Our Biological Sciences degree with Preliminary Year is a four-year course. The Preliminary Year covers key topics in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics and leads to a BSc in any of the subjects offered by the School of Biosciences. The preliminary year is designed for students who don’t have a sufficient background in science, and it will provide you with the knowledge and understanding needed to thrive in the year one curriculum and beyond.
Our research-led Biological Sciences degree provides the greatest possible choice and flexibility, allowing you to choose modules across virtually the whole range of subjects on offer at the School.
We offer a wide choice of subjects across the biological sciences including: animal and plant biology; microbiology; genetics; systems biology; ecology; disease; behaviour; neuroscience; zoology; developmental and stem cell biology; and evolution. As part of our Ecology and Conservation module, we also run a range of subsidised field courses both within the UK and overseas, including River Ecology in Wales, Tropical Marine Ecology in Tobago, and Rainforest Biodiversity in Malaysia.
You can tailor the degree to your own interests as they develop, choosing to focus on one particular aspect of biology or opting to study a wider range of topics.
Your degree title remains flexible up until your final year, when you can either continue with BSc Biological Sciences, or switch to another of our BSc bioscience degrees. You can also choose to graduate with a more specialist degree title, including BSc Biological Sciences (Genetics) and BSc Biological Sciences (Zoology).
Your final degree title will depend on your module selection and your Personal Tutor will guide you through the options available to you. You may also have the option of switching to our MBiol integrated master's degree, which forms an excellent basis for a future career in scientific research.
Our Biological Sciences course provides an excellent foundation for careers within all areas of biological sciences, and offers strong training for research scientists. Our graduates have gone on to a range of exciting and fulfilling careers in both scientific and non-scientific related fields, including marine biology, ecology and conservation, scientific publishing, pharmaceutical industries, molecular biology, journalism, teaching and veterinary science. Many also choose to further their studies by pursuing a master’s degree or PhD
- Enjoy a flexible course structure that enables you to tailor your degree to match your interests and aspirations, including the option to spend a sandwich year on professional placement.
- Develop your field research skills with one of our popular project-based field courses. Opt for one of our UK-based courses or choose to travel further afield to locations such as Tobago or Borneo.
- Experience the excitement of learning in active research environment, with teaching staff who are leading researchers in their field.
- Make use of the latest equipment, techniques and facilities in your project work.
- The School of Biosciences offers access to a wide range of exciting training opportunities with a field centre in Borneo, and strong involvement in Cardiff University research institutes, including Sustainable Places, Water Research, Cancer Stem Cell Research, and Neuroscience and Mental Health.
You may also be interested in the following courses:
BSc Biochemistry with Preliminary Year
BSc Biomedical Sciences with Preliminary Year
BSc Neuroscience with Preliminary Year
|Next intake||September 2020|
|Typical places available||The School typically has approx 415 places available.|
|Typical applications received||The School typically receives approx 2500 applications.|
The rich ecology of Wales provides the perfect environment to develop and hone your skills as a field researcher, and you can then take these skills with you around the world.
AAB - ABB. A pass in the practical element of the Science A level is normally required. Please note Crtiical Thinking and General Studies will not be accepted.
Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.
The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.
DDD with a Distinction in all of the Core/Mandatory Units.
IB Diploma with an overall score of 34-32 OR IB Diploma with 655 at Higher Level.
At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-score.
At least 90 with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.
62 with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.
Trinity ISE II/III
II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.
Other accepted qualifications
Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.
GCSE English and Maths at grade C/4.
UK and EU students (2020/21)
Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.
Students from outside the EU (2020/21)
Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.
Field courses which take place abroad incur an additional cost – primarily to cover student travel and accommodation. We strive to keep these to a minimum, for example we maintain our own Field Station and staff in Borneo, whose costs are not recovered from charges to students. We also offer some excellent Wales-based field courses which do not incur additional costs.
No additional charges are made for other aspects of tuition, although some services (such as student printing on demand) may incur a charge.
Course specific equipment
No specific equipment is required. The University will provide IT facilities (in a communal space), laboratories equipped with specialist equipment, and all specialist software required for the course.
