Zoology with a Preliminary Year and Professional Training Year (BSc)

The preliminary year can provide you with the academic background you will need for a science degree and the professional training year supports your learning and maturing in a work environment.

Examining an Egg

We are currently in the process of updating these pages with details of our new courses. Full details of the updated courses can be found in the 2017 prospectus.

There are often very good reasons why able students may not have the appropriate A-levels/AS-levels to directly enter the first year of a science degree programme. If you find yourself in this position, the Preliminary Year at Cardiff University can provide you with the academic background you will need for a science degree.

The Preliminary Year programme includes modules in Biosciences, Chemistry, Maths and Physics. On successful completion of the Preliminary Year, you will automatically progress into the first year of your chosen degree programme.

Zoology is the study of animals ranging from unicellular protists to human beings, and it involves approaches as different as molecular genetics, biomechanics and the study of animal behaviour.  Such a breath of subjects involves a large number of specialities, and as one of the largest Bioscience departments in the UK with over 100 academic staff, the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University is able to provide the comprehensive coverage required.  All of this provides ample opportunity for you to explore your chosen subject in depth, but also discover aspects of the biosciences that you might not have encountered before.

In the Zoology degree at Cardiff you will be presented with a broad general approach to the subject in the first two years, which covers the main animal groups as well as levels of organisation such as genetics, cell biology, physiology, ecology and animal behaviour.  Then in your final year you will be able to specialise in the area of zoology that interests you the most.  Particular strengths in the School include conservation genetics, parasitology, freshwater biology, ecology and animal behaviour.  Throughout, you will be taught by enthusiastic staff, many of whom are internationally renowned scientists in their own particular field (for example, a previous Head of the School, Sir Martin Evans, won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2007).  In all the degrees there is the option of taking a professional training year (sandwich year) between your second and third years, when you can go and work in an approved research establishment.  The School has extensive laboratory and research facilities as well as a tropical field centre at Sabah in north east Borneo.  Field courses are a particular feature of the Zoology degree at Cardiff, and you will have the opportunity of visiting Sabah, or undertaking alternative courses in places such as the UK, France, Tobago or Kenya. Note that some field courses are at extra cost to students.  In the final year you will also be required to undertake an independent research project, during which you will be personally guided and helped by a member of the academic staff.

As a School we are strongly focused on providing learning opportunities that are at the cutting edge of scientific research and which introduce you to the community of science.  Throughout your course we will emphasise key employability skills that are specific to the sciences as well as transferable skills for employment in general.  By working closely with academic staff you will develop these skills as you progress through each stage of your course.  We aim to produce graduates who are employable, well-informed and enthusiastic ambassadors for science.

Key facts

UCAS CodeC303
Entry pointSeptember 2016
Duration5 years
Studying in WelshThis course offers elements that are taught through the medium of Welsh. Please contact the Admissions tutor for more information.
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 415 places available
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 2500 applications
Typical A level offerAAB-ABB in non Science subjects
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level (at the grades specified)
Typical International Baccalaureate offer34 points
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Specific admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be found online.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark


Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Andrew Shore, Admissions Tutor

Important Legal Information: The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published by May 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.

Zoology is the study of animals of all kinds, and on the Cardiff Zoology BSc you will learn about animal diversity and evolution; how animals are adapted to their environments and integrated into populations and communities; and how zoological knowledge is applied to problems, such as pest control, conservation and climate change. Two field courses form an optional part of your training and you will also gain experience in research techniques by carrying out an original piece of zoological research.

Preliminary year

The preliminary year programme includes modules in Biosciences, Chemistry, Maths and Physics. The particular modules studied depend on each student's academic background and the requirements of their chosen degree subject, and will be agreed through discussion with staff at enrolment.  The Preliminary Year is not normally a route for students who have failed to achieve the required grades in their A-levels. It is possible to study the preliminary year programme on a part-time basis over two or three years. The science and maths modules are taught in the daytime at Cardiff University.

On successful completion of the Preliminary Year, students automatically progress into the first year of their chosen degree programme.

