How does the body respond to challenges such as infection? What is the future of stem cell therapies? How does our lifestyle and genes affect our risk of disease?
Understand the structure and function of the human body, from the cells and molecules that perform the chemical reactions for life, to the mechanisms of disease and how our immune system fights infection. Our BSc Human Biology builds on the foundations of biology to explore the complexity of the human body using cutting-edge technology. You learn how recent advances in understanding our genetic make-up and cellular function is leading to exciting new developments in treating and preventing human disease.
Our course provides you with a cellular and disease-focused understanding of human biology, covering topics including:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Cell biology
A major research area at Essex is centered on the relationships between protein structure and mechanisms of disease. This sheds light on the complex cellular pathways involved in cancer and brain cell damage. Another research area uses computational approaches to study the role of epigenetics and DNA structure in human disease. In your final year, you carry out an individual research project. Popular topics have ranged from mutagenesis of proteins linked to human diseases such as blindness and cancer and mechanisms of cell death and antibiotic resistance.
In our School of Life Sciences you learn through a combination of lectures, seminars and practical lab sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask questions and develop skills by doing experiments at the laboratory bench.
Visit our biological sciences subject page for more information and content.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university.
You can also undertake a placement year in which you gain relevant work experience within an external business, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
As one of the largest schools at the University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high quality teaching. Two-thirds of our research is rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and you learn from and work alongside our expert staff.
Our academic staff carry out research that tackles key issues in human biology, including Lecturer of the Year at the Essex Education Awards (2016) Dr Louise Beard, Dr Greg Brooke and Professor Nelson Fernandez.
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.
- Carry out practical work in our new teaching laboratory, equipped with a suite of iPad-enabled Zeiss microscopes
- A next-generation genome sequencing facility. Receive training 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
- 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
Human biology is a rapidly developing field. It’s an exciting time to be working in human biology – our understanding of the human genome and epigenetics, the importance of the human microbiome in health, the introduction of stem cell therapies and manipulating ageing cells are all hot topics on the brink of changing modern society. BSc Human Biology will prepare you for graduate careers in education, research, teaching. science communication, and with further study could lead to medicine, dental science, diagnostic radiography, physiotherapy, biological and medical science, forensic science, sports science and more.
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 new STEM Centre which is equipped with cutting-edge facilities including modern teaching laboratories, a suite of iPad-enabled Zeiss microscopes and an IT-rich exploratory learning space.
- We are ranked top 25 for overall student satisfaction for Biology in the National Student Survey 2021.
- You gain valuable research experience by being involved in cutting-edge project work.
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. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
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.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.