Biology BSc

Biology

Key information

Duration:
3 years full time
Typical A-level offer:
AAB-ABB
UCAS code:
C100
Start date:
September 2017

At Sussex, you learn from experts who are tackling some of society’s biggest issues, from research into cancer treatments to the declining bee population.

You can choose from a wide range of modules, based on the latest research, to tailor your degree to your interests.

Outside of the laboratory, you can apply your practical skills through fieldwork, giving you real-world research experience before you graduate.

I’ve loved the opportunity to expand my learning on field trips, and the campus is ideally located for studying nature.”Rosie Cooper
Biology BSc

MSci or BSc?

We also offer this course as a four-year MSci, or as a four-year MSci with research placementsFind out about the benefits of an integrated Masters year. 

Entry requirements

A-level

Typical offer

AAB-ABB

Subjects

A-levels must include at least one from Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry or Physics. You will also normally need to pass the separate science practical assessment in at least one of the science subjects. If you are not able to take the science practical assessment, applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

GCSEs

You will also need GCSE (or equivalent) English, Mathematics and two Science subjects with grade B in each (or grade 5 in the new grading scale).

Other UK qualifications

Access to HE Diploma

Typical offer

Pass the Access to HE Diploma with 45 Level 3 credits at Merit or above, including 24 at Distinction.

Subjects

The Access to HE Diploma will need to contain substantial amounts of Level 3 credit in science subjects.

GCSEs

You will also need GCSE (or equivalent) English, Mathematics and two Science subjects with grade B in each (or grade 5 in the new grading scale).

Advanced Diploma

Typical offer

Pass with at least grade B in the Diploma and A in the Additional and Specialist Learning.

Subjects

The Additional and Specialist Learning must be an A-level in Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

GCSEs

You will also need GCSE (or equivalent) English, Mathematics and two Science subjects with grade B in each (or grade 5 in the new grading scale).

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma

Typical offer

DDD

Subjects

The BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma would normally need to be in Applied Science and you will need to have opted for substantial numbers of modules in Biology and Chemistry related topics. You will also need an A-level in Biology, Chemistry or Physics alongside the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma.

GCSEs

You will also need GCSE (or equivalent) English, Mathematics and two Science subjects with grade B in each (or grade 5 in the new grading scale).

International Baccalaureate

Typical offer

34 points overall.

Subjects

Higher Levels must include at least one from Biology, Chemistry or Physics, with a grade of at 5.

Scottish Highers

Typical offer

AABBB

Additional requirements

Highers must include one or two science subjects (other than Maths). Ideally, you will have at least one science subject (Biology, Chemistry or Physics) at Advanced Higher. You will also need Mathematics and Chemistry at Standard Grade, grade 1 or 2.

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma

Typical offer

Grade B and AB in two A-levels.

Subjects

A-levels must include at least one from Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

GCSEs

You will also need GCSE (or equivalent) English, Mathematics and two Science subjects with grade B in each (or grade 5 in the new grading scale).

International baccalaureate

Typical offer

34 points overall.

Subjects

Higher Levels must include at least one from Biology, Chemistry or Physics, with a grade of at 5.

European baccalaureate

Typical offer

Overall result of at least 77%

Additional requirements

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Other international qualifications

Australia

Typical offer

Relevant state (Year 12) High School Certificate, and over 85% in the ATAR or UAI/TER/ENTER. Or a Queensland OP of 5 or below.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Austria

Typical offer

Reifeprüfung or Matura with an overall result of 2.2 or better for first-year entry. A result of 2.5 or better would be considered for Foundation Year entry.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Belgium

Typical offer

Certificat d'Enseignement Secondaire Supérieur (CESS) or Diploma van Hoger Secundair Onderwijs with a good overall average. 

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Bulgaria

Typical offer

Diploma za Sredno Obrazovanie with excellent final-year scores (normally 5.5 overall with 6 in key subjects).

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Canada

Typical offer

High School Graduation Diploma. Specific requirements vary between provinces.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

China

Typical offer

We usually don’t accept Senior High School Graduation for direct entry to our undergraduate courses.

However, we do accept one of the following qualifications for our International Foundation Years:  

  • Senior High 2 at an average grade of 75% with a minimum of five academic subjects including key subjects
  • Senior High 3 at an average of 70% or above in a minimum of four academic subjects including key subjects.

If you successfully complete the International Foundation Year you can progress on to a relevant undergraduate course at Sussex. 

Check which qualifications we accept for the International Foundation Year.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Croatia

Typical offer

Maturatna Svjedodžba with an overall score of at least 4-5 depending on your degree choice.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Cyprus

Typical offer

Apolytirion of Lykeion with an overall average of at least 18 or 19/20 will be considered for first-year entry.

A score of 15/20 in the Apolytirion would be suitable for Foundation Year entry. Find out more about Foundation Years.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Czech Republic

Typical offer

Maturita with a good overall average.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Denmark

Typical offer

Højere Forberedelseseksamen (HF) or studentereksamen with an overall average of at least 7 on the new grading scale.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Finland

Typical offer

Finnish Ylioppilastutkinto with an overall average result in the final matriculation examinations of at least 6.0.

Additional requirements

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

France

Typical offer

French Baccalauréat with an overall final result of at least 13/20.

Additional requirements

You will need to be taking the science strand within the French Baccalauréat with good results (12/20) in at least one science subject other than Mathematics.

Germany

Typical offer

German Abitur with an overall result of 2.0 or better.

Additional requirements

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results (12/15) in at least one science other than Mathematics is essential.

Greece

Typical offer

Apolytirion with an overall average of at least 18 or 19/20 will be considered for first-year entry.