Module titleModule codeCredits
French Language AdvancedML110420 credits
French Language BeginnersML619820 credits
Modern FranceML619920 credits
German Language A (First Year)ML213620 credits
German B (First Year)ML213720 credits
Introduction To German History And Culture For Advanced StudentsML710320 credits
Introduction To German History And Culture For Beginners' StudentsML710420 credits
Japanese HistoryML158120 credits
Elementary Japanese (Autumn)ML158220 credits
Elementary Japanese (Spring)ML168220 credits
Italian Language (Year 1) AdvancedML310120 credits
Italian Language (Year 1) BeginnersML310220 credits
Modern Italy: Birth of a Nation?ML810320 credits
Introduction to Lusophone StudiesML411020 credits
Portuguese Language for BeginnersML411120 credits
Spanish Language (Year 1) AdvancedML510120 credits
Spanish Language Year One BeginnersML510220 credits
Introduction To Hispanic Studies (Advanced)ML511020 credits
Introduction To Hispanic Studies (Beginners)ML511120 credits
Introduction to Translation Methods (French)ML810220 credits
Introduction to Translation Methods (German)ML810420 credits
Introduction to Translation Methods (Italian)ML810520 credits
Introduction to Translation Methods (Japanese)ML810720 credits
Introduction to Translation Methods (Portuguese)ML810820 credits
Introduction to Translation Methods (Spanish)ML810620 credits
Introduction to Translation TheoryML810120 credits
Introduction to Poetry and the NovelSE213620 credits
Texts in Time 1500-1800SE213220 credits
Literature, Culture, PlaceSE213320 credits
Epic and RomanceSE213420 credits
Mind, Thought and RealitySE410120 credits
Moral and Political PhilosophySE410320 credits
Four Great Works in PhilosophySE410420 credits
Darllen AthroniaethSE410520 credits
Y Da, Drwg a'r GwleidyddolSE410620 credits
Introduction To Human CommunicationSE110720 credits
Introduction To Media CommunicationSE110820 credits
Introduction To LanguageSE110920 credits
Elementary Number Theory IMA011110 credits
GeometryMA100410 credits
Vectors and MatricesMA100710 credits
Mechanics IMA130010 credits
Introduction to Probability TheoryMA150010 credits
Statistical InferenceMA150110 credits
Experimental Physics IPX112310 credits
The Universe From Particles To GalaxiesPX112410 credits
Planets and ExoplanetsPX122510 credits
How The Human Body WorksPX122610 credits
Cyflwyniad I'r GymraegCY174220 credits
Llenyddiaeth GymraegCY174320 credits
O Destun I DraethawdCY174420 credits
Diwylliant y GymraegCY175020 credits
Diwylliant Cymraeg Dinas CaerdyddCY175120 credits
Mapio'r CymryCY175220 credits
Sgiliau llafarCY150020 credits
Defnyddio'r GymraegCY150120 credits
Astudio BarddoniaethCY150220 credits
Astudio RhyddiaithCY150320 credits
Welsh 1CY177420 credits
Welsh 2CY177520 credits
Introduction To Irish 1CY401010 credits
Introduction To Irish 2CY401210 credits
Spanish Beginners Part 1ML900110 credits
Spanish Beginners Part 2ML900210 credits
Spanish Intermediate Part 1ML900510 credits
Spanish Intermediate Part 2ML900610 credits
Spanish Advanced Part 1ML900910 credits
Spanish Advanced Part 2ML901010 credits
Japanese Beginners Part 1ML910110 credits
Japanese Beginners Part 2ML910210 credits
Mandarin Chinese Beginners Part 1ML920110 credits
Mandarin Chinese Beginners Part 2ML920210 credits
French Beginners Part 1ML960110 credits
French Beginners Part 2ML960210 credits
French Elementary Part 1ML960310 credits
French Elementary Part 2ML960410 credits
French Intermediate Part 1ML960510 credits
French Intermediate Part 2ML960610 credits
French Higher Intermediate Part 1ML960710 credits
French Higher Intermediate Part 2ML960810 credits
French Advanced Part 2ML961010 credits
German Beginners Part 1ML970110 credits
German Beginners Part 2ML970210 credits
German Intermediate Part 1ML970510 credits
German Intermediate Part 2ML970610 credits
German Higher IntermediateML970810 credits
German Advanced Part 1ML970910 credits
German Advanced Part 2ML971010 credits
Italian Beginners Part 1ML980110 credits
Italian Beginners Part 2ML980210 credits
French Advanced Part 1ML960910 credits
German Higher IntermediateML970710 credits
Spanish ElementaryML900310 credits
Spanish Higher IntermediateML900710 credits
Spanish Further AdvancedML901110 credits
Japanese ElementaryML910310 credits
Japanese ElementaryML910410 credits
Mandarin Chinese Elementary Part 1ML920310 credits
Mandarin Chinese Elementary Part 2ML920410 credits
Arabic Beginners Part 1ML930110 credits
Russian Beginners Part 1ML940110 credits
French Further Advanced Part 1ML961110 credits
German ElementaryML970310 credits
German ElementaryML970410 credits
German Further AdvancedML971110 credits
German Further AdvancedML971210 credits
Italian ElementaryML980310 credits
Italian ElementaryML980410 credits
C++ Programming ICE265220 credits
Java ICE333720 credits
C Programming 1CE334020 credits
Shell and Perl Programming ICE501120 credits
C ProgrammingCE514010 credits
Celtic Folklore in Britain and IrelandCE478210 credits
Art, Archaeology and Culture in Ancient GreeceCE478310 credits
The French Revolution - The Greatest of all Revolutions?CE479810 credits
Introducing Moral ProblemsCE493710 credits
Ghoulish and Gruesome: Beliefs and the Body in early Modern BritainCE501310 credits
Medieval France: One Nation, One Power?CE501510 credits
Victorian LiteratureCE501910 credits
The Nazi Rise to Power: Weimar Germany, 1914-33CE504210 credits
Comedy and Our CultureCE507310 credits
Inside the News: Past, Present and FutureCE507610 credits
Introducing the BluesCE511410 credits
Night's Black Agents: Gothic Mythology and LiteratureCE511310 credits
Fatal Attractions: A Guide to the VicesCE511610 credits
Things that go bump in the night: Magic, Witchcraft and the OccultCE511710 credits
European LawCE110110 credits
Managing Finance ICE136110 credits
Managing Finance IICE286110 credits
Project ManagementCE338910 credits
Property LawCE359310 credits
Professional Leadership and Management DevelopmentCE461310 credits
Employability SkillsCE492310 credits
Essential Management SkillsCE492410 credits
Criminal LawCE512310 credits
English Legal SystemCE512410 credits
1989: a Pivotal Year for EuropeCE513420 credits
The Political System in WalesCE513520 credits
Medical Imaging and The Human BodyCE396810 credits
Disease in The Developing WorldCE419010 credits
Coaching and MentoringCE462510 credits
Hyfforddi, cyfathrebu a chwnsela (trwy gyfrwng y gymraeg)CE512210 credits
C ProgrammingCE514010 credits
Education and SocietySI000520 credits
Japanese Beginners Part 1ML910110 credits
C++ ProgrammingCE514310 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Medical Imaging and The Human BodyCE396810 credits
Disease in The Developing WorldCE419010 credits
Structure and Properties of MatterPX010110 credits
Motion and EnergyPX010210 credits
Foundations of Modern PhysicsPX020110 credits
Electricity, Magnetism & LightPX020210 credits
Elementary Mathematical MethodsPX020310 credits
Military Surgery Through the AgesBI000710 credits

