What is Biology?

Biology is the study of life and living organisms, and covers the key areas of molecular biology, cellular biology, organismal biology and population biology. It is a fascinating subject that answers fundamental questions such as how did life first begin?

Why study Biology?

By studying Biology, you are choosing to study a subject that offers solutions and developments to social and ethical challenges. It is possibly the most actively changing and developing subject in the sciences, and has offered an advanced understanding of threats to human populations such as AIDS, as well as threats to conservation and habitats.

Are you unsure of the difference between Biological Sciences and Biology? Download our guide to help you decide which is right for you.

Advanced Accredited programme

MBiol, BSc Biology (Integrated Masters) has been awarded advanced accreditation by the Society of Biology. Advanced Degree Accreditation by the Society recognises academic excellence in the biosciences, and highlights degrees that educate the research and development leaders and innovators of the future. The Advanced Accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from the programme meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including gaining a substantial period of research experience

Find out more about MBiol BSc Accreditation (pdf download).

This programme is also available part time. Please contact the Lifelong learning centre for more information.


Course Overview

We offer a range of topics from Diversity of Life to Organismal Evolution, and Animal Physiology. A highlight for many students are the field courses we offer throughout the degree. There is also the option to visit the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya in your fourth year of the MBiol. Visit Mpala Live! to see round-the-clock views of hippos, elephants, and other incredible species in Kenya’s Laikipia County, the area that surrounds the Mpala Research Centre and see where you could be studying.

The table below offers a brief insight into the types of modules you will be offered:

BSc Year 1 BSc Year 2 BSc Year 3
Core modules
  • Data Analysis
  • Biology Practicals
  • Cell Biology
  • Diversity of Life
  • Introduction to Genetics

All students take the programme-specified modules as shown below. Students can take modules specified for other biology programmes, optional modules or an elective module.

All students undertake a research project and choose modules from amongst those identified as appropriate to their programme.

  • Biology Practicals and Data Analysis
  • Ecology in a Changing World
  • Coastal & Upland Habitats Field Course
  • Applied Biology & Agriculture
  • Practical Applied Biology
  • Practical Genetics
  • Tutorials for Biology
  • How Plants Work
  • Organismal Evolution Animal Physiology from Ants to Whales
  • Genetics (Human Genetics, Genetic Engineering or Bacterial Genomics)
  • Enhanced Study Skills for Biologists.

Selection is made from the broad range of advanced level biological topics offered across all the specific biology programmes, including at least one module concentrating on each of the following levels of biological organisation:

  • molecules
  • organisms
  • populations

Course changes may occur given the fast-moving nature of the field and the above is an indicative list only.

BSc Year one

In year one, the research ethos is developed and fostered from the start via practicals and tutorials. The modules reflect the complexity of life forms from molecules, through organisms (both plants and animals) to populations. There is a residential field course in North Yorkshire to study coastal and uplands habitats.

BSc Year two

In year two you will build on your skills and knowledge from first year, with the option of taking modules from other disciplines, including genetics and zoology. There is also an optional Yorkshire Dales field course in terrestrial ecology and behaviour.

BSc Year three

In Year 3 you will study topics at the cutting edge of biological discovery, in areas such as epigenetics, behavioural ecology and conservation biology. You will undertake your own independent research, literature or computer based project. There is also a popular optional South African Ecology field course.

MBiol year three and four

Year 3 of the MBiol offers grounding for the step to masters level with compulsory preparation modules, an individual research project and a literature review project.

Year 4 will offers an optional field course to Africa. The African field course is based at Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia, Kenya. It provides a first-hand appreciation of the ecology and conservation concerns of an African savannah community, both for the wildlife and the people who live in the area.

In year 4 you will study a range of Masters level modules such as Host-Parasite Interactions and Infectious Diseases, as well as undertaking an extended research project that will provide you with more advanced research skills, ideal for numerous careers in industry and research.

Please note that year one and two are the same as the BSc for the MBiol.

To find out more about this MBiol degree programme download our guide and our overview on MBiol programmes.


Our degrees are delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials and practicals. The first and second year will see a focus on these three teaching methods, building your skills, understanding and knowledge for your final year research project, which will see independent research and learning complemented with the guidance of leading experts.

Typical timetable (3 year BSc)

  • Year one includes twelve hours of lectures, a three hour practical session in the lab, additional workshop and seminar sessions, plus private study. 
  • Year two includes nine hours of lectures and nine hours of practicals, with a one hour tutorial or workshop, plus private study. 
  • In year three week you will have nine hours of lectures and extended time in a research laboratory, plus private study.

Discover more about our teaching.

The structure of your course will depend on the pathway that you choose:

Qualification Course Title Duration
BSc Biology 3 years
BSc Biology with industrial placement year 4 years
BSc Biology with a study year abroad 4 years
MBiol, BSc Biology 4 years
MBiol, BSc Biology with industrial placement year 5 years
MBiol, BSc Biology with a study year abroad 5 years



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You can use Unistats to find out what previous students thought about the course, as well as to learn about the likely costs and the kind of jobs or further study  which students who completed the course went on to do. 

It is important to remember when you use Unistats that the information here is designed to give an indication of what it might be like on the course you select.  Obviously, the experience of each course will be different for each person, and will differ from year to year.

Some of the information on Unistats, for example on student satisfaction and employment outcomes, is retrospective - and some of it, like fee information, is for the next academic year.  You should be careful to make sure that you understand which year the data relate to.