Students are advised to have a personal laptop computer or equivalent.
We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.
This BSc course is full-time over four academic years (five including the Professional Training Year option), with 120 credits attained in each year. It begins with the Preliminary Year which covers key topics in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics, and will underpin future studies.
Year one is made up of six 20-credit modules, with three 40-credit modules taught in year two. In the final year, the research project carries 30 credits and is accompanied by three 30-credit modules.
Year one modules involve lectures and supporting tutorials providing background theoretical knowledge as well as practical classes. All of our degree schemes share a common year one, which covers all aspects of the biosciences and has the big advantage of giving you flexibility of degree choice. Classes provide students with IT skills for biologists and an understanding of statistical analysis of data, and coursework is used to develop written and oral communication skills.
In year two, extensive laboratory practicals help to develop practical skills and the ability to critically evaluate experimental data. Set assignments and reading are used to promote self-directed learning and the analysis of primary research literature.
The final year requires much more independent study, and all students must produce a substantial research-based (laboratory, literature, pedagogic or scientific engagement) report.
Throughout the course we strive to offer as wide a choice as possible to allow you to tailor the degree to your study goals.
The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.
Our Preliminary Year forms the first year of a four-year degree programme leading to a BSc in any of the subjects offered by the School of Biosciences. The purpose of the Preliminary Year is to provide students who don’t have a background in science with the basis of scientific knowledge that will enable them to thrive in the year one curriculum and beyond. It is aimed at AS/A-level students who have good grades but subjects not suitable for entry into year one, overseas students who do not hold science qualifications equivalent to the UK ‘A’ level, and mature students re-entering the education system.
The Preliminary Year covers key topics in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics with 20 credits of optional modules that may be taken from other Schools, the Centre for Professional Education and/or the School of Modern Languages.
Preliminary Year modules involve lectures and supporting tutorials providing background theoratical knowledge, as well as practical classes. The course will also provide students with basic IT skills and an understanding of statistical analysis of data. Coursework is used to develop writing and oral communication skills.
This course is not available for students who have taken appropriate AS/A-levels but not achieved the grades required for first year entry.
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Cells and the Chemistry of Life||BI0001||10 credits|
|Genetics, Evolution and Diversity||BI0002||10 credits|
|Nutrition, Transport and Signalling||BI0004||10 credits|
|The Way the Body Works||BI0005||10 credits|
|Fundamental Aspects of Chemistry||CH0001||10 credits|
|Thermodynamics, Kinetics and Equilibria||CH0002||10 credits|
|Chemistry of Organic Compounds||CH0003||10 credits|
|Inorganic and Redox Chemistry||CH0004||10 credits|
|Preliminary Mathematics I||MA0003||10 credits|
|Preliminary Mathematics II||MA0004||10 credits|
The first year is a common year, covering all aspects of the biosciences. This reflects the increasingly multi-disciplinary nature of bioscience research, and has the added advantage of offering you flexibility of degree choice..
The modern, modular syllabus is delivered through lectures, tutorials, presentations, and practical classes carried out in spacious, well-equipped laboratories. It provides a firm foundation in all the biological disciplines, including biological chemistry, cell biology, microbiology, genetics, evolution, anatomy and physiology, animal and plant biology, and ecology, as well as focusing on developing practical and academic scientific skills. Modules may begin by overlapping with A-level studies, but will soon progress to greater depth and scope.
The second year allows for more specialisation, and builds on the knowledge and practical skills gained in the first year. There will be a focus on data analysis and scientific communication, as well as advanced laboratory and field techniques. Understanding of experimental design, literature review, statistical analysis and critical analysis skills will act as a foundation for further study in year three.
In year two, you have a choice of 11 available modules, up to a total of 120 Credits, leaving you free to pursue particular areas of interest. Available module topics include, animal diversity and adaptation, genetics, cell biology, biochemistry and ecology and conservation.
Students on the ecology and conservation module will have the opportunity to undertake one of our project-based field courses, which run in a variety of locations both in the UK and abroad.
