Put your future as a professional biologist on a firm footing. Starting your studies with a foundation year is ideal if you are thinking about a change of career or exploring your interest in science.
Choose the foundation year route to build the skills, confidence and knowledge you need for success: you can gain your full honours degree in four years
Facilities include an Aquatic Research Facility, glasshouse, insectary, and specialist laboratories - take a virtual tour
Immerse yourself in a subject which is constantly evolving to address important 21st-century challenges
Gain a thorough grounding in traditional aspects of biology while discovering the latest research-led innovations
Enhance your practical experience through exciting work placement and internship opportunities. This course can be studied with or without an Industrial Placement Year
Get to grips with latest instrumentation and technology in our first-rate laboratories. Your studies won’t be confined to the laboratory as fieldwork is an essential part of the course. Our students have travelled to locations such as Twycross Zoo, Kew Gardens, Mallorca and the Maldives - the cost of mandatory trips is included in your course fee
Draw on our extensive network of contacts and strong employer partnerships to broaden your professional outlook
Many of our teaching team are active researchers whose work is shaping debates in areas such as coral reef diseases, animal ecology, cell biology and insect reproduction, so your learning will be informed by the very latest research and developments in biology
Biology and Zoology - your questions answered
Programme Leader for Biology Dr David Elliott answers your frequently asked questions about Biology and Zoology.
Why study Biology
Many Biological processes are essentially circular in nature, providing a model for transitioning society to a circular economy which engineers out material and energy wastage. Governments, companies and inter-governmental agencies are investing in Biology because they see this potential and the economic need not only for environmental solutions, but also for the significant business opportunities enabled by recent progress in the Biosciences. Enormous advances in DNA sequencing technologies and related “omics”, plus the computational capacity to support these are transforming our understanding of Biology, leading to opportunities for enhancing health, wellbeing, and environment. Hence, Biology is a highly inter-disciplinary subject where collaboration with the other sciences is of key importance to success, ensuring that Biologists can play a role in all walks of life.
The world is being severely impacted by human pressures including climate change, overexploitation of natural capital, and irreversible biodiversity loss on a massive scale. These and other issues collectively represent an existential threat to humanity, and biology is at the cutting-edge for providing sustainable solutions. This programme answers the call from the UN, through UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), to address the urgent and dramatic challenges to our planet, and to people. The module content and practical skills within the curriculum prepare graduates to make a positive impact on climate change, biodiversity loss, unsustainable resource use and inequality.
For people who want to be part of these solutions Biology is the ideal subject - enabling graduates to enter the workplace doing jobs that make a difference whether that is in the lab, in the field, or in the office.
You’ll be taught by a highly qualified team, including many international researchers whose work is shaping debates in areas including ecology, entomology and biodiversity. They publish influential papers, speak at global conferences, and serve on the editorial boards of scientific journals. You'll benefit from this research as your lecturers bring the latest thinking to your studies, and in some cases you will have opportunities to get involved in research projects yourself.
Their wide-ranging work includes research into:
Improving the resilience of coral reefs to climate change
Plant conservation and biotechnology
Biodiversity ecosystem functioning
The evolution of primates
Insect reproduction and behaviour
Coral Reef systems and megafauna
Research is carried out within the University's Environmental Sustainability Research Centre which aims to address local, national and global goals for sustainable development, environmental understanding and clean growth.
How we're helping corals survive
Our Aquatic Research Facility is carrying out work with organisations across the globe to make coral reefs more resilient in the face of man-made afflictions.
Including a foundation year as part of your four-year study programme will give you a head start in your academic and professional life. The foundation year offers the chance to strengthen your skills, knowledge and confidence – with extensive support from our expert staff – before you advance to stage one of your honours degree. It could also be beneficial if you are planning a career change and want to get to grips with aspects of subjects which are new to you.
Our degrees with a foundation year are continuous, meaning that you won’t need to apply again once you have successfully completed the first year.
Excellent fieldwork opportunities
Fieldwork is a vital element of our biology courses and so your studies will be enriched with fieldwork opportunities - the cost of mandatory fieldwork is included in your course fee. Through our fieldwork programme, we introduce students to a variety of survey techniques for a wide range of species, such as:
studying animal interaction at Twycross Zoo
conducting ecological projects in Mallorca
those selecting our optional Tropical Marine Biology module have undertaken scientific investigations in the Maldives
investigating plant adaptations at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew
You’ll also have access to Cuckoos Tor, a site on the edge of the Peak District National Park and owned by the University of Derby that is dedicated to long-term research and ecological experiments. Current projects include restoration ecology, natural flood risk management, community engagement with biodiversity, and sustainable land management - and you’ll be able to get involved.
For further practical experience, you'll have plenty of opportunity to apply for work placements and paid internships. All of this means you'll be well placed to launch your career, whether you are looking for a graduate job or are planning to go into further study or research.
"I went to Mallorca and the Maldives. Both were amazing. In Mallorca we surveyed rivers, mountains, forests, bird sanctuaries and nature reserves looking at all manner of species." Sam Lebbon, BSc (Hons) Biology, graduate
Partnerships to strengthen your knowledge
Once you have completed your Foundation Year, you'll have the chance to work with organisations such as Sea Life, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Derby Museums, and the Olive Ridley Project. These partnerships pave the way to work experience and internship opportunities where you can apply your skills in real world situations. They also give you access to field sites, employer-led projects and guest lectures – all of which broaden your perspective on the wealth of career opportunities open to Biology graduates.
We are currently working with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Derby City Council on rewilding Allestree Park. This is the UK’s largest rewilding space which has involved a community consultation to find out what local people want. Some of our students are already working on independent studies projects in the park, with one test-driving the citizen science protocols for monitoring the changes in the park as the rewilding continues.
We have also just won two associate Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, lasting two years, to predict the trajectory of rewilding ecosystems. This will enable you to learn about the remote sensing and modelling we use for this. It will also enable staff to further stretch their research impact in a complex and growing subject area, as well as providing the chance to apply cutting edge, technical research to commercial activities.
We have also been working for several years with Down to Earth Derby, on nature-based regeneration and connecting communities with nature and growing food. A major project we are working on at the moment, with the Eden Project, is a community garden on part of Sturgess Fields, a site owned by the University between Kedleston Road and Markeaton Street sites. The plan is to create a New Commons that will be managed with the community. There are lots of opportunities for you to work on here, both in creating and maintaining the site, undertaking ecological monitoring and getting involved in community education programmes.
A learning environment to inspire you
Our learning facilities have recently been upgraded, so you’ll have an up-to-date setting in which to develop high-level practical skills, including laboratories with modern instrumentation. There is also a student research laboratory where you’ll have a dedicated space for your final-year independent study.
We're in the fortunate position of having a wealth of expertise and knowledge to help tackle some of the world's greatest challenges. Take a look at examples of how we are responding to the climate emergency.
You’ll learn through lectures, seminars, tutorials, e-learning, hands-on laboratory practical work and fieldwork in the UK and overseas. Our varied teaching methods help you show your individual strengths and enhance your understanding.
Placements allow you to develop the skills you learn at University and apply them to real world situations. This is something which potential employers are always looking for. We encourage you to gain experience with potential employers by offering internships and placement opportunities.
You’ll be assessed using a range of written assignments including portfolios, practical and fieldtrip write-ups and data analysis, essays, computer-based assessments, poster presentations and seminar presentations, as well as traditional written examinations.
Personal academic tutoring
Your personal academic tutor will work with you to help you get the most out of your time at university. Having someone to talk to about your academic progress, your university experience and your professional aspirations is hugely valuable. We want you to feel challenged in your studies, stretched but confident to achieve your academic and professional goals.
Dr. David Elliott is a microbial ecologist specialising in the roles of microbes in low productivity soils including drylands and the cryosphere. He leads the BSc (hons) Biology programme and teaches a variety of topics in Human and Environmental Sciences.
We’re proud of the achievements of our Biology graduates. Many have gone on to work as research scientists, laboratory and pharmacy technicians, healthcare assistants, medical laboratory assistants, wildlife conservation officers and scientific sales professionals. They regularly return to the University to deliver masterclasses and give inspiring talks to current students about life after graduation.
Our graduates have gone on to successful roles in areas such as:
Crop development scientist
Biologics production technician
Quality laboratory manager
Synthetic biology biotechnologist
Clinical trials co-ordinator
Through our Professional Development Package, you'll gain valuable skills, including:
Scientific writing and use of scientific software
Written and verbal communication
Research and statistical analysis
Data handling and analysis
Personal motivation, organisation and self-reflection
Laboratory and fieldwork analysis
As well as equipping you for a broad range of scientific careers, our course paves the way to professional, specialist and postgraduate qualifications. Some of our graduates have undertaken further study to pursue a future in veterinary or medical science. Others have progressed to teaching and lecturing roles after completing postgraduate courses. If you are interested in exploring practical solutions to environmental problems, you could also consider our masters degree; MSc Conservation Biology.
Careers and Employment Service
To boost your employment skills, you can access the University's Careers and Employment Service. The team can connect you with employers to help find opportunities for work placements, part-time jobs, and volunteering. Our careers consultants are also on hand to guide you through the career options for your degree, CV writing, or starting your own business - and we commit to helping you for three years after you graduate to find a job.
If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.
Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.
Additional costs and optional extras
We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.
The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.
Included in your fees
You will receive a dissection kit, goggles and a laboratory coat
All equipment and consumables needed for your experimental/ fieldwork are provided by the University. This is subject to consumables being costed for the Independent Study and approved by your programme leader
Free membership of the Royal Society of Biology for a year after graduation
Mandatory fieldtrips in optional modules: Previous destinations have included Kew Gardens, Sea Life Centre and Hardwick Hall Woodlands
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
If not already owned, appropriate footwear for fieldwork such as Wellington/Walking boots - approximate cost is between £5-£50
If not already owned, appropriate outdoor clothing such as a waterproof jacket and trousers - approximate cost is between £50-£100
Two bound copies of your Independent Study - approximate cost is £12
Optional costs not included in your fees
Additional international fieldtrip costs for optional modules as follows: Field Biology L5 (Majorca) - approximate cost is £480, Tropical Marine Biology L6 (Maldives) - approximate cost is £1,900
Travel to work experience/placements - cost is dependent on your placement venue of choice
Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.