Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences


September 2023

Academic Induction

During Welcome Week the School of Biological Sciences will have academic inductions for our new undergraduate students. 


School Welcome and Orientation Talk (new level 1 students)

  • Wednesday 13th September, 10:00 – 11:00,  ZG18 Zoology Building

Meet your Programme Coordinators, (new level 1 students)

  • Wednesday 13th September, 11:00 – 12:00, Zoology Building

School Welcome and Orientation Talk (direct entry students level 2 and 3)

  • Wednesday 13th September, 11:00 – 12:00, ZG18 Zoology Building

Meet your Programme Coordinators; BSc Animal Behaviour and Welfare, (new BSc Animal Behaviour and Welfare students)

  • Wednesday 13th September, 13:00 – 14:00, Zoology Building

Personal Tutor Meetings (direct entry students level 2 and 3)

  • Friday 15th September, 11:00 – 11:30, Zoology Building

Personal Tutor Meetings (new level 1 students)

  • Friday 15th September, 11:30 – 12:00, Zoology Building

Welcome picnic (bring your own picnic)

  • Friday 15th September, 12:00 – 14:00, Cruickshank Gardens
Key Contacts

Professor Michelle Pinard
Director of Education

Biological Sciences Admin Team


Programme Coordinators

BSc Animal Behaviour
Dr David Fisher

BSc Animal Behaviour and Welfare
Mrs Cath Dennis

BSc/MSci Biological Sciences
Dr John Baird
Prof Sam Martin

BSc Biology
Dr John Baird

BSc Conservation Biology
Dr Clare Trinder

BSc Ecology
Dr Clare Trinder

BSc Environmental Science
Dr Ashish Malik

BSc Marine Biology
Professor Michelle Pinard

BSc Plant and Soil Science
Dr Martin Barker

BSc Zoology
Dr Alan Bowman


Reading Lists

Reading lists for individual courses will be available through MyAberdeen later in the summer. In the meantime, you can brush up your study skills and learn more about the University at our award-winning Toolkit website.

Some specific suggestions for readings are as follows: 

Level 2

  • (For BI2020 Ecology) Schilthuizen, M (2008) The Loom of Life:  Unravelling Ecosystems.  Springer-Verlap, Berlin
  • (For BI2017 Genes and Evolution) Carey N (2012) The Epigenetics Revolution:  How Modern Biology is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance.

Level 3

  • (Animal Behaviour, Behavioural Biology) Budiansky, B (1999) The Convenant of the Wild:  Why Animals Chose Domestication.  Yale University Press. 
  • (Zoology, Biology, Biological Sciences, Ecology, Conservation Biology) Coyne, J (2010) Why Evolution is True.  Oxford University Press, Oxford.  (For ZO3011 Animal Evolution and Biodiversity)
  • (Marine Biology) Kaiser, M.J., et al. (2011) Marine Ecology: processes, systems, and impacts. 2nd edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (For ZO3306 Marine Ecology and Ecosystems)
  • (Environmental Science) Blume, H.P. et al. (2016). Soil Science. Berlin: Springer Verlag. (For EV3001 Global Soil Geography)
  • (Plant and Soil Science) Gregory, P.J. and Nortcliff, S. 2013. Soil Conditions and Plant Growth. Wiley-Blackwell, 472 pp. SBN: 1405197706 (Pl3009 Soils for Food Security)

Level 4

Your project supervisor can provide you with suggestions.


In the School of Biological Sciences, the majority of assessments will be through coursework including online tests.  A  few courses will have an end of course on campus exam.

Practicals, fieldwork and placements

Many courses include practicals in either laboratories or computer classrooms and some also include day field trips. There will be opportunities to take residential field courses throughout your degree.

Guidance on choice of laboratory coat and safety glasses

Please note that all new Science Teaching Hub students should possess a clean, white, Howie laboratory coat to use in laboratory classes.

  • This should be a ‘Howie’ style laboratory coat – elasticated cuffs, fastening all the way up to the neck with popper fastenings. Press stud fastenings are integral for Howie style coats to enable the coat to be removed quickly should contamination occur. Fabric · Polyester Cotton approximately [65%:35%]. Coats made from this fabric are light weight [195g/coat] and easily laundered.
  • Older lab coats that are open at the collar or those with button fastenings are not suitable and should be avoided.

If a practical has a special exemption where a laboratory coat is not required, students will be informed. However, you should always assume you need your lab coat for practicals and bring it with you. If you do not bring a laboratory coat, you will not be admitted to a laboratory class.

Students must also bring their own safety glasses.

  • For Safety Glasses, there are many options available online. They should have side shields. The examples below all have a suitable safety rating (EN 166) and  If you wear spectacles, you should look for styles of safety glasses that will fit over them.

You will be responsible for cleaning and maintaining your own laboratory coat and safety glasses throughout the term.

New students can pick up a lab coast and safety glasses pack at the start of term at the Science Teaching Hub. Alternatively, you can purchase a lab coat on campus from Bear Essentials in the Student Union Building. 

Postgraduate Taught

September 2023

Arriving in Aberdeen - Important Information

We look forward to meeting you in Welcome Week, Monday 11th –Friday 15th September. During this week you will attend introductory sessions about our MSc teaching, your MSc programme and academic expectations. We also offer an optional academic orientation session for students who are new to the UK education system.