A score of 15/20 in the Apolytirion would be suitable for Foundation Year entry. Find out more about Foundation years.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Hong Kong

Typical offer

Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) with grades of 5, 4, 4 from three subjects including two electives. 

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Hungary

Typical offer

Erettsegi/Matura with a good average.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

India

Typical offer

Standard XII results from Central and Metro Boards with an overall average of 75-80%. 

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Iran

Typical offer

High School Diploma and Pre-University Certificate.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Ireland

Typical offer

Irish Leaving Certificate (Higher Level) at AABBBB.

Additional requirements

Highers will need to include at least one from Biology, Chemistry or Physics, with a grade A.

Israel

Typical offer

Bagrut, with at least 8/10 in at least six subjects, including one five-unit subject.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Italy

Typical offer

Italian Diploma di Maturità or Diploma Pass di Esame di Stato with a Final Diploma mark of at least 81/100.

Additional requirements

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Japan

Typical offer

Upper Secondary Leaving Certificate is suitable for entry to our Foundation Years. Find out more about Foundation Years.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Latvia

Typical offer

Atestats par Visparejo videjo Izglitibu with very good grades in state exams.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Lithuania

Typical offer

Brandos Atestatas including scores of 80-90% in at least three state examinations (other than English).

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Luxembourg

Typical offer

Diplôme de Fin d'Etudes Secondaires.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Malaysia

Typical offer

Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM). As well as various two or three-year college or polytechnic certificates and diplomas.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Netherlands

Typical offer

Voorereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO), normally with an average of at least 7.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Nigeria

Typical offer

You are expected to have one of the following:

  • Higher National Diploma
  • One year at a recognised Nigerian University
  • Professional Diploma (Part IV) from the Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology of Nigeria
  • Advanced Diploma

You must also have a score of C6 or above in WAEC/SSC English.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Norway

Typical offer

Norwegian Vitnemal Fra Den Videregaende Skole - Pass with an overall average of at least 4.

Additional requirements

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Pakistan

Typical offer

Bachelor (Pass) degree in arts, commerce or science.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Poland

Typical offer

Matura with three extended-level written examinations, normally scored within the 7th stanine.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Portugal

Typical offer

Diploma de Ensino Secundario normally with an overall mark of at least 16/20. 

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Romania

Typical offer

Diploma de Bacalaureat with an overall average of 8.5-9.5 depending on your degree choice.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Singapore

Typical offer

A-levels, as well as certain certificates and diplomas.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Slovakia

Typical offer

Maturitna Skuska or Maturita with honours, normally including scores of 1 in at least three subjects.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Slovenia

Typical offer

Secondary School Leaving Diploma or Matura with at least 23 points overall.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

South Africa

Typical offer

National Senior Certificate with very good grades. 

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Spain

Typical offer

Spanish Título de Bachillerato (LOGSE) with an overall average result of at least 8.0.

Additional requirements

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Sri Lanka

Typical offer

Sri Lankan A-levels.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Sweden

Typical offer

Fullstandigt Slutbetyg with good grades.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Switzerland

Typical offer

Federal Maturity Certificate.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Turkey

Typical offer

Devlet Lise Diplomasi or Lise Bitirme is normally only suitable for Foundation Years, but very strong applicants may be considered for first year entry. Find out more about Foundation Years.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

USA

Typical offer

We look at your full profile taking into account everything you are studying. You must have your high school graduation diploma and we will be interested in your Grade 12 GPA. However, we will also want to see evidence of the external tests you have taken. Each application is looked at individually, but you should normally have one or two of the following:

  • APs (where we would expect at least three subject with 4/5 in each)
  • SAT Reasoning Tests (normally with a combined score of 1300) or ACT grades
  • and/or SAT Subject Tests (where generally we expect you to have scores of 600 or higher). 

We would normally require APs or SAT Subject Tests in areas relevant to your chosen degree course.

Subject-specific knowledge

Evidence of academic studies to a high level in science subjects with good results is essential.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

My country is not listed

If your qualifications aren’t listed or you have a question about entry requirements, email ug.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

6.5 overall, including at least 6.0 in each component

IELTS scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course. You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test.

If you are applying for degree-level study we can consider your IELTS test from any test centre, but if you require a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for an English language or pre-sessional English course (not combined with a degree) the test must be taken at a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)-approved IELTS test centre.

Find out more about IELTS.

Other English language requirements

Proficiency tests

Cambridge Advanced Certificate in English (CAE)

For tests taken before January 2015: Grade B or above

For tests taken after January 2015: 176 overall, including at least 169 in each skill

We would normally expect the CAE test to have been taken within two years before the start of your course.

You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about Cambridge English: Advanced.

Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)

For tests taken before January 2015: grade C or above

For tests taken after January 2015: 176 overall, including at least 169 in each skill

We would normally expect the CPE test to have been taken within two years before the start of your course.

You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about Cambridge English: Proficiency.

Pearson (PTE Academic)

62 overall, including at least 56 in all four skills

PTE (Academic) scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course. You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about Pearson (PTE Academic).

TOEFL (iBT)

88 overall, including at least 20 in Listening, 19 in Reading, 21 in Speaking, 23 in Writing

TOEFL (iBT) scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course. You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about TOEFL (iBT).

The TOEFL Institution Code for the University of Sussex is 9166.

English language qualifications

AS/A-level (GCE)

Grade C or above in English Language.

Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE)/ AS or A Level: grade C or above in Use of English

French Baccalaureat

A score of 12 or above in English.

GCE O-level

Grade C or above in English.

Brunei/Cambridge GCE O-level in English: grades 1-6.

Singapore/Cambridge GCE O-level in English: grades 1-6.

GCSE or IGCSE

Grade C or above in English as a First Language.

