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Study the science of living things

BASGUCAS code 4yrsfull time

Star Course Overview

Why take this course?

The course integrates the three-year (full time) study period of the BSc (Hons) course with one-year full time postgraduate study, leading to a single master’s qualification upon graduation. The fourth year of study will involve you performing an extended research project in an academic or commercial research laboratory or in a field-based study.

The additional year of study at an advanced level will provide you will the background and experience to follow a professional career, either in academia or in industry. It will identify you as a person who has a greater knowledge of a research working environment and experience of research techniques in your chosen subject. This will better prepare you for continuing your studies at a PhD level or entering a bioscience industry.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Choose to specialise in subject areas such as ecology, whole organism biology, microbiology, evolutionary biology, physiology genetics, biotechnology or developmental biology.
  • Perform research projects using state of the art equipment to enhance your learning experience in an academic or commercial environment.
  • 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.

Here are some routes our BSc (Hons) graduates have pursued:

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

Our MBiol Biology course is being introduced in 2015-16, so it is new, however integrated masters courses in biological sciences are academically and commercially recognized routes to professional careers, which are supported by the undergraduate student loan scheme.

Daniella Pierce-Butler, BSc (Hons) Biology student 2012

The course starts with a broad base, teaching everyone the basics. By the second and third year, all options are specific to each individual’s interests.

Daniella Pierce-Butler, BSc (Hons) Biology student 2012

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Key Facts

UCAS Course Code:
4 years full time

136 points from 3 A levels, or equivalent, to include A level Biology at grade A. See full entry requirements

We accept UCAS points from other qualifications. See full details and English Language qualifications


UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2017/18 entry: full time: £9,250 p/a*

This course is not eligible for Government Postgraduate Loan

International students
2017/18 entry: full time: £14,400 p/a**

*Tuition fee may be subject to annual increase.
**Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

View tuition fee terms and conditions
View additional course costs

+44 (0)23 9284 5566
School of Biological Sciences
Programme specification


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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Light bulb 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
  • Marine and Terrestrial Ecology
  • 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 interest 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 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
  • Biochemistry
  • 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 include:
  • Gene Organisation and Expression
  • Coastal Ecosystems
  • Aquatic Microbiology
  • Biotechnology
  • Genes and Development
  • Genomics in Molecular Medicine
  • Ecology, Evolution and Conservation

Year 4

This year will give you the opportunity to work in a research-focussed or commercial environment. The main emphasis of the year will be on performing an extended research project in an academic or commercial laboratory or as a field-based study. In order to prepare you for this work there are taught elements that deal with scientific techniques and methods as well as scientific communication.

Core units include:

  • The extended research project
  • Literature review
  • Research methods & techniques


You will experience a variety of teaching methods, which include laboratory-based practical work and a number of field trips 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. All research projects will be supported by internationally recognized academic staff in areas that are at the cutting edge of a specific biological field.

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: 22% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 78% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 38% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 62% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year four students: 3% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 10% studying independently and 87% 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 reports

In the fourth year there are no written exams, the assessments here focus on your research report, scientific communications and problem solving in a research environment.

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, 13% by practical exams and 17% by coursework
  • Year three students: 43% by written exams, 3% by practical exams and 54% by coursework
  • Year four students: 0% by written exams, 19% by practical exams and 81% by coursework
Prof Matt Guille

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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Monitor 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.

Claudia Slevin, BSc (Hons) Biology student 2013

I'm a practical learner, so being able to try things out in the lab really compounded knowledge learnt in the lecture theatre.

Claudia Slevin, BSc (Hons) Biology student 2013

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

The cost of travel or accommodation for 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 around £60.

For optional short external courses or field work in the fourth year, costs can range from £200 - £1200, depending on the activity, ranging from certificated DNA barcoding training through to scientific diving training overseas.

The cost of all core activities are included in the standard tuition fee.


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

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Mortarboard Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Where next?
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

Employment boosting opportunities
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
Career planning
6.04 minutes

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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