BSc (Hons) Biology

Are you fascinated by the scientific study of living organisms, from the molecular details of disease causing bacteria through to the ecology and evolution of large mammals? Our Biology degree is ideal if you have a keen interest in living organisms and want to gain an all-round knowledge of the subject of Biology. This complex and enthralling area of science defines our very existence, and graduates of biology degrees are well equipped to address some of the biggest problems facing our world such as how to combat antibiotic resistance, or how species adapt to climate change.

Based in our state-of-the-art laboratories and teaching rooms, you’ll study a wide range of stimulating topics, and develop the broad foundation of knowledge and solid practical experience that is required to start an exciting scientific career. The acquisition of theory will be complemented by the practical application of skills on field courses in the UK and abroad (additional costs apply to overseas field courses). Our Biology degree is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology for the purpose of meeting in part the academic and experience requirement for the Membership and Chartered Biologist (CBiol). This is the professional body for biologists, so you can rest assured that this course provides the ideal preparation for a career in the field of biology.

UCAS Code Study Mode
2017
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
C100 Full-time 3 Years September Glyntaff A
UCAS Code Study Mode
2018
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
C100 Full-time 3 Years September Glyntaff A

In the first year of your Biology degree you will gain a thorough grounding in key areas in biology, including microbiology, genetics, and ecology. You will also develop the techniques and skills to conduct work in the laboratory and in the field. You will begin to develop your transferable skills such as the ability to communicate effectively too.

The second year will expand your knowledge in core subject areas such as zoology, medical microbiology, GIS and human genetics. You will have the opportunity to study the latest research in a topic which interests you, and further develop your communication, problem solving, and teamwork skills. You are also able to choose from some optional modules, enabling you to tailor your biology degree to suit your own interests. There is the option for an overseas residential field trip.

During the third year of your Biology degree, you can specialise even further by choosing subject areas that best fit your career plans and passions. You will conduct an in-depth research project on a specific topic under the supervision of a member of staff, and you will have the opportunity to present the results of your research at an undergraduate internal conference.

Year One consists of the following modules:

  • Microorganisms and the Dynamic Cell (20 credits)
  • Genetics and Evolution (20 credits)
  • Biological Research Skills (20 credits)
  • Evolutionary Botany and Zoology (20 credits)
  • Principles of Ecology (20 credits)
  • Biological Chemistry (20 credits)

Year Two:

  • Human Molecular Genetics (20 credits)
  • Frontiers in Biology (20 credits)
  • GIS for the Biological Sciences (20 credits)
  • Vertebrate Zoology (20 credits)
  • Medical Microbiology (20 credits)

Plus one of:

  • Ecological and Wildlife assessment (20 credits)
  • Ethology (20 credits)
  • Tropical Ecology and Conservation (20 credits)
  • Metabolism and Biochemistry (20 credits)

Year Three:

  • Biology Research project (40 credits)
  • Humans and other primates (20 credits)
  • Agriculture, Evolution and Biotechnology (20 credits)

Then either two of:

  • Advanced Ecology (20 credits)
  • Marine and Freshwater Biology (20 credits)
  • Global Ecological Change (20 credits)
    Or:
  • Tropical Medicine (20 credits)
  • Clinical and Molecular Immunology (20 credits)

Teaching

We teach using a combination of group activities, lectures, laboratory sessions, tutorials, directed learning, online activities, UK and overseas field trips. The number of contact hours per week will vary depending on your module choice and year of study, but on average you can expect 10-12 contact hours over five days a week. You will also need to spend a significant amount of time each week on preparation for classes, background reading, revision, or working on assignments.

There are a number of one-day local field trips included as part of the course. There is also an optional overseas field course, Tropical Ecology and Conservation, in which students in the second year will have the opportunity to learn to scuba dive and to develop their knowledge of tropical ecosystems, terrestrial and marine. 