Grade B or above in English as a Second Language

German Abitur

A score of 12 or above in English.

Ghana Senior Secondary School Certificate

If awarded before 1993: grades 1-6 in English language.

If awarded between 1993 and 2005: grades A-D in English language. 

Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE)

 Level 4, including at least 3 in each component in English Language.

 

Indian School Certificate (Standard XII)

The Indian School Certificate is accepted at the grades below when awarded by the following examination boards:

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) – English Core only: 70%

Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) - English: 70% or Grade 3

 

International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB)

English A or English B at grade 5 or above.

Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM) 119/GCE O-level

If taken before the end of 2008: grades 1-5 in English Language.

If taken from 2009 onwards: grade C or above in English Language.

The qualification must be jointly awarded by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES).

West African Senior School Certificate

Grades 1-6 in English language when awarded by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) or the National Examinations Council (NECO).

Country exceptions

Select to see the list of exempt English-speaking countries

If you are a national of one of the countries below, or if you have recently completed a qualification equivalent to a UK Bachelors degree or higher in one of these countries, you will normally meet our English requirements. Note that qualifications obtained by distance learning or awarded by studying outside these countries cannot be accepted for English language purposes.

You will normally be expected to have completed the qualification within two years before starting your course at Sussex. If the qualification was obtained earlier than this we would expect you to be able to demonstrate that you have maintained a good level of English, for example by living in an English-speaking country or working in an occupation that required you to use English regularly and to a high level.

Please note that this list is determined by the UK’s Home Office, not by the University of Sussex.

List of exempt countries

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada**
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Kingdom
  • USA

** Canada: you must be a national of Canada; other nationals not on this list who have a degree from a Canadian institution will not normally be exempt from needing to provide evidence of English.

Admissions information for applicants

InterviewNo
Transfers into Year 2

Yes. Find out more about transferring into Year 2 of this course. We don’t accept transfers into the third or final year.

If your qualifications aren’t listed or you have a question about entry requirements, email ug.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk.

Why choose this course?

  • 100% for overall satisfaction (National Student Survey 2016).
  • Ranked in the top 10 in the UK for biological sciences (The Complete University Guide 2018 and The Guardian University Guide 2018). 
  • Amazing field trips to Wales, Portugal and Ecuador, all generously subsidised – making study at Sussex stimulating and affordable.

Course information

How will I study?

Core modules give you the basic knowledge and skills needed to study biology, including:

  • molecular biology
  • neuroscience
  • behaviour and ecology.

You have the opportunity to go on a marine biology field course.

Teaching is through lectures, practical classes, seminars and student-directed learning. You develop laboratory and field skills in preparation for your research projects.

Assessment is through unseen exams and coursework, including practical reports, presentations, essays and problem sets.

Modules

Core modules

Options


Customise your course

At Sussex, you can choose to customise your course to build the sort of degree that will give you the knowledge, skills and experience that could take you in any direction you choose.

Explore subjects different to your course – electives and pathways allow you to complement your main subject. Find out what opportunities your course offers

How will I study?

You choose options on topics across a range of biology – from cancer biology and genetics to neuroscience, behaviour, ecology and evolution.

You have the opportunity to go on a field course in the Mediterranean. You can also take electives from from outside the School of Life Sciences.

Modules

Options


Customise your course

At Sussex, you can choose to customise your course to build the sort of degree that will give you the knowledge, skills and experience that could take you in any direction you choose.

Explore subjects different to your course – electives and pathways allow you to complement your main subject. Find out what opportunities your course offers

Gain programming skills and apply them to areas such as digital media, business and interactive design. Find out about our Year in Computing

Study abroad (optional)

Apply to study abroad – you’ll develop an international perspective and gain an edge when it comes to your career. Find out where your course could take you.

Placement (optional)

A placement is a great way to network and gain practical skills. When you leave Sussex, you'll benefit from having the experience employers are looking for.

Recent Life Sciences students have gone on placements at:

  • AkzoNobel
  • Pfizer
  • the NHS.

Find out more about placements and internships.

Please note

If you’re receiving – or applying for – USA federal Direct Loan funds, you can’t transfer to the version of this program with an optional study abroad period in any country or optional placement in the USA. Find out more about American Student Loans and Federal Student Aid

My speciality is bees and social insects, looking at how an ant colony is organised, and finding out how to control honey bee diseases.”Professor Francis Ratnieks
Professor of Apiculture (Evolution, Behaviour and Environment)

Fees

UK/EU students:
£9,250 per year
Channel Islands and Isle of Man students:
£9,250 per year
International students:
£18,750 per year
Study abroad:
Find out about grants and funding, tuition fees and insurance costs for studying abroad
Placement:
Find out about tuition fees for placements

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

Find out about typical living costs for studying at Sussex

Scholarships

Our focus is personal development and social mobility. To help you meet your ambitions to study at Sussex, we deliver one of the most generous scholarship programmes of any UK university.

Careers

Graduate destinations

96% of Biology students were in work or further study six months after graduatingRecent students have started jobs including:

  • screening assistant, NHS
  • science teacher, Teach First
  • intern, Cancer Research UK.

(HESA EPI, Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015)

Your future career

Throughout your course, transferable skills such as time management, communication and numerical and data analysis are embedded within the modules. You also develop your problem-solving and team-working abilities.

You can use your Biology degree for careers in areas including:

  • environment, energy and utilities
  • patents, regulation and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG)
  • health and biotechnology.

At Sussex, you can access careers support in the form of one-to-one appointments, drop-in clinics, exclusive jobs listings and talks given by industry professionals. This support continues after you’ve graduated.

