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Biology is the core life science, concerned with all lifeforms. If you are fascinated by the diversity of life in the natural world then this is the degree for you.
This programme is studied on campus.
Our degree in Biology requires you to develop a broad understanding of the nature of living things, from molecules and cells to organisms and populations, communities and biomes, but crucially, it also allows you to become a specialist in the area that is of most interest to you.
Your courses will give you an excellent foundation in the theory and practical elements behind the study of life and provide you with the technical skills to pursue your own interests through your project work. You will graduate with a deep understanding of the terrestrial and marine environments and the wealth of organisms that live there.
Each year you take a selection of compulsory courses and optional courses which can be chosen from those on offer across the institution. The first two years lay a foundation for the more specialised third and fourth years.
In year one you take eight courses, including five foundation Biology courses and a course in Chemistry. This leaves a choice of two further courses which would normally contribute towards enhanced study.
This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year.
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
laboratory reports, on which you will get detailed feedback to help you develop
your skills, and an exam.
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 and thoughts on the future.
Teaching 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 which means that students can make informed choices in their
A range of ‘wet’ and computer-based
practicals enhance the classroom teaching and develop generic scientific
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 and demonstrators will chat to you about your progress and provide help.
Assessments are two online multiple-choice tests (each 25%) and an individual project (50%).
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
tutorials. Five of the practicals contribute 50% of the course
mark. An exam contributes 50% of the overall course grade and consists a
choice of short, structured questions.
Physiology is the study of the normal functions of living systems. This course will introduce you to the basics 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.
A combination of
three lectures per week and five fortnightly practical classes covering a
broad range of topics in marine biology.
The course is
taught by a range of lecturers who specialise in a wide variety of research
Coursework is designed to develop skills in reading scientific articles, research methods, critical thinking, and scientific writing. Assessed coursework comprises a combination of practical reports, quizzes and one written essay from a range of topics. There is a two-hour exam (essay and multiple choice questions).
Specialised lectures on essay writing skills, pre and post-essay coursework, are provided to enhance writing skills.
The week-long residential course is based at
the University’s Bettyhill field station in the far north of Scotland. The
location is stunning and, for many students, a new experience of unfamiliar
You are introduced to representatives of the
local flora. We teach skills in recognising key features of plant species and
how to identify them.
You are encouraged to consider the reasons
why and where plant species are found within the northern landscape and how
plant communities can be sampled.
Residential field courses designed to provide you with training in field
identification and sampling techniques.
Choice from four locations each with different themes: Shetland Islands (Fish and Shellfish Biology), Cromarty and
the Ythan Estuary (Costal Biodiversity), Malham Tarn Field Centre (Freshwater and Terrestrrial Biodiversity) and Kindrogen Field Centre (Parasitology).
Group based project work provides skills in team working, data
collection, analysis and presentation.
work throughout the days is rewarded through the development of deep
understanding and the enjoyment of spending time with peers and staff.
Lectures, workshops, excursions and computer-based sessions
provide a diverse set of learning opportunities relating to plant physiology
and adaptations to their environment.
A grant writing and grant review exercise on a topic of your
choosing within plant physiology and interactions with the environment develops
specialist knowledge and your capacity for creative, independent and critical
thinking, problem identification and problem solving. Participation in a grant
review panel helps you to develop confidence and oral communication skills.
In a computer-based practical you will develop an
understanding of how landscape modelling informs our understanding of
In year 4, the Honours year, you will carry out a research project as well as writing an extended essay and completing four courses of your choosing. The research project can be undertaken in any of the biological disciplines.
You research a topic and write an extended
essay, developing specialist knowledge and refining your synthesis and
You choose your topic from a list that includes
fundamental and cutting-edge issues, providing you with flexibility and an
opportunity to pursue your interests.
An introductory workshop reminds you of good
practice in writing an extended essay and a meeting with your essay supervisor
provides you with feedback on your essay plan. You also have the opportunity to submit a
draft essay for comments from your essay supervisor.
You research a topic and write an extended essay, developing specialist knowledge and refining your synthesis and evaluation skills.
You choose your topic from a list that includes fundamental and cutting-edge issues, providing you with flexibility and an opportunity to pursue your interests.
An introductory workshop reminds you of good practice in writing an extended essay and a meeting with your essay supervisor provides you with feedback on your essay plan. You also have the opportunity to submit a draft essay for comments from your essay supervisor.
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.
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.
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 Biology?
Having over fifty members of staff with different research interests means that later in your degree you can work within one of our research groups, carrying out cutting-edge research in an area of biology that attracts you.
Our researchers work on birds, mammals, invertebrates in terrestrial and marine environments and plants in all environments from alpine to the tropics.
You will benefit from the extraordinary breadth of teaching and research we have to offer and have the opportunity to get involved in everything from advanced molecular research in the laboratory to pioneering field work in the mountains, deep sea and tropics.
You will gain invaluable experience from attending at least one of our highly-rated residential field courses in the Cairngorms, Shetland, Yorkshire, and Spain, or at one of our own facilities, namely Oceanlab on the Ythan Estuary, Sea Mammal Research Centre on the Black Isle, and the field centre at Bettyhill, on the North coast of Sutherland.
You will have the opportunity to get involved in our research through summer research assistantships, project work, and a compulsory final year research project.
At our regular careers events, you will have the opportunity to listen to and meet prospective employers from outside the university, giving you excellent opportunities to get a fulfilling and challenging job in a biological field.
One of my highlights of first year has to have been the optional field courses that run at the start of summer. It felt great to be out there in the field, conducting experiments and keeping a scientific notebook.
Within the degree programme you are able to take a wide range of courses to suit your interests, and there are plenty of opportunities to go on field trips which are interesting and a lot of fun.
SQA Highers - AABB* A Levels - BBB* IB - 32 points, 5 at HL* ILC - 5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)* *including good performance in at least two Mathematics/Science subjects.
Advanced Entry - Advanced Highers ABB or A Levels ABB or IB 34 points (6 at HL), including Biology and Chemistry, one of which must be at A-grade.
You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.
For international students (all non-EU students) entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study; however, most international students will be eligible for a fee waiver in their final year via the International Undergraduate Scholarship.
Biology 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. Graduates find full-time employment in a wide range of careers. Typical employers include universities, research institutes, government agencies (e.g. SEPA, SNH), environmental consultancies, environmental charities, the National Health Service, 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.
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 which provides insight into changing employer requirements.
You can take advantage of our collaborators' facilities and expertise for your research projects or placement.
This programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology, following an independent and rigorous assessment. Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of employers.
This programme is accredited for the purpose of meeting in part the academic and experience requirement for Membership and Chartered Biologist (CBiol).
In my final year I travelled to Beijing to complete my honours project at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The opportunity to work within such an innovative research environment and swap ideas with the lab team was a unique and invaluable experience.
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.
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.
Students in all degree programmes carry out practical experiments in our recently redesigned teaching laboratories.
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.
We have three field centres in Scotland that support our marine, ecology and conservation work. You have the opportunity to spend time at each of these during residential field courses
Unistats draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Key Information Set.
You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.
Get in Touch
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