Year one

Year one at the School of Biosciences recognises that, as well as making the transition to independence from home, you are also facing new and exciting challenges in your education. You will now be studying in your chosen field and you will need to be fully prepared for the educational opportunities that are waiting for you. During your first week we will start you on this preparation by making sure you know what is different between school and University learning. You will feel part of the School of Biosciences immediately as you will be paired with a student buddy, who will show you the ropes and make you feel part of the student community. You will also meet your personal tutor, who will be on hand to help you with pastoral and academic issues for the whole time you are with us.

Our common year one modular course gives a broad grounding in the Biosciences, the interdisciplinary nature of this integrated course allows students to explore their interests without committing to a degree scheme until the end of the first year. The benefit of our common Year One modular course is that if you are not sure that you have chosen the right degree scheme when you join us then you are sure to have a much better idea at the end of our common Year One. You then have the opportunity to change to any of our 12 degree schemes according to your interests and career aspirations.

We offer a wide range of learning opportunities from lectures, tutorials, practicals, workshops and seminars, where you will come into contact with some leading research scientists. A team of academic staff who are teaching-focused ensure the smooth running of teaching and learning. We also appreciate that some of you will prefer particular assessment methods, and assess in a variety of ways, with emphasis on the practical skills you need to become a scientist. You will receive a range of feedback including written feedback on all coursework, and you have an opportunity to see your exam answer papers so you can improve on your performance next time.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Biological ChemistryBI101420 credits
Structure and Function of Living OrganismsBI100220 credits
Skills for ScienceBI100120 credits
Genetics and EvolutionBI105120 credits
The Dynamic CellBI100420 credits
Organisms and EnvironmentBI100320 credits

Year two

Following on the common year one, where you build a robust basic knowledge and skill foundation within the biosciences, Year two allows strengthening and expanding it with natural progression, and crucially the development of knowledge and skills in a context specific to your chosen degree programme.  You enrol on modules, which are core to your degree programme, and on optional modules relevant to your degree.  Your choice of modules can follow a more generalist approach, or can be rather specific to certain aspects of the discipline (for example focusing on ecology and field zoology, or genetics and cell biology). You are given extensive academic advice and support in your choice by personal tutors, degree, module and Year coordinators.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Animal Behaviour: An IntroductionBI211010 credits
Population EcologyBI215810 credits
Developmental and Stem Cell BiologyBI225820 credits
Animal Physiological AdaptationsBI215010 credits
Animal DiversityBI211820 credits
Molecular Ecology and EvolutionBI212110 credits

Module titleModule codeCredits
Field CourseBI215410 credits
Ecosystem ProcessesBI215210 credits
Research TechniquesBI200120 credits
Non-Bacterial PathogensBI221710 credits
Molecular Cell BiologyBI225720 credits

Year three: Sandwich year

From Year Two you progress into the professional training year (PTY), which supports your learning and maturing in a work environment, thus crucially adding to your employability, experience, independence, subject and generic skills portfolio.  You will be able to offer both a good degree and relevant work experience, which is what employers seek in new staff.

You, helped by the School will find a placement where you undertake scientific research in industry, a government research laboratory, or some other suitable organisation.  Examples of recent placements include GlaxoSmithKline Research Laboratories; MRC National Institute for Medical Research, London; Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh; NASA Research Center, Florida; and the Marine Conservation Society of the Seychelles.  You start looking for a placement at the start of Year Two and you are assisted by a PTY Coordinator who will also vet potential placements to ensure they provide suitable scientific training.  While on placement, you are assigned a PTY Tutor from Cardiff School of Biosciences, who will keep in close contact with you to make sure everything is progressing well and will visit you, if the placement is in the UK.  At the end of the placement year, you report on the scientific work undertaken as a basis of assessment along with a report from the employer. PTY counts for 10% of your overall degree result.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Sandwich YearBI9999120 credits

Year four

The final year gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen field by following a series of advanced research-led modules. These are designed to develop your ability to critically analyse complex experimental or technical data and to expose you to the central concepts at the cutting-edge of your discipline. You also gain experience of contemporary research through attending a selection of the many seminars given within the school by international leaders in their fields. You are asked to produce an original dissertation based either on a laboratory project, an extensive literature analysis or an exercise relating to science teaching/ pedagogic research or public engagement. Through our mentoring of these projects we nurture a range of transferable skills to ensure that you are not only equipped for today's job market but have the adaptability to be successful in the new career paths that will certainly emerge in the future. A wide variety of topics will be available for your project. Your supervisor will guide you in the selection of a project that will yield useful results in the time available, and will be on hand to give you guidance and assistance throughout the work.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Biosciences Final Year ProjectBI300640 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.


