Introduction

Are you interested in biology and think a career in research might be for you?

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MSci
Duration
60 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
C900
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme
Degree marketing image

This undergraduate Masters programme gives you a broad training in the biosciences, with the option to specialise in any one of our sub-disciplines. The additional year helps you to develop your research skills during an extended laboratory or field-based project.

This programme allows you to choose courses from the broad range of subjects offered to our undergraduate students, while ensuring that you take advantage of our core knowledge and skills-based courses that all students take.

The MSci is aimed at applicants who wish to graduate with a qualification that goes beyond the traditional Honours degree. You will learn how to write a grant proposal, develop skills in communicating science to the public, and carry out two independent research projects.

You carry out your research under the supervision of an academic in the school and produce a scientific document, prepared for publication. In your taught courses you can learn how to use the latest molecular and statistical techniques and apply them to your research.

What You'll Study

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

Year 1

Year 1

Compulsory Courses
Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

View detailed information about this course
Frontiers in Biological Sciences (BI1009)

15 Credit Points

Five themes, critical to understanding biology and life, will be explored – Developmental Biology, Microbiology and Disease, Evolution and Behaviour, Immune Systems and Environmental Physiology. Each theme is structured to provide you with core knowledge, insight into how science is practiced, an introduction to current research topics and skills that are useful for investigating, recording and analysing information. The course will be delivered using a blended learning approach and can be taken by students who will be on campus in first semester, or those who may choose to stay at home

View detailed information about this course
Diversity of Life 1 (BI1012)

15 Credit Points

A walk through the evolutionary tree of life, examining the amazing diversity of major groups of organisms from plants through fungi to invertebrates. Learn about how each group of organisms arose, their characteristics, and how they achieved success. Practical activities provide hands on experience of materials demonstrating the diversity of plants and invertebrates. You will be assessed by a combination of exercises based on practicals, on which you will get feedback to help you develop your skills, and online tests, each based on a particular section of the course, which will be spread throughout the course.

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Ecology and Environmental Science (BI1511)

15 Credit Points

This course will take you on a journey through the physical workings of the Earth, the interactions between species and their environments and then on to the effects humans are having on the planet, potential solutions and thoughts on the future.

Teaching is by staff with different subject specialisms who give both variety and immediacy to course material.

Exposure to the problems we are facing both now and in the future will help you make informed choices in their everyday lives.

A range of ‘wet’ and computer-based practicals enhance the classroom teaching and develop generic scientific skills.

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Diversity of Life 2 (BI1512)

15 Credit Points

• A walk through the evolutionary tree of life, examining the amazing diversity of advanced invertebrates and vertebrates. • Learn about how each group of organisms arose, their characteristics, and how they achieved success. For example what are the key evolutionary steps enabling life away from the water? How do birds fly? • Practical activities provide hands on experience of materials demonstrating the features of invertebrates, amphibians, fish, birds and mammals. • You will be assessed by a combination of laboratory reports, on which you will get detailed feedback to help you develop your skills, and an exam .

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The Cell (SM1501)

15 Credit Points

  • cells are the fundamental unit of life – without them life could not exist, and as such understanding how they function is crucial to our understanding of biology and medical science;
  • this course provides theoretical knowledge in a diverse range of topics covering the fascinating world of cells, from molecules like DNA, to how different cell types function within our bodies;
  • all practical classes are research based and will provide theoretical knowledge and skills training in many areas of molecular and cell biology;
  • employability skills will also be explored through a highly interactive session run by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise
View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Select a further 45 credit points from courses of choice

Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses
Biological Enhanced Skills Training (BEST) (BI2018)

15 Credit Points

The course will help you consolidate and develop skills in experimental design, sampling, analysis, presentation, and interpretation of data. You will be encouraged to seek to improve your academic writing and develop other transferable skills.

Each week, there is one 1-hour introductory lecture. In two 2-hour sessions when will work through a series of computer-based data tasks, using relevant and realistic biological and environmental themes.

Teaching is informal and friendly. During sessions, staff will chat to you about your progress and provide help where necessary.

Assessments are two online multiple-choice tests (each 25%) and an individual project (50%).

