Enhance your undergraduate degree with a year's placement in an industrial, commercial or research environment.
At a Glance
On Campus Learning
Developmental Biology is the modern synthesis of biological and medical sciences that looks at how the tissues and organs of our bodies are built.
This degree programme will provide a broad and multifaceted training in modern biology, ranging from traditional morphology and experimental embryology to the latest molecular and bioinformatics approaches in genetics, cell biology, stem cell biology and biotechnology.
Research in Developmental Biology is central to the search for cures for many human genetic diseases, including cancer, and is at the forefront of recent advances in modern medicine, which includes stem cell maintenance regeneration and tissue repair.
In your fourth year you will undertake a year's industrial placement and graduate after five years with an MSci (an undergraduate Masters degree) instead of a BSc. Placements vary considerably but, in general terms, you will have the opportunity to do a placement in an industrial, commercial or research environment where you will be able to develop a breadth of practical experience to complement your degree programme and enhance your employability.
What You'll Study
A degree in Human Embryology & Developmental Biology is taught via a selection of compulsory and optional courses to enhance your learning and prepare you for a future career or further study. In each year you will take courses adding up to 120 credits. Depending on the number of compulsory and optional courses offered by your degree, you can also choose other eligible courses which fit your timetable.
In year 1 you will take courses in Medical Sciences (including a first taster of Developmental Biology and a closer look at the cell) and Chemistry for Life Sciences. You will also take courses selected from science and other areas.
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’.
This course covers the foundations of chemistry that underpin the life sciences at a molecular level and is suitable for students with different backgrounds including little or no previous study of chemistry. The basic concepts of quantitative chemistry will be covered, along with the different types of organic molecules, acids and bases, and the principles of kinetics and thermodynamics. The relevance of the course materials to life science is emphasised throughout.
Laboratory classes introduce important practical techniques, with experiments that reinforce and complement the taught material.
The course will allow students to continue with other chemistry courses as part of their enhanced study by providing discipline breadth.
Chemistry plays a vital role in the life sciences, explaining the properties of biomolecules and how biological processes work at a molecular level. Organic reaction mechanisms give insight into how different types of molecules can be synthesised and methods of chemical analysis introduce other important topics linking the chemical and life sciences. The relationship between energy, entropy and equilibrium in driving reactions will be covered and the course concludes with a survey of the molecules of life – proteins, enzymes and sugars.
Laboratory classes complement lectures by consolidating learning and developing problem-solving and hands-on practical skills.
• 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 enterprise session and our online mini course.
In year 2 courses introduce the broad foundation for Human Embryology and Developmental Biology, in addition you will be taught core research skills and complete a project on a developmental disease or embryological topic of your choice.
this course will provide a comprehensive understanding of how genetic information is stored, how it is accessed by the cell to form functional proteins and how the release of this information is controlled to produce a healthy human child;
understanding this process is essential to understanding the basis of human disease and the course will examine how genetic differences affect disease susceptibility;
this popular, comprehensive and cutting edge course will equip students with the essential knowledge, skills and confidence in molecular biology required to progress on all courses undertaken in the School of Medical Sciences
understanding the fundamental workings of cells is important to a wide range of scientific disciplines;
this course integrates the key metabolic and biochemical processes that underpin human, animal and plant life in relation to health and disease;
this core knowledge prepares you for more advanced study in all areas of life sciences and has wide ranging applications;
you will also participate in an award winning practical series focussed on drug discovery which will build essential employability skills in experimental design, data analysis and practical laboratory skills
course cultivates literature research skills, building confidence in
team-working and communication through scientific writing and seminar
encourages student-led learning and organisation in researching a topic on
human health or disease of your own choice, with tutors providing guidance;
will learn to use online and library resources to search for information
from primary research articles and relay that information in the form of a
written report and a Powerpoint presentation to peers and academic tutors;
are all fundamental skills for scientific researchers, but are also
transferrable talents for many other career pathways
A pre-requisite for all students intending to apply for a year’s industrial placement.
