Summer School: Biology

Study at a university in the world's top 150* and the 22nd most international university in the world**. Discover our research-driven Biology modules below.

Biology modules

The University of Sussex reserves the right to cancel modules due to staff availability, student demand, minimum enrolment, or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.

Session One

  • Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation

    Module code: IS417

    This module introduces biodiversity of life on earth, and key principles of ecology and conservation. The emphasis is on learning through field classes which will take place in the South Downs National Park. The University is in the heart of the South Downs National Park so you will have the opportunity for experiential learning on the key themes: biodiversity, ecology and conservation. You will also learn survey and identification skills through these field trips.

    This popular undergraduate study area is suited for students currently enrolled on Biochemistry, Psychology and Biomedicine, at the minimum students should have some background in Biology.

    You will develop and gain an understanding of conservation/applied ecology in relation to real-world problems through topics including biodiversity, community ecology and practical land management for conservation; such as the mowing of Grasslands to help maintain grass cover, encourage re-growth and productivity.

    The module may include the opportunity for you to hear how the University of Sussex LASI (Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects) performs vital research to help bee conservation.

    The School of Life Science has leading research in Biodiversity, with Professor Mika Peck establishing and supporting The Tesoro Escondido Reserve, created to conserve the critically endangered Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey.

    The Department has other notable academics, such as emeritus professor Mike Land, who was awarded the 1994 Frink Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the ALCON Prize for vision research in 1996, and who is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and Miller Fellow for University of California, Berkeley, and Dave Goulson, founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, who holds multiple awards including the 2013 Zoological Society of London’s Marsh Award for Conservation Biology.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Demonstrate an understanding of phylogenies and how taxa are classified
    • Demonstrate knowledge of basic theories and concepts in ecology and conservation
    • Demonstrate understanding of conservation/applied ecology in relation to real-world problems
    • To interpret and present evidence from fieldwork about biodiversity and the effects of different types of land management.

    Teaching method: Seminars, fieldwork, lectures and workshops
    Assessment: 100% coursework (including in-class tests)
    Contact hours: 40 hours

Session Two 

  • Cell Communication and Neuroscience

    Module code: IS419

    The cells of multi-cellular organisms constantly receive and respond to signals. The signals can come from the environment (light, sound, heat, touch) or from other cells. The communication between cells is crucial for survival, both for individual cells and for the organism as a whole.

    Signalling involves many steps, and signals can result in a myriad of responses. However, a key feature is how many signalling systems have similar pathways and/or similar steps in different pathways. One of the key ways in which cells in animals, such as ourselves, communicate is via nervous systems. This module is aimed at students with some background in Biology, Biochemistry or Psychology, as we will explore the fundamentals of neuronal cells, the way they communicate as well as the architecture and connectivity of mammalian nervous systems.

    This module will provide you with practical experience in the laboratory, interactive simulations and demonstrations; which may include using model invertebrate systems as examples, such as analysing how neurons work in cockroach legs. You will develop a deeper understanding of complex intracellular pathways, exploring how cells communicate inside the cells and together.

    This module may involve engagement with guest speakers from the Sussex Neuroscience group, including from the Kemenes Lab; where much research focuses on studies involving Lymnaea Stagnalis (pond snails). These are used as model organisms, due to their large neurons. This has enabled the study of the details of central pattern generators, among other things.

    Biology, in the School of Life Sciences was awarded 100% for providing students with opportunities to explore ideas and concepts in depth (National Student Survey 2017). The School of Life Sciences’ building is named after John Maynard Smith (another Fellow of the Royal Society of London), who was influential in research collaboration between Life Sciences fields and went on to serve as the Dean of Life Sciences twice during his time at the University of Sussex.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Understand the principles of signal transduction mechanisms; in particular, the concepts of response specifically signal amplitude and duration, signal integration and intracellular location
    • Describe the mechanisms by which some different receptors may be activated by their respective ligands
    • Demonstrate understanding of neuroanatomy and nervous system function on a cellular and physiological level
    • Perform analysis of data relevant to techniques in neuroscience and communicate the results in written form.

    Teaching method: Classes, laboratory, lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials
    Assessment: 100% coursework (including in-class tests)
    Contact hours: 40 hours


About the School of Life Sciences

The School of Life Sciences strives to engage with real-world problems and produce impact in fields as varied as cancer biology, drug discovery, neuroscience and biodiversity.

Our teaching is strongly research-led, with expertise in several areas. The School of Life Sciences is a diverse community where we cross collaborate and form partnerships across the globe.

  • 4Research Centres

  • 2Nobel Prize winners

  • 8thin the UK for Chemistry***

  • 87%of our research in biological sciences rated as internationally excellent or higher****

Register your interest

* The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020, ** The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019, *** The Guardian University Guide 2020, **** Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF2014)


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