Biological Sciences MBiol (Hons)

Course overview

  • Course level
    Undergraduate
  • Course type
    Full-time
  • Duration
    4 or 5 years
  • Course options
    Optional placement year
  • UCAS code(s)
    C114
  • School

Entry requirements

  • A Level (2019 entry)
    ABB-BBB (must include Biology)
  • BTEC
    Are considered 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

Key dates

Royal Society of Biology Advanced Degree Accreditation

94% of Aston Biology students were satisfied with the teaching on their course (NSS, 2018)

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

Optional placement year designed to set your studies in a real world context

Course summary

This course is for you if you wish to obtain the knowledge, understanding and skills to undertake a career in Biological Sciences research, particularly in the area of human health and disease.

Entry requirements for 2019

Duration: 4 years full-time or 5 years full-time with integrated placement year

UCAS Code: C114

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

GCSEs:

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 levels 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.

BTEC:

We consider 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 6, 5, 5 – 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

Degree: 

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 2019

For 2019 entry:

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

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

Professional accreditation

Accredited Degree logo

This course has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. Advanced Degree Accreditation by the Society recognises academic excellence in the biosciences, and highlights degrees that educate the research and development leaders and innovators of the future. The Advanced Accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from the course meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including gaining a substantial period of research experience.

Course outline

The purpose of the MBiol course is to produce graduates with the knowledge, understanding and skills to undertake a career in research particularly in the area of human health and disease.

The first two years of the MBiol course are the same as BSc Biological Sciences. Students must obtain a mark of at least 60% at the end of their second year to stay on the MBiol programme (if they do not they are required to transfer to BSc Biological Sciences).

Details of the first and second year modules are listed below. Each one of these modules typically comprises approximately 100 learning hours which include lectures, tutorials, practical classes, directed student-centred learning and preparation for coursework assignments and examinations.

Laboratory-based Research Project or a Data-analysis project, Immunology, Applied Molecular Biology, Bioethics, and a Practical Key Skills module are compulsory with two other modules chosen from the list of third year modules given below.

The highlight is a 6 month final year project in a research laboratory, where you can work alongside post-graduates and post-doctoral fellows.

What you will study

2019 entry

Year 1

 Modules include*:

  • Microbiology I - provides the student with an introduction to bacterial physiology, pathogenicity, infectious diseases and clinical microbiology
  • Biochemistry - provides the student with an overview of the structure of biological macromolecules and the small molecules from which they are assembled
  • Physiology - provides students with a theoretical and practical approach to the physiology of nerves and the nervous system, muscle, brain, endocrine glands, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, blood, kidneys, gastro-intestinal tract and digestion
  • Inheritance and Population Genetics - examines the modes of inheritance of the gene. This module also introduces students to some of the underlying principles of population genetics
  • Development and Human Anatomy - reviews the principles and foundation elements of embryology and the study of human anatomy
  • Cell Biology - provides a basic introduction to cellular components and processes involved in the birth, life and death of cells
  • Molecular Biology - provides students with a basic introduction to the nature, properties, structure, function and replication of genes
  • Introductory Immunology - provides the student with an understanding of the immune system as an integrated system of tissues, cells and molecules.  This module also explores the cellular and molecular basis of immunity and examines how these may be controlled
  • Key Skills - comprises a series of academic tutorials with a personal tutor and a series of workshops on career management and IT skills. 

Year 2

 Modules include*:

  • Microbiology II - covers microorganisms of medical importance including Gram-positive, Gram-negative and intracellular bacteria from the perspective of clinical manifestations, microbial pathogenesis; infection control and prevention
  • Metabolism - provides the student with an understanding of major pathways of intermediary metabolism and their integration and regulation
  • Applied Microbiology - explore processes such as fermentation
  • Molecular Genetics - describes the molecular basis for the regulation of gene transcription and presents the key techniques in gene manipulation
  • Biotechnology - provides an insight into the importance of biotechnology and commercial biology including fermentation, large scale microbial culture, antibiotic production and tissue culture
  • Endocrinology - provides a detailed study of the endocrine system, extending and developing information covered in earlier parts of the course
  • Molecular Pathology - examines some of the molecular mechanisms involved in cell growth, differentiation, maturation and senescence
  • Immunology II - provides the student with an understanding of the immune system as an integrated system of tissues, cells and molecules
  • Key Skills II - focuses on personal and professional development, group work, scientific communication and preparation for the placement year.

