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Biological Sciences Undergraduate School

If you join us this will be your "home" within the University - you will be a student in the Biological Sciences Undergraduate School  whichever of our wide variety of biological sciences courses you choose.

A dynamic learning partnership

We see university education as a partnership.We take pride in the quality of our teaching and we are committed to providing you with the very best learning resources, academic support and student experience possible. As a student at Leeds you will be joining a dynamic scientific community and will have the chance to experience the latest developments in the biological sciences arena.

Providing students with a research-based education from world leading researchers in first-class facilities is a key strength. Our approach has received resounding independent endorsement with excellent scores in the National Student Survey (NSS) over a number of years and our position amongst the UK elite for bioscience research was confirmed in the last Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008).

We work closely with our students and respond to their feedback. Our approach to student education has received a resounding endorsement with excellent scores for our Faculty in the National Student Survey (NSS). In recent years some courses have achieved 100% overall satisfaction or top ranking for their discipline. As with any survey, NSS results fluctuate year on year, but our results clearly show that our students enjoyed their experience and value the education we offer. Taking the average across all our undergraduate degrees, our Faculty score for overall satisfaction in 2011 NSS was 89%.

The RAE is an independent audit of research quality conducted by the government. We were ranked 4th for Biological Sciences in the UK from a field of over 50 submissions, by the leading scientific journal ‘Nature’ based on the numbers of staff producing research that was “world leading" or "internationally excellent”. Our teaching programmes are underpinned by research - students have the opportunity to learn about the research process and experience how new knowledge is created throughout the degree. Indeed, the University was recently praised by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) for “the varied mechanisms for making research-led teaching increasingly a distinctive feature of the University”.

Studying the Biological Sciences is a preparation for tomorrow’s world. We hope you will browse our website, find out about the huge range of subjects on offer, explore student life through our student interviews and decide to join us in this most dynamic subject area.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can help in anyway.

Dr Simon Harrison
Director of Undergraduate Learning and Teaching
Faculty of Biological Sciences Undergraduate School

An outstanding scientific education

We provide students with the very best learning resources and academic support possible and our teaching consistently draws on the University's base of world-class research. At Leeds you will learn in many different ways:


Practical work
Laboratory practicalA large proportion of the teaching is laboratory based, ranging from developing basic laboratory skills and learning techniques in Year 1 and Year 2 to research projects in the final year. Increasingly, students are being given opportunities to engage in real-life laboratory research earlier in their degree, for example in “research skills” modules and research placement schemes in Year 1. In addition to our multi-purpose teaching laboratories, which are equipped to a high standard with all the apparatus and instrumentation you will need, we have numerous specialised facilities. We have recently invested £2.25 million in new state-of-the-art teaching laboratories, which will accommodate over 200 undergraduates. We are frequently complimented by external examiners for the extent, breadth and quality of the laboratory training provided.

We also offer field courses in the UK, Europe and Africa for students on biology, ecology and zoology degrees.

Small group academic tutorials
All students attend small group academic tutorials which encourage active participation and understanding. They help develop a range of skills including critical thinking, data interpretation and oral presentations.  

Innovative E-learning
Student using an e-voting handset in a lectureWhilst there is always a place for traditional face-to face learning, technology has a huge role to play in providing additional resources, making learning materials more accessible and helping staff and students communicate. Our Faculty benefits from having lecturers specialising in e-learning and we increasingly make use of e-learning alongside traditional face-to-face teaching. Some people imagine this reduces staff-student interaction, but the opposite is true. It’s about using technology to help identify areas for development and make the most of contact time.

We make extensive use of the virtual learning environment (VLE). In addition to learning resources, students access reading lists, past examination papers, coursework deadlines, timetables, staff contact details, skills guides, module handbooks and assessment guidelines through our VLE. In a number of modules online self-help questionnaires are provided for students to test their understanding and get instant feedback. We regularly integrate innovative tools into our teaching including blogs, wikis, podcasts and discussion boards.

A study led by Dr Neil Morris is monitoring how a students’ use of iPad technology influences their learning, looking into changes into their academic performance, study skills and overall student experience. Virtual Labs has also recently been launched in the Faculty, offering students additional online resources to support their learning and help them prepare for practicals. Resources include virtual practicals, quizzes and videos and can be accessed online or downloaded by anyone.

