Biological Sciences BSc (Hons)

Course overview

  • Course level
  • Course type
  • Duration
    3 years full-time or 4 years full-time with integrated placement year
  • Course options
    Optional placement year
  • UCAS code(s)
  • School

Entry requirements

  • A Level (2020 entry)
    ABB-BBB (must include Biology)
  • BTEC
    Are welcome with the relevant A Level subjects, please see below for further details
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma
    32 – 31 Overall (HL 5, 5, 5 must include Biology)
  • GCSEs
    Five GCSEs all at grade C/4 and must include Mathematics and English Language
More information
Apply via UCAS

Key dates

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Biological Sciences BSc at Aston University

Boost your employability with an optional placement year designed to set your studies in a real world context

Employed Biological Sciences Aston graduates earn £1,600 (10%) more than the UK average one year after graduating (LEO, 2018)

Top 30 Overall (Biological Sciences, Complete University Guide, 2019)

93.8% of BSc Biological Science students at Aston were satisfied with the Teaching on their course (NSS, 2019)

Course summary

This course is for you if you wish to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in an established, yet dynamic, area. You’ll gain a broad understanding and awareness in biological sciences during the first two years of the programme,  in your final year you will have the option to study a wide range of modules. 

Entry requirements for 2020

Duration: 3 years full-time or 4 years full-time with integrated placement year

UCAS Code: C112

Admissions Review Process

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and the whole application is reviewed which includes previous and predicted qualifications, any experience, references and motivation. Whilst the grades listed here are our entry requirements, we understand that predicted grades are only an estimate. We will therefore consider applicants with lower predicted grades if the application is of a high standard which includes a strong personal statement and academic reference. However, any offer made will not be lower than stated below. If you have already achieved your A level grades you may be eligible for our lowered offer scheme - this means that the grades that you will need in order to be accepted on to the course may be reduced. Whilst we normally look for evidence of recent study (which we define as the past 3 years), we also welcome applications from mature students who have achieved grades up to 10 years old, which will be considered on a case by case scenario. You will be required to make a full UCAS application which lists your education and work history up to the time of application along with sufficient references. Find out more about our admissions policy.

Applicant Visit Days

Once you have received an offer, you will be invited to an Applicant Visit Day to discover more about the course and Aston University.

Typical offers


Five GCSEs which must include Mathematics and English Language all at grade C/4. Please note we do not accept Key skills or Functional skills in place of these.

A Levels:

ABB - BBB in three A level subjects which must include Biology.

Excluded Subjects: We welcome the following subjects as an additional A level, but not as one of the core three A levels - General Studies, Critical Thinking, Citizenship Studies.

A Level applicants who select this course as their Firm UCAS choice may be eligible for our lowered offer scheme. This means that the grades that you will need in order to be accepted on to the course will be reduced.

We welcome applications from students who have tried to improve their examination grades by taking resits and only your latest grades will be accepted. We treat these applications in exactly the same way as other applications.


We welcome BTEC qualifications in any subject which are taken with the relevant A Level subjects as listed below:

BTEC qualification name BTEC grades required A Level requirements
Extended Diploma (QCF/National) Distinction, Distinction, Distinction (DDD) With this BTEC you must also achieve grade B in A-Level Biology

Diploma (QCF)

National Diploma

Distinction, Distinction (DD) With this BTEC you must also achieve grade B in A-Level Biology

Subsidiary Diploma (QCF)

National Extended Certificate

Distinction (D) With this BTEC you must also achieve grades BB in two A levels of which one must be Biology
90 Credit Diploma (QCF) Distinction, Distinction (DD) With this BTEC you must also achieve grades BB in two A levels of which one must be Biology
National Foundation Diploma Distinction (D) With this BTEC you must also achieve grades BB in two A levels of which one must be Biology

Access to Higher Education:

We accept the QAA-recognised Access Diploma which must consist of 45 credits at Level 3. You must obtain a minimum of 30 distinction and the rest must be at merit or distinction. Please note that we do not accept the English and Maths components within the Access qualification and you must meet the GCSE entry requirement.

Subjects Accepted: Applied Science, Biology combined with Chemistry, Biomedical Science, Biosciences, Combined Sciences, Health Sciences, Health Sciences Professions, Life Sciences and Sciences.

International Baccalaureate Diploma:

32 - 31 points overall and must include grades 5, 5, 5 in Higher Level subjects which must include Biology. You must also have Standard Level grade 5 in both Mathematics and English Language.

International students

International qualifications: International students can discover more about the qualifications we accept on our international pages.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification. Find out more about our English language requirements.

For more information about qualifications view our Aston in your country webpage.

Foundation Programme route

International Foundation Programme in Science (Aston University): We also welcome international students with equivalent qualifications to apply for our courses. For international students without equivalent qualifications, it is also possible to gain entry to this course by completing an International Foundation Programme at Aston University, although please note the progression requirements and the entry requirements to our courses. 