Course teaching begins on Monday 18th September. Our courses are only 6 weeks long and are intensive, so it is important that you are in class on campus right from day one. It is very difficult to catch up if you start late.

The University allows late registration although this is not at all advisable due to the difficulty of catching up.  If you are not registered and in class on campus by the final date for late registration (the final sate for late registration is Monday 25th September) you will not be allowed to proceed with your MSc programme but required to defer until the next programme start date.

Academic Induction

During Welcome Week we will have the following induction activities for new students:

Introduction to Masters programmes in School of Biological Sciences (compulsory)

  • Tuesday 12th September, 11:00 - 12:00
    ZG18 Zoology Building

Getting Started with Programme Coordinators  (compulsory)

  • Wednesday 13th September, 13:00 - 14:00
    Zoology Building

Programme field visits in Aberdeenshire, bring a packed lunch

  • Thursday 14th September, 09:00 – 17:00
    Departing from the bus turning circle at the side of the library.

Academic orientation for students new to the UK educational system

  • Friday 15th September, 10:00 – 11:00
    ZG18 Zoology Building

Welcome picnic (bring your own picnic) and free pot plant give-away!

  • Friday 15th September, 12:00 – 14:00
    Cruickshank Botanic Gardens (behind Zoology building)

Academic Writing Session (compulsory)

  • Friday 15th September, 14:00 – 16:00
  • ZG18 Zoology Building
Key Contacts

Dr Sarah Woodin
SBS PGT Coordinator

Biological Sciences Admin Team


MSc Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology 

MSc Ecology and Conservation 

MSc Environmental Management

MSc Environmental Pollution and Remediation 

MSc/MRes Environmental Science

 MSc Marine Conservation 

MSc/MRes Soil Science 

Reading Lists

If you would like to do some background reading/study before starting your MSc (this is not compulsory) you may find the following recommendations helpful; feel free to browse all categories, whichever MSc you are doing. Many texts will be free to access online once you have your University of Aberdeen login. Log in to the University library search system, PRIMO, to find them.


Marine topics

  • Levinton J (2017) Marine Biology: Function, Biodiversity, Ecology. A good introductory text.
  • Kaiser MJ, Attrill MJ, Jennings S (2020) Marine Ecology: Processes, Systems and Impacts. This is a newly revised overview; the 2011 edition is also still OK.
  • Probert PK (2017) Marine Conservation

Environmental/soil topics

  • Duarte, A.C., Cachada, A., Rocha-Santos, T.A.P. (Eds.), 2017. Soil Pollution: From Monitoring to Remediation. Academic Press.
  • Blume, H.-P., Brümmer, G. W., Fleige, H., Horn, R., Kandeler, E., Kögel-Knabner, I., et al. (2016). Scheffer/Schachtschabel Soil Science. Berlin: Springer Verlag

General ecology/conservation

  • Begon, Townsend and Harper (2006) Ecology: From individuals to ecosystems. Blackwell (other editions with slightly different titles and order of authors are also fine). A good introductory text.
  • Crawley, Michael J (1997) Plant Ecology. Blackwell Science
  • "Popular" reading about current ecology, conservation and rewilding issues in the UK: Tree, Isabella (2019) Rewilding: The return of nature to a British farm. MacDonald, Benedict (2020) Rebirding: Rewilding Britain and its birds.  

Our PGT assessments are mainly coursework, such as reports, presentations, essays, research proposals etc. There are some online tests within courses, but no formal exams.

Practicals and fieldwork

Many courses include practicals in either laboratories or computer classrooms and some also include day field trips. Some MScs have a residential field course in the Spring vacation 2024.

For laboratory practicals you will need your own lab coat and safety glasses. Your lab coat should be ‘Howie’ style, with elasticated cuffs and popper fastening all the way up to the neck. Safety glasses should have side shields, a suitable safety rating (EN 166), and if you wear spectacles you should get safety glasses that will fit over them. You can purchase online, and lab coats are available from Bear Essentials in the Student Union Building.

Fieldwork takes place at all times of year, so you will need warm, waterproof clothing (jacket and trousers) and sturdy, waterproof footwear, preferably walking boots.

Postgraduate Research

As well as being a Postgraduate Research Student in the School of Biological Sciences you are also part of a wider PGR community through the Postgraduate Research School


We are looking forward to welcoming you to campus to start your research journey with us. As a Postgraduate Research student you will have the opportunity to attend a University wide induction in addition to your school induction.

The University of Aberdeen Orientation programme has been designed to take you through all of the essential information you will need for your student life. You can get started now by working through the interactive modules.

There are a series of modules that you can work through before you arrive. Once you have registered you can access the remaining modules and complete your mandatory training programme through your bespoke PGR training platform on our virtual learning environment.

There will be a school welcome event for Postgraduate Research students. This will provide an opportunity to meet Postgraduate coordinators and PhD supervisors. There will also be time to answer any questions you may have. Further details regarding the welcome event will follow in due course.

Audit Master‘s Courses

As a PGR student you may have the opportunity to audit Master‘s courses to augment your research training. Please discuss this with your supervisor and check out the postgraduate taught pages above.

The PGR School also offers a comprehensive training programme to support your research journey.

Timelines and Milestones

The PGR School training and development programme offers academic, professional, and personal development through a number of training workshops, resources and opportunities, all intended to support the PGR community at the University of Aberdeen.

Find out more here.