BSc Biological Sciences

UCAS codeC100
Duration3 Years
Typical offerAAB-ABB; IB: 34-32
Location Streatham (Exeter)


This is our most popular and flexible degree programme, giving you the option to design either a broad-based biology degree or a more focused degree specialising in areas of biology which interest you. You will have the opportunity to follow one of three specialisms – animal biology, microbiology and infectious disease or molecular and cellular biology – and graduate with your chosen specialism named as part of your degree title, eg, BSc Biological Sciences (Animal Biology).

After a foundation first year, which covers the range of biology from molecules to ecosystems, you have complete freedom of module choice in your second and final years. Options range from forensic science to the ecology of environmental change; from mammalian biology to medical biotechnology; from human molecular biology to a coral reef field course. You can shape your degree as you wish – following one of the named specialisms outlined above, or in other areas, whilst keeping your biological choices broad.

Our Biological Sciences degree leads to a variety of employment and further study opportunities in a wide spectrum of bioscience-related areas and can also act as an excellent foundation for non science-related career paths.

Why study Biological Sciences at Exeter?

  • study a broad-based biology curriculum with the scope to specialise as you progress, including the option to follow one of three named specialisms that can be reflected in the degree title with which you graduate
  • experience teaching graded nationally as ‘Excellent’ with staff who are research leaders
  • work in state-of-the-art learning facilities
  • undertake field courses overseas or in the UK
  • acquire key transferable skills and knowledge
  • carry out challenging independent research
  • graduate with outstanding employment prospects

Programme variations

Exeter receives my fullest praise... These [programmes] set degrees in Biological Sciences at Exeter as some of the most attractive in Britain.

Professor Jeffrey G Duckett, Emeritus Professor of Botany, Department of Botany, Natural History Museum External Assessor for the BSc Biological Sciences programmes.

Programme structure

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme.

You may take optional modules as long as any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module.

You may take elective modules outside of the programme up to 30 credits in Stages 2 and 3 of the programme as long as you have obtained the explicit permission of the Programme Director, any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Read details of module requirements for our named specialisms.

The...structure is amongst the best I have seen in a British university. Each degree programme is highly coherent, but still gives students plenty of options for change.

Professor Jeffrey G Duckett, Emeritus Professor of Botany, Department of Botany, Natural History Museum External Assessor for the BSc Biological Sciences programmes.

Entry requirements 2017

Typical offer

AAB-ABB; IB: 34-32

Required subjects

GCE AL Biology at grade B or IB Biology HL5, and another GCE AL science subject at grade B or IB HL5. GCSE Maths at grade B and either GCSE Double Award Science or GCSE Chemistry at grade C.

GCE AL/AS Science includes: Biology/Human Biology*; Chemistry; Computing; Design and Technology; Electronics; Environmental Studies; Geography; Geology; Maths/Pure Maths/Further Maths*; Physical Education; Physics; Psychology; Science (applied); Statistics. 

*If more than one of these is taken they would only count as one 'science' but could count as two A-levels towards our general requirements.

I loved Exeter, brilliant campus and a lovely city. I’m really glad that I studied there; I couldn’t have picked a better place and it's one of the reasons that I’m still in science. I don’t think that I’ll ever find myself wanting to leave. There is so much variety, it’s never monotonous.

Ellen Tredwell, BSc Biological Sciences graduate. Within a week of leaving Exeter, Ellen started working in the largest diagnostic genetic laboratories in the UK, in the area of Cytogenetics. Ellen is currently working as a Genetic Technologist for a large regional genetics centre. In her current role, Ellen has the opportunity to train other staff and develop her laboratory management skills alongside her scientific training..

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements and may be interested in our Foundation programmes.

Further information

Please read the important information about our Typical offer.

For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.

Learning and teaching

We believe every student benefits from being part of a research-led culture and being taught by experts. Learning and teaching is through lectures, seminars, tutorials, field work, laboratory sessions and independent study with internationally recognised, research-active staff. You will have the opportunity to undertake challenging independent research projects dealing with questions and issues at the cutting edge of life science research. Regular research seminars, by our staff and visiting lecturers, bring you the latest issues on a wide range of research topics.

Our staff have close links with a wide range of industrial, medical and conservation organisations, with whom there may be the chance to collaborate for your final year research project. Many of our students also work with these organisations during their vacations.

