grassland and woodland, 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.

Our Staff

The majority of teaching staff at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences are qualified to PhD level and are research active. Vocational courses also have staff whose background lies within industry.  The Institute has a large number of research only staff with whom students may have contact.

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 (120 Credits) You must take the following modules

Semester 1

Communication Skills BR01100
Practical Skills For Biologists BR01200
Molecules And Cells BR01340

Semester 2

Communication Skills BR01120
Practical Skills For Biologists BR01220
Organisms And The Environment BR01440


Career Prospects

Your BSc in Life Sciences opens up a range of exciting opportunities for employment and further training. Depending on your chosen discipline, you will be a strong candidate for work as a research scientist, a conservation officer, a higher education lecturer or secondary school teacher. 

Throughout your training you will develop a wealth of skills that can be easily transferred into almost any graduate or professional employment situation.

Transferable Skills

Studying for a degree in Life Sciences 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
• the facility to deal with abstract concepts
• 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

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 receive thorough training in biological concepts and scientific methods. You will take introductory modules in chemistry, biology, microbiology, and cell biology, which will provide you with the necessary background for whichever course you decide to pursue following the foundation year. To support you in your studies you will also take a mathematics and computing module for biologists, which will equip you with the skills you will need for handling biological data, such as using spreadsheets and web-based research tools. A further module in communications skills will teach you how to plan, research and write essays, and accustom you to team-working and giving oral presentations.

Following the foundation year you will transfer to one of the degree schemes offered by the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, or to the Sport and Exercise Science programme. You will receive support and advice from your lecturers to help you make the most appropriate choice of degree scheme.

How will I be taught?

This course will be delivered through a balanced programme of lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical work, supplemented by laboratory research and experimentation, and individual and group tasks.

You will be assessed through essays, practical exercises, survey reports, portfolios, oral presentations and exams.

The University's scientific community and the Department's supportive staff will greatly assist you in your scientific 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.

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..

Student Views

I loved doing the C990 Life Sciences course as it was a route for me into higher education as a mature student. Having done little classroom-based learning since I left school 25 years ago, the C990 course eased me gently into the learning environment and allowed me to feel at home on the university campus before the start of my degree proper. The course material has been a useful springboard into the first year of my degree, and I feel that it was even better preparation than A levels would have been. Full marks Aberystwyth! Fiona Tyson

I really enjoyed C990 Life Sciences because it gave me lots of experience about university life and living away from home for the first time. I got to know the lecturers very well because we had such a small class. The tasks we did and the skills I gained in C990 gave me an advantage in Year 1 because I had become familiar with the way reports were structured, and how lab practicals and exams were run. I feel that I am focusing better because I previously did the C990 foundation year. Now I don't worry about missing home because I have already settled into university life. My work is benefiting so much because I did the C990 course! Helen Louise Hayes

Entry Requirements

A Levels Available to candidates without formal qualifications who have suitable background education, experience and motivation

GCSE requirements (grade C min):

BTEC National Diploma:
Available to candidates without formal qualifications who have suitable background education, experience and motivation

International Students

International Baccalaureate:
Available to candidates without formal qualifications who have suitable background education, experience and motivation

European Baccalaureate:
Available to candidates without formal qualifications who have suitable background education, experience and motivation

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