BSc Evolutionary Biology

UCAS codeC182
Duration3 Years
Typical offerAAB-ABB; IB: 34-32; BTEC DDD-DDM
DisciplineBiosciences
Location Cornwall (Penryn Campus)

Overview

Evolutionary Biology video

Find out more about the Evolutionary Biology programme from staff and students. View full size.

Evolutionary Biology is a fast growing area of study, utilising ever-more sophisticated technology to unravel the history of life on earth. On our BSc Evolutionary Biology you will utilise our cutting-edge facilities to develop advanced knowledge in this rapidly developing field, which encompasses genetics, animal behaviour and psychology, and examine evolution from many perspectives – from the smallest building blocks of life to entire ecosystems.

As a fast growing area of study, it is led by some of the UK’s foremost internationally-recognised, research active staff in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on our Penryn Campus in Cornwall. The Centre hosts a large and thriving group of scientists who work at the cutting edge of research on evolutionarily informed organismal biology and run research projects across the globe, from Uganda to Australia. The programme utilises expertise in the Centre to provide you with the skills, concepts and experience to understand all aspects of modern evolutionary biology. The programme encourages an interdisciplinary approach and you will be exposed to a wide range of theoretical and practical techniques used to study evolutionary biology.

  • Access to state-of-the-art facilities helps develop a deep understanding of this rapidly developing field utilising ever more sophisticated molecular and genetic technology to unravel the history of life on Earth
  • A fast-growing area of study, which encompasses genetics, animal behaviour and psychology
  • Examine evolution from many perspectives – from the smallest building blocks of life to entire ecosystems

Year 1
Develop both practical skills and knowledge of theory in evolutionary ecology through lectures and laboratory work.

Year 2
Apply your knowledge to examine the basis for evolutionary change, including consideration of both the ecological and genetic mechanisms driving adaptive evolution. Take a field course to gain an understanding of evolution in the wild.

Year 3
Specialise in your area of interest. Interact closely with an expert member of academic staff who is research-active and carry out a detailed independent research project on animal behaviour in the wild or a laboratory. You will also take part in an international field trip*.

Programme variations

*Field course destinations are subject to change. Please note, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs.

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 up to 30 credits outside of the programme in the second and final years of the programme 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.

If you have mobility or health disabilities that prevent you from undertaking intensive fieldwork, reasonable adjustments and/or alternative assessment can be considered. This could include replacing a fieldwork module with an alternative in agreement with the Director of Education.

You are also permitted to take the five credit module BIO3406 Biosciences Research Internship in any year. Registration on this module is subject to a competitive application process. If taken, this module will not count towards progression or award calculation.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Entry requirements 2019

Typical offer

AAB-ABB; IB: 34-32; BTEC DDD-DDM

Required subjects

GCE AL grade B or IB HL5 in one of the following subjects: Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology or Maths/Pure Maths/Further Maths, and GCSE Maths at grade B or 5.

Applicants studying one of the following BTEC Extended Diplomas will be considered without GCE AL science: Applied Science, Animal Management, Agriculture, Countryside Management, Fish Management, Forestry and Arboriculture, Marine Biology

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements and may be interested in our Foundation programme for Biomedical, Life and Environmental Sciences.

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 that every student benefits from being part of a culture that is inspired by research and being taught by experts. You will discuss the very latest ideas in seminars and tutorials and be an active member of a research team. Our academics bring their results from the laboratory and the field directly to their teaching, and our students also help to collect this data. 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.

In your final year you will become an active member of our research team. We have very close links with a wide range of conservation organisations in the UK and overseas, such as the British Trust for Ornithology, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Marine Conservation Society. These links mean you will benefit from frequent guest lectures, placement opportunities and project work.

We frequently introduce 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.

Assessment

Your first year does not count towards your final degree classification, but you do have to pass it in order to progress. All marks after your first year count towards your final classification.

Modules are assessed using a variety of methods including essays, exams, presentations, laboratory reports and a dissertation.

Taking modules outside of your programme

Depending on your programme you can take up to 30 credits each year in another subject, for instance a language or business module, to develop career-related skills or widen your intellectual horizons.

Foreign Language Centre Penryn

Undergraduates based in Penryn can boost their employability by using up to 30 credits each year to study a foreign language. If you study the language for more than one year you may be entitled to have ‘with proficiency in’ added to your degree certificate. The Foreign Language Centre in Penryn will be offering modules in French and Spanish language from complete beginners up to advanced levels, plus German and Mandarin Chinese from beginner’s level.

If you achieve at least 60 credits in a language via our Foreign Language Centre you may be able to have the words ‘with proficiency in’ and the language added to your degree title.

Further details about the FLC can be found on our website

Support

Academic support

We pride ourselves on providing a very high standard of care and support to our students. As well as more than 15 hours per week of direct contact time with your lecturers, all students 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.

Peer mentoring

At the University of Exeter we are committed to creating a supportive learning environment in which you will be able to reach your full potential – whatever your ambitions may be. One of the best examples of this has been the introduction of a successful peer tutoring scheme, run by Biosciences students in Cornwall, for students.

As a first year student, you will have the opportunity to join dynamic weekly groups, hosted by both second year and PhD students, which span a range of key areas, such as social and pastoral care, key skills, employability and discipline specific support. One of the main aims of these groups is to give you the opportunity to gain advice from your peers who have been in your position before, and can help ease your transition into university life.