Your degree course will include a number of different types of learning and teaching, and the aim of the course is to develop your skills as an independent learner. Much of the teaching takes place in lectures or seminars, supported by small-group teaching. You will also gain extensive practical experience learning key techniques and approaches for a scientist. There are also workshop sessions where you work with members of staff on specific skills, using software packages, developing presentation and problem-solving skills. The library and study facilities in the School of Biosciences allow you to access key textbooks, reviews and original research papers. You will progress as you move through your course towards using more original research material and the teaching focuses more on cutting-edge research delivered by experts in the respective fields.

A major focus for University learning is in you yourself developing your understanding of the subject and becoming an independent and self-critical learner. To this end the amount of time spent in self-directed learning increases as you go through your course and gain more independence. We structure non-contact time in the degree course carefully to allow you to plan and conduct your personal learning and skill development. Cardiff School of Biosciences supports this with routine provision of online learning material for self-directed learning and also facilitates the development of student-focused learning groups which work to identify and develop learning resources for each other. These study groups use collaborative ICT tools which develops your skills in these current technologies (a key employability skill).

Our lecturers have an open door policy during non-contact time and email exchange is encouraged if you have any questions. Lecturers are also available for you to ask questions about the material before and after the classes. Our students rate this support very highly as a crucial part of their good student experience, because they are enabled to successfully achieve all learning required to progress towards being an independent and reflective learner, ideally prepared for lifelong learning in a professional environment. This achievement is further supported by a scheme for developing all the transferable skills and competencies that are recognised as graduate attributes, and thus enhances your employability.


Your course will be assessed by a mixture of continuous assessment and examinations, and these change in nature as you progress through the course. The early part of the degree focuses on understanding the key concepts and background information for the subject. Early assessments focus on testing your understanding of the subject and you being able to identify and use information. Then as you progress through your course the focus shifts towards how you apply knowledge towards solving scientific problems, assessing information and criticising your own work and the work of others. In the final year your learning and assessment will be focused on identifying original research and applying it to key questions in science today. You will be guided towards reading original research papers and also undertaking research of your own. By the time you graduate you will have developed as an independent learner and will have a critical mind that we hope will continue to ask challenging questions and learn new things for the rest of your life.

Graduates from the Zoology BSc enter a range of careers.  A significant proportion go into scientific research, others become scientific officers in the public and private sectors (often in conservation or environmental management), some enter teaching, while others use the transferable skills they gain on the course to enter other graduate careers.

In 2013, 96% of the School's graduates were in employment or further study within six months of graduation while others were taking time out to travel etc. Employers included: universities and hospitals in the UK and overseas, local government departments, museums and organisations such as the BBC and National Museum of Wales. Career destinations included: assistant ecologist, laboratory researchers, lecturer, scientist and environmental scientist.


  • Laboratory researcher
  • Scientific officer
  • Teaching
  • Ecologist
  • Environmental scientist


5 Year(s)

Next intake

September 2016

Places available

Typical places available

The School admits 140 students each year to its undergraduate Biological degree programmes.

Applications received

Typical applications received



QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark


Overview and aims of this course/programme

The Zoology degree programme caters for anyone interested in the broad field of animal biology.  It ranges from the evolution and characteristics of the main animal groups, through animal behaviour and ecology, to physiology and cell biology.

This version of the degree programme includes a ‘Preliminary Year’ before the first year of the specific Zoology degree itself. The Preliminary Year is an access course designed for students who do not have the full scientific background required for direct entry into Year 1 of the course. The Preliminary Year provides an opportunity for students, including mature students and those with qualifications in other disciplines, to gain background knowledge in the biosciences, mathematics and chemistry. Students who pass their Preliminary Year may then progress onto the First Year of the Zoology degree.

In the First Year, students follow the School’s common First Year Biosciences programme.  This gives a firm foundation in all the bioscience disciplines and subject-specific areas that will provide a firm foundation for subsequent years of study.

Students learn how the evolution of diversity, function and behaviour integrates animals into populations and adapts them to their environments, and how this knowledge is being applied to human problems such as ecologically responsible pest control, conservation or cancer research.  Students receive hands-on training in modern laboratory and field research techniques, and gain practical experience of widely transferable skills in computing, statistics, data analysis and presentation.

The School regards field courses as an essential part of the training of zoologists.  Before the second year students are strongly encouraged to attend a week’s course on ecological methods.  Between the second and third years students can then choose another field course from a choice of several which visit places of particular biological interest in Britain and abroad. (Note that some field courses will be at additional expense for students.)  These give the opportunity to gain experience of such topics as tropical ecology, marine zoology, avian biology, or animal response to polluted environments.