We have modern lecture theatres equipped with the latest audio-visual and computer-based teaching aids, including "voting buttons" to help assess understanding as the lecture progresses.

Research-based teaching
Biology student Catherine Ayres doing her research project on BiofuelsBiological sciences are providing many of the answers to modern scientific questions through new and exciting discoveries. If you choose to join us you can be assured that you are working alongside world-class experts who bring the latest cutting-edge research to their teaching and therefore, to your learning. A member of the prestigious Russell Group of research-intensive universities, the Faculty of Biological Sciences at Leeds is one of the largest teams of biogical scientists in the UK, with research and teaching that competes with the best institutions worldwide. Our students benefit in many ways including:

- Research projects
All degrees offer students the opportunity to undertake a final year research project. Research projects are conducted (either individually or in groups) in research laboratories across the Faculty, the Faculty Gardens and University Farm and at external field sites and facilities, whilst others may be undertaken as bioinformatics, public understanding of science or literature projects. However conducted, the research project is the pinnacle of the undergraduate degree and provides exceptional skills training. Some of our students are fortunate enough to get their final year research project data published in a scientific journal, including "Bioscience Horizons", a national undergraduate research journal pioneered at Leeds. Find out more about research projects on the course content tab of each course web section.

- Undergraduate Research Placements Scheme
This innovative scheme allows successful Year 1 students to spend 10 hours a week during semester 2 as part of a research group taking part in all aspects of laboratory-based scientific research. Students write a blog of their experiences which provides an opportunity to reflect and to focus on career aspirations towards (or away from) scientific research. Benefits include:

  • first-hand experience of a working lab
  • being able to see for yourself what research actually involves on a day-to-day basis
  • access to PhD students and researchers
  • one-to-one tuition
  • the chance to develop transferable practical laboratory and data interpretation skills which will help with the rest of the course
  • Facilities and Resources

    Our students have access to all the facilities you would expect from a leading university.

    Teaching laboratories

    Artists impression of new teaching labsWe have modern well-equipped research and teaching laboratories used by researchers, postgraduates and undergraduates depending upon level of study. We have recently invested £2.25 million in new state-of-the-art teaching laboratories which will be ready for the 2012/2013 academic year. The 2000m² of new labs will provide a contemporary and inspiring learning environment, accommodating over 200 undergraduates.

    Managed by our professional technical team, we have all the equipment students will need for their practical work. Large plasma screens relay images and information throughout the labs and can be linked up to the tutor's own microscope. Although the majority of undergraduate teaching takes place in the teaching labs,many students also have the opportunity to work in the research laboratories during their final year research project, or through research placements and summer studentships.

    Specialist scientific facilities

    As befits a major international research faculty, we have a huge array of facilities at our disposal including:

    • Millions of pounds worth of specialist scientific equipment
    • 28,000 m² of laboratories, research and teaching facilities in the Astbury, Miall, Manton, Garstang and Worsley buildings
    • The University Farm and Research Field Station
    • A Zoological collection

    Susan Partridge in the Environment ChamberWe also provide specialised facilities for students on particular degrees e.g

    • Anatomy dissecting room classes for biomedical science students
    • Environment chamber sessions for biomedical science and sports science students 

    Library facilities

    Located within the Faculty buildings, the Health Sciences Library is one of the key library sites for biological sciences students, along with the Edward Boyle library which is located within minutes of the Faculty. Read more about the University Library ...

    Computing facilities
    There are student computer clusters within the vicinity of the Faculty buildings in the Worsley Building, Manton Building and Senior Common Room which have almost 400 machines available. A number of the computer clusters are open 24 hours a day. There are also PCs available in the Worsley Building café area, the Roger Stevens café area, and in the Edward Boyle and Health Sciences libraries, all of which are within a few minutes walk of the Faculty, where there are approximately 100 machines available. All Faculty buildings are also covered by wireless networking provision.

    Another range of e-learning resources are now available for students throughout the Faculty. Designed predominantly for first year biochemistry and microbiology students, Virtual Labs @ Leeds includes virtual practicals, quizzes and videos to support student learning.


    Over 100 members of academic staff teach on the courses within the Undergraduate School. The team includes both scientific researchers and academics who specialise in teaching science, all of whom contribute to the management, delivery and planning of our degrees to ensure the highest quality experience for our students. A large number of staff are also personal tutors to our students, providing academic and pastoral support throughout the degree.

