BSc Plant Biology

A blue flower

Plants provide an essential foundation for life on earth and have a crucial role to play in solving some of the most serious problems facing the human race, such as food shortages and rising carbon emissions. Never before has there been such urgency to train a new generation of plant biologists who can develop future technologies and approaches to respond to these challenges. 

  Here’s why we think Aberystwyth is a great place to be a Plant Biologist:

  • Passionate teaching staff that are also world-leading researchers
  • World class facilities for plant biology teaching and research, including a botanical garden with tropical glasshouse, modern laboratories, microscopy suite, historic botanical specimen collection, and the National Plant Phenomics Centre
  • Local access to a wide range of flora, and sites that are of international importance
  • Direct links to industry, with companies on campus, international company links, and a soon-to-be-built innovation campus that will house even more plant-focussed companies

100% student satisfaction on our Plant Biology degree scheme (NSS 2016)

 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)


There has never been such a good time to study Plant Biology. The number of job opportunities far exceeds graduates yet we should all know that it is the science for our future.

What will you be taught?

The Plant Biology degree course at Aberystwyth enables you to study plant life in all its aspects, from the molecular through to ecological and agricultural systems. It encompasses issues of worldwide importance, such as the implications of genetic modification of crops and global climate change. The type of subjects you may study include:

  • Plant physiology and climate change
  • Crop science and agricultural systems
  • Plant pests and pathogens 
  • Ecological surveying and plant identification

You may also have the opportunity to go on foreign study tours. At present we go to the Swedish Arctic, Ireland and Borneo. (please note that places may be limited and you will be required to make a financial contribution). 

Passionate teaching staff who are expert in their field

You’ll be taught by world class and award winning Plant Biologists who are passionate about their science.

Fantastic facilities
As a budding Plant Biologist you’ll have access to some of the best facilities in the world. We have modern, well-equipped teaching laboratories, lecture theatres, and seminar rooms. You’ll also benefit from other facilities including:

  • Extensive state of the art glasshouse facilities over two campuses, including our very own Tropical glasshouse and plant collection 
  • An advanced microscopy and bio-imaging laboratory
  • The National Plant Phenomics Centre (UK Government funded) 
  • Extensive plant breeding facilities (e.g. 2/3 of all oats produced in the UK are from IBERS bred varieties)
  • World leading plant Genetic Resources collections and databases and facilities for DNA sequencing

Unrivalled access to flora

One of the many benefits of Aberystwyth is its access to local flora: 

  • We have a wide range of habitats within easy reach, including oak woodlands, coastal sand dunes, salt-marshes, raised bogs, freshwater lakes and uplands
  • Aberystwyth is close to the Snowdonia National park offering the unique opportunity to learn about rare Arctic-Alpine plants resident in the UK
  • IBERS closely collaborates with the National Botanic Garden of Wales and have a joint member of academic staff. NBGW resources and facilities are just a short drive away
  • IBERS has extensive plant resources collected from all over the world

A world renowned teaching and research institute 

  • IBERS (the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences) is one of the largest and best resourced institutes of its kind in Europe.  
  • IBERS was awarded the “Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology” award at the 2013 Times Higher Education Awards. 
  • IBERS students won the “Biology Student of the Year” award at the European Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Awards in 2011, and were finalists in 2013. Could you be the next winner? 
  • Top 10 in the UK for research intensity in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment (2014).
  • 78% of research assessed to be world-leading or internationally excellent in the 2014 REF.

International opportunities

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not take the chance to study abroad during your degree? We have exchange agreements with universities in Europe, USA, Canada, and elsewhere, so you can apply to spend all or part of your 2nd year studying plant biology overseas. You’ll miss Aberystwyth, but you’ll love the new perspectives international study can bring.

Want to study in Welsh?

Students can elect to study a number of IBERS modules in the medium of Welsh. Ask the department for further details.

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 (70 Credits) You must take the following modules

Semester 1

Biology Of The Cell BR10310

Genetics BR11310

Biological Molecules And Methods BR11710

Animal Life BR13110

Semester 2

Metabolism BR12010

Molecular Laboratory Skills BR12210

Studying The Dynamic Countryside BR12610

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

Semester 2

Datblygu A Rheoli Cynefinoedd Ym Mhrydain BG10810

The Development And Management Of British Habitats BR10810

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 2 Core (50 Credits) You must take the following modules

Semester 1

Climate Change: Plants, Animals And Ecosystems BR21120

Understanding Biological Research BR24410

Semester 2

Agronomy And Crop Improvement BR20320

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

Semester 2

Arolygu Ecolegol BG21420

Ecological Surveying BR21420

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 Choose 20 credits. Where modules are offered bilingually: choose your preferred language if applicable. (Note: due to limited spaces on field courses, attendance must be agreed in advance with the module co-ordinator)