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work

Academic Skills in Life Sciences

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

Students will learn about the range of research done in the School of Life Sciences, how to read and evaluate the primary research literature, how to write scientific essays, referencing scientific misconduct and also some of the quantitative skills needed in life sciences. This module is taught by lectures, workshops and tutorials, which are normally taken with the Academic advisor. A class will be run on careers.

Module learning outcomes

  • To understand and interpret a primary research paper in Life Sciences, especially the main research objectives, outcomes and how the conclusions are justified by the evidence.
  • To demonstrate the ability to understand and explain quantitative data especially the graphical presentation, and do basic calculations relevant to life sciences, including an understanding of units.
  • To develop communication skills and explain scientific concepts orally and in writing, using suitable organisation and use of graphics.
  • To search databases and online resources for information, understand plagiarism and use a conventional referencing system to build a bibliography.

Introduction to Evolution and Biodiversity

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

It has been said that 'nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution' (Dobhansky, 1973). Understanding the principles of how the diversity of life has evolved is essential for any biologist. This module will introduce the basic theories and priciples in evolutionary biology including the mechanisms by which it works. The module will also introduce you to the diveristy of life and how it is classified using selected taxonomic groups of organisms as examples to teach the core principles.

Introduction to Ecology and Conservation

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

This module provides a broad introduction to the main principles of ecology and conservation. Topics to be covered include population ecology (population growth, regulation, species interactions - competition, predation, mutualisms), community ecology (trophic structures and food webs, biodiversity, ecosystem services).

We then move on to macro-ecology, where we discuss local global patterns of biodiversity, factors controlling speicies distribution, abundance and biogeography. Finally we move on to consider applied issues in ecology and conservation, including habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, harvesting and ecological restoration.

Neuroscience and Behaviour

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

The module deals with nervous and hormonal bases for sensory perception and behavioural action by humans and other animals.

You will be introduced to the basic components of the nervous systems: neurons, synapses and neurotransmitters, and learn how neurons transmit signals and processes information. You will also cover specialisation of the cerebral cortex, looking at lateralisation and language, as well as sensory processing and perception, exemplified by the visual pathway from the eye to specialised feature detectors in the cortex. Finally, lectures on feeding deal with neural and hormonal controls in behaviour.

Research Methods for Biology, Ecology and Zoology

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

There are certain skills and methods that are essential for being a biologist, ecologist or zoologist. Accurate observation and identification of organisms, and curiosity about them, provides the fuel for scientific discovery.

The use of statistics allows us to test our hypotheses, form a quantitative understanding of experimental and observational data, and draw conclusions based on the information we can extract from them.

Writing and presentation skills are then essential to present our findings in a clear and coherent form so that scientists, policy makers, end-users and the general public can understand them.

This module will help you develop these skills. It will consist of three components:

  • an Introduction to Statistics and the use of statistical software to analyse biological and ecological data
  • the development of your ability to research and synthesise the primary scientific literature, and communicate your findings
  • a series of exercises to develop your observation and identification skills, and scientific curiosity.

Human Physiology

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

An introduction to homeostasis, physiological mechanisms and control in humans and other mammals. This module deals with circulatory and respiratory systems, fluid balance and kidney function, digestion and feeding. The approach to regulation and control uses hormonal signalling as a unifying principle, with several negative feedback examples. Furthermore, some case studies are explored such as exercise related cardiovascular and respiratory changes, diabetes as a break-down of control and regulation, and satiety mechanisms and obesity.

Molecular Biology

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

Despite the diversity of life, the molecular mechanisms that ensure the flow of genetic information from one generation to the next, and the expression of genes from DNA to protein via an RNA intermediate, are remarkably conserved.

This module aims to teach fundamental mechanisms such as DNA replication, transcription and translation.

You will also learn about how the structures of nucleic acids and proteins relate to their functions. Finally, you will find out how the tools of molecular biology, such as cloning and PCR, allow us to manipulate and understand genes and proteins.

The Cellular and Molecular Basis of Life

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

Throughout the diversity of life, from slime moulds to elephants, organisms are; built from cells; function by the expression of genes from DNA to proteins and cellular process via RNA intermediates; and achieve fitness by the flow of genetic information from one generation to the next.

Some organisms are unicellular, while others contain millions of cells that may be specialised to carry out particular functions in the organism as a whole.

However, the molecular and cellular processes of life are remarkably conserved and govern biological systems at all levels of complexity, so a knowledge of the essential principles of cell and molecular biology is important for any biologist, ecologist or zoologist.

In this module, you will gain an introduction to the essential concepts and components of molecular and cell biology, and cover key principles of molecular biology including:

  • the chemistry of life
  • nucleic acids
  • DNA replication and repair
  • laboratory techniques.

You also cover fundamentals of cell structure and function, including comparison of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, cell organelles, cell cycles, and microscopy techniques.

This module is designed to give anyone who is primarily interested in whole-organism biology the knowledge of essential principles of cell and molecular biology to underpin your future studies.

Cell Biology

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

In this module, you cover the fundamentals of cell structure and function.

You begin with a comparison of procaryotic and eucaryotic cells, and then proceed with a systematic dissection of a eucaryotic cell - attending lectures on:

  • the nucleus
  • membrane architecture and permeability
  • the secretory apparatus
  • origin and function of mitochondria and chloroplasts and their role in metabolism
  • the cytoskeleton
  • the cell cycle
  • the extracellular matrix and cell adhesion.

Emphasis is placed on the role of key proteins in regulating specific cellular functions and on experimental techniques used to study cellular processes.

Marine Biology and Ecology Field Course

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

The marine environment includes some of the most diverse and biodiverse habitats on the planet. Many of these marine environments, such as rocky shores, are highly dynamic, presenting particular challenges and selection pressures for the organisms inhabiting them. This module will introduce you to some of the basic fieldwork skills of marine biology, and develop your general skills in experimental biology and field research: experimental design, data sampling, organism identification, data analysis and report writing. The module involves a residential marine biology field course and subsequent independent marine biology fieldwork exercises for you to learn and develop these skills.