Optional Placement Year

The placement year offers you the opportunity to gain valuable experience and set your studies in the content of a working environment. See below for further details.

Year 3

Core modules*:

  •  Research Project - Laboratory or Literature based project (such as a systematic reviews with meta-analysis)
  • Key Practical Skills - three extended laboratory courses plus problem solving exercises
  • Immunology - explores the cellular and molecular basis of immunity and examines how these may be controlled
  • Applied Molecular Biology - provides in-depth explanation of genetic engineering techniques and their applications
  • Bioethics - considers ethical issues related to social factors, healthcare and research in the biological arena.

Optional modules* (choose two) 

  • Human Physiology - provides a detailed study of the mechanisms and processes through which the body achieves and maintains homeostasis
  • Food Microbiology - provides a study of the relationship between food and health including the scientific, technical and manufacturing factors which influence food quality and safety
  • Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease - provides an overview of microbiology and infectious diseases within the community and hospital setting and methods of diagnosing infection
  • Cell Biology - investigates current models of how proteins regulate and execute the cellular process of differentiation, migration, protein trafficking, synapse formation and vesicle release
  • Medical Biochemistry - provides a detailed study of the application of chemical and biochemical methods to the study of disease
  • Cell Biology of Cancer Metastasis - provides an insight into the organisation of the cell cytoskeleton and how modification of this structure leads to changes in migratory properties that occur when cells become malignant
  • Biological Basis of Human Disease - considers the basic biological principals underlying the development of diseases in man
  • Stem Cell Biology - develops a basic understanding of what a stem cell is and of how stem cells are being developed as research tools and medicines.

Final Year

Modules include*:

Advanced Lab Skills with Data Analysis and Interpretation 10
Mammalia Cell Biology & Culture 20
Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering (not suitable for students who have completed BY3SC1 Cells) 20
Tissue Regeneration 10
Ageing and Regenerative Medicine 10
Advanced Biomedical Imaging 10
Cellular Differentiation in Stem Cell Biology 10


 *Details provided are intended to give an overview of the proposed aims and content in modules, they are not a complete exhaustive and definitive description of module content. 

2020 entry

MBiol Biological Science

In order to offer you the best possible experience and keep MBiol Biological Science up to date and relevant, the University is going through a transition period. The new University-wide 15/30 credit scheme will come into effect for the 2020/21 entry to the MBiol Biological Sciences programme.

Modules

Year 1:

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

Year 2:

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

Year 3 (optional):

  • Placement year.

Year 4:

Students are required to take 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.

Students are required to take all the following modules:

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

Final year:

Students can choose 30 credits from the following modules:

  • Professional Development and Research Communication
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Applied Biotechnology
  • Stem Cell Biology and Cellular Differentiation
  • Tissue Regeneration.

Students are required to take all the following modules:

  • Advanced Lab Skills with Data Analysis and Interpretation
  • Laboratory Competence Training
  • MBiol Key Skills
  • MBiol Laboratory Research Project.

Please note accreditation approval for this new structure is currently pending.

 

Placement year

The year involves a 30 week to twelve-month professional work placement between the second and third 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
  • Universities in other countries
  • 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 assessment.

We specifically encourage team working in some assignments in which there will be peer assessments where you will assess the contribution of your colleagues and vice-versa.

Your future career prospects

This new course aims to produce graduates suitable for a career in research within universities, research institutes or industry. Graduate employment for our 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 for our Human Biology and Biological Sciences graduates include:

  • Health Care Scientist Support Worker, Health Protection Agency
  • Administration Officer, Ministry of Justice 
  • Executive, CRISPR Division, Hanson Wade
  • Intern, Deutsche Bank
  • Trainee Teacher, Westfield Academy
  • 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.
Facilities

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.
Staff

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 Vernalis 

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 bacteria 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.

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