During year two, you can also choose to switch to the five-year course with a Professional Training Year, which is taken after the second year, subject to an appropriate training place being identified.
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Animal Diversity and Adaptation||BI2131||40 credits|
|Genetics and its Applications||BI2132||40 credits|
|Ecology and Conservation - Part A||BI2133||30 credits|
|Ecology and Conservation - Part B||BI2134||10 credits|
|Cell Biology||BI2231||40 credits|
|Developmental and Stem Cell Biology||BI2233||40 credits|
|Molecular Biology of the Gene||BI2234||40 credits|
|Concepts of Disease||BI2332||40 credits|
|Practical Anatomy||BI2333||40 credits|
|Brain and Behaviour||BI2431||40 credits|
|Fundamental Neuroscience||BI2432||40 credits|
Our final year curriculum enables you to specialise in more detail within one of the major research themes of the School. This approach immerses you in the research culture of the biosciences, by means of research-driven teaching and a final year project that allows you to investigate a topic in much greater depth.
Application of core knowledge to the solving of problems and critical evaluation of models, ideas and current debates is a primary focus of the third year. This stage of the course will involve an extensive degree of self-directed study in order to develop skills in independent work and lifelong learning, which will help to prepare you for the professional environment.
As well as a 30-credit research project, you will complete three 30-credit modules (from an almost free choice of 18, excluding advanced human anatomy). Modules cover a range of topics including evolution and adaptation, systems biology and modelling, plant science, biodiversity, synthetic biology, advanced cell biology, bioinformatics and functional genomics, and genes and genomes.
At the start of the final year, you have the option of applying to transfer to the four year MBiol course with integrated Master’s, depending on satisfactory academic progress and space availability.
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Plants for the Future: Frontiers in Plant Science||BI3151||30 credits|
|Ecosystems, Sustainability and Global Change||BI3152||30 credits|
|Evolution and Adaptation||BI3153||30 credits|
|Biodiversity and Conservation Biology||BI3154||30 credits|
|Infection Biology and Epidemiology||BI3155||30 credits|
|Systems Biology and Modelling||BI3156||30 credits|
|The 'omics Revolution (Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics)||BI3252||30 credits|
|Advanced Cell Biology and Imaging||BI3253||30 credits|
|Genes to Genomes||BI3254||30 credits|
|Synthetic Biology and Protein Engineering||BI3255||30 credits|
|Current Topics in Development, Stem Cells and Repair||BI3256||30 credits|
|Contemporary Topics in Disease||BI3351||30 credits|
|Cancer: Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms and Therapeutics||BI3352||30 credits|
|Advanced Musculoskeletal Biology and Tissue Engineering||BI3353||30 credits|
|Advances in Physiology and Pathophysiology||BI3355||30 credits|
|Neurobiology of Brain Disorders||BI3451||30 credits|
|Systems Neuroscience||BI3452||30 credits|
Learning and assessment
How will I be taught?
We provide a student-centred educational experience based on academic excellence and informed by world-leading research. We seek to support every learner in an inclusive learning culture.
Core knowledge and understanding is acquired via lectures, practical classes or field work, research seminars, workshops and tutorials, whilst independent study, group work and project work help to promote advanced knowledge and understanding.
You will be expected to undertake independent study and increasing independence of learning is expected as the course progresses.
Selected elements of the course can be undertaken through the medium of Welsh and you can also request a Welsh-speaking Personal Tutor for pastoral and academic support if you wish.
Students with disabilities will be fully supported in co-ordination with the University’s Disability and Dyslexia Support Service.
How will I be supported?
All of our academic staff are experienced researchers in their respective fields and are passionate about sharing their knowledge and expertise with students.
The primary interaction 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 who will provide pastoral support and academic advice throughout the course.
Lecturing staff are contactable in association with teaching sessions or 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 also has a degree scheme co-ordinator who can advise on academic issues, whilst each year of study has a year co-ordinator who can advise on administrative issues related to the course. There is also a convenient Education Office with a friendly and experienced team who can answer most administrative queries.