Animal Behavioural Ecology

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

The module will cover the evolution and ecology of the behaviour of non-human animals. The module will introduce key concepts and methods for studying the evolution of animal beahviour, such as optimisation modelling and game theory then apply them to specific areas such as foraging, animal contests, alternative strategies and social behaviour.

Cell Regulation and Cancer

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

This module aims to introduce you to the mechanisms by which cell metabolism and growth is regulated in normal and diseased states, focussing on cancer.

You cover cell regulation at the level of single cells and the body as a whole and will discuss the major signal transduction pathways used by hormones, neurotransmitters and growth factors to control cell growth and metabolism in the normal state and also the use of pharmacological agents to discriminate between receptor subtypes.

This will lead to a discussion of how loss of control of these signalling pathways by the generation of oncogenes or changes in tumour suppressor genes leads to alterations in the cell cycle and the development of cancer.

You review the difference between normal and transformed cells, the altered signal transduction mechanisms and the epidemiology, incidence and mortality in different cancers.

Conservation Biology I

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

After an introduction to the major threats to global biodiversity, the module will explore a series of broad conservation themes. The first half will focus on the species level, exploring some of the particular threats faced, why species become rare and endangered, and what measures can be taken to halt or reverse population declines and how populations of threatened species can be restored. The module then adopts a habitat and ecosystem focus, working up from a consideration of specific habitats and their management to a landscape approach and exploring methods for repairing damaged habitats and ecosystems.

Genetics and Genomics

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

This module covers aspects of both classical and molecular genetics. Starting from the basic principles of Mendelian inheritance and meiosis, the concepts of genetic linkage, recombination and mapping will then be introduced. We discuss, in detail, how the understanding of these processes can be used in the analysis of human disease traits.

You then move on to looking at the structure of genomes – again with an emphasis on the human genome and how changes to this structure can relate to human disease. Finally, we build on basic molecular genetics (covered in the Level 4 molecular biology module) to describe the advanced techniques now being used to analyse and manipulate genomes.

Plant Biology, Ecophysiology and Technology

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

Plants provide us with food, a breathable atmosphere, raw materials and medicines whilst removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The first half of this module will look at the origins and evolution of plants and the taxonomy of the major plant groups.

The module will look at plant genetic diversity at the molecular level and look at genetic fingerprinting methods for the assesment of biodiversity in both wild and crop plants. We will then explore how plants sense their environment, take up nutrients and photosynthesise and store metabolites. The final section looks at the methods of producing genetically modified (GM) crop plants for food and biotechnology, and their benefits and potential threats to the environment and human health.

Principles of Neuroscience

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system from its structure, molecular and cellular biology and function through to the consequences of its operation, namely behaviour. The aim of this module is to provide you with your first real insight into the detailed workings of the brain and its development through consideration of the fundamental principles of nervous system operation. The module is also an important grounding for those wishing to take its sister module, Neural Circuits.

Topics covered include:

  • Signalling and transmission by nerves and synapses
  • Neurotransmission and neuromodulation
  • Plasticity in the nervous system
  • Cellular and molecular basis of learning and memory
  • Fundamental disease mechanisms
  • Development of the nervous system
  • The role of early experience in the development of the visual system
  • Methodological approaches to studying fundamental brain processes.

Structural Basis of Biological Function

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

This module builds on the topics of protein structure and function relationships introduced by first year modules Fundamentals of Cell and Molecular Biology and Biological Chemistry. Topics covered will include:

  • an introduction to protein structure and folding
  • the methods used to determine high-resolution protein structures
  • protein superfamilies
  • the functional properties of enzymes
  • the methods of analysis for exploring enzyme mechanism
  • how enzyme properties can be modified by protein engineering techniques to produce new enzymes with desirable properties, illustrated using a case study of subtilisin
  • the specificity of small molecule enzyme interactions, illustrated using an example of rationale drug design
  • the role of proteins as transducers of mechanical energy, explored by considering the role of actin and myosin in muscle contraction.

Comparative Animal Physiology and Morphology

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module deals with how an animal's physiology is adapted to the environment in which it lives. We will explore how a wide range of animals, including vertebrates and invertebrates, have solved problems posed by their environments, such as ensuring their tissues have sufficient oxygen and food for respiration.

We will study how animals regulate their water loss, temperature, and other aspects of their internal environment. We will also consider how animals sense their environment and how they move through it. Finally, we will consider plasticity and the response of animals to rapidly changing environments, such as those created by climate change.

These various topics will highlight the key principles by which physiological systems have evolved. Solutions may be remarkably similar in distantly related animals indicating convergent evolution but also different even in closely related species indicating divergence.

Computing for Life Sciences

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

Gain basic computer coding skills in modern structured languages.

This enables you to apply these skills to develop computer programmes that perform computations and analyses of direct relevance to modern Life Sciences research.

Conservation Biology II

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

The module follows logically from the Conservation Biology I module taught in Term 1. It starts with an in-depth consideration of the major threats to world biodiversity that were first introduced in Conservation Biology I. It then considers the national, European and international system of conservation designations and their associated legal framework. After a consideration of how modern molecule genetics can be used to clarify and address various conservation issues, the module finishes with considering how people and wildlife interact, both positively and negatively, and how emergent conflicts can be resolved.

Developmental Biology

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

How does an adult organism arise from a fertilized egg? This module presents the concepts and principles that are rapidly emerging from studies of developmental processes in animals.

