Biology references the natural science of plants and living organisms. It covers an array of topics and specialist areas including; Human Biology Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology – and much more. A degree in this area will last at least three years and provide you with a valuable set of skills. A knowledge of biology plays a vital function in everyday life, from medical discoveries to the production of food. Graduates of this degree and related areas play a vital role in society.
Students will need to have studied biology at A-level if you want to continue it at university, and the entry requirements for this subject vary depending on the institution. Many universities will also value a second science – Chemistry, Physics, or Maths. Generally, two A-levels in science will be useful (Learn more – what A Levels should I study)
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There is a broad range of modules available to study at university, and the teaching styles vary depending on this modules, with some theoretical subjects being taught in a classroom from others that require lab work and field trips. Most degrees will be three years in length, although some are sandwich courses which involve students completing a year in industry and work experience prior to the final year, this changes between each institution, choosing the right university and course will require research and we recommend visiting university open days, to get a feel for the place that you could be spending the next few years at.
Many of the degrees on offer include; Biological Sciences, Biomedicine, Biochemistry, Pre-Medical Studies, Ecology and Conservation, Environmental Biology, Environmental Science (and technology) Earth and Environment Science, Environmental Change and Sustainable Development and Human Geography. There are also degree courses available as joint honours combining another subject, such as Psychology or Geography.
Students who are interested in biology will learn how truly clever nature is, by studying proteins, natural selection and beautiful structures within nature. The practical work within the lab will provide great experience and memories that will make you feel like a ‘true scientist’. Biology and biological sciences involve the study of life, and students will do exactly that.
This wide-ranging area allows students to choose their different topics of study depending on the individual’s interests, for example, immune system, disease processes, ecosystems, biodiversity, and physiological processes.
This degree area also provides a range of disciplines including biomedicine, biochemistry, cell biology, ecology, genetics, microbiology, conservation, physiology and pathobiology.
Typical coursework assignments will include essays, literature reviews, laboratory reports, poster and oral presentations as well as short tests, examinations and group work; this will differ from each institution, which makes choosing the right university key. Most degrees in biology will have a final year project which allows students to conduct research on a topic they are most interested in. This research project will likely involve practical work which students have learned through their course.
Students will learn through workshops, tutorials and lectures while also learning practical skills within laboratory sessions. Students will gain detailed insights from world-leading researchers, but also acquire transferable skills in organisation, time management, writing, group work and critical thinking.
Students who also undertake a placement within the industry during their degree will gain skills that they can use to enhance future employability; we advise students to research whether having a placement is good for your degree, as students will enjoy learning in different ways.
Biology is a fascinating subject which will allow students to obtain an overall understanding of science and all living things. It often interests candidates with strong mathematical capabilities, who hold a natural aptitude for science and a passion for achieving insights into the functions and processes of life.
Some students choose to continue their studies into postgraduate, while others decide to complete the Graduate Entry to Medicine qualification who have an interest in Human and Medicinal Biology. Others have chosen to teach by completing a PGCE.
Students who acquire specialised skills and learning throughout their degree will be able to narrow down what areas of the industry they wish to seek employment.
Graduates of biology tend to pursue biological careers within research, universities, industry or hospitals. They can also take advantage of their skills by gaining access to finance, management and marketing careers. Other students have typically been employed as Microbiologists, Researchers, Immunologists, Scientific Equipment Sales Specialists, Teachers and Wildlife Consultants.
There are many options available to graduates who wish to procure a postgraduate qualification, such as MSc, MRes or PhD (Master of Science, Master of Research, and a Doctor of Philosophy) qualifications.
Study options include; biological science, life sciences, plant sciences, medical sciences, biomedicine, bioethics and medical law and environmental and biochemical toxicology, as well as cell and tissue engineering and conservation management, are available in the above qualifications.
British comedian Ricky Gervais enrolled on a Biology degree course at UCL, University of London, but transferred to Philosophy after two weeks. However, Lisa Kudrow AKA Phoebe from television show Friends studied BSc Biology at Vassar College in New York!
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