Biological sciences

Biological sciences encompass a broad area of specialist subjects linked to the study of living organisms and the science behind ‘life’.
Relevant to

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Key stats

176,760 students were studying this subject in 2014/15.

  • 92% UK
  • 8% international
  • 84% full-time
  • 16% part-time
68.5% of graduates went directly into employment.

Top five graduate destinations:

  1. Health and social work
  2. Education
  3. Wholesale and retail trade
  4. Arts, entertainment and recreation
  5. Accommodation and food service

What courses are available?

Universities and colleges in the UK are offering courses in the following subject areas:

There are a wide range of degree courses on offer, with numerous options to take one or more different subjects together. While many will offer core topics with a choice of modules, it is important to remember that there is no national curriculum at degree level and course content can vary significantly.

'Choosing a degree subject isn't the same as choosing a degree course; the subject is an umbrella term, but the content delivered can vary greatly from university to university. Many bioscience and biology degrees will offer a broad choice of modules in the first year, with the chance to specialise and focus on one area in the second and third years, this can be a good option if you haven't decided on a specialist area, or would like to keep some flexibility in your studies.’
Royal Society of Biology

Subject combinations and available course options include:

  • single, joint, and multiple subject combinations
  • full-time, part-time, and flexible study options, as well as courses with a placement (sandwich courses)
  • qualifications ranging from BSc (Hons) degrees, through to HND, HNC, and Foundation Certificates

‘Joint or combined honours degrees will give you the flexibility to study more than one area of interest, such as combining your studies with a foreign language. This is great for maintaining a breadth of knowledge and experience, but it does mean that you won't have time to cover the same content as a single honours degree.’
Royal Society of Biology


Apprenticeships

 Apprenticeships are available in the following areas:

  • Life sciences and chemical science professionals – e.g. materials scientist, plant research technician
  • Laboratory science

Find out more about apprenticeships


Entry requirements

A levels – To get on to a biology-related degree, you will usually require at least two A levels, including biology and preferably chemistry. You will also need five GCSEs (A – C) including science, English, and maths.

‘Many universities require two science subjects at A level (or Higher level in Scotland) to study for a biology degree, although some universities accept maths instead of a second science subject. Biology courses which cover a lot of molecular and cellular biology often ask for chemistry A level or Higher.’
Royal Society of Biology

For sports science degrees, you generally require a science subject (biology or human biology preferred), while for psychology degrees, some universities may prefer/require one science subject. Other than chemistry, physics, and maths, universities may consider the following as science subjects: psychology, environmental studies, geography and geology, computer science, PE, and sports science. Always check with admissions departments.

Selection

You may be invited to attend an open day, part of which can include a small group exercise led by academic staff, at which you will be asked to talk about a relevant biological or biomedical topic and discuss it with other members of the group.


Personal statement

Universities will be looking for evidence that you are well informed about the subject and have a strong interest/motivation, which could be demonstrated by:

  • relevant work experience/shadowing or voluntary work
  • additional reading and research of particular topics
  • membership of related societies/clubs

How to write your personal statement



Where can I find out more?

Visit the websites of the following professional bodies to find out more about courses and careers in biological sciences.