Feedback on your study, work, and progress will take many forms, from formal written comments on submitted work to more informal conversations and advice during classes and practicals. Throughout the course, we will provide detailed feedback on all assessed coursework. This is normally provided through a dedicated online system enabling you to conveniently access your feedback via a computer or tablet device. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your academic and personal development progress with your Personal Tutor, and to discuss examination essay papers in order to improve your performance. During practical work and the research project, you will receive regular feedback from the supervising academic.
How will I be assessed?
Preliminary, first and second year modules are normally assessed through a combination of coursework and examinations. Coursework assessments may take the form of written practical reports, structured reports, class tests, structured answer tests, group work, poster and oral presentations and computing/statistical problem-solving exercises. Assessments may be summative and count towards the final module mark, or formative, helping you to learn and practice key skills and knowledge through feedback. End of module exams comprise a machine-marked structured answer section (assessing breadth of knowledge) and a written answer section (assessing depth of knowledge in specific topics).
In the final year, taught modules are assessed by examination and extended analytical coursework. Your final year research project is assessed by a supervisor’s evaluation and a written report.
What skills will I practise and develop?
Throughout the course, you will develop scientific competencies as well as key transferable skills that will be invaluable, whatever your future career choice. These include:
- independent learning and self-directed study;
- collating, organising and analysing information to create logical and persuasive arguments;
- analytical thinking and problem solving;
- communicating complex ideas in a clear, effective way (using all media);
- working effectively in a team and as an individual;
- IT competency, including presentation, graphics and statistics packages;
- performing and interpreting statistical analyses of data;
- effective time management and organisational skills.
As a result of engaging fully with this course, you should be able to:
- critically analyse, synthesise and summarise information from a variety of sources;
- discuss the relationships between structure/formation and function/regulation of molecules, organelles, cells, tissues, organisms and populations;
- effectively communicate scientific, and other, information to a variety of audiences, including the general public, using a range of formats and approaches;
- discuss current issues of research, investigation and/or debate;
- synthesise an argument or point of view, based on solid data and evidence;
- determine the validity and rigour of statistical outcomes;
- build on knowledge and understanding of the role and impact of intellectual property (IP) within a research environment;
- work effectively within a group-based environment, both as a leader and a member of a team;
- demonstrate the skills necessary for independent lifelong learning (for example working independently, time management, organisational, enterprise and knowledge transfer skills);
- identify, and work towards, targets for personal, academic, professional and career development;
- demonstrate leadership and planning skills for setting, and meeting, achievable goals within the workplace.
Careers and placements
In 2016/17, 93% of the School’s graduates who were available for work reported that they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduating.
A significant proportion of our BSc Biological Sciences graduates go on to study PhD or master’s degrees. Many others enjoy successful careers in science-related fields such as research and development, conservation, environmental management, scientific research, medical or scientific publishing, agro-industry and wildlife management, amongst many others.
Our graduates also have many transferable skills that are attractive to a wide range of employers in more general areas of industry, commerce, public service, administration and management. Finally, a degree in the Biological Sciences can act as a stepping stone to further training in professional areas including teaching, medicine, dentistry, nursing, veterinary science, and accounting.
This course does not include any formal work placements. However, we strongly encourage students to undertake informal work placements during the summer vacations in order to enhance employability.
Direct experience of plants and animals in their natural habitats is an important part of modern biology.
At Cardiff we run an impressive range of field courses to give you essential hands on experience of modern techniques and practical skills in field biology, such as bird-ringing, microbial analysis, small mammal trapping, pit fall trapping and surveying for bats.
In the second year, students on the Ecology and Conservation module can choose from several specialised, project-based courses that run in a variety of locations throughout the world.
Our field courses typically include Tropical Ecology (Borneo, Malaysia), Marine Ecology (Caribbean and Malaysia), Island Ecology (Wales), River Ecology (Wales) and Woodland Ecology (Wales).
Field courses can on occasion be affected by travel constraints, staff availability or numbers.
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