International applicants expected to gain foundation diplomas from other providers are welcomed and will be considered on a case by case basis.

Foundation Programme in Science (Aston University): For students with good A-level (or equivalent) grades, but who narrowly miss our standard requirements, it is also possible to gain entry to this course by completing the Foundation Programme in Science at Aston University, however, please note there are specific entry requirements which must be checked:  Foundation Entry Requirements.

Non-standard qualifications


Year 1 entry: We consider applicants for year 1 entry who are undertaking a degree in a related field elsewhere. You must meet the GCSEs and A level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. Alongside this you must have gained (or be expected to gain) 60% overall and 120 credits with no fails at another recognised university. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.

Year 2 entry: Please note that second year transfers are not part of the standard admissions process and is up the discretion of the admissions team and tutor. Applications are only considered if there is space on that year of the programme. Typically, applicants for second year entry must meet the GCSEs and A level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. Alongside this you must have gained (or be expected to gain) 60% overall and 120 credits with no fails on an equivalent programme at another recognised university. The equivalency of the programme is reviewed by the Admissions Tutor and you will be required to provide an official copy of the programme specification of this. It is also expected that you have not previously attempted the second year of a programme elsewhere. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.

The information contained on this website details the typical entry requirements for this course for the most commonly offered qualifications. Applicants with alternative qualifications may wish to enquire with the relevant admissions teams prior to application whether or not their qualifications are deemed acceptable. For less commonly encountered qualifications this will be judged on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the academic admissions tutor.

External Foundation Programmes from another University:

We consider external foundation programmes for entry into our year 1 programmes on a case-by-case basis. We will always require applicants to have met the following criteria prior to application:

  • 5 GCSE’s at grade C/4 or above including Maths and English.
  • CCC at A-Level

If you meet the above pre-requisite qualifications, we will be required to review the programme specification of your foundation programme. After we have reviewed the programme specification a decision will be made. Any conditional offers made will be based on meeting a specific grade in your foundation programme.

Fees for 2020

Fees for 2020 entry:

  • UK / EU students: £9,250 per year (£1,250 during placement year)
  • International students: £18,900* per year (£2,500 during placement year)

Explore the costs involved in university and the financial support that may be available to you.


* Tuition fees are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. When undertaking a placement year a placement year fee applies.

Professional accreditation

RSB Accredited Degree

This course has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. RSB accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of employers. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.

Course outline

Biology can be studied at several levels ranging from molecular interactions at a sub-cellular level to cellular interactions at a tissue level, or even the interactions of whole organisms. Biology therefore encompasses many academic fields that may be regarded as individual disciplines.

As a BSc Biological Sciences student you will follow a common first and second year allowing you to develop a thorough understanding and awareness of the subject. In your final year you will have the option to study a wide range of modules. 

Student satisfaction for this course is very high. Our student and graduate profiles will give you an insight in to why so many of them are happy to be part of Biological Sciences and the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston.

What you will study

2020 entry

Year 1:

In your first year you will be introduced to a range of key bioscience topics that will be the fundamental building blocks for your biological sciences education. You’ll gain knowledge of the structure, function, synthesis and degradation of biomolecules, discover how genetic material is stored and inherited and learn to describe the structures and key components of cells. You will also start to undertake laboratory work, learning how to work safely and complete reports.


  • Biomolecules
  • Cells to Systems
  • Microbiology and Genetics
  • Metabolic Physiology for Biology.

Year 2:

During the second year you will build on and learn to integrate the knowledge gained in your first year, as well as discovering exciting new topics. You will develop the skills to apply fundamental biological concepts to experimental and real world problems and learn to select appropriate experimental approaches and test hypotheses.


  • Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
  • Mechanisms of Pathology
  • Human Disease
  • Cell Signalling and Physiology.

Placement year (optional):

The optional placement year is an opportunity for you to set your studies in a real world context of a working environment alongside professionals. You will gain experience by taking a placement in the UK or abroad in a wide variety of settings such as hospital, industrial or research laboratories or non-laboratory settings.

Final Year

The final year of your studies will provide you with the skills required to complete a substantial original research project. You’ll learn how to critically review scientific literature, create and test hypotheses using appropriate methodologies and how to critically reflect on their own research. You will also have the opportunity to apply your previously acquired knowledge to a range of advanced topics, selecting those that most suit your future career aspirations.


  • Research Project Preparation
  • Research Project
  • Professional Development for Biological Scientists.

In addition you will complete three of the following modules:

  • Bench to Bedside
  • Biology of Ageing
  • Cancer Biology
  • Immunology & Inflammation
  • Industrial Biotechnology
  • Metabolic Disease
  • Molecular and Applied Microbiology
  • Pharmacology and Toxicology. 
Placement year

The year involves a 30 week to twelve-month professional work placement between the second and final years of the degree.  This offers you the opportunity to gain valuable experience and set your studies in the context of a working environment, alongside professional biologists. By obtaining relevant work experience you will also boost your future employment prospects.

