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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

C101 MSci Biology (4 years)

Discover how biological science can answer today’s key challenges and gain an advanced understanding of life processes, with Southampton’s MSci Biology programme.

This four year integrated masters equips you with the research skills vital for further study or a research career. You will develop the potential to go on to a successful career in a broad variety of professions including laboratory-based research, jobs in the conservation and environment sector, and the media.

Ask our studentsQuestions about studying at Southampton?

Introducing your course

Students study a broad variety of topics including ecology, microbiology, cell biology and plant development in the first two years of the degree.

As well as gaining extensive experience from a variety of field trips, you will also become a part of our research community, spending your final year embedded alongside one of our leading research groups completing an extended project in a specialised area of your choice.

Our expert staff are leaders in their research fields and will help you develop a knowledge of life at different levels - from molecules and cells, to whole communities and global ecosystems.

MSci Biology

You will be helped to acquire skills through all aspects of the formal teaching programme. In years one and two this will mainly be through tutorial and coursework, whilst in year three your project work will enable you to further develop and practice many of the individual skills in one specific area of biology. The fourth year will include an extended laboratory or field based research project which will further your interests, skills and knowledge in a specific area of biology.  In addition, tutorial support will be available throughout your degree programme.

View the programme specification for this course for 2018/19 entrants

View the programme specification for this course for 2019/20 entrants

To Apply

All undergraduate applications should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Click on the How to Apply tab of the navigation menu for detailed information on how to apply and further details about UCAS' website, phone and contact details. Specific application deadlines are available on the UCAS website.

Programme Structure

You will be helped to acquire skills through all aspects of the formal teaching programme. In years one and two this will mainly be through tutorial and coursework, whilst in year three your project work will enable you to further develop and practice many of the individual skills in one specific area of biology. The fourth year will include an extended laboratory or field based research project which will further your interests, skills and knowledge in a specific area of biology. In addition, tutorial support will be available throughout your degree programme.

Key Facts

  • Flexible, interdisciplinary course, with opportunity to choose modules from other disciplines and change degree in year one
  • You will have the opportunity to carry out fieldwork in the UK, Spain and Belize
  • Wide variety of options for undertaking year three research project (e.g. lab work, fieldwork, communication, education or business)
  • Opportunity to study abroad at host universities in Australia, New Zealand and Europe
  • 100 per cent of our research has been rated world leading or internationally excellent for its impact on society (REF2014)

The National Student Survey 2018

  • We rank 9th for Teaching in Biology among the relevant UK Higher Education Institutes
  • We rank 3rd for Learning Opportunities in Biology among the relevant UK Higher Education Institutes
  • 93% of Biology students were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of their course



Typical entry requirements

Typical GCSE entry requirements for MSci Biology
GCSEWe require grades A-C in English, Mathematics and Science.  If you lack these formal qualifications, your aptitude for the course will be assessed at interview. International students, whose first language is not English, must have already attained the necessary standard in English – see English Language Proficiency section below.
A Levels:
Typical A Levels entry requirements for MSci Biology
GCE A-level

AAA (excluding general studies)

Biology must be offered at A-level along with at least one other A-level science subject

A-level Science subjects considered include:

A-level Biology
Other science A-levels Chemistry
Environmental Science

Alternative Qualifications

Our admissions requirement is normally defined on the basis of A/AS levels, but an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University are accepted.

We do offer entry through a one year Science Foundation programme designed to enable you to qualify for entry to Honours degree programmes in Biological Sciences if you have not studied the appropriate Science subjects at GCE A level or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University.  It is particularly appropriate if you are a mature student or if you have obtained good grades in non-science A-levels.

We will also accept applications from candidates offering an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University including Scottish and Irish Highers, European and International Baccalaureate, Access and Foundation courses and overseas qualifications.

More information on the entry requirements for Biology can be found on the Biology webpage here -

English Language Proficiency

All programmes at the University of Southampton are taught and assessed in the medium of English (other than those in modern foreign languages). Therefore, all applicants must demonstrate they possess at least a minimum standard of English language proficiency. Our minimum standard entry requirements are an IELTS Band C, i.e.

Overall Reading Writing Speaking Listening
6.5 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.5

Information on all acceptable English Language Tests can be found on the University website:

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

The University has a Recognition of Prior Learning Policy.  It may be possible to recognise formal credit for learning you have acquired in the past through formal study and/or through work and other life experiences.  Your application will be considered on individual merit and you may be asked to attend an interview.

Mature applicants

Studying for a degree later in life can be extremely rewarding and mature students are often among our most successful.

If you are over 21 and feel you would benefit from degree-level studies, we can be more flexible about our entry requirements. For full-time courses, selectors will expect you to demonstrate your commitment by means of some recent serious study, for example, one or two A level passes, successful completion of an Open University foundation course or an appropriate Access course. Your application will be considered on individual merit and you may be asked to attend an interview.

For further information, please contact our Admissions Team

Another popular option is to follow a certificate or diploma programme. These are available on a part time basis and most can be taken in the evenings, enabling you to continue to earn an income while you are studying.

Selection process:

Selection for this biology degree is normally based on actual or predicted grades plus the reference and personal statement on your UCAS application. Exceptionally we may ask you to come for an interview before making an offer.

Contextual Offers

The University of Southampton is committed to widening participation and ensuring that all students with the potential to succeed, regardless of their background, are encouraged to apply to study with us. The additional information gained through contextual data supports our admissions teams to recognise a student’s potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience. Students flagged in this way will be given additional consideration and not be rejected solely on the basis of their predicted (or actual) grades.

Please see our contextual admissions pages for more information.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.

Typical course content

The modules below provide an example of the typical course content for the Integrated Masters in Biology degree. This constitutes a series of compulsory, core and optional modules amounting to eight modular units each academic year. Optional modules can be modules from outside the faculty, including Curriculum Innovation modules, and a language module, which can count towards your degree.

Students who have not taken A-level Chemistry are also able to take Introduction to Chemistry, which will provide sufficient background and insight into the subject for further studies.

Certain 2nd or 3rd year optional modules may require specified pre-requisites modules from previous years.

Year 1

Compulsory Modules:

Optional Modules:


Year 2

Compulsory Modules:

Optional Modules:


Year 3

Compulsory Project Modules:


Optional Modules:


Year 4

Compulsory Project Modules:

One of the following research project modules:
Advanced Laboratory Research Project
Advanced Field Research Project

Compulsory Modules:

Current Research
Critical Thinking in Biological Research 

Optional Modules:

Innovation modules options outside of your subject area

Our Curriculum Innovation Programme offers you the chance to take optional modules outside of your chosen subject area. This allows you to personalise your education, to develop new skills and knowledge for your future. Modules range from "Living and working on the web" to "Business skills for employability".

View the Curriculum Innovation modules for this course

Learn a language

Some of our courses also give you the option of taking a language module, which can count towards your degree. These modules cover ten languages and range from absolute beginner to near-native speaker level.

View the language modules on offer for this course

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Tuition fees

List of tuition fees for this course and it's variations
NameAwardYear of entryMode of studyUK/EUInternational
View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this programme typically also have to pay for:

List of additional costs for this course
Printing and copyingCoursework such as essays; projects; dissertations may be submitted on line. In the majority of cases, though, students will be asked to provide a printed copy. The University printing costs are currently: A4 - 5p per side (black and white) or 25p per side (colour) A3 - 10p per side (black and white) or 50p per side (colour) Please Note: Paper sizes not recognised by the printing devices will prompt you to select the size and then charge a minimum of 50p per black and white copy and a maximum of £1 per colour copy. You can pay for your printing by using the money loaders or by using print copy payment service by going to Please remember that we are unable to refund any credit that has not been used by the end of your course, so please consider this when topping up your printing/copy account. Students entering Year 1 in 2015/16 will be given a printing allowance of £3 per 7.5 ECTS BIOL towards the costs of printing lecture handouts (except BIOL1001 as there is nothing to print out). Practical handouts and module guides will be provided by the University. The University Print Centre also offers a printing and copying service as well as a dissertation/binding service. Current printing and copying costs can be found here: They also provide a large format printing service, e.g. Academic posters. Details of current costs can be found here:£0.05-1.00

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

EquipmentApproved calculators: Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved models are Casio FX-570 and Casio FX-85GT Plus. These may be purchased from any source and no longer need to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
EquipmentLaboratory and field equipment and materials: All materials required for laboratory or field work are provided. Where necessary, suitable specialist safety equipment will be provided.
EquipmentIT: Computer discs or USB drives- Students are expected to provide their own portable data storage device.
EquipmentIT: Software licenses- All software is provided
EquipmentIT: Hardware- It is advisable that students provide their own laptop or personal computer, although shared facilities are available across the University campus.
ClothingLab coats and safety spectacles: One laboratory coat and a pair of safety spectacles are provided at the start of the programme to each student. If these are lost the student must replace them at their own expense. The Students Union Shop stock these items.
ClothingField course clothing: You will need to wear suitable clothing when attending field courses, e.g. waterproofs, walking boots. You can purchase these from any source.
FieldworkAccommodation, insurance (travel/health), travel costs, immunisation/vaccination costs and other costs: For compulsory residential fieldcourses accommodation and travel are normally provided though where necessary, you will be expected to cover the cost of getting to and from the departure point which may be an airport. You are usually expected to cover the costs of food and drink, although some courses may include meals. For optional fieldcourses, you may be asked to make a contribution to the travel and/or accommodation costs. Undergraduates are automatically covered under the University’s travel insurance whilst on organised and supervised fieldcourses. Those travelling independently in connection with their programme can be included under the University’s travel insurance upon application – there may be a cost attached to this. There are also opportunities to undertake fieldcourses with another organisation, e.g. Operation Wallacea – for example see here: Where necessary students will need to arrange and pay for any vaccinations. Specific details on what additional costs there are detailed in the individual module profiles which can be found under the modules tab of the programmes details of the relevant programme.
PlacementsStudents who choose to go on an industrial placement at the end of Part 2 can expect to cover costs for health and travel insurance, accommodation and living expenses, travel costs and visa costs. This will vary depending on which country you are travelling to.
OtherParking costs: There may be a requirement to undertake work at Southampton General Hospital (SGH), for example during a final year research project. Students may need to cover costs for transport to travel to SGH or for car parking.
OtherTravel costs: Students who opt to undertake a module delivered at Marwell Wildlife will be responsible for their own travel expenses.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

The academic year

Eight modular units are taken each academic year, four in semester one and four in semester two. A unit normally consists of two lectures a week plus a three-hour practical on alternate weeks. Practicals and other components of in-course assessment make up 25% of your final mark for the year. We also provide workshops and pastoral tutorials in which you can get specific help on the content of your lectures. Each week students therefore attend eight 45-minute lectures, an average of two 2 to 3 hour practical classes and may also attend a small group tutorial, which should take up to two hours to prepare.
Examinations are held in the two weeks after each semester, in January and June. The marks for the first year do not count towards the final degree classification, but you do have to gain an overall pass in your first year. Currently the second year counts 35% towards the degree and the third year 65%.

The tutorial system

Every student is assigned a personal tutor when they start their university degree. Your course tutor changes every semester, but your personal tutor will stay the same throughout your time here. Your personal tutor will meet you when you enrol, and you will see him/her three or four times a term in the first year, for academic as well as pastoral support. He or she is accessible throughout your time in Southampton.


Our research is relevant to your undergraduate course because you will be taught by people who are experts in their area of research. This is especially important for science subjects, where knowledge is advancing rapidly. This is particularly true for your final year.

In your third year, you have the opportunity to do an individual research project in one of our research laboratories. You will use equipment bought for current research, and do a project designed to further your understanding of your topic.


We have our own team of administrators who act as a point of contact for day-to-day advice and information for undergraduate students. They are also responsible for collecting assignments and issuing the documents and forms which are required during your period of study.

Programme leader: Dr A Marchant

Study Locations

The Life Sciences Building

Biological Sciences Building, Highfield Campus

The Life Sciences building is a £50 million state-of-the-art laborator...Find out more

Marwell Wildlife

Marwell Wildlife

Marwell Wildlife is a charity dedicated to the conservation of biodive...Find out more

Waterfront Campus

NOCS (National Oceanography Centre Southampton)

Ocean and Earth Sciences is based at the world-renowed National Oceano...Find out more

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