During the second year students take core modules in subjects in Research Techniques, Animal Behaviour, Animal Diversity, Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Animal Physiological Adaptations, Population Ecology, and Genes and Development.  Students choose one optional module from a range of courses including Comparative Cell Biology and Cell Death, Ecosystem Processes, Non-bacterial pathogens, Cytogenetics and Human Genetics, and Genome Expression and Organisation.

The element of choice introduced in the second year is increased in the final year.  Students make their own selection from a range of modules.  This enables them to specialise in particular areas such as cell biology, physiology, ecology or behaviour.  Alternatively students may choose not to specialise and to pursue a broad course of complementary units.

Students taking the five-year Preliminary and Professional Training Year programme spend their fourth year away from the University on a placement which students must arrange, with the help of the School.  Many sandwich students on this programme do their professional placement year in the research departments of zoos such as Chester, Paignton or Jersey.

Programme Aims

The programme aims to:

·        Provide a broad and balanced perspective of a wide range of aspects of science in general.

·        Provide a broad appreciation of animal biology from the cellular level through to population structure and function.

·        Provide a high quality learning and teaching environment within a research-led institution.

·        Engender an appreciation of biodiversity within the animal kingdom, and knowledge of the structure, function and adaptation of a wide range of animal taxa.

·        Offer sufficient optionality to allow students to specialise in an area of zoology that interests them.

·        Encourage students to develop a habit of intellectual inquiry and to become independent learners.

More specifically, the programme aims to:

·        Provide students with a sound basis of knowledge and understanding in a broad range of zoological topics.

·        Provide students with relevant practical skills to complement their knowledge and understanding of these topics.

·        Develop skills of problem-solving, data handling, and critical reasoning, as well as providing training in oral and written presentation, and digital literacies.

·        Enable students to gain access (if they so desire) to post-graduate degree courses within the Higher Education Sector or employment within Bioscience-related industries.

.        Provide students with discipline-independent and generic skills that enable them to find graduate employment either within or outside the Biosciences.

What should I know about year five?

Teaching during your course will consist of the following learning activities (each module may contain some or all of these activities):

Lectures: Although these are not compulsory and we do not monitor attendance, it is assumed (and advised) that you will attend all of the lecture sessions for each module you are taking. Failure to do so will mean that you may miss key information or explanations about core material to the module.

Laboratory Practical classes or Field-work: These sessions are compulsory, and attendance is monitored. Since the Biosciences are practical disciplines, and these sessions will teach key skills that are essential, absences are noted. Persistent absence or failure to engage with these activities may lead to the requirement to resit the module in a subsequent academic session.

Tutorials/Workshops: These sessions are provided in most modules to support aspects of the subject material. These sessions are not compulsory, but attendance is very strongly advised.

Clinics/Advice sessions: These are optional sessions that are held to support some of the assignments you will be given (such as statistics assignments, computing packages, presentations and group exercises)

Academic Tutorials: These sessions are held with your Personal Tutor during Year 1 and are compulsory, with attendance being monitored.

Research Seminars: These are sessions presented by academic staff or visiting researchers presenting their research work. You are required to attend a minimum number of these sessions per academic year.

Examinations and In-course assessments: These are either ‘formative’ (i.e. they are for your benefit but do not contribute towards the module mark) or ‘summative’ (i.e. they contribute a proportion of your final module mark). All summative examinations or in-course assessments are compulsory.

Where there are compulsory sessions, attendance is monitored and any absences are noted. Absences due to unforeseen extenuating circumstances (such as sudden illness or compassionate circumstances/bereavement) will need to be reported to the School, and action will be taken to either provide another opportunity to undertake the activity, or some form of remedial adjustment will be put in place. If you have suffered a severe medical or compassionate circumstance that has caused you to miss a significant number of days teaching, then we would recommend an Interruption of Study (halting your course for a period until the circumstances are no longer in effect), as there is likely to be a long-term effect on your learning. Similarly, you should seek advice regarding the impact on your learning of any likely absence due to maternity. In all cases the School will be as accommodating as possible with these situations, but all students must meet specific learning outcomes for each module and year of study, so flexibility may be limited in some cases.

Students with disabilities are supported to the fullest extent possible by the University and the School of Biosciences. If you have a disability or a long-term medical condition which may impact upon your learning experience, then you should arrange for a Needs Assessment with the University Disability and Dyslexia Service. The advisor in this service will discuss your disability with you and identify what actions or materials are required to support you.

All details of disabilities or extenuating circumstances are handled in confidence and are only disclosed to very a small number of essential staff. You may request even stricter confidence if you wish, in which case details are revealed only to the Chair of the extenuating circumstances committee and/or the School’s disability contact.