This course covers the skills necessary to complete placement applications by exploring CV preparation, writing covering letters, completing application forms, identification of your skill sets and good interview technique.
The course will prepare you for the workplace by making you aware of general employability skills and by helping you identify your own transferable skills.
course covers many of the core
concepts and processes which are essential for advanced study in Biomedical and
you will gain cutting edge, in depth and
focussed knowledge of embryological techniques, tools and their practical
applications, and the fundamental principles of reproductive biology delivered in a research-driven environment;
this course will prepare you for advanced
study of developmental biology and human embryology;
practicals are designed to provide a 3D understanding
of embryology as well as an in-depth study of a model organism, providing
transferrable skills as problem solving and web page/blog design,further
developing graduate attributes and employability
This course takes us back to the very beginning of embryonic development and explores the fascinating process of how the fertilised egg develops into the complex multicellular embryo and also studies the business end of embryogenesis – turning a bundle of cells into a functioning baby;
This includes looking at germ layer formation, the cellular processes driving morphogenesis as well as the tools and methods are used to study early embryos;
The course also addresses development of the major organ systems – where do the lungs, the pancreas, the liver, the blood, the heart etc. come from? How does the nervous system develop?;
We show that the processes are not ‘magic’. There are accessible principles, systems and molecules that enable us to begin to understand how tissue development happens;
The course will investigate the roles of stem cells in embryology, adult life and cancer.
this is a comprehensive course, providing an essential foundation for all advanced studies in Genetics, Chromosome Biology and Molecular Biology;
the principles of molecular genetics and population genetics will be covered, with an emphasis on their application to the understanding of human biology. The teaching material will integrate information arising from the recent explosion of genome sequence data, equipping students with the necessary skills to engage with this rapidly developing field;
a wide range of transferable skills are embedded within the course, including problem-solving, critical analysis of research materials, essay writing and subject-specific laboratory and computational skills;
an industrial placement allows students to experience workplace culture and makes them more effective employees following graduation;
placements vary considerably but in general terms, students are placed in an industrial, commercial or research environment where they obtain a breadth of practical experience to complement their degree programme;
students are employed by their host company and can expect to work a normal 40 hour week, possibly on a number of projects, over a full calendar year;
tutorial assistance from a member of the University academic staff is available via email and / or telephone throughout the year
In your Honours year the focus of taught courses is on special aspects of Developmental Biology. An important feature is the ten-week research project, carried out in research laboratories at the University or in local research institutes.
stem cells and regenerative biology are the future of medicine. This course provides the core knowledge needed by research-level biomedical scientists, especially in fields of developmental biology, anatomy, and stem cell biology;
the University’s leading stem cell researchers provide a comprehensive overview of the current horizons of stem cell technology, from embryonic stem cells, through induced pluripotency (iPS cells) to the use and manipulation of adult stem cells;
gene therapy and human reproductive biology (including IVF) are taught to research level;
research scientists present in-depth material on core research techniques – transgenic animals, genome editing, biological imaging and ‘omic’ technologies
this is an advanced course that explores developmental processes from an evolutionary perspective;
the theory and practice of evolutionary biology as applied to developmental systems will be covered, focussing on the evolution of a range of developmentally important events, including vertebrate limb evolution and human-specific traits;
the course provide experience of problem-solving, critical analysis of research material, oral and written presentation and subject-specific computational skills
this course merges cutting edge developmental biology, neuroscience, and cellular physiology to describe how the nervous system arises and gets wired up;
the bewildering arrays of cells in the nervous system interconnect in highly specific ways. Here you will learn what dictates neuronal cell fate, how neurons find appropriate partners and how cells communicate to generate behaviour;
in addition to lectures from dynamic researchers this course will hone core skills for basic scientists and medics through group presentation work, independent library research and scientific writing
You will be taught using a variety of methods and styles and we continually seek to make the teaching engaging, exciting and responsive to the latest research in your subject area. The research we carry out in the School directly informs and guides our teaching, particularly in the final Honours year. Our commitment to teaching is recognised by the range of University of Aberdeen Student-led Teaching Awards given to staff from our School.