We’re actively engaged in introducing new methods of learning and teaching, including increasing use of interactive computer-based approaches to learning through our virtual learning environment, where the details of all modules are stored in an easily navigable website. You can access detailed information about modules and learning outcomes and interact through activities such as the discussion forums.

Academic support

We pride ourselves on providing a very high standard of care and support to our students. You will have a Personal Tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies. There are also a number of services on campus where you can get advice and information, including the Students’ Guild Advice Unit.


Assessment methods vary depending on your choice of modules, but are likely to include examinations and coursework-based assessment.

You must pass your first year assessment in order to progress to the second year, but the results do not count towards your degree classification. The assessments in the second and third years contribute to your final degree classification.

Exeter was an excellent choice of university for me, as it offers a city experience with both the sea and countryside just minutes away. Campus is attractive and conveniently close to town, if a little hilly!

The Biological Sciences course is both diverse and flexible, offering a wide range of module choices in the 2nd and 3rd years. The highlight of the course was the independent research project in my final year. This project was based in one of the department laboratories and gave me the opportunity to work alongside staff and get a feel for what research is really like. Reading Biological Sciences also enabled me to get involved in the ‘Excited about science’ Sutton Trust project, running science workshops with year 11 students from schools in Exeter. Throughout my time at university I have become involved in the local community, working with Community Action’s Kids Club as well as a local Guide unit. My involvement with the Exeter Student Ambassador Scheme enabled me to develop a variety of skills, as well as giving me the opportunity to pass on my unquestionable enthusiasm for my course and university life to prospective students and other campus visitors. I was also glad to be a part of sport at Exeter, playing hockey for the university throughout my time here. With 6 teams, this club has high standards yet caters for all abilities, as well as providing a lively social aspect to the university experience.

Kate le Cocq, Biological Sciences graduate.


Coral Reef field course video

Staff and students from Biosciences give a flavour of the Coral Reef field course in the Bahamas. View full size.

In the second year, if you are interested in ecology you can attend one of our optional ecology field courses in Cornwall and the Bahamas.

Coral reef field course (Bahamas)

This field course introduces the ecology and conservation of tropical marine habitats in the Bahamas, including coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves. Bahamian coral reefs are important to study because their biodiversity and economic importance (for fishing and tourist revenue) are threatened by human impacts. The course begins with a series of introductory lectures to provide an overview of coral reef biology. We then travel to the Bahamas for a week of snorkelling and talks on the area’s reefs. You will snorkel twice each day, see all three tropical marine habitats and learn to identify many of the coral and fish species. These skills will then be used to collect data to help understand subjects such as fish grazing, fish nursery habitats and the diversity of coral communities. Evenings will be spent on computer simulations where you design a system of marine reserves based on the principles learnt during the course. View photos from the Coral Reef fieldcourse.

Biodiversity field course (Cornwall)

This module is a five day residential course based at the University’s Cornwall Campus near Falmouth. Its location provides easy access to a broad diversity of terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems that provide unique habitats for the study of biodiversity. Through ‘hands-on’ field and laboratory-based study, a range of techniques, both traditional (quadrats and keys) and modern (polymerase chain reaction and phylogenetics), are used to identify vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and micro-organisms and to measure biodiversity. View photos from the Cornwall fieldcourse.

Independent research project

In the final year, you have the opportunity to focus on an area of biology that particularly interests you. During the first two terms you undertake an independent research project. This may be field-based and/or laboratory-based and is centred on the research work of members of staff.


A degree in Biological Sciences will help you to develop a wide range of essential skills such as analytical problem solving, team work and organising and communicating information. A number of our students continue their studies in the subject by following a further degree and research in their chosen area, or by training as a teacher. Many of our graduates are employed in discipline relevant roles in the UK and overseas including laboratory-based positions, conservation management, ecology, teaching and nursing. Others use the skills gained on their course to enter widely different career paths in law, business or management. Whatever you choose to do after graduation, your Biological Sciences degree will stand you in good stead, with excellent employment prospects and transferable skills.

Developing your skills and career prospects

Biosciences provide a range of support and opportunities to help you develop skills that are attractive to employers. Visit our Careers and Employability web page for more information.