Students undertake placements in settings such as hospital, industrial or research laboratories. Areas that recent placement students have undertaken their placements include: 

  • Clinical trial companies
  • Research institutes
  • Breweries
  • The food industry
  • Pharmaceutical companies (e.g. AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline)
  • Medical sales
  • Biotechnology companies.

Find out more about placement years in Life & Health Sciences.

Learning, teaching & assessment

You will encounter a variety of learning opportunities, including

  • Lectures
  • Practical sessions
  • Interactive workshops and tutorials
  • Group work
  • Self-study courses.

You will be continuously assessed throughout the course. A wide range of assessments linked to learning outcomes are used, including

  • Examinations (unseen essay, short answer or multiple choice questions)
  • Essays
  • Practical reports (group or individual)
  • Presentations
  • Laboratory reports 
  • Project work
  • Computer based assessment
  • Peer assessments.
Your future career prospects

Graduate employment for Biology students mirrors the outstanding success of Aston University as a whole. 

Our graduates enter a wide range of professional careers, including research, health, welfare and the biological industries. In addition to scientific positions, some graduates enter general management and personnel work as well as product development and marketing. Some continue with postgraduate study. Recent roles include:

  • Adult Specialist Medical Sales Representative, Abbott
  • Assistant Laboratory Technician, Aston University
  • Cover Teacher, Trinity High School
  • Executive Researcher, Berwick Partners (an Odgers Berndtson company)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Aston University
  • Laboratory Assistant, National Milk Laboratories
  • Laboratory Assistant, The Binding Site
  • Master's Degree, Molecular Microbiology, 
  • Postgraduate Researcher, Aston University
  • Research Assistant, Asterand Bioscience
  • Teacher, Teach First
  • Trainee Teacher, Waverley School 
  • Vice President Education and Welfare, Aston Students' Union.

Students interested in becoming teachers can benefit from our collaboration with Newman University.

Personal development 

Our course helps you develop the knowledge and skills needed to maximise your career prospects. This course will enable you to develop key skills including: 

  • Fundamental laboratory techniques
  • Record keeping
  • Project development
  • Management
  • Critical analysis
  • Communication (written/oral)
  • Presentation
  • Team working
  • Report development
  • IT
  • Problem solving
  • Debating.

You will benefit from:

  • Extensive and well equipped laboratories, with up-to-date equipment and projection facilities for demonstration purposes;
  • Refurbished lecture theatres and seminar rooms with modern audio-visual equipment;
  • A large computer laboratory;
  • A virtual learning environment used for general study, revision and assessment. This platform allows you to access a comprehensive range of study materials, scientific journals, e-journals, databases and much more.
  • Course texts and relevant journals are available from the library either electronically or in book form;
  • A newly refurbished and extended Aston University Library. The Library is open 7 days a week all year round, and at key times of the academic year, it is open 24 hours a day on 6 days a week.

There are over 30 teaching and research staff in our biology group, with other School of Life and Health Sciences staff also undertaking biology related teaching.

Programme Director: Dr Ann B Vernallis 

Ann is the Programme Director for the BSc programmes in biology and biomedical sciences. She teaches Cell Biology and Developmental Biology in year 1, Molecular Pathology, and Molecular Genetics (including Bioinformatics) in year 2. In the final year, she teaches options in Cell Biology (including cell culture) and supervises final year projects. Her main research interest is in cytokines and other mediators of inflammation. She collaborates with Prof Peter Lambert and others on the host response to bacterial infection and the therapeutic potential of tetracyclines to reduce inflammation.

Admissions Tutor: Dr James Brown

James is the Admissions Tutor for the undergraduate biomedical & biological sciences programmes. He has been at Aston since 2009, and his current role is that of lecturer. His research interests include the regulation of cellular ageing by obesity and metabolic disorders, frailty in older adults with diabetes and the role of aquaporins in breast cancer.

James is happy to discuss the structure of the course and its content. If you need any guidance on the entry requirements, please direct these questions to our admissions team on ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk or call +44 (0)121 204 3302.

Meet the Biological Sciences team.

Find out more

Discover more in the following ways:

How do you feel your placement prepared you for your future career?

As I wish to pursue a career in scientific communication, my degree has equipped me with the skills to understand and explain scientific concepts. In addition, I have gained a wealth of transferable skills through planning, organising and carrying out experiments. The nature of scientific research with its ups and downs has taught me perseverance and dedication, which is imperative in any job role.

How did the quality of teaching and student support enhance your time at Aston?

I couldn't fault my course, staff were helpful and the opportunity to do a lab-based project in final year really enhanced my learning and made me more employable.

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