Our teaching is complemented by a range of subject experts who give guest lectures for various modules. There is also a Biology Speakers Series with a variety of external speakers which third year students have to attend, and other students are encouraged to.

Assessment

Our students are assessed using a range of approaches depending on your module choice and year of study which could include laboratory and field reports of your own work; essays; in-class tests; oral presentations; research proposals; field notebooks; and end of year examinations.

Facilities

As a science student you will benefit from the huge investment in facilities that has taken place at the University. Our courses are delivered from state-of-the-art laboratories and teaching facilities on our Pontypridd-Glyntaff campus.

Our new George Knox laboratories are part of a £15m investment in science for the University, meaning you will be taught in new and well equipped spaces.These join the Grade II listed Alfred Russel Wallace building which is also used for teaching.

You will benefit from several well-equipped laboratories for practical and project work. Our facilities include:

  • Microbiology laboratory capable of handling pathogens (category 2)
  • Molecular biology laboratory for DNA isolation and analysis
  • Projection microscopes in the microbiology and microscopy laboratories for group teaching
  • General biology laboratories for teaching, including a range of skeletons for vertebrate zoology
  • Computer rooms with specialist GIS software to support your learning

The entry criteria below shows the qualification range within which the University will make offers. Most offers we make are at the top of the range, but we take all aspects of an application into consideration and applicants receive a personalised offer. Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable.

Typical A-Level Offer

BCC - CDD to include Biology but to exclude General Studies (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical Welsh BACC Offer

Pass the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma with Grade C/D in the Skills Challenge Certificate and BC - CD at A Level to include Biology but to exclude General Studies (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Merit Merit - Merit Merit Pass in a relevant subject which must include Biology modules (this is equivalent to 112-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical IB Offer

Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with higher grades of between 655-445 to include grade 5 in Biology (this is equivalent to 112-80 UCAS tariff points)

Typical Access to HE Offer

Pass the Access to HE Maths or Science Diploma with 60 credits overall – the credits should equate to between 106-80 UCAS tariff points (examples below)

45 Level 3 credits equating to 15 Distinctions, 24 Merits and 6 Passes in a relevant subject (106 UCAS Tariff Points)

45 Level 3 credits equating to 12 Distinctions, 6 Merits and 27 Passes in a relevant subject (80 UCAS Tariff Points)

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics and English at Grade C or above, or their equivalent but consideration is given to individual circumstances

International Entry Requirements

We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.

English Requirements

In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.

However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.

Typical Science Requirements

Applicants taking Science A levels in England will need to pass the practical element alongside achieving the requested grade(s)

All fees are per year. Once you have started your course, your fee will remain the same for each year of study.

August 2017 - July 2018 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU:  £9000 
  • Full-time International:  £11900 

August 2018 - July 2019 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU: TBC
  • Full-time International: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) * £50 - £180
Field work requires rugged walking boots/shoes and waterproof and thermal clothing. Ranges from £50 to £180
Field Trips £2200 - £2500
Two and a half weeks in a tropical location including marine and terrestrial study sites, £300 for scuba dive training as additional option.
Other:
Please note that students who successfuly secure a placement in industry or abroad to complete their projects would be expected to pay for their own travelling costs to and from the venue during the period of placement. The cost of this will of course vary and some students have also paid for accomodation close to their place of work for the duration of their placement. Students are provided with reading lists but are not expected to buy any books, instead students are actively encouraged to make use of the extensive learning resources of the University. Many books are available as ebooks. The course uses the many computing facilities of the Glyntaff campus (students are not expected to buy their own computer but having a personal PC will help with their studies)

UK and EU students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK/EU residing applicant, applying for year 1 of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK/EU

Apply now 

Admissions statement

There is high demand for science graduates. Graduates of our biology degree have found employment in a range of fields, including environmental consultancy, hospital laboratories, the food and drink industry, and teaching. Many biology undergraduates progress to a postgraduate biology degree or science degree.

USW’s Biology degree has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology following an independent and rigorous assessment. Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of employers. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.