BSc (Hons) Biology - University of Portsmouth
A Gold rating in teaching excellence Read more
BSc (Hons)


UCAS codeC100

full time3yrs

placement option1yr

Study the science of living things

Course Overview

Why take this course?

This course aims to develop an understanding of the key areas of animal, plant and micro-organism biology. Taught by internationally-recognised research scientists, you will cover areas at the forefront of modern scientific endeavours. Such areas include biotechnology, ecology, biochemistry and molecular biology, all of which offer both opportunities and challenges for the future.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Choose to specialise in subject areas from marine and terrestrial biology to molecular genetics
  • Use externally funded equipment worth millions of pounds to enhance your learning experience
  • Study abroad on one of many conservation and research schemes

What opportunities might it lead to?

The School of Biological Sciences has major pure and applied research groups, with their research rated internationally excellent and world-leading. As a result, many of our graduates have also gone on to do higher degrees and are now involved in active research groups of their own or are prominent figures in research-led industries.

Biological science graduates are highly sought after as they possess the logic, problem-solving, communication and numeracy skills suitable for a variety of areas. Graduates are eligible to apply for Associate Membership of the Society of Biology. This entitles them to membership benefits which include access to professional networks and attendance at conferences. Associate members are awarded the post-nominal letters AMSB.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • industrial and academic research
  • health service
  • environmental consultancy
  • science teaching
  • scientific writing and the media



Pooja Verma, BSc (Hons) Biology student 2015

The research facilities are extensive and I’ve had the chance to meet some incredible staff who are at the cutting-edge of their research, which is really fascinating.

Pooja Verma, BSc (Hons) Biology student 2015


BSc (Hons) Biology

Find out more about what it's like to study Biology here at Portsmouth.

Browse all courses in Biological Sciences

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

Our biology course teaches the fundamental concepts and practical skills for biological sciences in your first year.

Core units in this year include:

  • Biodiversity and Evolution
  • Introduction to Cell Biology and Biochemistry
  • Ecology, Plants and Human Impact
  • Microbiology and Molecular Biology
  • Experimental Biology
  • Graduate Skills

At the end of the year you can transfer to one of the other degree pathways within the School, should your interests change.

Year two

Building on the solid foundations across the basic biological disciplines, you can begin to specialise.

Core units in this year include:

  • Community Ecology and Residential Field Course

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Cell Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Genetics
  • Animal Science
  • Marine Organisms and Ecosystems
  • Business for Biosciences
  • Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology
  • Plant Science
  • Development: How Form and Function Changes
  • Enzymes and Metabolism
  • A foreign language

Year three

In your final year you will perform an individual research-led project, which may be undertaken locally or abroad. You also have the option to further tailor the course to your own interests.

Core units in this year include:

  • Honours Project

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Gene Organisation and Expression
  • Coastal Ecosystems
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Biotechnology
  • Genes and Development
  • Genomics in Molecular Medicine
  • Aspects of Terrestrial Ecology and Evolution

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


You will experience a variety of teaching methods, which include laboratory-based practical work and a number of field trips, including a week-long trip to Southern Spain, reinforcing the theory learned in lectures, seminars workshops and tutorials, there is certainly a diversity of teaching methods. Also, our personal tutorial system ensures that you have someone to provide help with any academic or pastoral problems.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 29% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 71% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 27% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 73% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 37% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 63% studying independently and 0% on work placement


We use various methods of assessment on this course. Here is how we assess your work:

  • written exams
  • coursework in the form of essays and practical write-ups
  • presentations
  • multiple choice tests
  • research project in the final year

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 52% by written exams, 7% by practical exams and 41% by coursework
  • Year two students: 70% by written exams, 9% by practical exams and 21% by coursework
  • Year three students: 42% by written exams, 3% by practical exams and 55% by coursework

Tutor's view


Prof Matt Guille
Biological Sciences

I believe that our teaching should be directly informed by the best and very latest research in the field. Year One highlights the most recent advances in the field, while in Year Three, you can participate in practical workshops to get a real hands-on opportunity of using our top-class X-ray structural biology facilities.

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Facilities & Features

Specialist Software and Scientific Equipment

Due to high external investment our research facilities are extensive and state-of-the-art. Here are a few examples of equipment you will be using:

  • structural biology instrumentation
  • chemical analysis facilities for detecting pollutants
  • X-ray diffractometer and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers for determining molecular structures
  • confocal-laser scanning, scanning and transmission electron microscopes


We are well equipped for teaching and research in the diverse areas of modern biology. We have:

  • microbiology and embryology laboratories (with high-tech imaging and gene analysis equipment)
  • ancient DNA preparation and analysis laboratories
  • water quality laboratory
  • the European Xenopus Resource Centre


The School of Biological Sciences has a well-established reputation for both fundamental and applied research. Attracting funding from many sources including industry, Research Councils, The Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, and the European Union, our research activities cover a wide range of interests from the molecular level to the environment. Our five research themes reflect the complexity of the modern biological sciences:

  • biodiversity and evolution
  • epigenetics and development biology
  • ecotoxicology and environmental monitoring
  • marine resource management
  • environmental microbiology and biotechnology
  • molecular biophysics

Field trips

The School of Biological Sciences runs a variety of field trips, ranging from one day excursions to residential field courses of a week or more in duration. These trips are scheduled throughout the degree and include destinations such as Lulworth Cove, Mexico and Devon.

See more about fieldwork.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider


Travel or accommodation associated with compulsory fieldwork is included in the course fee, but you will be expected to pay for meals and other subsistence costs. These costs will be in the region of £60.

There are optional field work opportunities to locations such as Mexico, where you are asked to make a contribution to the cost. These costs will be in the region of £1500 - £2000 depending on the duration and location of the field trip.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

We give career development high priority. Many graduates continue with their studies but as a newly qualified modern biologist, you may find employment in diverse areas like the biotechnology or food industry, science administration and communication, biomedical research, environmental consultancy, and teaching.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • research scientist
  • science technician
  • grant administrator
  • medical writer
  • biomedical sales specialist
  • ecological surveyor

More about employability.

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

Jump at the chance to study in Europe under the EU-funded Erasmus exchange programmes.
Living abroad is the best way to learn a new language or improve existing skills. You will gain confidence, language skills, the ability to adapt to new environments and communicate with people from different cultural backgrounds. Make yourself more attractive to employers in a global market and prove you’re not afraid to take on a new challenge.

We have strong links with many European universities and institutes, particularly in France, Spain and Italy. You also have the opportunity to complete your fieldwork for a project during the second year summer break at other research facilities outside the UK, and with various conservation and research schemes including Operation Wallacea, Global Vision and Oceans Research.

More about work experience.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
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Portsmouth PO1 2UP

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