Why study this course
Our integrated master’s degree in Biological Science is aimed at aspiring researchers and those seeking a career in science. This five-year undergraduate course enables you to explore the current frontiers of knowledge in your chosen field and provides training in advanced research techniques.
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.
As part of this course you will spend your third year on placement at a field centre, zoological or botanical institute, museum, industrial research laboratory, or other approved establishment of your choice. This offers a great opportunity to gain first-hand professional research experience, and it has been shown to greatly enhance your degree and subsequent employment prospects.
Many placements are in the UK, but in recent years we have had an increasing number of students taking up placements in international locations, including Southeast Asia, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Australia, Madagascar, and the USA.
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 final year will include an extended project in an active research laboratory. This project will be novel and the results may even be complete enough to be published in a scientific journal. You will be trained and supported by researchers, helping you to develop your skills as a practical research scientist
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 progress their studies with a higher degree.
- Enjoy a flexible course structure that enables you to tailor your degree to match your interests and aspirations.
- Enhance your career prospects and gain professional research experience with a sandwich year placement.
- Investigate a topic of your choice and develop your skills as a research scientist with an extended project in an active research laboratory.
- 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.
- 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 Biological Sciences with Professional Training Year
MBiol Biological Sciences
MBiochem Biochemistry with Professional Training Year
We accept a combination of A-levels and other qualifications, as well as equivalent international qualifications subject to entry requirements. Typical offers are as follows:
AAA-AAB. Must include Biology (or Human Biology) or Chemistry.
You will need to pass the science practical element of the A-level if this is part of your programme of study.
Extended/International Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ/IPQ 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.
This grade range reflects our typical standard and contextual offers. We carefully consider your contextual data (the circumstances in which you've been studying) upon application. Eligible students applying for this course will be given an offer at the lower end of the advertised grade range.
36-34 overall or 666 in 3 HL subjects. Must include grade 6 in HL Biology or Chemistry.
From September 2023, there will be a new qualification called the Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales (level 3). This qualification will replace the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (Welsh Baccalaureate). The qualification will continue to be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.
Other qualifications from inside the UK
DDD in a BTEC Extended Diploma in Applied Science, Forensic Science, or Animal Management with Distinction in all of the Core/Mandatory Units.
Acceptance of T Levels for this programme will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Academic School. Consideration will be given to the T Level grade/subject and grades/subjects achieved at GCSE/Level 2.
Additional entry requirements
Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.
Tuition fees for 2023 entry
Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.
Fees for home status
We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2023/24 academic year. Fees for the previous year were £9,000.
Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland
We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2023/24 academic year.
Fees for island status
Learn more about the undergraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Fees for overseas status
We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2023/24 academic year.
Costs for sandwich years
During a sandwich year (e.g. year in industry, placement year or year abroad) a lower fee will apply. Full details can be found on our fees pages.
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.
We're based in one of the UK's most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.
This MBiol course is full-time over five academic years. Year one is made up of six 20-credit modules, with three 40-credit modules taught in year two. In your third year you will study three 30-credit modules, along with a 30-credit Advanced Research Techniques module which encompasses advanced bioinformatics training and an integrated practical project. Your final year made up of two 20-credit modules and a research project which carries 80 credits. While we aim to offer as much flexibility as possible in our courses, module choice may be restricted on the basis of Entry Degree to provide capacity on core modules which are required for some degree schemes.
Year one modules involve lectures and supporting tutorials providing background theoretical knowledge as well as practical classes. Our various 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 third year is spent on a work placement related to your degree. During this placement you will undertake all aspects of research, including experimental design, data acquisition and analysis and data presentation.
Alongside three subject-specific modules, the fourth year provides training in advanced research techniques and bioinformatics, ensuring that you are fully prepared for the extended research project in your final year.
Final year taught modules focus on further developing advanced research techniques, literature searching and analysis skills, discussion and group-based critical appraisal of work, as well as planning of experimental work. The research project module will be a fully-immersive experience within a research laboratory over a 6-month period.