Topics to be discussed include egg organisation and origins of cell differences, molecular mechanisms of cell differentiation, cell movements and inductive interactions, long-range signalling mechanisms, the cellular and molecular processes underlying pattern formation, and the evolutionary conservation of developmental mechanisms in different phyla.

Evolutionary Biology

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

The module covers the full breadth of evolutionary biology.

Subjects will include:

  • the fate of individual mutations in populations
  • sexual selection
  • the evolution of altruism and of sex
  • the process of speciation.

Throughout this module, you will develop an understanding of the central concepts of evolutionary biology.

Mediterranean Ecology and Behaviour Field Course

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

The Mediterranean phylogeographic region includes a diversity of habitats that contrast markedly with those found in the UK and contains very different flora and fauna. Experience of a variety of environments is essential for a good understanding of the ecology of biodiversity and the selection forces driving its evolution. Experience of carrying out research in novel environments is also an essential part of learning to be a field biologist or ecologist. On completion of this module you should be able to design and carry out simple ecological or behavioural field research projects using the flora or fauna of a Mediterranean field site as their study system. You will develop research proposals, conduct field work, analyse your data and present your findings both in written form and in the form of a research seminar.

Neural Circuits

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module will teach you about neural mechanisms generating animal behaviour. The level of analysis emphasises types of behaviour that can be understood in terms of underlying neural circuits or specific structures with well­ known neural architectures within the brain.

Topics covered include:

  • organisation and modulation of central pattern generator (CPG) circuits
  • advanced techniques for monitoring and manipulating neural circuits
  • modelling of neural circuits
  • sensory and motor functions of spinal cord circuits
  • brain circuits underlying motor control
  • circuits underlying non-associative and associative learning
  • addiction and learning circuits
  • defects in circuits
  • development of neural circuits

Animal-Plant Interactions

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

This module examines the impact of social, economic and technological transformations on people, the environment and ecology in the Tropics. A wide temporal perspective will be adopted incorporating historical perspectives, present day impacts and future scenarios. The module will also compare local and international perspectives on wildlife, ecotourism and environmental protection. You will cover, amongst other topics:

  • the continuing impact of colonisation
  • sustainability in marginal environments
  • the roles of indigenous environmental knowledge
  • intellectual property rights
  • and biotechnology.

Cell Signalling and its Applications in Therapeutics and Disease

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

This module discusses the major signalling pathways in cells and how perturbations of these can result in disease processes such as hypertension, cancer, gigantism, cholera, secretory diarrhea, polycystic kidney disease and septic shock.

You learn how a knowledge of these pathways has led to the design and use of specific pharmacological agents to target these pathways for therapeutic intervention. The signalling pathways covered will include Ca2+, cyclic nucleotides, nitric oxide and guanylate cyclase, MAPK kinase pathways, PI-3-kinase and PKB, Jak/Stat pathways and integrins.

Coral Reef Ecology Field Course

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

You learn how coral reefs are one of the most ecologically and economically important habitats on the planet.

Coral reefs have exceptional levels of biodiversity, are critical to the life-history and development of many pelagic as well as reef-associated marine species, and provide critical ecosystem services upon which many human communities rely.

You study how coral reefs are also globally threatened from direct human activities and the indirect impact of climate change.

You learn about marine ecology, and the need for an improved understanding to inform policy and conservation management strategies.

This field course will involve scuba and snorkel-based data collection at coral reefs, giving you the chance to learn and apply techniques from marine biology, develop and test scientific hypotheses, and gain an in-depth understanding of the unique ecosystem of coral reefs.

Intelligence in Animals and Machines

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

The module will develop your understanding of what it means for an animal or a machine to behave intelligently, and how brain and behavioural systems are adapted to enable an animal to cope effectively within its environment. You will consider diverse aspects of intelligence, including navigation and motor control, numerical, language, memory and social skills. You will explore how these are related to one another and how they are matched to the particular needs of animals and machines.

Life Sciences Final Year Research Project

  • 30 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

This is an individual research project involving the investigation of a biological problem or phenomenon using experimental procedures, or the investigation and evaluation of a medical condition, intervention or treatment using literature-based methods, in addition to patient feedback where possible. You will obtain data and information from either laboratory or field-based experiments; from work performed in silico, or from literature-based research.

Literature Project in Life Sciences

  • 30 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

Molecular Genetics

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

The module will cover the application of molecular genetics to the study of processes in model systems and higher eukaryotes.

Particular topics will include cell cycle and checkpoint control, recombination and mating type switching in lower eukaryotes, gene mapping and cloning disease genes in higher eukaryotes and the production of transgenic plants and animals.

Neuronal Transduction and Transmission

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

This module explores aspects of neuronal signalling, in both vertebrates and invertebrates, highlighting how molecular structure relates to function in signalling pathways. The emphasis will be on understanding how molecular and cellular mechanisms underlie the function of the CNS at a systems level and the generation of behaviour.

The module begins with the problem of sensory transduction (getting information into the nervous system), with a particular emphasis on mechanical (auditory) and visual modalities. This will be followed by a series of lectures on how information is processed at the synapse, covering electrical transmission and preand post-synaptic mechanisms at the chemical synapse. You will also be introduced to non-synaptic information processing.

Palaeozoology of Dinosaurs and Megafauna

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

Dinosaurs and other extinct megafauna, from sabre-toothed cats to megalodon sharks, have fascinated most of us since we were children. These animals which dominated the Earth for hundreds of millions of years were incredible for many reasons, and the more we uncover about their palaeobiology the more amazing they turn out to be.

The science of palaeozoology is also a fascinating study in the scientific method, and a useful example of the remarkable insights science can achieve even with only limited material to work with, such as that provided by the fossil record. How can we not only identify animals, but also work out their biology, behaviour and ecology, from only ancient bones and other fossilised material? Guesswork has now been replaced by researchers using a wide range of quantitative techniques to develop a rigorous, detailed understanding of the palaeobiology of animals, making palaeozoology one of the fastest moving fields of scientific research today.