    Faculty Director of Undergraduate Student Education

    Dr Simon HarrisonDr Simon Harrison is Faculty Director of Undergraduate Student Education , responsible for the development all undergraduate degrees in the Faculty.

    Our vision is for all our programmes to be of excellent quality, inspirational, innovative, internationally competitive, inclusive, research-led and well-managed and that's something that's largely been achieved across the School, with the Faculty receiving very positive results from the National Student Survey.

    "The 2011 survey results were excellent across our courses, with 89% overall satisfaction averaged across our portfolio", comments Dr Harrison. "We're really enthusiastic about continuing to get results like these and improving them through continually reviewing what we do, and how we do it, to make sure our students have the best experience possible when they come to Leeds".

    Programme Leaders

    Each BSc degree has a programme leader who is responsible for the development, organisation and management of a specific BSc degree and for the academic experience of the students on that programme (BSc course). Programme leaders are all academic members of staff, and the majority are also research active. The programme leaders, in conjunction with the Faculty Director of Undergraduate Learning and Teaching are responsible for the School’s portfolio of degree courses and the enhancement of the student academic experience. See individual BSc course web sections for programme leader details

    University Teaching Fellows

    A number of our colleagues are 'University Teaching Fellows'. This award means that they have been recognised as making outstanding contributions to teaching and the development of student learning. In recent years, a number of colleagues have been awarded University Teaching Fellowships including Dr David Lewis, Dr John Heritage, Dr Neil Morris and Dr Aysha Divan.

    Student Support

    Starting out at Leeds
    We strive to make the move to university life as easy as possible:

    • Before you arrive you can log into our virtual learning environment and find out about your course, make friends online and ask our admissions tutors last minute questions. 
    • Our peer mentoring scheme matches new students with a second year student who will provide support, both before you get here and once you arrive, should you need it. 
    • Upon arrival, our induction scheme will help you get to know other students and your new tutors through briefings and social events.
    • The student-run Faculty of Biological Sciences Society (FOBSOC) organises lots of events and activities throughout the year.
    • Staff in the Undergraduate School Office are always ready to help students settle in and "learn the ropes".
    • Regular student newsletters and communications provide important information and updates.

    Personal development

    Student Choice Awards Logo Award winning personal tutors
    As a Leeds student you will have a dedicated personal tutor who will help to support your academic, personal and professional development. Your tutor will help you recognise your strengths and help you find the right academic support and opportunities. They will meet you on a one to one basis at regular times in the academic year to discuss your academic development and advise on ways to develop your attributes and skills. The benefits of our personal tutor system are recognised by our students - for the second year running the Faculty of Biological Sciences won the highest number of awards at the annual 'I Love My Personal Tutor' Awards (organised by the Students' Union). The award recognises the dedication, hard work and support of our personal tutors and it is fabulous to receive such endorsement from our students.

    Leeds for Life Logo Leeds for Life
    We want Leeds graduates to go out into the world and make an impact in whatever field they choose. We believe that the research-led teaching at Leeds gives students the confidence and skills to achieve their potential and we run a special ‘Leeds for Life’ scheme to help all students make the most of their time at Leeds. "Leeds for Life" helps all students from the very beginning of their time here to recognise and develop the qualities they are gaining from the whole University of Leeds experience - both from their studies and the huge range of co-curricular opportunities on offer. When you join the Faculty your personal tutor will explain how the scheme works and help you make the most of the opportunities the University of Leeds can offer.

    The Leeds Guide to Career Planning 2011 Front Cover Careers advice and skills training
    In addition to providing subject-specific knowledge, we equip all our students with the best possible skills for future careers. All of our degrees have a strong emphasis on practical based teaching, small group teaching, online learning and problem solving. Throughout the degree, students gain a wide range of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers, and we offered specific careers advice and training.

    Industrial and professional placements, laboratory placements and Study Year Abroad
    All our degrees offer the opportunity to undertake an industrial or professional placement year or a study year abroad . Both schemes are very popular and offer fabulous opportunities for students to develop their skills and gain new perspectives. There are also opportunities to work in one of our research laboratories during Year 1 or to do a summer studentship in a professional laboratory.