The subject of the inaugural meeting is decided by the group leader, but you then have the opportunity to suggest subsequent session topics. This allows the sessions to be tailored to the direct needs of you and your fellow students. Social media outlets, such as Facebook and Google groups, are also utilised to host dedicated pages that promote continued group discussions and communication outside of the weekly meetings.

In its first year, more than 70 Biosciences students took part in the peer mentoring scheme, being coached by students who are further along in their course and who act as guides to study and university life and offer an additional layer of support. Despite its success, the scheme is continually evolving. In order to ensure you make the most of the groups, there are now more direct links between session content and modules, they will immediately follow lectures where possible, and a large scale awareness campaign will take place at the beginning of the academic year to encourage as many students as possible to participate.

The peer mentoring scheme gives you a wonderful opportunity to help shape your time at University and truly make your mark – your future really is in your own hands.

Evolution underpins all of humanity’s understanding of biology. As such, it is vital for any biologist to have a secure grasp of evolutionary concepts. I’ll never forget one of the first modules I studied here – ‘The story of life’ covered natural history and evolutionary development right from the first appearance of life on earth to the evolution of the human species. Understanding this finally helped put all biology I’d studied to date into perspective. I’ve had more than ample opportunity to observe such evolutionary ‘design’ in the field, from mussels studied on a rocky shore field trip in first year to the sugarbirds we saw on my third year trip to South Africa. Nowadays, much of evolutionary study is implemented using model organisms – populations of fruit flies and other insects we can evolve in the lab. The people conducting this research at the Penryn Campus are world leaders in their field, publishing in the best of scientific journals. Who better to impart their grasp of evolution to the next generation of evolutionary biologists?

Iain Stott, BSc Evolutionary Biology graduate.

Support

Academic support

Peer mentoring

  • All first-years will have the opportunity to join dynamic weekly groups, hosted by both second-year and PhD Biosciences students in Cornwall, which span a range of key areas, such as
    • social and pastoral care,
    • key skills,
    • employability
    • and discipline specific support.
  • These groups allow you to benefit from advice from your more experienced peers, helping ease your transition into university life.
  • The subject of the inaugural meeting is decided by the group leader, but you can then suggest subsequent session topics, so sessions are tailored to your direct needs.
  • Social media groups, such as on Facebook and Google, are also used for continued group discussions and communication outside of the weekly meetings.
  • There are direct links between session content and modules, which immediately follow lectures where possible.

Further information

From the beginning we asked the students to help shape the peer mentoring project. This is a scheme that is run by students, for students, so it is important that we know it is reaching its full potential. I think a lot of students feel that getting advice from their fellow students is both worthwhile and beneficial, and we are keen to actively promote this as much as possible.

But more than that, we want to make sure students are full engaged and thinking not only about their time here, but also their career options once they leave. It is more important than ever to be switched on about making the most of opportunities such as work experience and volunteering, as well as meeting the challenges their studies present.

Already, this scheme has proved popular and successful, and we will ensure that it is always designed with students as the primary focus – we rely on the students not only telling us what is useful but also how to drive it forward.

Dr Andy Pye Senior Academic, Pastoral Tutor and Educational Enhancement Link Advisor Biosciences, Penryn Campus.

Fieldwork

Field work video

Find out the importance of field work to undergraduate programmes in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation. View full size.

We pride ourselves in offering an extensive range of field courses across our Biosciences programmes with exciting local, national and international destinations. Depending on your programme of study, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from a number of options including understanding the ecology and evolutionary biology of Switzerland or the Pyrenees, studying tropical biodiversity in Borneo, learning about special ecosystems of North Cyprus, visiting impressive seabird breeding colonies in Scotland or watching grizzly bears fish for salmon in Alaska, to name but a few.

Please note, whilst a compulsory field course is included in the tuition fee, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs. Field course destinations are subject to change.
Examples of field course destinations include:

Find out more

Visit our Fieldwork page for more information.

Careers

A degree in Evolutionary Biology 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 Evolutionary Biology 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 Cornwall. 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
Assistant Scientist
Campaign Organiser
Project Assistant
Conservation Volunteer
Researcher
Environmental Instructor
Taxonomist Assistant
Assistant Field Director
Copy Editor
Park Assistant
Media and Communications Manager
Practical Countryside Ranger
Assistant Ecologist
Wild Publishing
Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre
African Horseback Safaris
Wessex Water
Orang-utan Health Project
Inga Foundation
University of Exeter
Kingswood
RSPB
The Royal Parks
RPS Group
Oxford Real Farming Conference
National Trust

Further study

Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation from a Biosciences undergraduate degree in Cornwall. 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
Conservation and biodiversity
Ecology
Aquatic biology/ecology
Survey and land management
Environmental sociology
Animal behaviour
Biology
Conservation science and policy
Evolution of pathogens
Evolutionary biology
Geography
Food security and sustainable agriculture
Sustainable tropical agroforestry
University of Exeter
Queen Mary, University of London
Massey University
University of Rennes
University of Reading
University College London

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.

The Biosciences staff at the Penryn Campus are extremely helpful and always willing to go above and beyond to make sure we have the correct support. The career focused activities done recently are an example of this where lecturers are willing to put in a lot of effort to help us. Generally any issues we have can be sorted and the lecturers care about (and can recognise) every individual student. I feel honoured to have studied under such leading scientists.

Biosciences undergraduate student, Penryn Campus

Contact us

Penryn Campus, Cornwall

Web: Enquire online
Phone: +44 (0)1326 371801

Website: Visit the Biosciences website