Biology with optional placement year - BSc (Hons)

2024/25 Full-time Undergraduate course


Bachelor of Science with Honours


Faculty of Life and Health Sciences


School of Biomedical Sciences


Coleraine campus

UCAS code:

The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20

Start date:

September 2024


Full time BSc (Hons) Biology with optional placement and the possibility of proceeding to complete an MBiolSci depending on academic performance.


Biology is the study of living organisms from the molecular level to ecosystems. Our full-time undergraduate BSc Hons Biology course covers fundamental areas of biology with a focus upon the biomedical, molecular and environmental sciences. During the first year you will study fundamentals of biology such as biodiversity, plant and animal physiology, chemistry and biochemistry, as well as cell biology. In the first semester of your first year you will also receive tailor-made training in subject specific as well as transferable core skills in a small group teaching environment. In Year 2 you will study more specific biological science disciplines such as marine biology, genetics, microbiology and biotechnology, which will build upon knowledge acquired in first year but also underpin study in the final year. The final year is driven by the very strong research expertise and interests of the lecturing staff and provides an opportunity to carry out an extensive research project in a specific biological topic.

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course


First year learning experience: We take particular care of our first year students during the transition period from school to university. This includes teaching in small groups in the first semester of the first year as well as a provision of additional support in numeracy, IT skills and chemistry.

Transfers between courses: The structure and content of the first year of the Biology course is designed in such a way as to allow our students to transfer between certain undergraduate courses offered in the School of Biomedical Sciences up to the end of Semester I of year 2 (subject to available places).

Associate awards

Diploma in Professional Practice DPP

Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS

Diploma in Professional Practice International DPPI


This is a three-year degree programme leading to the award of BSc Hons Biology, however, there is an optional one-year placement leading to a Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) or a Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS) making a possible total of four years.

The BSc Hons Biology is a full-time course i.e. it requires eight hours of work every working day during each semester. Our students spend approximately 40% of study time at teaching sessions.

Start dates

  • September 2024

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Learning and teaching in Biology is normally through a combination of face-to-face lectures, hands-on practical classes, tutorials, seminars, problem-based learning and computer–assisted learning.

Assessment in modules is through a combination of coursework completed during the semester and/or sessional written examinations.

Coursework can take the form of practical reports, written assignments, class tests, presentations, case studies and dissertations.

Attendance and Independent Study

The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

  • Attendance and Independent Study

    As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

    Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses typically 15 or 30 credit modules.

    The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

    Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.

  • Assessment

    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes.  You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • Calculation of the Final Award

    The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

    Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

    All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study.

    In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise.  The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff.  This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Coleraine campus


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Sports Facilities

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Student Wellbeing

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Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

Year one

Biostatistics and Skills for Biologists

Year: 1

An introduction to the basic statistical methods essential to scientific analysis and the use of selective software packages for the analysis and presentation of data. Introduction to learning in a university setting, including information retrieval and handling, as well as communication and presentation. Teaching includes lectures, computer laboratory classes and tutorials.

Human, Animal and Plant Physiology

Year: 1

This module introduces students to the principles of fundamental physiology of animals and plants; it provides an introduction to the relationships between organism structures and functions.

Ecology & Biodiversity

Year: 1

This module considers concepts of ecology and biodiversity, starting with an introduction to the history of life on earth and moving into the diversity of organisms and their biology in the context of individuals, populations, and the biosphere.


Year: 1

This module is designed to introduce students to the fundamental biochemical pathways, an understanding of which are necessary for the further study of life and health sciences. The structure, function and metabolism of biological macromolecules and the regulation of the pathways involved in their metabolism are discussed in detail

Medical Cell Biology

Year: 1

This module will enable students to develop an understanding of the cellular basis of life and the relevance of studies of cell structure and function at the molecular level to human disease. In addition, it will provide a foundation for further studies in genetics, microbiology, histology and biochemistry.