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Select at least one of the following:

  • Genes and Evolution (BI2017)
  • Ecology (BI2020)

Select at least one of the following:

  • Principles of Animal Physiology (BI2510)
  • Plants, People and Environment (BI25P4)

Plus, select 45 to 75 credit points from courses of choice, with a minimum of 30 credits from courses with BI codes.

Genes and Evolution (BI2017)

15 Credit Points

  • look at how instructions in genes are transformed by natural selection to produce the diversity of life on Earth;
  • learn how species evolve, how we determine evolutionary relationships;
  • why populations change, understand why humans (and other organisms) must carry genetic diseases;
  • meet enthusiastic staff; each teach about areas we are expert on;
  • take 3 Genes & Evolution Practicals to gain hands on experience of approaches used by researchers to map genes,estimate rates of evolution, and determine evolutionary relationships;
  • keep up to speed with in-course tests, understand basic statistics, see why mutations are not the only evolutionary currency
View detailed information about this course
Ecology (BI2020)

15 Credit Points

This course builds on themes from introductory ecology courses. You will develop your abilities to interpret data by applying theory discussed in classes to real-life data sets using short problem-solving exercises linked to each topic. Feedback will help you improve writing and interpretation skills. Extended problem-solving exercises will improve your communication skills, scientific writing and introduce you to valuable approaches to summarising complex datasets in Excel. A series of tutorials will allow you develop critical thinking as you explore specific themes in more detail. You will also consider issues around experimental design.

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Principles of Animal Physiology (BI2510)

15 Credit Points

Physiology is the study of the normal functions of living systems. This course will introduce you to the basics of invertebrate and vertebrate physiology.

Lectures will guide you through the various body systems and their interactions that maintain homeostasis in animals. Associated practicals allow you to explore particular systems in further detail and to develop relevant lab skills.

Through the study of examples from across different phyla, you will gain an appreciation of processes fundamental to all animals, and of differences across groups.

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Plants, People, and the Environment (BI25P4)

15 Credit Points

A course in which several researchers explore both core and emerging issues in the plant sciences, focusing in particular on the inter-dependence of plants, people and environment. Students are encouraged to develop a range of important generic and applied skills, through lectures, practicals and seminars. Two practicals and one seminar contribute 50% of the course mark. An exam contributes 50% of the overall course grade and consists a choice of multiple-choice questions and short, structured questions.

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Year 3

Year 3

Compulsory Courses
Statistical Analysis of Biological Data (BI3010)

15 Credit Points

You will utilise a robust approach to statistical analysis, a skill highly valued by employers and researchers. Lectures provide context, background and step-by step guidance on how to conduct and interpret a selection of statistical analyses. Through a series of exercises, you learn to explore data, to specify appropriate linear models for your research question and to interpret their results. A set of online tests structured around the exercises and the lecture content allow you to demonstrate your achievement of course learning outcomes. With a group of students, you complete tasks and strengthen your understanding of applications of statistics.

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Animal Evolution and Biodiversity (ZO3011)

15 Credit Points

This course emphasises how evolution has shaped the patterns of biodiversity we see around us, and how we can use molecular genetic tools to gain a better understanding of what biodiversity means and how we can measure it. In lectures you are guided through the theory of evolution, complementing your other biological sciences courses and helping you make sense of the diversity in the living world. In practical sessions, you gain insight into the processes of evolution and some tools used to study biodiversity. Through a poster presentation you gain specialised knowledge and experience communicating complex ideas and synthesizing information.

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Gateway to Honours Project (BI3511)

This non-credit bearing course will facilitate your preparation for your Honours project.

Lectures and workshops will clarify expectations for project work and provide training in risk assessment, consideration of ethical issues, environmental impacts and project planning.

Resources to help you define and plan your project will be made available through MyAberdeen, helping you to be confident that your project planning is sufficiently advanced by the end of your Programme Year 3.

Submission of an agreed (with your supervisor) project outline, completed checklists and preliminary risk assessment will allow you to demonstrate engagement with your project.

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Optional Courses

Select at least one of the following:

  • Plant Environment Interaction (PL3505)
  • Environmental Physiology (ZO3513)

Plus, select 60 to 75 credit points from courses of choice, at least 30 of which must be from courses delivered by the School of Biological Sciences.