We require all students to adhere to a basic standard of behaviour and conduct during their degree, which includes respecting the needs and the dignity of fellow students and university staff. You will also be required to be mindful that there are other peers learning with you; any behaviour by individuals that impacts negatively upon others’ learning is not tolerated. You will be required to follow a code of behaviour in laboratory practical classes, field work and during laboratory research experience in the PTY and final year. This requirement is based on essential health and safety considerations for these environments, and you must follow the instructions of the supervising member of staff at all times. Above all you will be required to be proactive in your learning and to take best advantage of every learning activity that is offered to you. A large proportion of learning at University is self-directed, and the overriding aim of your course is to develop you as an independent leaner. You will need to take responsibility for attending classes, submitting timely coursework, acting on feedback and managing your time effectively. You will be afforded the maximum time possible to complete the coursework assignments for each module, and it is your responsibility to plan your time to accommodate these.

We will expect you to arrive promptly to all classes and learning activities. Late arrivals are rude and disruptive to your fellow learners, and to the person leading the class. Late arrival will also mean that you will miss vital information at the beginning of the session.

You will be required to undertake a significant amount of independent and self-directed study at all levels throughout your degree course. Independent study includes the supplementation of your lecture notes and the further development of lecture material through independent reading of textbooks, scientific reviews and primary research articles. Independent study will also include time spent on completing coursework assignments and preparing for examinations and in-course assessments/class tests. It is estimated that you will be spending approximately 70 hours of self-directed study per 10 module credits.

Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study.

How is this course/programme structured?

Please see 'How will I be taught?'

What should I know about year four?

The University will provide all necessary equipment.

What should I know about year three?

Transferable Skills.  Ability to:

·                  Communicate biological ideas, principles and theories effectively by oral and written means.

·                  Work effectively in a team and as an individual.

·                  Demonstrate good self-management and organisational skills.

·                  Use communication and information technology skills to organise and analyse data (databases, spreadsheets, and statistical packages); present results (word processing and presentational packages); as well as information retrieval (through the Internet for example).

·                  Employ numerical and statistical skills to analyse data.

·                  Show general problem-solving skills.

·                  Demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning through engaging in a process of personal development planning.

·                  Apply analytical thinking to problems in other disciplines.

·                  Develop independent learning skills.

What should I know about the preliminary year?

Knowledge and Understanding:

Learning and teaching methods adopt the more didactic approach in the first year with progressively more self-directed learning in Years 2 and 3.

Year 0 (Preliminary Year) modules and Year 1 modules involve lectures and supporting tutorials providing background theoretical knowledge as well as practical classes.  Courses provide students with basic IT skills and an understanding of statistical analysis of data.  Coursework is used to develop writing and oral communication skills.

Year 2 modules continue the didactic approach supported by tutorials.  More extensive laboratory practicals provide practical skills and critical evaluation of experimental data.  Set assignments and directed reading is used to promote self-directed learning and the analysis of primary research literature.

At Level S (Year 3), students are involved in research projects within the host organisation.  Placements at these organisations are supervised by a member of staff from the host institution, and by a member of staff from the School of Biosciences.

Final Year (Year 4) requires much more independence by the student.  All students produce one substantial research-based (laboratory, literature, pedagogic or scientific engagement) report.  Research-led lectures are supported by directed reading.

Students are expected to undertake independent study, and increasing independence of learning is expected as the programme progresses.

Intellectual Skills:

Learning and teaching strategies fall within the framework described above under Knowledge and Understanding.  Intellectual skills are developed in particular through problem-solving workshops in techniques-based modules, through interpretation of data obtained in class practicals and during a research project undertaken in Year 3, and through self-directed learning in all years of the course, but Year 3 in particular.

Discipline Specific Skills:

Learning and teaching strategies fall within the framework described above under Knowledge and Understanding.  Discipline specific skills are taught in all years of the course.

Transferable Skills:

Learning and Teaching strategies fall within the framework described above under Knowledge and Understanding.  Transferable skills are taught in particular through IT modules and communications modules that require students to prepare both written and oral presentations.  Students learn to work individually and as part of a team in practical modules, and in modules in which teams of students prepare and deliver oral presentations.

What should I know about year one?

Knowledge and Understanding:

At Level 3, there are coursework assessments for each module which usually comprise 30-40% of the final module mark.  These may take the form of written practical reports, structured (short answer) reports, class tests, structured answer tests, group work, poster and oral presentations and computing/statistical problem-solving exercises.  Most assessments are summative and count towards the final module mark, although feedback is provided on all assignments as the module progresses.

At Level 4, there are coursework assessments for each module which usually comprise 30% of the final module mark.  These may take the form of written practical reports, structured (short answer) reports, class tests, structured answer tests, group work, poster and oral presentations and computing/statistical problem-solving exercises.  Most assessments are summative and count towards the final module mark, although feedback as the module progresses allows students to use them in a formative way.  Final examinations at the end of each module comprise a machine-marked structured answer section and a written answer section.  Students are required to answer all the structured questions (assessing breadth of knowledge) and one of three written answers (assessing depth of knowledge in specific topics).  Final examinations usually count for 70% of the final module mark.

At Level 5, students submit items of coursework for each module (comprising usually 30% of the module mark).  Most assessments are summative and count towards the final module mark.  Final examinations at the end of each module comprise a structured answer section and a written answer section.  Students are required to answer all the structured questions and one written answer.  The Research Techniques module and the Field Course module are assessed entirely by coursework.

