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Study information

Programme Specification for the 2023/4 academic year

MSci (Hons) Natural Sciences

1. Programme Details

Programme nameMSci (Hons) Natural Sciences Programme codeUFX4NSCNSC01
Study mode(s)Full Time
Academic year2023/4
Campus(es)Streatham (Exeter)
NQF Level of the Final Award7 (Masters)

2. Description of the Programme

Natural Sciences provides the intellectual foundations for the interdisciplinary scientists of the future. It is a degree designed for highly motivated students combining flexibility, choice and intellectual rigour. It will place you at the heart of the learning process and give you the opportunity to work alongside world-leading researchers who are exploring some of the most important scientific developments of the 21st century. It will enable you to develop the essential skills and knowledge that will allow you to make a real contribution to these challenges.

The four year degree ensures that you build solid foundations in the fundamentals of physical, biological and mathematical sciences, with a bespoke first year, and provides you with the flexibility to specialise in areas of specific interest as the programme progresses. As well as having the opportunity to specialise in the more traditional subject areas, you will be able to engage with the inspirational new areas of modern scientific innovation and research such as mathematical and computational biology; biophysical, biochemical and biomedical science; materials science and materials chemistry; the science of oceans, atmospheres and climate; astrophysics; and energy research. This aspect of the programme is uniquely inspired and underpinned by some of the exciting and world-leading interdisciplinary research being carried out within the University of Exeter’s Science Strategy themes, such as climate change and sustainable futures, systems biology, functional materials and extrasolar planets. The fourth year of the degree provides an opportunity to extend the research project initiated in your third year, with the aim of preparing you for a research- or development-based career.

Our Natural Sciences programme will allow you to take full advantage of the growing demand in research organisations, industry and business for graduates who are able to work in the multidisciplinary scientific environments of the future.

3. Educational Aims of the Programme

The general aims of this programme are:

To provide education intended to give you competence in the Natural Sciences, and to encourage you to develop your intellectual capabilities within an institution that is committed to advancing world-leading, interdisciplinary research, scholarship and learning, and to disseminating knowledge.

More specifically, this programme aims:

  • To provide you with knowledge and understanding of the natural sciences from the fundamentals to the frontiers of the subject.
  • To provide you with the basic scientific, intellectual, and practical training that will prepare you for lifelong learning, and, if you wish, for a career in scientific research.
  • To develop your analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • To enable you to experience a supportive learning environment that fosters your academic and personal development.
  • To produce graduate Natural Scientists who are well-prepared for more advanced professional work, and research, in interdisciplinary areas.

4. Programme Structure

5. Programme Modules

In Stages 2 and 4, 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.

During Stage 3, you can choose to take a Semester Abroad (60 credits), instead of the Group Project (45 credits) and one of the elective 15 credit modules.

You may take elective modules up to 30 credits outside of the programme's core and optional modules in Stage 2, 45 credits in Stage 3 and 60 credits in Stage 4, 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.

Stage 1


120 credits of compulsory modules

Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
NSC1002 Mathematics and Computing: Integrative Tools for Natural Sciences 30Yes
NSC1003 Foundations in Natural Science 60Yes
NSC1004 Experimental Science 15Yes
NSC1005 Frontiers in Science 1 15Yes

Stage 2


30 credits of compulsory modules, at least 60 credits of optional modules and up to 30 credits of elective modules.

You must select at least four optional modules from the list below. The remaining 30 credits will usually also be taken from the list below. However, exceptionally, up to 30 credits may instead be taken from other relevant University modules, for which you have the necessary pre-requisites, and with agreement with your Personal Tuto or Natural Sciences leadership team.

Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
NSC2001 Frontiers in Science 2 30Yes

Optional Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
NatSci BSc-MSci Stage 2 optional modules 2023-4
BIO2076 Ecology and Environment 15 No
BIO2085 Structure and Reactivity of Organic Compounds II 15 No
BIO2088 Advanced Cell Biology 15 No
BIO2090 Analytical Techniques in Biochemistry 15 No
BIO2091 Bioinorganic Chemistry 15 No
BIO2092 Genomics and Introductory Bioinformatics 15 No
MTH2003 Differential Equations 15 No
MTH2004 Vector Calculus and Applications 15 No
NSC2002 Physical Chemistry 15 No
NSC2003 Introduction to Numerics and Simulation for Scientists 15 No
PHY2021 Electromagnetism I 15 No
PHY2022 Quantum Mechanics I 15 No
PHY2023 Thermal Physics 15 No
PHY2024 Condensed Matter I 15 No
PHY2029 The Physics of Living Systems 15 No
PHY2030 Observing the Universe 15 No

Stage 3


60 credits of compulsory modules, 60 credits of optional modules.

You must select 60 credits of optional and elective modules at least 30 of which must be at level 6. You may select up to 30 credits from the Stage 2 (level 5) optional module list (see above) assuming you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module. You may also take other relevant University modules for which you have the necessary pre-requisites, and with agreement with your Personal Tutor. An indicative list of optional modules is provided below but this list is not exhaustive and you are encouraged to look at the range of modules on offer across the University.

Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
NSC3002 MSci Research Project 1 30Yes
NSC3003 Group Project 30Yes

Optional Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
NatSci BSc-MSci Stage 3 optional modules 2023-4
BIO3037 Ecology of Environmental Change 15 No
BIO3041 Pharmacology and Medicinal Chemistry 15 No
BIO3073 Specialist Topics in Chemical Sciences 15 No
BIO3077 Frontiers in Molecular Cell Biology 15 No
BIO3089 Organic Synthesis and Drug Design 15 No
BIO3092 Bioinformatics 15 No
MTH3006 Mathematical Biology and Ecology 15 No
MTH3007 Fluid Dynamics 15 No
MTH3019 Mathematics: History and Culture 15 No
MTH3030 Mathematics of Climate Change 15 No
MTH3047 Mathematics for Environment and Sustainability 15 No
NSC3007 Macromolecular and Supramolecular Chemistry 15 No
NSC3010 Principles and Applications of Molecular Statistics 15 No
NSC3009 Aerosols, Clouds and Climate 15 No
PHY3052 Nuclear and High Energy Particle Physics 15 No
PHY3061 The Biophysics of Cells and Tissues 15 No
PHY3067 Energy and the Environment 15 No

Stage 4


60 credits of compulsory modules and 60 credits of optional or elective modules (including NSCM002)

Elective modules may be taken from other relevant Masters level (level 7) University modules for which you have the necessary pre-requisites, and with agreement with your Personal Tutor. You must select a total of 120 credits at Masters level (level 7). An indicative list of optional modules is provided below but this list is not exhaustive and you are encouraged to look at the range of modules on offer across the University.

Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
NSCM001 MSci Research Project 2 60Yes

Optional Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
NatSci MSci Stage 4 optional modules 2023-4
BIOM514 Secondary Metabolites 15 No
BIOM528 Advanced Topics in Biological Sciences 15 No
MTHM018 Dynamical Systems and Chaos 15 No
MTHM019 Fluid Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans 15 No
MTHM025 The Climate Change 15 No
MTHM030 Waves, Instabilities and Turbulence 15 No
MTHM031 Magnetic Fields and Fluid Flows 15 No
NSCM002 MSci Research Project 2 Extension 15 No
NSCM005 Mathematical Modelling in Biology and Medicine 15 No
NSCM006 Advanced Topics in Natural Sciences Chemistry I 15 No
NSCM007 Advanced Topics in Natural Sciences Chemistry II 15 No
PHYM002 Quantum Mechanics II 15 No
PHYM003 Condensed Matter II 15 No
PHYM008 Physical Methods in Biology and Medicine 15 No
PHYM012 Solar and Extra-Solar Planets and Their Atmospheres 15 No
BIOM555 Bioimaging 15 No

6. Programme Outcomes Linked to Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods

Intended Learning Outcomes
A: Specialised Subject Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

1. Explain broadly the Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing.
2. Describe in detail essential facts and theory in an area of Natural Sciences.
3. Describe and critically evaluate aspects of current scientific research with reference to reviews and research articles.
4. Design and undertake experimental scientific research in an interdisciplinary area relating to the University's science strategy themes.
5. Translate interdisciplinary problems into testable hypotheses, testing them through appropriate experimental, mathematical or computational approaches.

Within the programme, teaching and learning activities are designed to encourage a progressive acquisition of subject knowledge and skills by moving from study methods that have a greater degree of support and assistance towards independent learning.

The programme uses a diversity of teaching and learning methods: lectures; laboratory classes; seminars; reflective workshops; small group tutorials; research project; group work.

Typically a 15 credit module would consist of 22 x 1 hour lectures in which the core subject material will be provided. The lecture notes will be available via the University of Exeter Virtual Learning Environment and references to outside reading will be made available. Laboratory classes will normally run for 3-5 hours and students will be provided with a written schedule describing in detail the experimental procedures. Group work will be carried out (2-5 individuals depending on Stage) with an expectation the workload is divided equally.

Some laboratory classes form the basis of assessment and require the submission of written work. This may require data analysis in the form of tables and graphs. There is also an expectation that the data generated will be used in some subsequent calculations. Discussion of the findings or answers to short questions will be used to provide evidence of knowledge gained. Practical computer science sessions will be used to develop your computational skills so that they can be used to develop mathematical models of physical phenomena.

The Year 3 group project aims to provide experience of working as part of a project team in a situation close to that which might be found in a research, industrial or commercial setting. The group project could encompass a piece of scientific research, but could also be related to outreach, widening participation or work aimed at encouraging greater gender equality within STEM/M Disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine).

The Year 3/4 individual research project is taken by all MSci students and will be undertaken in an interdisciplinary research group setting, usually linked to one of the University's Science Strategy Themes (currently Extrasolar Planets, Systems Biology, Climate Change and Sustainable Futures, and Functional Materials). Research will be followed by production of a written report. Project work in Year 4 will usually continue the research project from Year 3, with a greater degree of independence. The Year 4 Project Extension will be granted in cases where the realistic outcome is a substantial contribution to a scientific publication.

The programme uses a diversity of assessment methods such as: essay examinations; short answer and multiple choice tests (MCQ); practical work and reports; quantitative (numerical) problems; project report; oral presentations (individual and group).

Intended Learning Outcomes
B: Academic Discipline Core Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

6. With limited guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within the natural sciences, mathematics and computing.

See above.

See above.

Intended Learning Outcomes
C: Personal/Transferable/Employment Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

7. Communicate ideas effectively and professionally by written, oral and visual means.
8. Study autonomously and undertake projects with minimum guidance.
9. Select and properly manage information drawn from books, journals, and the internet.
10. Synthesise information and ideas from disparate subject areas to formulate testable hypotheses.
11. Interact effectively in a group.
12. Interact effectively with research staff beyond your peer group.

See above.

See above.

7. Programme Regulations

Programme-specific Progression Rules

To progress to Stage 3 of the MSci you must normally achieve an average mark of at least 60% across Stages 1 and 2, otherwise you will be required to transfer to the BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences. If your average across Stages 1 and 2 is close to 60%, then your performance in NSC2001 Frontiers in Science 2, and academic trajectory, may also be taken into account

Programme-specific Award Rules

At the end of Stage 3, you may be permitted to exit with a BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences provided that you have achieved 360 credits in total, you have taken no more than 150 credits at level 4 and at least 90 credits at level 6 or 7. If you do exit with a BSc (Hons) the award will normally be based on the degree mark formed from the credit weighted average marks for stages 2 and 3 combined in the ratio 1:2 respectively.

Classification

8. College Support for Students and Students' Learning

The Natural Sciences Programme providesevery student meetings each term with a personal tutor. The role of tutors is both to instil in you a sense of academic rigour and thinking and to provide you with advice and support for the duration of the programme. This includes working with you to decide the appropriate elective module choices, and research project areas, and extends to providing you with details of how to obtain support and guidance on personal difficulties such as accommodation, financial difficulties and sickness. In year 1, and some modules in subsequent years, you will also be provided with additional academic support through small group tutorials and you can also make an appointment to see individual teaching staff. The Natural Sciences website includes the student handbook. You have access to computers and printers within the University. You can expect reasonable access to all teaching staff through appointments. The Natural Sciences Student/Staff Liaison Committee enables students and staff to jointly participate in the management and review of the teaching and learning provision.

9. University Support for Students and Students' Learning

10. Admissions Criteria

11. Regulation of Assessment and Academic Standards

12. Indicators of Quality and Standards

This programme is accredited as meeting the requirements of the Society of Natural Sciences.

13. Methods for Evaluating and Improving Quality and Standards

14. Awarding Institution

University of Exeter

15. Lead College / Teaching Institution

College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences (CEMPS)

16. Partner College / Institution

Partner College(s)

Not applicable to this programme

College of Life and Environmental Sciences (CLES)

Partner Institution

Not applicable to this programme.

17. Programme Accredited / Validated by

0

18. Final Award

MSci (Hons) Natural Sciences

19. UCAS Code

FGC0

20. NQF Level of Final Award

7 (Masters)

21. Credit

CATS credits ECTS credits

22. QAA Subject Benchmarking Group

[Honours] Biosciences
[Honours] Chemistry
[Honours] Engineering
[Honours] Mathematics, statistics and operational research

23. Dates

Origin Date

19/02/2013

Date of last revision

04/05/2023