Introduction

Molecular biology is one of the great successes of 20th century science. It has revolutionised our understanding of biology over the last half-century, culminating in the determination of the complete human genome sequence. Recent innovations in molecular biology include the technology behind genome engineering, which will have broad and lasting impacts on biology and medicine.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
BSc
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
CC74
Degree marketing image

Molecular Biology is the investigation at the molecular level of all aspects of cells and tissues from simple systems in bacteria to more complex systems in plants and mammals. It has been responsible for spectacular successes in the treatment of disease caused either by bacteria and viruses on the one hand, or inborn genetic errors on the other. Molecular Biology is central to current investigations to understand the genetic basis of human disease and pathology, as well as to the development of improved crops.

This degree programme will provide you with a broad base of knowledge regarding molecular biology at the molecular, cellular and organismal levels. Additionally, you will gain an in depth understanding of selected aspects of Molecular Biology which will reflect the research expertise and strengths within the School, and you will be instructed in the many applications of this subject.

5 year MSci degree

This degree offers you the opportunity to undertake a year's placement in an industrial, commercial or research environment and graduate after five years with an MSci (an undergraduate Masters degree) instead of a BSc. Find out more.

What You'll Study

A degree in Molecular 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.

Year 1

Year 1

In year 1, you will take courses in Medical Sciences and Chemistry for Life Sciences plus additional courses selected from science and other areas.


Compulsory Courses
Introduction to Medical Sciences (SM1001)

15 Credit Points

  • Topics covered in this course span medical science through the ages; from ancient civilizations to the modern day science of genomics and synthetic biology.
  • Alongside lecture material, in depth practical classes will cover biomedical measurement techniques, forensic science and a research-based mini project.
  • Overall, this course is a journey through some of the key milestones that underpin the discipline of medical science we see today.
View detailed information about this course
Chemistry for the Life Sciences 1 (CM1020)

15 Credit Points

This course covers the foundations of chemistry that underpin the life sciences at a molecular level. The course aims to consolidate a general background in chemistry by putting chemical concepts into a life sciences context. The basic concepts of chemistry will be covered, along with organic molecules, acids and bases, and the basic principles behind the driving forces of reactions.

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.

View detailed information about this course
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
Chemistry for the Life Sciences 2 (CM1512)

15 Credit Points

Chemistry plays an important role in the life sciences, explaining the shapes and properties of biomolecules, and helping to provide an understanding of how biological processes work at a molecular level.

The shapes and function of important biomolecules will be covered. Organic molecule reaction mechanisms will give insight into how different types of molecules can be synthesised. The energetics and importance of equilibrium in driving reactions will be covered.

Methods of chemical analysis and measurement introduce other important topics linking the chemical and life sciences.

Workshops and labs complement lectures by consolidating learning and developing problem-solving and hands-on practical skills.

View detailed information about this course
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

Optional Courses

Select a further 60 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

Year 2

In year 2 you will take a selection of courses that offer a training in fundamental aspects of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology.


Compulsory Courses
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
Molecular Biology of the Gene (BI20M3)

15 Credit Points

  • 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
View detailed information about this course
Foundation Skills for Medical Sciences (SM2001)

15 Credit Points

  • this course is the cornerstone to all the advanced science courses in later years and provides you with key skills for success in science;
  • feedback from employers drove the course design to give specific and focused science skills to enhance your employability;
  • numerical, analytical, data interpretation, experimental design and problem solving skills are core elements that are essential for any graduate career portfolio;
  • this course and the additional specifically developed online resources have been commended by employers and students alike.

View detailed information about this course
Energy for Life (BI25M7)

15 Credit Points

  • 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
View detailed information about this course
Microbes, Infection & Immunity (BI25M5)

15 Credit Points

  • If you counted the bacteria in your gut, you might be surprised to find that you have 10 times more than you have cells in your body;
  • The moment we are born, we become colonised with beneficial microbial life, the start of a relationship that impacts upon our health and well-being
  • Pathogenic microbes represent an important health threat requiring an understanding both of infection and technology that we use to protect us.
  • This course explores the positive and negative aspects of our relationship with microbes, and how our immune system helps to maintain a fragile peace with our closest neighbours
View detailed information about this course
Research Skills for Medical Sciences (SM2501)

15 Credit Points

  • this course cultivates literature research skills, building confidence in team-working and communication through scientific writing and seminar presentation;
  • it encourages student-led learning and organisation in researching a topic on human health or disease of your own choice, with tutors providing guidance;
  • you 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;
  • these are all fundamental skills for scientific researchers, but are also transferrable talents for many other career pathways
View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 3

Year 3

Year 3 courses on Molecular Biology of the Cell, the Molecular Control of the Cell Function together with the Genetics course provide insight into the molecular foundation of life.


Compulsory Courses
The Molecular Biology of The Cell (MB3006)

30 Credit Points

  • a course detailing for the first time how a cell really works; we reveal and explain how cell biology is governed by a cell's molecular biology and biochemistry;
  • a course placing a high value on its teaching and learning; all lecture material supported by non-assessed workshops – your chance to team-work, ask questions and enjoy the science;
  • contains an extended research practical; you carry out lab research to understand how cells responds to starvation stress, and write up in research paper format;
  • we teach how to access the scientific literature and write successful essays, preparing you for Honours year
View detailed information about this course
The Molecular Control of Cell Function (BC3503)

30 Credit Points

  • to become knowledgeable about the fundamental roles played by selected proteins or groups of proteins in the working life of cells, tissues and organisms;
  • to experience first-hand some of the laboratory procedures that are used to acquire the information learned about in lectures. This will also serve the general function of increasing students’ level of experience in designing and performing laboratory work and in data interpretation
View detailed information about this course
Genetics (GN3502)

30 Credit Points

  • 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;
View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 4

Year 4

The Honours year aims to explore in depth, specific aspects of molecular biology. An important feature is the ten-week research project, carried out in research laboratories at the University or in local research institutes.