At Level S, students who undertake a Professional Training Year (PTY) submit a report at the end of their placement.  Assessment of the PTY year is based on this report, on the external placement supervisor’s assessment, and the student’s performance in an oral presentation.  This assessment is performed independently by two members of the examination board, who agree a final mark.  During the placement year students are visited twice by their university supervisor and a formative assessment is carried out in conjunction with the external supervisor.

Level 6 taught modules are assessed by examination (typically, 80% of the module mark), and by extended analytical coursework (typically, 20% of module mark).  Practical/library based research projects are assessed by a number of assessments that include, amongst others, a supervisors’ assessment, a written report and oral presentation.

Intellectual Skills:

Assessment of intellectual skills falls within the general framework described above under Knowledge and Understanding.  Development of intellectual skills is assessed in particular through reports detailing the planning, execution and interpretation of practical and project work, through problem-solving workshops and assessments, and through written and oral examinations for which marking criteria (especially those used in the final year) give particular credit to the use of secondary sources and the ability to analyse and synthesise data.

Discipline Specific Skills:

Assessment of discipline specific skills falls within the general framework described above under Knowledge and Understanding.  Module examinations and project reports are marked according to criteria that require demonstration of knowledge and understanding of the discipline specific skills listed under the learning outcomes.

Transferable Skills:

Assessment of transferable skills falls within the general framework described above under Knowledge and Understanding.  Communications and project modules are assessed through production by the student of written reports and oral presentations requiring the use of information retrieval systems.  Students also produce assessed reports for practical modules and prepare essays and/or deliver oral presentations (either singly or as part of a team).

Other information

All of the academic staff in the School of Biosciences are experienced researchers in their respective fields and our aim is to guide you towards the practice and culture of scientific research and understanding. The primary interaction you will have with academic staff will be during lectures, laboratory practical sessions, workshops or small-group teaching sessions (tutorials). You will also be allocated a Personal Tutor, a member of the academic staff who will provide pastoral support and academic advice during your course. Your Personal Tutor will also run small-group academic tutorial sessions on subjects related to your degree scheme in the first year, and will oversee your general academic progress throughout the whole of your course. Your Personal Tutor is often the person who will write an academic reference for you at the end of your course, and so you are encouraged to develop a close working relationship with your tutor.

All lecturing staff are contactable by email, and operate either an ‘open door’ policy for students who have specific queries about course material, or a system of booking meeting times. Each degree scheme also has a degree scheme co-ordinator who can also advise on academic issues. Each year of study has a year co-ordinator who can advise on administrative issues related to your course of study. There is also an Undergraduate Office with experienced administrators who can answer most administrative queries immediately.

Lecture sessions in the timetable are designed to take 50 minutes. However, staff are available during the 10 minutes of time either side of the lecture so that you can ask your lecturer specific questions. Academic staff are always happy to explain any aspects of a lecture that you did not understand or for which you would like to deepen your understanding. Academic staff will also answer queries by email, or will be happy to arrange specific meetings outside of lecture time to discuss any issues relating to the course material.

You will be provided with a number of opportunities to reflect on your performance during the degree course. These include:

·         Specific comments on assessed work identifying areas of strength or areas that require improvement returned with your assignments.

·         Generic comments (e.g. common errors or significant points to consider) on assessed work given to all students on a module.

·         Regular meetings with your Personal Tutor to discuss your coursework and exam performances.

·         Annual appraisals of your performance through our ‘Annual Progress Review and Feedback’ process where your performance, attendance and engagement with the course are rated.

·         Diagnostic tests to assess your level of competency in specific key transferable skills, allowing you to identify areas that need support or development.

·         Formative and summative assignments and examinations which will allow you to gauge your progress and level of understanding.

You will also be provided with a number of opportunities to develop study and employability skills during your course. These include:

·         Lecture and workshop sessions on study skills, information literacy, digital literacy and exam technique.

·         Workshop and practical sessions to support the transition from school to university study.

·         Diagnostic tests on key transferrable skills for graduate employment or further study.

·         Academic tutorials during Year 1 designed to address key aspects of science and scientific analysis.

Cardiff University operates a ‘virtual learning environment’ (VLE) termed “Learning Central”. The VLE is a dedicated online resource that is designed to hold electronic materials that will support your learning in a module. These may include copies of lecture slides, lecture handouts; hyperlinks to research papers or learning resources; modelling packages or visual representations of molecules or processes; hyperlinks to items of interest in the media. The VLE may also have assignments linked to it, as well as self-test quizzes and class-wide feedback on previous assessments. Learning Central is kept up-to-date and updated frequently, and is the main medium by which announcements about module events are made. You will also be provided with a University email which you will need to check regularly for notifications or updates.

Cardiff University has an extensive library and information-support network, including staff who are national leaders in ‘Information Literacy’. The library staff can advise on book and literature searching, as well as the proper use of primary sources and how they should be referenced in your work. The library collection of text books and research journals is extensive, and the majority of research journals subscribed to by the School of Biosciences can be accessed online from anywhere off-campus.

Distinctive features

Graduates from this programme will be able to demonstrate:

Knowledge and Understanding of:

·                  Key underlying principles of chemistry, mathematics and biology which underpin the Biosciences.

·                  The role of gene expression, differentiation, cell signalling and pattern formation in developmental biology.

·                  The interaction of physiological, behavioural and ecological factors in the adaptation of animals to their environment.

·                  The nature of, and principles underlying, the range of challenges faced by animals living in the major environments, and the solutions to these challenges observed amongst animals.

·                  The defining characteristics of a wide range of animal groups and to understand the adaptive nature of their form and function.

·                  Factors affecting animal populations and their ecology.

·                  Experimental and modelling techniques that are used to investigate animal performance under laboratory conditions and in the field.

·                  Factors that are important in the expression and evolution of animal behaviour.

Intellectual Skills.  Ability to:

·                  Plan, execute and present an independent piece of work, in which qualities such as time management, problem solving, numerical skills and independence are evident.

·                  Apply their subject knowledge and understanding to address unfamiliar problems.

·                  Sustain a critical argument both in writing and through presentation/discussion.

·                  Apply the scientific method to formulate and test appropriate hypotheses.

·                  Integrate material from a range of different sources and identify material which is of relevance to a particular problem.

·                  Analyse, synthesise and summarise information critically.

·                  Recognise moral and ethical issues arising from scientific research, and the importance of ethical standards and professional codes of conduct.

Discipline Specific Skills.  Ability to:

·                  Describe the key principles of biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, evolution, anatomy, physiology and biodiversity.

·                  Analyse numerical data effectively, and apply the appropriate use of statistics.

·                  Apply a knowledge of the structure of matter to chemical problems.

·                  Examination and staging of embryos.

·                  Make objective records of animal behaviour.

·                  Application of modelling to animal populations.

·                  Identify and classify major animal groups.

·                  Use appropriate methods to investigate animal structure and function.

·                  Apply molecular techniques to the understanding and investigation of biological phenomena.

·                  Plan and carry out experimental investigations of biological questions.

·                  Recognise the importance of safe working practices, and the need to undertake risk assessments when working in the laboratory or field.

·                  Identify ethical issues, and be sensitive to the impact of investigations on the environment, organisms or subjects that may be involved.

·                  Organise, plan and conduct scientific studies in an efficient manner.

·                  Collect and record data accurately using a range of practical techniques.

·                  Appreciate sources of variation in biological data and use appropriate statistical techniques to analyse such data.

·                  Analyse, synthesise and present findings from practical work and the published scientific literature.

.                   Recognise that scientific knowledge may be questioned and is provisional, particularly in the light of continuing scientific advances

How will I be taught?

The distinctive features of the Programme include:

·        The opportunity to develop as a learner within a working scientific community.

·        Broad coverage of wide-ranging subject material.

·        Opportunity to specialise in research-led fields.

·        Good range of skills for the non-specialist.

·        A specific programme designed to develop core employability skills and competencies for working in the field of science.

·        An emphasis on progression towards independent learning in preparation for life-long learning and continuing professional development.

·        A design for the Final Year that is research-led, based around research activities of staff involved in delivery of the Programme.

·        The opportunity for students to learn, and be taught in a programme that has been judged as “excellent” by independent Government assessment (Teaching Quality Audit).

·        The opportunity for students to learn in a research-led teaching institution serviced by staff rated for research of international quality by independent Government assessment (2014 Research Excellence Framework).

·        The opportunities to work in facilities commensurate with an internationally rated research ranking.

·        Academic staff with a broad range of experience and expertise.

·        A very active student society arranging numerous social, sporting and other events for its members.

·        Staff-Student consultative committees (the “Staff-Student Panels”).

·        Annual induction and enrolment programmes for new and returning students.  Transitional workshops to support the transition between school/college/6th form and University.

·        The presence of a modern, well-equipped Learning and Teaching Resource Centre within the School (as well as full access for students to all other resource centres in the University).

·        In addition to university-provided PC workstations throughout the campus, a number of which are 24 hr access, the provision of a dedicated Computer Room within the School.

·        Recent major refurbishments of teaching labs and lecture theatres.

·        Integrated management of teaching and the presence of an “Undergraduate Office” that deals effectively with student issues and concerns.

·        A single “Learning and Teaching Committee” that decides on educational policy across the School, that plans educational changes and developments, and that audits teaching activity within the School.

·        “Schemes Boards” within Biological Sciences, Biomolecular Sciences and in Biomedical Sciences (with student representation) that are concerned with effective day-to-day running of our science schemes.

·        A harmonised “Personal Tutor Scheme” across the School that provides students with appropriate pastoral care and that can provide effective feedback on academic performance.

·        A “Classroom Monitoring Scheme” that provides peer assessment of teaching quality for all teaching staff.

·        A single Annual Programme Review and Evaluation to assess the quality of all courses.

·        The development of a “Pedagogic Research Group” to advance, in a scholarly way, our teaching provision.

·        In addition to “Module” questionnaires used by all students, the formulation of an “Exit” questionnaire to enable Final Year students to review the entire degree programme.

·        Teaching workshops for staff and a staff development committee responsible for monitoring staff activity are in place.

·        Criteria-based marking framework for each academic level applied to each piece of assessed or examined work in BIOSI science schemes.

Admissions tutors

Dr Andrew Shore, Admissions Tutor

Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.


Get information and advice about making an application, find out when the key dates are and learn more about our admissions criteria.

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