Semester 1

Bwyd, Ffermio A'r Amgylchedd BG21920

Applied Molecular Biology And Bioinformatics BR20620

Food, Farming And The Environment BR21920

Arctic Ecology Field Course BR23620

Final Year Core (60 Credits) You must take the following modules

Semester 1

The Agri-environment BR30420

Semester 2

Crop And Grassland Production Science BR32020

Microbial Pathogenesis BR33720

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

Both Semesters

Cyfathrebu Ymchwil BG31710

Communicating Research BR31710

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 Choose 20 credits. 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. (Note: due to limited spaces on field courses, attendance must be agreed in advance with the module co-ordinator)

Semester 1

Cwrs Maes Ecoleg Ddaearol, Iwerddon BG32110

Tropical Rainforest Ecology And Conservation (trec) Field Course BR30120

Bioinformatics And Functional Genomics BR31420

Conservation Genetics BR31810

Terrestrial Ecology Field Course BR33110


You will be fully supported with developing your employability skills throughout the degree scheme. The degree will allow you to develop specialist skills such as the ability to survey and collect botanical and environmental data in the field as well as developing a range of transferable skills highly valued by employers. You will join a department that has excellent facilities to support your studies; £55 million pounds has been invested over the last five years in IBERS infrastructure. Many students as part of their supervised final year project have access to highly specialised facilities such as botany gardens with dedicated plant growth facilities. You will benefit from the unique biodiversity in west Wales which provides plenty of opportunities for extensive fieldwork to develop practical skills and knowledge. These facilities enable students to develop their specialist skills and knowledge preparing them for a successful transition into the workplace. IBERS staff have close links with many learned societies such as the Society of Biology which provide a route for students to network with others in their discipline and explore funding opportunities and recognition for their work. Guest lecturers and expert external teachers also contribute to the curriculum to pass on their sector expertise and knowledge.

The department has resources on the virtual learning environment, Aberlearn Blackboard to support your development and has a dedicated Twitter feed to keep students informed of career developmental opportunities and work experience. Students have participated in a work experience module to help them identify and reflect on the employability skills they are developing through their work experience.

The department has a close working relationship with the Careers Service who can help and support you sourcing work experience opportunities locally and nationally. Students from the department have participated in work taster opportunities in local secondary schools to gain experience of teaching science and volunteering with local wildlife trusts. You can also participate in the Year in Employment Scheme (YES) to gain graduate level work experience and IBERS students have successfully gained placements with a number of employers including the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Kew Gardens.

A high proportion of Plant Biology graduates pursue careers related to their degree subject, such as plant research, horticulture, agriculture, conservation and environmental consultancy. Our graduates are excellently placed to apply for jobs with organisations such as DEFRA, the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, the Natural Environment Research Council, Kew Gardens and the Forestry Commission. However, a degree in Plant Biology does not restrict you to pursuing a career in environmental research or conservation, studying for a degree in Plant Biology will equip you with a range of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The Plant Biology degree scheme is studied through a combination of local and residential field visits, laboratory practicals, tutorials and interactive lectures, seminars and workshops. Lectures give you a firm grounding in the theoretical aspects of the subject but you will also have frequent opportunities to put this theoretical knowledge into practice through fieldwork and laboratory experiments. The assessment methods for this course reflect the mixture of theoretical knowledge and practical skills that students will develop. Your subject knowledge will be tested through exams and quizzes but you will also be assessed through practicals, reports on fieldwork and experiments, essays, oral presentations and posters. Your ability to communicate scientific results to a non-specialist audience will also be tested through the writing of magazine articles and webpages.

You will study plant biology in relation to a variety of topics including ecosystems, genetics, conservation, agriculture and the impact of climate change. You will develop technical skills including fieldwork, laboratory skills and I.T. skills. You will learn to formulate research questions and hypotheses and to develop reasoned arguments. You will develop your skills in interpreting data and communicating results and conclusions. You will develop transferable skills including team-work, observation and record-keeping.

Your first year will predominantly consist of compulsory core modules designed to introduce you to a range of relevant topics including molecular biology, genetics and ecosystems. In the second and third years you will continue to be exposed to a wide variety of scientific themes including climate change and genetic modification but you will have more opportunities to specialise in the areas that most interest you. In your final year you will undertake a dissertation for which you will carry out independent research on a topic of your choice. You will have access to the Institute’s laboratory facilities and specialist software, and you will be allocated a supervisor with relevant expertise.

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

The course is great; I get to cover a large range of topics which allows me to tailor my modules to my own tastes, so I can make my degree course fit my interests and needs. Elizabeth Smith

The course is very broad and caters for the interests of anyone wishing to study biology. The modules in 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 on where their true interests lie. The practicals are diverse and well spread over the academic year and reinforce lecture material. Jodie Ackland

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Entry Requirements

A Levels BBC-BBB with B in Biology or Human Biology

GCSE requirements (grade C min):
English or Welsh, Mathematics and a Science subject

BTEC National Diploma:

International Students

International Baccalaureate:
30 points overall with 5 points in Biology at Higher Level

European Baccalaureate:
65-70% overall with 75% in specified subject

Key Information Set

Key Facts

UCAS Code: C200

Typical A-level offer
BBC-BBB with B in Biology or Human Biology

Further details on entry requirements

Course Length: 3 Years

Related Courses: