Course details

Study options

Full-time: 4 years

UK/EU fee

£9,250 per year* (2020/21)

International fee

£14,045 per year (2020/21)

UCAS points

72 (September 2020 entry)

UCAS code


Course level



BSc (Hons)

Start date



Kedleston Road, Derby Campus

Course description

Why you should study Biology at the University of Derby

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.

You can also study Biology as a Joint Honours subject.

Realise your ambitions on a course which offers inspiring teaching, exceptional facilities and challenging real-world learning opportunities.

Foundation Year - helping you to achieve more

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.

A vibrant and varied degree

Studying at Derby offers you not only a solid grounding in traditional aspects of biology but also a fascinating introduction to scientific research. You’ll work towards a broad-based qualification which covers key areas such microbiology, physiology, animal behaviour, genetics and wildlife conservation as well as cellular and evolutionary processes.

You’ll also widen your knowledge to take in bio-innovation, habitat management, genomics, oncology and immunology, tropical marine biology, science communication, and ecological consultancy.

When you graduate, you’ll have all the skills, knowledge and vision you need to work as a versatile, resourceful and forward-thinking professional biologist.

No.1in the UK for student satisfaction in Biosciences with teaching and feedback**Guardian University Guide 2020
Biology Student - Image Group 3
Bioscience Laboratory - Image Group

Make new discoveries on fieldtrips

You’ll combine your laboratory investigations with a variety of fieldtrips to put your scientific know-how in a wider context and deepen your understanding of the natural environment.

Our portfolio of fieldtrips is constantly expanding to add further interest to your studies. Recent examples include visits to Burton Breweries; exploring plant adaptation at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew; analysing how animals interact at Twycross Zoo; and conducting ecological studies on a week-long residential in Majorca.

Working in partnership for your success

We have teamed up with organisations such as the Royal Derby Hospital, Sea Life, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Derby Museums, the Olive Ridley Project and Eurofins to bring vital elements of real-world learning to your studies.

These collaborations give you access to field site visits, employer-led projects and guest lectures, not to mention work experience and internship opportunities. They represent a gateway to the wealth of career opportunities open to Biology graduates.

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 the latest instrumentation. There is also a student research laboratory where you’ll have a dedicated space for your final-year independent study.

Our Biology students also benefit from working in our glasshouse with plants from diverse habitats and our insectary housing many different species.

An impressive reputation for research

Our teaching team includes active international researchers whose work is pushing the boundaries in areas such as ecology, entomology and biodiversity. Their findings are showcased in leading scientific journals and at global conferences. They are also sought after as media commentators, helping shed new light on complex scientific subjects for the benefit of the wider public.

In just one example, Professor Karim Vahed was elected a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society for his ‘substantial contribution to the study of insects’ and has featured on TV programmes such as the BBC documentary Spider House.  

Passionate about their subject, the team is equally committed to your success. They pride themselves on being approachable and supportive to ensure your learning experience is as stimulating as possible.

an iceberg

Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC)

Specialising in securing clean environments, nature recovery, and resilience to natural hazards, we work collaboratively to safeguard our planet for future generations.

Learn more about our research Learn more about our research

Stand out from the crowd

We place a strong emphasis on fostering the transferable skills which will get you noticed in the competitive graduate job market. Alongside your scientific knowledge, you’ll develop your abilities in communication, problem-solving, networking, teamworking and leadership.

Our Independent Study module offers you an exciting chance to investigate a theme in depth and enhances your capacity to think for yourself. You could even present your research at high-profile conferences or contribute to novel community projects which encourage greater public interest in science.

What you will study

You'll study modules such as:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Study Skills in Science
  • Principles of Cellular Biology
  • Principles of Chemistry
  • Foundations in Geoscience
  • Organisms and their Environment
  • Research Methods and Data Handling

If you already have level 2 English and Maths, you will not be required to take English and Maths as core modules.

  • Induction module
  • Ecology - You will be introduced to the interactions between organisms and their environment. This module includes both tutorials and fieldwork
  • Evolution of Life - You will be introduced to the process of biological evolution and to the variety of living plants and animals. You'll focus on the first groups of organisms to evolve, prior to the colonisation of land
  • Genetics - You will gain a broad introduction to, and basic understanding of, the key concepts in classical and molecular genetics
  • Anatomy and Physiology - ou will explore the relationship between structure and function in the human body, and study the inter-dependence of life support systems and the interaction of the biological state with the environment
  • Invasion of the Land - You will focus on groups of organisms that have adapted to life on land, including terrestrial fungi, lower and higher plants, insects and spiders and amphibians, reptiles and mammals
  • Chemistry of Life - You will be introduced to the basic concepts of chemistry and how molecules are used in the functioning of the cell unit and its biochemical processes
  • Research Methods - You will learn about planning and conducting research including analysis of data using statistics. This helps to prepare you for your own independent studies research carried out at Stage 3
  • Molecular Biology - You'll develop an understanding of the molecular basis of fundamental biological and forensic processes, such as transcription and translation. You'll be introduced to the current techniques and approaches in molecular biology applied in a forensic and evolutionary context
  • The Cell - You'll develop an understanding of eukaryote cell structure and function, together with the underlying biochemistry and biochemical pathways supporting these activities
  • Independent Research and Professional Development

Optional modules:

  • Biological Basis of Animal Behaviour - You'll explore the study of animal behavior including physiological mechanisms and evolutionary function
  • Field Biology - You'll look at terrestrial, aquatic or marine environments, where you'll build on the ecological and biological concepts that you're learning during your second year. There is a subsidised European fieldtrip - currently to Mallorca
  • Human Physiology and Disease - You will develop a broad-based understanding of human diseases within the context of the normal physiological mechanisms that underlie some key body systems and will enhance knowledge of anatomy and physiology
  • Human Reproduction - You will cover a range of topics in the field of human reproduction, including developmental genetics, infertility, sexually transmitted diseases and sex determination
  • Microbiology - You will learn about microbial structure and function, and how this relates to the harmful and beneficial effects of microbes. An appreciation of microbial diversity will be developed, through exploring microbial roles in a range of settings such as environment, biotechnology, and health
  • Rainforests, Deserts and Oceans - You will look at the interactions of organisms within biomes, and review issues associated with the sustainable exploitation of different biomes. This module includes a fieldtrip

This course offers an ‘Industrial Placement Year’ giving you the opportunity to enhance your practical skills by putting theory into practice, network in your industry and stand-out in the graduate job market. The placement year takes place in your third year, once completed, you would return to University to complete your final year of studies.

  • Applied Professional Practice
  • Contemporary Issues in Professional Practice
  • Independent Studies in Conservation, Biology and Ecosystems - You will undertake an independent piece of work of your choosing (subject to approval). This module represents an opportunity to exercise initiative, creative thinking, and organisational skills, and is a continuation of personal skill development initiated in Stages 4 and 5

Optional modules:

  • Behavioural Ecology - You will focus on two of the main topics in this field: sexual selection and the evolution of altruistic behaviour. By introducing students to current areas of research and controversy in behavioural ecology, it is hoped that they will develop an appreciation of the nature of research in this area
  • The Human Genome - We take a tour around the human genome; only 1.5% of which encodes for protein-coding genes. You will develop your understanding of the molecular evolution of DNA sequences, bioinformatics and genomics. You will learn how the human genome can be used and applied to answer questions ranging from human evolution to forensic biology
  • Bio-Innovation - You will explore biotechnology and major innovations broadly related to biology which are revolutionising our lives and providing new economic opportunities. Aspects of entrepreneurship, intellectual property rights, and funding are also an essential component of this module
  • Applied Entomology - This module focuses on insects in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. You will explore physiology, lifecycles, behaviour and classification and look at how insects are used in four core areas of applied entomology; veterinary and medical entomology, agricultural entomology, environmental entomology and forensic entomology
  • Ecological Consultancy - You will examine key elements and skills required to start a career in ecology. Students will be introduced to a series of survey techniques including phase 1 habitat surveys and survey techniques for a range of species and taxonomic groups.  This content will be complemented by site assessment and report writing skills designed to ensure that learners can meet the exacting requirements of a professional report
  • Habitat Management - Ever increasing pressures are being placed on the natural environment whilst at the same time there is a necessity to maintain global biodiversity. It will only be possible to achieve both in a crowded world by carefully managing selected areas for their wildlife. Such management, if carried out scientifically, has the potential not only to maintain or enhance biodiversity but to restore it 
  • Oncology and Immunology - Subjects covered will include the genetics of cancer biology, carcinogenesis and epidemiology, virology and mechanisms of antibiotic resistance. The teaching team will include experts from medicine and research, and careers in these fields will be emphasised
  • Cell Signalling in Health and Disease - You will study regular mechanisms behind the cellular response to a variety of external signals, considering our current understanding of signalling pathway regulation in health and dysregulation in non-communicable disease states
  • Science Communication - Effective communication of scientific information to a wide audience is vital social, economic and political tool for society. You will explore the spectrum of delivery methods in modern society including newspapers, museums, TV and the internet.  Students will discover the challenges of ineffective communication through a series of case studies
  • Tropical Marine Biology - You will gain a broad understanding of coral reef ecology covering both theoretical and practical aspects. This module includes fieldwork where you will see one of the most biodiverse habitats in the world and understand how the coral reefs in particular are being effected by climate change. Please note that there is an additional cost element due to the field work involved
  • Vocational Module - The student has freedom to select an appropriate host organisation to undertake a placement within a company, voluntary body or public establishment. The project should be selected so as to generate benefit to the host organisation. An integral part of the student experience is the compilation of a report based on deep reflection of personal experiences acquired during the placement
  • Wildlife Conservation - Biodiversity loss is seen by governments as one of the most important concerns facing the continued healthy survival of human populations in an increasingly crowded world. This module critically examines methods used to create the conditions under which wildlife can continue to exist in natural environments alongside human societies

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

Smiling girl with scarf sitting in cafe with cup of coffee

Find out more about Biology

The best way to find out if studying at Derby is right for you is to experience an Open Day. Get a feel for the city and campus, tour our first-class facilities and see where you could be living.

Book your Open DayBook your Open Day

How you will learn

You’ll learn through lectures, seminars, tutorials, e-learning, hands-on laboratory practical work and fieldtrips. Our varied teaching methods help you show your individual strengths and enhance your understanding.


You'll take part in a broad range of fieldtrips throughout this course, such as day trips to the Burton Breweries, Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to investigate plant adaptation, or a week-long residential trip abroad. Fieldwork is essential to the study of biology as it allows you to explore the natural environment outside of a laboratory.

Work placements 

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 a placement opportunity on our optional, Vocational Module.


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.

Entry requirements

September 2020 typical entry requirements

RequirementWhat we're looking for
UCAS points72 (up to 16 from AS-levels)
Specific requirements at A-levelN/A
Specific requirements at GCSE

GCSE Maths and English are preferred, however if you don't have these qualifications you will be able to undertake Maths and English at L2 as part of your course of study.

IELTS6.0 (with 5.5 in each skills area)
Interview / AuditionN/A

Alternative entry qualifications:

We usually consider an A-level in General Studies as a supplementary qualification. A good application/performance will be taken into account if you do not meet the criteria/offer conditions.

Our entry requirements for this course should be read together with the University's general entry requirements, which details subjects we accept, alternative qualifications and what we're looking for at Derby.

Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees


£9,250 per year*



£14,045 per year


* The fees stated above are for the 2019/20 academic year; fees for 2020/21 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. We will update this information as soon as it is available.

Further information about our fees and support you may be entitled to.

Additional costs and optional extras

How to apply

UK/EU students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for EU students post-Brexit

International students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for international applicants applying for an undergraduate degree


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.

Among many notable graduate success stories:

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 highly regarded masters degree – the MSc Conservation Biology.

Dr David Elliott sampling soil in central Australia

Dr David Elliott
Programme leader

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.

View full staff profileView full staff profile

Contact us

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.

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Additional information about your studies

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

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.

Included in your fees

Mandatory costs not included in your fees

Optional costs not included in your fees

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.

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