Chemistry and Pharmacology

Year: 1

This module introduces general descriptive, physical, organic and inorganic chemistry and the principles underlying chemical properties and reactions of simple organic and inorganic compounds with applications to pharmacology.

Year two


Year: 2

This module considers a wide number of aspects and topics in biotechnology, sufficient to underpin and reinforce other aspects in the life sciences. Topics include production, commercialisation and ethics of biotechnology products, and the impact of biotechnology on sustainability of modern society.

Molecular Biology

Year: 2

The module provides in depth coverage of major modern advances in, and resulting from, genomic and post-genomic technologies, relevant to Biological Sciences.

This module is designed to provide a thorough practical knowledge of key molecular biology techniques which are used for study of the genetic basis of human disease.

Veterinary Biology

Year: 2

This module introduces students to the principles of animal health and welfare; it provides students with both general and group specific e.g. food-producing, companion, laboratory animal requirements for health. Also, it provides students with theoretical knowledge of biological parameters, vital signs and clinical indicators allowing for animal health assessment and monitoring.

Professional Practice

Year: 2

This module will introduce the concepts and requirements of biobusinesses that are necessary to ensure professional conduct in a career in the biosciences. Laboratory management, quality control, data protection, health & safety and scientific communication are covered. This module will facilitate understanding of current professional practice as recognised throughout the varied range of local and national bioscience industries, as well as further developing skills and attributes that will enable graduates to pursue careers as biosciences professionals.

Applied Genetics

Year: 2

This module considers genetic defects that contribute to human disease with study of recombinant DNA techniques, human inheritance, chromosomal aberrancies and inborn errors of metabolism, carcinogenesis and ageing. Practical experience of contemporary molecular biological techniques is also provided. Advances in molecular genetics and multi-omics are also discussed and provide an appreciation of the potential for improved diagnostics and therapeutics


Year: 2

This module provides insight into the major historical events, discoveries, disciplines, activities and relevance of microorganisms to the different areas of human activity. A major goal is to provide a foundation for understanding and learning microbiology as a biological science and its relation to our public health and the environment.


Year: 2

This module is designed to provide understanding of key concepts in pathology sufficient to underpin further study in the biomedical sciences


Year: 2

This module is designed to provide students with an understanding of the key concepts in immunology sufficient to underpin further study in the biomedical sciences. Additionally, the module aims to foster critical thinking, independent research skills, and an appreciation for the relevance of immunology in various scientific and medical contexts. Ultimately, students completing this module should be well-prepared to comprehend, analyze, and engage with immunological concepts in both theoretical and practical settings.

Year three

Biology Placement - Diploma in Professional Practice

Year: 3

This module is optional

An industrial placement is an optional element of the Biology Honours Degree programme and provides a wide range of opportunities for students to experience work in many different fields of biology including laboratories, education, research and development, quality assurance, etc. Students benefit greatly by completing a placement period and improve their knowledge and practical abilities as well as enhancing their employment prospects.

Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS)

Year: 3

This module is optional

In this study programme students spend one year in another university, either in a EU country or in the USA under the Study USA Iniative (British Council, NI). This exchange experience is designed to provide experience of an educational and cultural environment in an overseas country.

Year four

Current Biology

Year: 4

This module involves an in depth study of selected bioscience issues which are the subject of considerable current public policy controversy. Alternative interpretations of related controversial material will be examined and critically evaluated by participants.

Natural Products

Year: 4

This module gives an integrated overview of the processes and analytical techniques required in the extraction and processing of naturally occurring, bioactive compounds. The value and rationale of each scientific method is described in the context of a wide variety of natural products, including marine, plant microbe and animal sources. Critical evaluation skills with regard to selection of analytical method are particularly encouraged. The module includes interactive tasks, tutorials, sourcing literature and scientific writing.

Investigative project

Year: 4

This Investigative Project is an independent piece of work completed by the student, designed to develop key research and transferable skills in a discipline relevant to biomedical sciences/biosciences.

Clinical Immunology & Medical Microbiology

Year: 4

This module provides a detailed insight into the interaction between a microbial pathogen and its human host. The interaction between micro-organisms and the immune defence mechanism is highlighted. Consideration is also given to the use of vaccines and chemotherapy to avoid and eliminate infection. The module is taught by a combination of lectures and seminars with online supplementary materials where appropriate

Pharmacology and Evidence-Based Practice

Year: 4

This module provides an understanding of applied and systems pharmacology of direct relevance to diverse clinical, industrial, and research careers, with an emphasis on development and application of advanced knowledge and skills, including utilization of evidence-based practice approach.

Standard entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

A level

BCC including

A-Level Essential:
science subject from Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Maths, Nutrition and Food Science, Life & Health Sciences, PE, Geography, Environmental Technology/Science. Chemistry or Biology is preferred.

Applied Science Double Award also acceptable.

Provided the subject requirements are met you can substitute a combination of alternative qualifications recognised by the University for one of the A level grades.

Applied General Qualifications

RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/ OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma

Award profile of DMM

Essential Subjects (You will need one of the following):

OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma in Applied Science (RQF) (603/0695/6)

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Applied Science (RQF) (601/7437/7)

We will also accept smaller BTEC/OCR qualifications (i.e. Diploma or Extended Certificate / Introductory Diploma / Subsidiary Diploma) in combination with A Levels or other acceptable level 3 qualifications.

To find out if the qualification you are applying with is a qualification we accept for entry, please check our Qualification Checker -

We will also continue to accept QCF versions of these qualifications although grades asked for may differ. Check what grades you will be asked for by comparing the requirements above with the information under QCF in the Applied General and Tech Level Qualifications section of our Entry Requirements -

Irish Leaving Certificate

104 UCAS tariff points to include a minimum of five subjects (four of which must be at higher level) to include English and Maths at H6 if studied at Higher level or O4 if studied at Ordinary Level.

Course Specific Subject requirements : To include one from Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Maths, Home Economics, PE, Geography. Chemistry or Biology is preferred.

Irish Leaving Certificate UCAS Equivalency

Scottish Highers

The Scottish Highers requirement for this course is grades CCCCC to include one subject from Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Maths, Home Economics, PE, Geography. Chemistry or Biology is preferred.

Scottish Advanced Highers

The Scottish Advanced Highers requirement for this course is grades CDD to include one subject from Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Maths, Home Economics, PE, Geography. Chemistry or Biology is preferred.

International Baccalaureate

Overall International Baccalaureate profile minimum 24 points to include 12 points at higher level including 5 points at higher level in one of the following subjects:

Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Maths, Home Economics, PE, Geography.

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Pass science-based Access course with an overall mark of at least 60% including 60% in each level 3 module to include a 20 credit Level 2 Mathematics module, passed at 40% or successful completion of NICATS Mathematics as part of the pre-2021 Access Diploma


Candidates must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass in English Language at grade C/grade 4 or above (or equivalent). Also, candidates must hold a GCSE pass in Maths at grade C/grade 4 or above (or equivalent) and GCSE Double Award Science (or equivalent) at grades CC is also required.

Please note that for purposes of entry to this course the Level 2 Essential / Key Skill in Application of Number is NOT regarded as an acceptable alternative to GCSE Maths.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Additional Entry Requirements

Acceptable alternative qualifications include:

Pass HND with overall Merit to include 30 distinctions in level 5 credits/units may be specified

Pass HNC with overall Distinction to include 60 distinctions in level 4 credits/units may be specified.

You may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of different qualifications to the same standard as recognised by the University (provided subject requirements as noted above are met).

For further information regarding combination offer requirements, please contact admissions staff on T: +44 (0) 28 7012 3210 or E:

As part of your course you may have a placement/project that involves contact with patients and/or potential exposure to human blood/tissue. Should this scenario arise you will be asked to complete a Health Declaration Form which will include information about your vaccination history. Following screening of your form, it may be necessary for you to meet with a nurse or for a medical to be arranged with the University Occupational Health Physician. Depending on the exact nature of your placement/project you may require immunity from Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Chicken pox and Tuberculosis and/or have completed a course of Hepatitis B vaccinations with subsequent positive serology results. You will be advised further should the need for health screening and vaccination arise.

Exemptions and transferability

Exemptions: applicants who do not meet the published academic requirements and who are seeking entry through the Accreditation of Prior Learning must have the ability to demonstrate a core set of competencies relevant to the course.

MSci Hons Biological Sciences

On commencement of final year, students may apply to transfer to the MSci Hons Biological Sciences (an integrated Masters programme) to study for one additional year, during which, students are required to complete an internship and a number of modules delivered by distance learning. An internship preparation programme is provided at Ulster and provides assistance with applying for this option and information on its content. Further details about MSci Hons Biological Sciences can be obtained from Dr Nigel Ternan, Course Director MSci Hons Biological Sciences.

Careers & opportunities

Career options

Graduates of this degree will be able to work in a range of establishments in areas of biological research, human communities and demographic studies, health laboratories, environmental related monitoring quality, survey, conservation or management, food, pharmaceuticals or agrochemical industries. A large number of our Biology graduates have obtained Masters and Doctoral degrees from this University and a variety of leading European and American Universities or completed a PGCE to become teachers of biology.

For more information on pursuing a career in Biology/Biosciences please see

Work placement / study abroad

There is an optional one year placement leading to a Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) for those undertaking their placement, for example in a research institute, in industry, or in the education sector. Alternatively students can undertake their placement in the form of a period of studies overseas and attain the Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS).


Start dates

  • September 2024

Fees and funding

Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and EU Settlement Status Fees


England, Scotland, Wales and the Islands Fees


International Fees


Scholarships, awards and prizes

The Course Team for the BSc Hons Biology programme at Ulster are working continuously to ensure that their graduates have the skills and knowledge which the bioscience industry need and are demanding of their workforce. We are delighted that our industrial partners support our course by sponsoring prizes to recognise the excellence of our students.

Currently, the Randox Prize is awarded to the top final year Biology student. The Roche Prize is awarded to the student completing the most outstanding final year project. The second year prize is awarded to the student with the highest overall marks in second year (subject to change).

Randox Laboratories Ltd Managing Director and founder Dr Peter FitzGerald said:

“Ulster Biology graduates... have the opportunity to grasp for themselves an auspicious future in the field of science, which is improving the lives and quality of life of all the world’s citizens. I wish every student graduating here today the very best for their careers, and hope they each succeed in making their own positive mark on the world.”

Additional mandatory costs

Students who undertake a placement or project involving work in a clinical setting or using unfixed human biological samples such as blood, will be required to undertake an occupational health screening and a vaccinations programme. Those working with animals may be required to receive a tetanus vaccination.

Should you require health screening and vaccinations the cost will be approx. £35 - 155 depending on the vaccinations required.

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.


We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information visit


  1. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  1. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  1. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
  1. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.


Jordan Beggs who graduated with First Class BSc (Hons) Biology with DPP Distinction, 2016, told us this about the course:

"Prior to Ulster University my only aspiration was to undertake studies into Biology and I had no idea what to do in the future. However during my time at Ulster all my classes and lectures have led me to the decision that I want to work and grow in the scientific community. Undertaking a placement year, was a life changing experience, I got to work in an industrial setting, gained new experiences and made contacts in the scientific world. Through all this, I have gained successful employment, in what I believe to be the most promising and upcoming biotechnology company in Northern Ireland: Fusion Antibodies, and if it wasn't for Ulster University and all the staff involved in the Biology degree program, I don't believe any this would have been possible!"