In this module you will learn about the palaeozoology of dinosaurs and other extinct megafauna, from their classification, phylogenetics and evolution, to form and function. You will learn about the scientific evidence behind our understanding of how these animals lived, behaved and interacted with other organisms in their ecosystems, and the techniques, strengths and limitations of the methods that scientists use to study extinct animals.

Regulating the Transcriptome

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

This module takes an up-to-the-minute look at the molecular mechanisms controlling RNA expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, focusing largely on gene transcription but also examining RNA processing events in eukaryotes.

We will examine the way in which bacteria control gene expression in response to different environmental cues through precisely coordinated transcription regulatory networks, and investigate the way in which eukaryotic transcriptional regulators control RNA polymerase recruitment and retention and modulate chromatin structure during transcriptional activation and repression.

Understanding these processes and mechanisms is fundamental for the study of health and disease, for example to aid the development of new antibiotics and decipher how gene regulatory networks are perturbed during cancer development.

Social Insects

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

The eusocial insects comprise approximately 20,000 species of ants, termites, bees and wasps. Eusociality in these groups has evolved 20­-100 million years ago on approximately 10 occasions and has given rise to highly ­organized societies with up to 20 million individuals. Eusocial insects are of great economic and ecological importance. They are also key model systems in many important areas of biology.

The module is divided into several parts:

1) general background material on social insects, focusing in greater detail on four contrasting areas in which research on social insects is particularly active

2) inclusive fitness theory and relatedness

3) how insect societies are organised

4) another special topic relevant to social insect biology, such as mutualisms and symbioses involving social insects; the ecological importance of social insects; the evolution of eusociality in insects; or using social insects to investigate sensory physiology (topics will vary each year)

There will also be two laboratory sessions from a range including: the honey bee waggle dance, nestmate recognition and guarding in honey bees, organisation of ant trail systems, and reproductive queueing in Polistes wasps.

Tropical Rainforest Science (Field trip Ecuador)

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 3

The Tropical Forest Science field module is based at the Santa Lucia Cloud forest Reserve in NW Ecuador. The field station and laboratory were established by the University of Sussex to provide the opportunity for you to gain expertise in tropical plant, invertebrate and vertebrate taxonomy. Following an introduction to the wildlife and plants of the region you undertake your own fieldwork project to investigate the unique flora and fauna of this biodiversity hotspot.

Advanced Topics in Evolutionary Biology

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

You will work in groups on advanced research-led topics in evolutionary biology. Topics may include symbiosis, and sex and variation but will vary from year to year. They will be selected according to staff interests, recent developments in the field and the construction of a coherent package that covers a range of approaches in evolutionary biology, from molecular to ecological. Each topic will be introduced by a 'scene setting lecture' by a member of staff. You will then be given a set of references to relevant papers in the library. Groups will present their reports on the topics, via written material in Study Direct, seminars, reviews and news and view articles. Once you successfully complete the module you will understand recent theoretical and empirical developments in several areas of current research in evolutionary biology, critically read the primary literature in evolutionary biology, synthesise information from the primary literature and present your findings in written analyses and oral presentations.

African Zoology Field Course

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

The rich biological diversity of southern Africa, including ecologically dominant megafauna, and the conservation challenges this presents, makes the region an exceptional place to learn about zoology.

This field course is based at research sites in southern Africa, which provide you with the opportunity to study terrestrial African animals, including some of the charismatic megafauna.

Following an introduction to the sites, you carry out a fieldwork research project to investigate the behaviour, ecology or conservation of African animals. The field course concludes by studying marine megafauna at sites in South Africa.

Conflict & Cooperation in Social Groups

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

Conflict and cooperation cuts across the whole of biology and can be studied among genes or among organisms, in societies of micro-organisms, animals and humans, and also in multi-species mutualisms. It is relevant both in the origin of life and in modern-day organisms and societies. The module focuses on factors affecting the balance between conflict and cooperation in human society, vertebrate societies including primates and cooperative breeders, mutualism partners, and genes within organisms. There are eight lectures followed by six two-hour seminars covering research papers in a single area. In the first of these seminars the research papers are presented by the faculty, and in the others by you and your coursemates.

Conservation in Practice

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

The module aims to:

  • familiarise students with the management practices required to maintain key habitats in western Europe, and with conservation issues concerning specific groups of organisms in those habitats
  • examine issues in practical conservation at the level of NGOs, governments and society in general
  • introduce students to professionals currently working in conservation, in order to give them a realistic idea of what the work involves, as well as an indication of employment opportunities.


The module will consist of a combination of lectures, seminars by internal and external guest speakers and field visits to local nature reserves for demonstrations of practical conservation management and survey techniques.

Evolution of Communication: from animal signals to human speech

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

In this module, you explore the evolution of communication, progressing from the vocal signals that animals produce and the functions they serve, to then consider the differences between animal and human communications - to evaluate theories of language evolution and discover the unique properties of human speech. In the course of this, you also examine ape language studies and gestural theories of language origins.

You are exposed to tools and skills that will allow you to conduct research in this area yourself - through lectures, interactive research workshop sessions and practical demonstrations.

This module should very much appeal to both psychologists and biologists who are interested in how vocal signals provide the basis for animal sexual and social behaviour, the evolution of communication, the question of whether any animal can be said to have a language, and the production and perception of human speech.