The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2023/2024 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2023.
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.
Year three: Sandwich year
The Professional Training Year (PTY) provides an opportunity for you to spend 9-12 months in an academic, clinical or industrial/commercial research laboratory, or other approved establishment, in order to gain first-hand research experience.
You will undertake different aspects of research, including experimental design, data acquisition and analysis and, finally, data presentation with the production of a project report and presentation.
Our Professional Training Year Coordinators will support you in finding a suitable position that is relevant to your career aspirations, and a tutor will keep in touch and visit you during your placement.
Many placements are in the UK, but we have also had several placements in other locations, particularly in Europe through the EU ‘ERASMUS’ scheme in which Cardiff is a partner, but also including Southeast Asia, South Africa, Germany, Italy and the USA.
Finding a placement is a competitive process and success cannot be guaranteed. However, we have always been successful in placing the vast majority of our Professional Training Year students.
A placement report, written by you, will count towards your final degree assessment.
Our fourth 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 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 fourth 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 Advanced Research Techniques module (encompassing bioinformatics training and integrated practical 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.
The final year of the Master’s course consists of an extended project conducted in an active research laboratory, together with further training in advanced research methods and a 'Frontiers in Bioscience' module. Your individual project will be novel and the results may even be complete enough to be published in a scientific journal, contribute to a publication or trigger a whole new avenue of subsequent research. You will be trained and supported in carrying out your project by researchers, helping you to develop your skills as a practical research scientist. The high degree of subject specialisation and knowledge gained during this year will contribute to making you highly employable in both research and commercial bioscience sectors.
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.
Learning and assessment
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 promte 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 may be available through the medium of Welsh and you can also request a Welsh-speaking Personal Tutor for pastoral and academic support should 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 and each year of study has a year co-ordinator who can advise on administrative issues related to the course of study. 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, or from your Personal Tutor. 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?
First and second year modules are normally assessed through a combination of coursework and examinations. All modules include coursework assessments, which 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. Examinations at the end of each module comprise a machine-marked structured answer section (assessing breadth of knowledge) and a written answer section (assessing depth of knowledge in specific topics).
During the Professional Training Year you will produce a placement report, which will count towards your final degree assessment.
In the fourth year, taught modules are assessed by examination and extended analytical coursework. The Advanced Research Techniques module will be assessed via a written report as well as a poster presentation and an assessment of bioinformatics competence.
Final year modules are assessed by coursework only. The research project will be assessed by a supervisors’ evaluation, a written report and presentation.
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
Our integrated master’s degree in Biological Sciences forms an excellent basis for a future career in scientific research. It also gives you the opportunity to develop science-specific and more general transferable skills which will be attractive to a wide range of both scientific and non-scientific employers.
Our Biological Sciences graduates have gone on to a range of exciting and fulfilling careers in a variety of different fields, including molecular biology, conservation, environmental management, pharmaceutical and biological industries, scientific publishing, agro-industry, wildlife management, journalism, public service, and management. A Biological Sciences qualification can also act as a stepping stone to further training in professional areas including teaching, medicine, dentistry, nursing, veterinary science and accounting.
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. Experience has shown that students who have completed a Professional Training Year are particularly well-placed to obtain degree-related employment at the end of their studies.
This course includes a Professional Training Year (PTY) which gives you the opportunity to spend a period of 9-12 months in an academic, clinical or industrial research laboratory, or other approved establishment, in order to gain first-hand research experience.
Many placements are in the UK, but we have also had several placements in other locations in Europe, Southeast Asia, South Africa, Germany, Italy and the USA.
Finding a placement is a competitive process and success cannot be guaranteed. The process will primarily be driven by you since most placements depend on application and selection by the partner company or organisation. However, we provide advice and support, and to date we have been successful in placing the vast majority of our PTY students.
Should a placement not be available, or should you change your mind, you can switch from the five-year degree with PTY to the four year integrated Master’s MBiol degree.
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.
HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.