As a student, your learning is supported by MyAberdeen, our virtual learning environment from which you can access the lecture Powerpoint slides, online practice tests, links to related reading, and tutorial support material.
We make innovative use of 'educational voting' handsets in class, remote control 'clickers' that allow each and every student to electronically respond in class by anonymous vote to questions posed by the lecturer.
Your academic development is supported from year 1 through to year 5 by an assigned personal tutor, who acts as adviser and mentor throughout your University career.
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 Human Embryology and Developmental Biology?
You will spend the fourth year of your degree in paid employment and graduate after five years with an MSci (an undergraduate Masters degree) instead of a BSc.
You will be trained in embryology, reproductive biology (including fertility/IVF science), stem cell technology, tissue regeneration, and the causes of, and cures for, human birth defects.
You will benefit from access to excellent facilities and receive hands-on laboratory training.
Teaching is delivered by world-leading researchers who are at the forefront of current research in developmental biology and stem cell technology
Emphasis is put on medically-relevant developmental genetics and stem cell technology
The majority of the Model Organisms used to study developmental biology are used by staff in the state-of-the-art Institute of Medical Sciences, using cutting edge techniques which genome editing as well as gene misexpression technologies.
Feedback from students consistently ranks the degree programme as excellent, which is reflected in the high number of 1st Class passes obtained by our students.
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 another Science or Mathematics subject, OR AAABB including AB from Chemistry and another Science or Mathematics subject. The grading within band B must be B2 or above.*
*Including AB in two Science or Mathematics subjects.
Applicants who achieve AAAB or better over S4 and S5 are likely to be made an offer of admission. This may be unconditional or it may be conditional, dependent upon academic profile. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers may be required.
Highers at AB from two Science or Maths subjects required.
A minimum of 3 A Levels at ABB.
A levels at AB from two Science or Mathematics subjects.
A minimum of 34 points. 6 points at HL from two Science or Mathematics subjects.
Irish Leaving Certificate:
Five subjects at Higher, with 4 at H2 and 1 at H3. H2 from two Science or Mathematics subjects.
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:
You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year
EU / International students
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year
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.
The Human Embryology and Developmental Biology degree offers particularly good prospects for research careers in academia, industry and hospitals because of its broad training in medically-relevant modern biology with many transferable skills.
Many of our graduates follow their degree with PhD research in a wide range of laboratories. Others move in to positions in hospital research, fertility sciences, diagnostic laboratories, research institutes and in administrative capacities in the civil service or in the pharmaceutical and related industries.
Our degree programmes are built to enhance your employability and three flagship options give our degrees a distinctively different flavour from many others. All our degrees offer:
A 10-week full time research project in the final year which will provide you with valuable experience of working in a medical science research environment
Highly relevant and sought after experience in bio-business aimed at giving you an understanding of the commercialisation of scientific ideas and an opportunity to learn about the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries
Aberdeen Research Makes IVF Safer
Research has played a key role in making IVF safer, increasing the chances of having a healthy baby
Top 20 UK University
The University of Aberdeen is ranked 13th in the UK in the Guardian University Guide 2023 and 19th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023
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.
The Institute of Medical Sciences
Focused on developing future effective therapies, the Institute of Medical Sciences houses nearly 400 researchers and support staff working on cutting-edge biomedical subjects aimed at understanding the human body's response to infection and disease.
A dedicated Medical Library on the Foresterhill Health Campus and the fantastic facilities in the Sir Duncan Rice Library at King’s College, are complemented by online access to the key medical and health sciences journals and textbooks.
Science Teaching Hub
Our state-of-the-art Science Teaching Hub provides students with a digitally focussed environment including advanced analytical tools, research-grade equipment and flexible laboratory spaces.
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
Student Recruitment & Admissions University of Aberdeen University Office Regent Walk Aberdeen AB24 3FX