Plant - Environment Interactions (PL3505)

15 Credit Points

Lectures, workshops and an excursion provide a diverse set of learning opportunities relating to plant physiology and adaptations to the environment.

A literature-based research exercise forms the continuous assessment part of this course, in which you choose a plant adaptation to investigate in detail in terms of physiological adaptations to natural conditions. The exercise develops specialist knowledge and your capacity for creative, independent and critical thinking, problem identification and problem solving. Participation in the oral presentations of the projects helps you to develop confidence and oral communication skills.

View detailed information about this course
Environmental Physiology (ZO3513)

15 Credit Points

By exploring how animals adapt to their environments you learn the integrated nature of physiology, from molecules to whole organisms. Learning is rooted in staff’s research interests. You explore aspects of physiological adaptation through individual and group work. In groups, you research animal adaptations to extreme environments- present a scientific poster, developing skills in communication and team work. In an assessed practical you perform PCR and gel electrophoresis, a keystone life sciences method. You develop communication skills in (i) concise scientific writing through short essays developed around reading primary research papers and (ii) a pop-sci article for a general audience. By exploring how animals adapt to their environments you learn the integrated nature of physiology, from molecules to whole organisms. Learning is rooted in staff’s research interests. You explore aspects of physiological adaptation through individual and group work. In groups, you research animal adaptations to extreme environments- present a scientific poster, developing skills in communication and team work. In an assessed practical you perform PCR and gel electrophoresis, a keystone life sciences method. You develop communication skills in (i) concise scientific writing through short essays developed around reading primary research papers and (ii) a pop-sci article for a general audience.

View detailed information about this course
Year 4

Year 4

Compulsory Courses
SBS Honours Project (BI4016)

45 Credit Points

This independent research project develops your skills in scientific inquiry and critical analysis, as well as important generic skills, including presentation and time management.

Projects are field-, lab- and/or desk-based, developed on a topic of your interest under the direction of a supervisor.

Training in skills needed to perform your project is provided by world-leading researchers and their teams.

Workshops and drop-in sessions provide training in data analysis and thesis production.

This skill set will be appropriate for advanced study in the field of biological science or other careers where the generic skills that you will develop are highly valued.

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Choose one of the following:

  • BI4015 Grant Proposal
  • BI4515 Grant Proposal - Semester 2

Plus select 60 credit points from second half-session courses of choice, at least 30 of which must be from courses delivered by the School of Biological Sciences at level 4.

Grant Proposal (BI4015)

15 Credit Points

Under the supervision of an academic, you develop a researchproposal suitable for submission to a funding organization.

The exercise of defining a researchable question, outliningthe methodology, and writing an argument as towhy the research should be funded provides excellent training for studentsinterested in pursuing a career in science.

During regular meetings with the course coordinators you developyour skills in record keeping, oral communication, and criticalappraisal.

From feedback on your draft proposal you will gainexperience in refining a written argument and in presenting documentsprofessionally.

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Year 5

Year 5

Level 5 is the unique year in this programme, during which students will develop as independent researchers, with enhanced practical and scientific writing skills.


Compulsory Courses
Research Project for Msci Biological Sciences (BI5002)

75 Credit Points

Under the supervision of an academic you conduct independent research and produce a thesis in the form of a peer-reviewed manuscript.

This project develops your skills in scientific inquiry and critical analysis, as well as useful generic skills, including time management.

Projects are field-, lab- and/or desk-based, developed on a topic of your interest under the direction of a supervisor.

This skill set will be useful both for future careers and further study in the field of biological science or other careers making use of these generic skills.

View detailed information about this course
Public Communication of Science (BI5004)

15 Credit Points

Students will write a scientific document and a document aimed at a public audience and present their work to a mixed audience of specialists and non-specialists. Students will submit their public written document for publication. Skills in communicating complex ideas in clear and simple language will be developed. Students will also take advantage through the academic year of opportunities to communicate science to a public audience e.g. in radio and TV interviews and at science festivals – these will be assessed formatively.

During peer-review sessions students will gain experience in evaluating communication documents and in providing critical and constructive comments.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Select 30 credit points from courses of choice.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

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.

Learning Methods

  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

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 Biological Sciences?