Genome Stability, Genetic Diseases and Cancer

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

The design of new therapies for cancer depends on first understanding the molecular events that cause the disease. Genomic DNA is damaged spontaneously, by chemical carcinogens and by radiation. If unrepaired, this damage leads to mutations, cancer and other developmental disorders. All cells have evolved a sophisticated array of repair and response mechanisms to deal with DNA damage.

In this module, you aim to understand the molecular mechanisms that control DNA repair and to appreciate how defects in genes involved in these repair processes are associated with different, in many cases cancer-prone, genetic disorders.

Emphasis will be placed on the review and critical evaluation of recently published experimental evidence, as advances in this area rely on a combination of biochemical analysis, genetic approaches and bioinformatics.

Genomics and Bioinformatics

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

This module will introduce the common types of genomic and proteomic data available in biological databases; including DNA and protein sequences, motifs, gene structure, protein interactions and expression profiles. The aims and methods of DNA and protein sequence analysis will be covered, including analysis of homology, identification of motifs and domains, pair-wise and multiple alignments and prediction of gene structure.

The practical sessions will include the analysis of DNA and protein sequence data from biological databases. In these sessions you will learn how to integrate data to find the functional links between disease related genes and proteins.

Innovation in Bioscience and Medicine

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

The purpose of this module is to provide you with an overview of how research in the Life Sciences can lead to innovation in society, and the factors that shape, boost or inhibit such innovation.

The module explores the applications of bioscience, particularly in medicine, its products and processes, and their patterns of development. It examines the mechanisms through which products and services are commercialised, such as university-industry links, spin-off firms and corporate alliances.

Wider regulatory and ethical debates and the role they play in the development of biotechnology are also explored.

Molecular Pharmacology

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

In this module, you examine the actions of drugs at the molecular level. And you analyse the methods employed to study these interactions. These methods include molecular cloning, receptor binding and cell-based functional assays.

The focus of your studies is receptor binding theory and the effects of drugs on intracellular signalling pathways.

In the module, you study a variety of drug targets in detail, including examples of the G-Protein couple receptor (GPCR), ligand-gated ion channel, neurotransmitter transporter and enzyme facilities.

You use GPCRs to exemplify the effects of drugs on second messenger systems (e.g. cyclic AMP, inositol trisphosphate) and related signalling cascades - and the GABAA receptor is highlighted as a prototypic ligand-gated ion channel.

Neuronal Plasticity and Gene Regulation

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

This module will consider how cellular and molecular mechanisms interact in the regulation of neuronal plasticity, the ability of the nervous system to adapt its structural-functional organisation to new situations emerging from changes in intrinsic and extrinsic inputs. During the module particular emphasis will be placed on mechanisms underlying the acquisition, processing and storage of information by the nervous system. You will also discuss recently discovered phenomena such as epigenetic regulation and natural antisense transcripts (NATs) in the context of their importance for the regulation of neural functions.

Post Transcriptional Control of Gene Expression

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

This module investigates what happens to a mRNA from the time it is synthesised, its subsequent processing, remodelling, export into the cytoplasm and ultimate use to make protein. Whilst the processing of mRNA molecules is highly regulated particularly at the levels of transcription and splicing (in eukaryotes), it is the translational machinery that allows the cell to:

  • select whether to use the mRNA to make protein at all
  • decide which proteins to make
  • decide how much protein to make and at what time in the cell cycle.

This regulation is crucial to enable gene expression to be finely tuned with growth and allow cells to respond to environmental cues derived from hormones and nutrients.

This module takes an in-depth look at the molecular mechanisms controlling mRNA utilisation and degradation in eukaryotes focussing largely on translational control and what happens if the cell gets it wrong.

Those teaching on the module are active researchers in these subject areas. They provide an up-to-date interpretation of an active and interesting research area relevant to the fundamental understanding of growth control and cancer.

Protein Form and Function

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

Protein Form and Function provides a sense of how protein structures are related to each other and of how these structures relate to protein function. On this module you will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to learn about and appreciate this class of molecule. This module covers aspects of protein structure in detail and introduces computational and experimental techniques that are essential for studying proteins, and provides the basis for the in depth discussion of more topical issues such as protein engineering and design, protein folding, chaperones and protein folding diseases.

Sensory Function and Computation

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

You learn fundamental concepts in sensory coding, including:

  • feature detection
  • adaptive representations
  • coding by spike rates and timing
  • population coding.

You will learn in seminars as well as workshops where computer code will be introduced and used to analyse and simulate sensory coding by neurons.

Structure and Function in the Brain

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

The aim of the module is to reveal the anatomical substrates on which the processing of sensory information and the generation of motor commands depend. Specific attention will be paid to the relationship between structure and function. The module will cover the development of the anatomical features of the nervous system and will give a comparative interpretation of the anatomy of brain regions and their cellular components using a variety of examples including vertebrate and invertebrate models. The module will provide basic knowledge of the main techniques used to study the functional anatomy of the brain at systems, cellular and molecular levels.

Tropical Rainforests: Biogeography and Conservation

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 3

The module aims to develop an understanding of tropical rainforest (trf) ecosystems and the consequences of their great antiquity, present rapid destruction and uncertain future. You will examine and evaluate the many hypotheses attempting to explain the astonishing species richness of trfs and explore their complex ecological organization. Sustainable use of trfs is contrasted with their ever-increasing destruction by peasant farmers, timber companies, cattle ranchers and other commercial interests. You will learn about the impact of trf destruction on world climates, global biodiversity, and natural resources. Future prospects for conservation and management are assessed, including less damaging methods of timber harvesting, ecotourism, the potential of a new 'carbon market' (REDD++) and the role and contribution of scientist and international conservation organisations. The coursework and seminar series associated with the module will introduce skills of practical use to you if you decide to follow a career within conservation - the main focus being the development of an original grant proposal to the Royal Geographical Society.

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