Graduate destinations

Below are a few examples of initial jobs undertaken by graduates of University of Exeter Biosciences undergraduate programmes in Exeter. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey 2012/13. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job titleOrganisation
Medical Laboratory Assistant
Research technician
Business Development Consultant
Biomedical Support Officer
Senior Clinical Case Manager
Research Associate
Assistant Consultant
Cardiac Scientist
Scientific Officer
The Carbon Trust
Ernst and Young LLP
Oxford Knight
Penman Consulting Ltd
Matrix Knowledge

Further study

Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation from a Biosciences undergraduate degree in Exeter. Below are a few examples of further study undertaken by recent graduates of undergraduate programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey 2012/13. Please note that, due to data protection, the subjects of study and institutions are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Subject areaInstitution
Food security and sustainable agriculture
Medical sciences
Teacher training
International Management
Molecular neuroscience
Clinical microbiology
Marine biology
Climate change
Fish physiology
Cellular biology
Plant science
Cancer research
Cardiac science
Food and nutrition
University of Cambridge
University of Exeter
University of Southampton
University College London
Newcastle University
University of Birmingham
City University London
Cranfield University
Lund University
University of Sunshine Coast, Queensland
University of Bristol
University of Glasgow
University of Leeds
University of Manchester

Find out more

Further information about the opportunities the University of Exeter offers to maximise the employment prospects of our graduates employment prospects can be found on the CareerZone website.

All the expertise and opportunities that are on offer at the University of Exeter are invaluable to any student. Studying Biosciences has given me an awareness and lifelong appreciation of my subject. The University has provided the solid foundations to launch my career into wildlife media. Wildlife documentaries have always inspired me and I would love to be a part of the process. During my work experience, I gained a real insight into the industry. I assisted in researching natural history programmes and experienced many other aspects of production. This really increased my desire for such a career and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.

Laura Madden, BSc Biological Sciences graduate

Contact us

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Phone: +44 (0)1392 725818

Website: Visit the Biosciences website

Named specialisms

During your degree you can, if you wish, choose to specialise in one of three named specialisms:

  • BSc Biological Sciences (Animal Biology)
  • BSc Biological Sciences (Microbiology and Infectious Disease)
  • BSc Biological Sciences (Molecular and Cellular Biology) 

To qualify for one of the named specialisms you must study sufficient relevant specialist modules from within the core programme. You need to study at least 90 credits, spread across your second year and final year, from the selection of specialist modules below, including at least 60 credits from non-project/dissertation modules.

You will receive advice about the specialisms once you’re at Exeter so you don’t need to make any decisions in advance.

BSc Biological Sciences Animal Biology

Year 2

BIO2074 Marine Biology 15
BIO2081 Coral Reef Field Course 15
BIO2082 Animal Ecophysiology 15

Final year

BIO3038 Mammalian Biology 15
Independent Research Project*
BIO3067 Ecotoxicology 15
BIO3083 Current Issues in Marine Biology 15
BIO3091 Animal Developmental Biology 15
PSY2214 Observations and Experiments in Animal Behaviour 15
PSY2215 Problems and Projects in Animal Behaviour 15

*For credits from your Independent Research Project/Dissertation to count towards the specialism, your focus of study in this module must be in the field of animal biology.

BSc Biological Sciences Microbiology and Infectious Disease

Year 2

BIO2078 Medical and General Microbiology 15
BIO2089 Molecular Biology of the Gene 15
BIO2094 Molecular Microbiology 15

Final year

Independent Research Project*
BIO3065 Environmental Microbiology 15
BIO3078 Cellular Basis of Immunity 15
BIO3079 Molecular Basis of Infection 15
BIO3080 Microbial Effectors of Disease 15
BIO3095 Parasitology 15

*For credits from your Independent Research Project/Dissertation to count towards the specialism, your focus of study in this module must be in the field of microbiology and infectious disease.

BSc Biological Sciences Molecular and Cellular Biology

Year 2

BIO2088 Advanced Cell Biology 15
BIO2089 Molecular Biology of the Gene 15
BIO2092 Genomics and Introductory Bioinformatics 15

Final year

Independent Research Project*
BIO3077 Frontiers in Molecular Cell Biology 15
BIO3078 Cellular Basis of Immunity 15
BIO3086 Cell Biology of Disease 15
BIO3092 Bioinformatics 15

*For credits from your Independent Research Project/Dissertation to count towards the specialism, your focus of study in this module must be in the field of molecular and cellular biology.