Our BSc Biological Sciences (including foundation year) will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the three-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your academic skills to support your academic performance.
This four-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study. During your Year Zero, you study three academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory academic skills module, with additional English language for non-English speakers.
After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with our School of Life Sciences.
Integrative biology brings together all the tools of modern biology to unravel the complexity of living systems. Our BSc Biological Sciences covers the breadth of biology from molecules and cells, to whole organisms and ecosystems. In our School you’ll discover how new developments in technology are driving current research, with research-based teaching delivered by leading scientists investigating global biological challenges.
The vast and diverse world of living organisms offers a huge range of opportunities for study and work, and at Essex we give you the flexibility to shape your degree to suit your interests. Your first year offers broad insights into cell and molecular biology, genetics, ecology and evolution, as well as an overview of animal, plant, and microorganism diversity. Our Integrative Biology pathway allows you to choose from a broad selection of modules across different disciplines. Alternatively you can customise your degree to specialise in an area you enjoy most, choosing from either Molecular and Cell Biology, Biotechnology, or Ecology and Conservation Biology.
Choose to follow one of our four pathways:
- Molecular and Cell Biology
- Ecology and Conservation
- Integrative Biology
You’ll receive hands-on experience to develop important practical skills both in the lab and in the field throughout your course. In your final year you’ll carry out an independent research project allowing you to pursue your own interests and play your own part in adding to the ever-growing knowledge within biological sciences.
Visit our biological sciences subject page for more information and content.
Our expert staff
Two-thirds of our research is rated as “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and you learn from and work alongside our expert staff.
Our research covers a wide spectrum of biology – from the cell right through to communities and ecosystems. Key academic staff for this course include Dr Alex Dumbrell who specialises in ecology and biodiversity, Dr Tracy Lawson, who researches stomata, using chlorophyll and thermal imaging to measure plant productivity, and Dr Phil Reeves, who works on the molecular mechanism of vision loss.
The University of Essex has a Women’s Network to support female staff and students, and our School was awarded the Athena Swan Silver Award in October 2020, which reflects the work carried out by staff in our School to continue to improve equality, including a mentorship scheme, support for postdoctoral research staff, and financial help towards childcare costs for academics who wish to attend conferences.
By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our department to support you:
- We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
- Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
- Our social space is stocked with magazines and newspaper, and provides an informal setting to meet your lecturers, tutors and friends
Our School of Life Sciences has leading research facilities for cell and molecular biology, genomics, and ecology. Depending on your choice of pathway and research project you have the opportunity to use these facilities, which include:
- Receive training in your first year on using the Oxford Nanopore MinION, a portable handheld device that can sequence genomes in real time
- A high performance computing cluster with 368 CPUs, 5.4Tb of RAM and 700Tb of storage for analyses of large biological data sets
- An advanced bioimaging suite to visualise and process images of biological processes in real time
- An X-ray Crystallography and Macromolecular Interactions facilities for the biophysical characterisation of proteins and other macromolecules
- Fully automated laboratories with robotic liquid handling systems and equipment for cell culture, molecular biology and gene editing
- A fleet of remote-sensing drones for carrying out remote field surveys
- Aquariums, mesocosms and other facilities for ecology and behaviour studies
Demand for qualified biologists continues to grow and our course will equip you with the analytical and computational skills that are in high demand by employers. Recent graduates have gone on to work in a range of different careers in organisations which include GlaxoSmithKline, the Sainsbury Laboratory (University of Cambridge), ALS Laboratories, the National Health Service, Suffolk County Council, Essex Wildlife Trust and Natural England. Others have chosen to enhance their career opportunities by studying for MSc, MSD (Masters of Research) or PhD degrees.
We also work with our University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- Study in our brand new £13.2m STEM Teaching Centre which is equipped with cutting-edge facilities including modern teaching laboratories and an IT-rich exploratory learning space.
- You have the opportunity to carry out your own unique ten-week research project under the supervision of our leading academics.
- We are ranked top 25 for overall student satisfaction for Biology in the National Student Survey 2021.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed as subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.