Compulsory Courses
Honours Biochemistry - Option 2 (BC4314)

15 Credit Points

  • This course presents advanced in-depth insight into the molecular causes of cancer and into stem cell biology;
  • The course will present fundamental information to understand the molecular basis of cancer along with models describing disease progression;
  • You will learn how stem cells, a cell type critical for development and function, differ from normal somatic cells;
  • Based on this biochemical understanding of disease progression practical applications in healthcare will be discussed where appropriate;
  • The course will prepare you with the abilities to understand the biochemical complexities of human disease.
View detailed information about this course
Honours Genetics - Option 1 (GN4010)

15 Credit Points

  • this advanced course explores the genetic basis of what it is to be human;
  • the course offers a comprehensive view of the human genome and how it has been shaped by human history and prehistory, using information from genetics, medicine and archaeology;
  • the interplay between genetics and culture will be examined, showing how these factors are important for understanding the variation in human health and disease;
  • the course explores the recent findings arising from analyses of human genome data, both individual and population-wide, and provides training in the tools used in these analyses
View detailed information about this course
Honours Advanced Molecular Biology (MB4050)

30 Credit Points

  • This course covers four main areas of advanced research-led molecular biology:
    • Genome Organisation and Analysis
    • Proteins: Structure, Function and Engineering
    • Control of Gene Expression
    • The Dynamic Cell
  • The course also teaches you about the scientific methods and discoveries that lie behind the above topics and covers detailed examples from the current scientific literature
View detailed information about this course
Molecular Biology Honours Research Project (MB4502)

60 Credit Points

  • Final year Honours projects offer an excellent opportunity to carry out cutting-edge literature or lab-based scientific research
  • With projects from disciplines throughout the School of Medicine, Medical Science and Nutrition to choose from, this is a opening to follow your interests working with staff and leading researchers
  • Projects form the zenith of your degree and fosters development of the skills and knowledge gained throughout your degree, as well as heightening analytical and critical thinking abilities
  • The opportunity to be part of novel, yet-to-be published research projects can be career-defining, and provides experience to prepare you for the future.
View detailed information about this course
Medical Science Data Analysis Paper (SM4901)

Data Analysis examination paper exclusively for students taking Medical Science degree programmes.

View detailed information about this course
Medical Science General Essay Paper (SM4902)

General Essay examination paper exclusively for students taking Medical Science degree programmes.

View detailed information about this course

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

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 4 by an assigned personal tutor, who acts as adviser and mentor throughout your University career.

Learning Methods

  • Group Projects
  • Individual 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 Molecular Biology?

  • You will receive teaching in the cutting edge fields of genome analysis and bioinformatics through the Centre of Genome-Enabled Biology and Medicine at the University.
  • The programme has a strong emphasis on medical and human genetics.
  • You will receive training in both specialist and employment-related skills.
  • Innovative and flexible teaching allows you to follow special interests.
  • Opportunities for gaining (paid) experience in industry are available to you throughout the degree programme.
  • The University of Aberdeen is a World Top 200 University (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021).
  • The University of Aberdeen is a Top 30 UK University (Complete University Guide 2021).

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

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB*

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB*

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB*

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB*

Minimum: BBC*

Adjusted: CCC*

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL, with two Mathematics/ Science subjects at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 including a minimum of H3 from two Science or Mathematics subjects.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB*

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB*

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB*

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB*

Minimum: BBC*

Adjusted: CCC*

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL, with two Mathematics/ Science subjects at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 including a minimum of H3 from two Science or Mathematics subjects.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

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 - 59 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 169 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

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

Fee information
Fee category Cost
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2021/22
EU / International students £20,700
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 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.

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.

Undergraduate EU Scholarship

The Aberdeen Global Undergraduate Scholarship is open to European Union (EU) students.

This is an £8,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Undergraduate students who would have previously been eligible for Home (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Undergraduate EU Scholarship

Careers

Many of our Molecular Biology graduates follow their degree with doctoral research. Others move into positions in hospital research, diagnostic laboratories and research institutes. Some of our graduates have gone on to train for careers in Genetic Counselling, Biomedical Ethics and Forensic sciences.

Major employers of graduates include the scientific civil service, pharmaceutical, food, fermentation and related industries.

Students in Molecular Biology at Aberdeen have taken part in the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) Competition, which is held at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. iGEM is an international competition that gives undergraduate student experience of the exciting and rapidly developing field of synthetic biology. Past University of Aberdeen teams have won gold medals in this competition.

Our degree programmes are built to enhance your employability and three flagship options give our degrees a distinctively different flavour from many others, offering:

  • 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
  • The option of an industrial placement year and graduation with an undergraduate MSci
  • 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

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Dr Jonathan Pettitt

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

Image for The Institute of Medical Sciences
The Institute of Medical Sciences

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.

Image for Library facilities
Library facilities

Library facilities

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.

Image for Opening 2022 - Science Teaching Hub
Opening 2022 - Science Teaching Hub

Opening 2022 - Science Teaching Hub

Our state-of-the-art Science Teaching Hub will provide students with a digitally focussed environment including advanced analytical tools, research-grade equipment and flexible laboratory spaces.

Find out more

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