  • Your research projects can be carried out within the University or abroad: previous projects include studying wolves in Germany and plant life in the Swiss Alps.
  • Your final year of study includes input from research groups outside the university, allowing you to meet potential employers or gain insight into different research methods.
  • You will graduate with an enhanced skill set, which includes the ability to apply for grant income and to engage with the public by publishing in popular science journals.
  • The programme has considerable flexibility in course choice and you benefit from the breadth of expertise within the School.
  • There are opportunities to work with Government bioscience research institutes located in Aberdeen.
  • Career preparation to become a professional biologist is given high priority.

What Our Students Say

Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher

I enjoyed scientific research in my honours year and wanted to continue. The MSci allowed me to work with world-class researchers and helped me improve valuable skills like science communication. The MSci has prepared me for a PhD in the future.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.


General Entry Requirements

2020 Entry
2021 Entry

SQA Highers - AAAB*
A Levels - ABB*
IB - 34 points, 6 at HL*
ILC - 5H with 4 at H2 and 1 at H3, with H2 and H3 from Chemistry and Biology, OR AAABB including AB from Chemistry and Biology. The grading within band B must be at B2 or above.*

*Including good performance in Chemistry and Biology.

Advanced Entry - Advanced Highers AAB or A Levels AAB, or IB 36 points (6 at HL), including Biology and Chemistry, one of which must be an A-grade.

SQA Highers - AAAB*
A Levels - ABB*
IB - 34 points, 6 at HL*
ILC - 5H with 4 at H2 and 1 at H3, with H2 and H3 from Chemistry and Biology.*

*Including good performance in Chemistry and Biology.

Advanced Entry - Advanced Highers AAB or A Levels AAB, or IB 36 points (6 at HL), including Biology and Chemistry, one of which must be an A-grade.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.


English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen 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

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

International Applicants who do not meet the Entry Requirements

The University of Aberdeen International Study Centre offers preparation programmes for international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements for undergraduate study. Discover your foundation pathway here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU £1,820
All Students
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2020/21
International Students £19,700
Students Admitted in 2020/21

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Careers

Our 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 either in the UK or abroad. MSci graduates are very well prepared to move onto a PhD programme or a professional post in a biology-related field.

Graduates often find full-time employment in a wide range of careers. Typical employers include universities, research institutes, government agencies (e.g. SEPA, SNH), environmental consultancies, charities including WWF & RSPB, the National Health Service, libraries and commercial enterprises in aquaculture, animal nutrition, and animal health.

One of the great advantages of having a biology degree from the University of Aberdeen 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.

Industry Links

We have strong local, national and international links to industry, government bodies, charities and other research institutions. You will benefit in several ways:

  • Exposure to policy-makers, practitioners, regulatory professionals and experts.
  • Our curriculum is informed by an employer advisory board that provides insight into changing requirements of employers.
  • You can take advantage of our collaborators' facilities and expertise for your research projects or placement.

School of Biological Sciences Showcase

Our showcase film highlights the benefits for students who choose to study here, the breadth of research carried out at the School and the superb facilities on offer.

What our Alumni Say

Donya Davidson

Donya Davidson

Donya Davidson

Graduated 2015

My MSci was great, as well as my research I got involved in communication of science. It helped me get my graduate job because the employer knew how prestigious the degree was. I would definitely recommend the MSci in Biological Sciences in Aberdeen.

Our Experts

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Facilities

Fantastic facilities support our teaching and research, both on- and off-campus.

Image for Teaching laboratories
Teaching laboratories

Teaching laboratories

Students in all degree programmes carry out practical experiments in our recently redesigned teaching laboratories.

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Research facilities

Research facilities

Our research facilities on campus include animal holding facilities, greenhouses, fresh and salt-water aquaria, an insectarium, molecular and analytical laboratories, and a state of the art genomics lab.

Image for Lighthouse Field Station
Lighthouse Field Station

Lighthouse Field Station

The Lighthouse Field Station is situated on the Cromarty Firth where our sea mammal and sea bird researchers are based. In 2020 the station celebrated 30 years of teaching and research on the ecology of seals, dolphins and seabirds.

Discover Uni

Discover Uni draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX