also available in 2018
A Level Requirements
see all requirements
see all requirements
Full time 3 Year(s)
Explore the science of life with our flexible degree which provides a wide range of dynamic modules that allows you to tailor your studies to suit your interests.
This programme equips you with the real-world skills required to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our planet, whether it’s researching underlying scientific principles, the development of new treatments for disease, or helping to protect endangered species. You will learn from internationally renowned researchers in our state-of-the-art laboratories, which offer excellent facilities for practical work. You will study a series of topics such as genetics, biomedicine and evolution.
Your first year provides a wide range of introductory level modules. You can choose to follow linked themes of modules throughout the year, or mix and-match to suit your own requirements. Examples of what you can study range from atoms and molecules to biodiversity; from biotechnology to global health and disease; and from spectroscopy to zoology.
Second and third years offer specialisation, allowing you to shape your own degree from a series of in-depth theory and practical skills spanning the whole breadth of bioscience.
During your degree, you may be able to move to our MSci Biological Sciences programme which includes all the content available on this degree as well as a fourth year offering a variety of Masters level modules and enabling you to undertake an extended research project. There is also a Study Abroad BSc where you will spend Year 2 at one of our partner universities in America, Canada or Australasia. It’s an opportunity to broaden your horizons and gain a valuable experience of a different social and academic environment.
A Level AAB
Required Subjects A level grade AB in two sciences from the following; Biology, Chemistry, Computing, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Human Biology, Mathematics, Physics or Psychology.
GCSE Mathematics grade B or 6, English Language grade C or 4
IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 5.5 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
International Baccalaureate 35 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including two science subjects at HL grade 6
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Distinction to include sufficient science. We require Distinctions in majority of relevant science units. Please contact the Admissions Team for further advice.
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of Lancaster's degree programmes are flexible, offering students the opportunity to cover a wide selection of subject areas to complement their main specialism. You will be able to study a range of modules, some examples of which are listed below.
This module is an introduction to the structure and function of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. The first five lectures of the module will examine the main components of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and the way eukaryotic cells are organized into tissues. The techniques used to study cells will also be reviewed. The next two lectures will look in detail at the structure and function of mitochondria and chloroplasts and the chemiosmotic theory. This will be followed by a lecture on the way cells are organised into tissues. The final four lectures will cover reproduction in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and the eukaryotic cell cycle. The lectures are supplemented by two practical sessions, the first on light microscopic technique and the second covering organelle isolation
Introducing students to the development of evolutionary theory and the evidence for the evolutionary processes of natural and sexual selection, this module examines the evolutionary relationships of the major groups of organisms, and deals with speciation and human evolution.
Using specific examples of animal behaviour, we demonstrate how an understanding of natural and sexual selection can explain the diverse evolution of body structures, reproductive behaviours and life-history strategies.
This module examines the way in which genetic information, encoded by the DNA of the cell, is replicated and passed on to each new generation of cells and whole individuals. The ways in which genes affect the characteristics of a cell or organism are explored at the molecular level. The fundamentals of these processes are very similar in all organisms but the unique features of eukaryotes and prokaryotes are highlighted. We will also examine the consequences of mutation and look at some examples of diseases and conditions caused by defective genes and alterations in chromosome number or structure.
In this module, students will explore the chemistry of some of the most important molecules to life, including water, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. The module begins with an overview of basic chemistry for example atomic structure, bonding, pH and molecular shape. It looks at the properties of water and how these enable water to support life. The structure and bonding within nucleic acids, proteins and carbohydrates are explored with emphasis upon how this is related to function within a cell. Finally, the structure and functions of lipids are described, with emphasis upon the role of lipids, proteins and carbohydrates in biological membranes.
Workshops on this module enable use of RasMol molecular modelling software, making molecular models and problem-based learning.
This module introduces and provides training in the general skills necessary for the study of bioscience. These include use and care of laboratory equipment such as microscopes, spectrophotometers, micropipettes and centrifuges. It will also teach liquid-handling skills, and to calculate concentrations, volumes and dilution of solutions, particularly the importance and use of the mole concept. MS Excel will be used to generate statistics and to plot curves.
The other main area covered is that of scientific reading and writing. You will learn to recognize good and bad sentences, use correct paragraph structure, to search for, acquire and know how to read scientific literature, and to avoid plagiarism. Finally students will learn the various forms in which science is communicated and the ways public understanding of scientific findings can be distorted.
At the end of this module you will be able to record scientific investigation, collect data, present results, place them in the context of existing scientific literature and write a short scientific report.
This module will provide you with an understanding of how and why organisms are classified and named, and an appreciation of how identification keys are constructed and used. You will learn to construct simple classificatory and evolutionary trees, and to indicate their significance.
Evolutionary relationships will be evaluated using anatomical and other characteristics, and the distinctive features of major groups of animals will be outlined so that you are able to indicate the functional, evolutionary, and, in some cases, ecological and economic significance of them.
Practical sessions will enable you to take part in the identification of both invertebrate and vertebrate groups.
This module provides an introduction to the structure and function of aquatic food webs in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments. Emphasis is placed on the role of nutrients (bottom-up control) and predation (top-down control) on participating organisms in their freshwater, estuarine, and marine environments. Students will understand the importance of algae, whether planktonic or attached, in the primary productivity of aquatic ecosystems and how this is affected by nutrient concentration and composition. The way in which anthropogenic influences can alter the balance of aquatic food webs, and the subsequent problems which may arise, is discussed.
There will be practical sessions on areas such as algae, zooplankton and macroinvertebrates. Workshops will cover the analysis of data using excel, and the characteristics of lake trophic status in The Lake District.
Introducing the nature of biological diversity and the patterns of distribution of organisms on global, regional and ecosystem scales, students discover the underlying causes of the observed biodiversity patterns and the main current threat to biodiversity. The reasons why species become extinct is explored and then the reasons why species should be preserved. Students will be able to outline the criteria that can be used to identify species and areas of high conservation importance.
Fieldtrips take place on campus, where students will look at sampling techniques and biodiversity, and to sites of special conservation interest in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB. There will also be an excursion to Blackpool Zoo.
This module examines how biomedicine links into society. It initially looks at the historical developments of biomedicine, and key changes that have occurred often as a result of a dramatic change to society such as war. Students look at how ethics in particular have developed and how thinking and ultimately legislation has evolved in relation to unethical practice. Key ethical principles are explored in relation to both the treatment of humans and animals. To help understand the role of biomedicine in society the module examines the role of animals in experimentation, the ethics associated with running clinical trials with humans, issues related to contraception and the role the media plays in how society makes sense of developments in health care.
The module has a main weekly lecture but much learning and consolidation of knowledge occurs in smaller seminar groups where students are given the opportunity to share their learning through presentations and debates.
Biotechnology is one of the fastest moving fields in the biosciences. Genetic engineering techniques have allowed the manipulation of microorganisms, plants and animals to produce commercially important compounds, or to have improved characteristics. This module examines the techniques that are used in genetic manipulation and looks at examples of how the technology has been applied. The practical outcomes of genome sequencing projects and the way in which knowledge of the human genome can be applied to medicine and forensics are also considered. Practical classes and workshops allow students to perform some of the key techniques for themselves.
This module addresses a range of processes that are fundamental to plant and animal development. The module will provide an introduction to animal embryogenesis, including the cleavage, gastrulation and organogenesis stages. Students will discover how polarity and pattern arise, along with mechanisms for cellular determination and differentiation. Later lectures will address plant embryogenesis and reproductive development. Students will learn how developmental processes are regulated internally and externally, through developmental regulatory genes and via influences from the external environment.
Students will gain the ability to compare and contrast strategies for development in animals and plants and to identify the major structures present in animal embryos. They will develop transferable skills such as an awareness of lab safety, competent use of a compound microscope, and experience of data collection and reporting.
This module will explore the theoretical basis for many methods routinely used in the medicine for diagnosis of immune system dysfunction, gastrointestinal tract diseases and endocrine disorders. The module will also enable investigation of methods employed to assess kidney function, haemostasis and drug use.
During workshops, case studies will be used in order to apply new knowledge to real life examples and a practical session will give students the opportunity to carry out an ELISA experiment.
This module examines how the biosphere reacts to environmental change. It concentrates on the responses to changes such as increasing drought, global warming, ozone depletion, and air pollution. Emphasis is placed on understanding plants as the driving force for the effects of environment change on other organisms within terrestrial ecosystems. This will range from consideration of changes in complex natural ecosystems through to effects on humans, through changes in global food production. The module will also consider the direct effects of environmental change on human populations.
You will learn to describe the effects of global warming and pollution on plants and terrestrial ecosystems as well as the links between basic plant physiology and the consequences of environmental change. We also explore the direct and indirect effects of environmental change on human populations. You will take part in workshops that look at the effects of the environment on carbon fixation and water use, and human health and environment change.
The aim of this module is to introduce students to the mechanisms cells use to communicate with one another.
The structure and functions of several endocrine (hormone-producing) glands are investigated in lectures and workshops, such as the pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands. The hormonal control of human reproduction is explained, followed by investigating the topic of fertilisation. Early embryogenesis is compared in a variety of organisms, supported by a laboratory session which enables a comparison of early embryogenesis in starfish, frog and chick. Finally, human pregnancy, development and fertility are examined with emphasis upon causes and treatment of infertility.
Physiology is the study of how the body works, and is largely concerned with homeostasis – i.e. how body function is maintained at a relatively constant level in different environments and circumstances. This course considers the physiology of the brain and the nervous system; the heart and the circulatory system; the external respiratory system (lungs, together with transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood) and the gastrointestinal system. There is also some limited information on the pathophysiology of relevant human diseases. Other aspects of human physiology, involving different tissue and organ systems, are covered elsewhere.
There is a workshop on neurophysiology (the Nernst equation), and practical classes that demonstrate the effects of exercise on blood pressure, the ABO blood grouping system, and the effects of pH on the activity of some key enzymes involved in digestion.
This module introduces students to the world of microbiology. They will receive tuition from lecturers working on the cutting edge of microbiological research.
Topics related to viruses, bacteria, fungi and protists will be covered. Hands on practical sessions will help students to understand the dynamics of bacterial growth, how to culture and count microbes, antibiotic resistance assays and identification of bacteria.
Students will start to understand the mechanisms that bacteria use to cause human disease. Several fungi will be examined and students will learn how fungi are exploited in industry. Finally students are introduces to the protists; examine beautiful ciliates and flagellates and watch predatory protozoa in action.
Covering a wide range of infectious organisms from viruses to worms, this module provides a comprehensive introduction to infection and immune responses of the host. The biology of the infecting organisms and the host’s immune response will both be examined as these are vital components in understanding the nature of the different types of infection.
Selected infections will be studied in detail in lectures and practicals and used as paradigms to illustrate principles of the host/pathogen interaction.
Epidemiology is the study of patterns of health, disease and illness associated factors at population level. It helps to identify risk factors for disease and optimal approaches for prevention and containment. This module will provide students with a basic understanding of epidemiology in a global setting. Following an introduction to some of the ‘big debates’ around global health inequalities and how the so-called ageing ‘time-bomb’ is shifting global patterns of health and illness, students will gain an understanding of how to design studies that measure and look for causes of disease as well as how to interpret epidemiological evidence. The module is structured around three core themes that have been designed to introduce you to some of the key topics and debates surrounding patterns of world disease and mortality.
These themes include:
Taking a holistic approach to the study of marine and estuarine ecosystems and melding biology with ecology and environmental science, this module will enhance students’ knowledge in a range of areas spanning from the fundamentals of water as a medium for life and how organisms are adapted to particular challenges, through to whole ecosystem productivity, using the Lancaster locale to inform and exemplify.
Students will discover the heterogeneity of marine and estuarine environments. They will develop an ability to identify the specific challenges faced by organisms living in water, especially with regard to salinity. Additionally, the module will enhance students’ awareness of ecophysiological structure and zonation, and will introduce processes such as aquatic primary production and energy transfer.
The purpose of this module is to expand upon the introduction to proteins given in BIOL111. Our approach is to use specific examples to demonstrate different aspects of protein structure, and to illustrate the way that the different properties of individual amino acids contribute to the function of the proteins they make up. The course is split into two linked themes. Firstly, an introduction to the major structural features of proteins is given, with an emphasis on how protein structure relates to function. Secondly, an introduction to enzyme biochemistry is presented. We consider how enzymes catalyse biochemical reactions, how their activities can be described quantitatively, and how enzymes are regulated within the cell.
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
This module aims to provide a foundation in the core techniques utilised in protein purification.
Each week the lectures and practicals lead students through the variety of techniques used to purify proteins. The lectures provide students with an understanding of the biochemical methods commonly used and their significance within a protein purification strategy. Practicals will be tightly linked to the lectures, with students being required to follow a purification strategy over the course of the module. Starting with a mixture of proteins, students are set the task of purifying one of the proteins on the basis of their biochemical properties.
This module has four core topics that direct students through the purification process. They are:
This module is an introduction to cellular biochemistry focusing on the core pathways of intermediary metabolism which are central to cellular function. Specifically, it focuses on two related and key areas of biochemistry. The first is enzymology; how do proteins function as biological catalysts and how are chemical reactions controlled within a cell? Students will investigate how the many chemical reactions which participate in metabolism are accurately regulated and organised.
The second is cellular metabolism; particularly, how do cells obtain energy from their surroundings to maintain their complex order?
The module will cover several seminal and Nobel Prize winning research topics including a detailed look at the key reactions of the citric acid cycle and the coupling of electron transport, proton pumping and ATP synthesis. The concepts and areas of biochemistry covered will be further illustrated by reference to the pathological state and human diseases which result from specific malfunctions in biochemical pathways and reactions.
This module explores the interactions that take place both within and between cells and which allow them to perform their function in the whole organism. Students will consider five key topics within cell biology:
This laboratory-based module provides both a theoretical and experimental basis for further studies and research in cell biology. It will enable students to gain experience in a range of laboratory techniques including: handling mammalian cells, cell signalling, identification of subcellular molecular localisation by immunofluorescent microscopy, and cell cycle analysis by flow cytometry.
The module is delivered through mixed media platforms such as lectures and videos, with consolidation of the practicals in a final overarching data analysis workshop. Students will be able to apply these skills to design and carry out experiments for their own subsequent research projects.
This module introduces advanced techniques of eukaryotic recombinant DNA technology, DNA sequencing, genomics and functional genomics. Bioinformatics, the computer-based analysis of data that result from genome sequencing and the genomic approaches to understanding gene function and expression are introduced and developed in the workshops. The module practicals provide hands-on experience of quantitative gene expression analysis employing widely used state of the art PCR (polymerase chain reaction) based technology. Students will gain knowledge and understanding of these techniques, which will provide the basis for the informed reading and comprehension of primary experimental biological research literature required for subsequent undergraduate research projects. These technologies underpin an increasing proportion of modern biological research, particularly in the Biomedical disciplines and form the basis for rapidly developing applications in the field of personalised medicine.
Environmental Physiology "crosses the great divide" between animal and plant biology. The scope of this module is broad, extending from the consequences of environmental change on human health to communication between plants. It explores the whole-organism responses of animals and plants to light, to pollution and to disease-causing micro-organisms. It goes on to consider how such responses are controlled and co-ordinated, and how information is communicated between individuals in both animals and plants.
The unifying theme of this module is the central role of physiology in determining a wide range of biological responses, with the overall aim of providing an integrated understanding of the mechanisms by which both animals and plants cope with their environment. Students will gain an appreciation of the complex interactions between plants and animals and their natural environments, and particularly the notion of phenotypic plasticity. Practical work will develop laboratory skills, and assessment will develop skills in literature searching, data analysis, writing and argument.
Students will develop a sophisticated skillset, including the ability to describe mechanisms by which plants and animals perceive environmental signals and co-ordinate their responses to them, as well as being able to describe the effects of ultraviolet light on animals and plants and the mechanisms for protection from its damaging effects. In addition, students will gain the necessary experience required to show how various environmental pollutants affect the health of plants and humans, and will be knowledgeable of the various forms of innate immunity in animals, whilst gaining awareness of the conservation of anti-microbial defence mechanisms during evolution. Finally, students will be able to explain how plants resist attack by herbivorous insects and pathogenic microorganisms.
Evolution is the fundamental concept in biology and an understanding of its processes and effects are important for biologists in all disciplines. The module aims to show how the morphology and behaviour of animals and plants is adapted to their environment through interactions with their own and other species, including competitors, parasites, predators and prey, and relatives. Students will explore the concept of adaptation to natural and sexual selection pressures at the level of the individual and the effects on the wider population.
Students will gain the ability to describe the roles that variation, heritability and selection play in the evolutionary process, along with a developed understanding of how numerical changes in population occur, and enhanced knowledge of how to analyse such shifts in order to make predictions about future changes. This module will also reinforce students’ understanding of the application of theoretical models, the changing effects of costs and behaviours due to circumstance, and how conflicts of interest might influence the reproductive success of individuals.
Students taking this module will gain a range of transferable skills including: report writing, data analysis and presentation, team working, verbal presentation, summarising technical texts and design of scientific enquiries.
The aim of this module is to introduce students to understanding the scientific method, designing experiments, and collecting data in an unbiased scientific manner, analysing it using robust statistical techniques and presenting findings in a clear and concise form. Students will be provided with the skills they will need to successfully complete their dissertation projects. They are encouraged to critically appraise information, conduct a wide range of statistical analyses and to present and critically analyse data.
Students will be able to relate the notion of the scientific method to their own scientific endeavour, and will gain the level of knowledge required to measure, describe and discuss the varieties of environmental and ecological systems in the study of natural systems.
Students will learn to design and execute experiments which distinguish effectively between variation due to experimental effects and underlying uncontrolled variation, and will also understand the application of statistical tests to analyse data, taking into account the underlying assumptions of those tests, as well as the uses of computer based statistical packages, such as SPSSx) to analyse data. Critical skills developed on this module will enable students to report their findings in a style appropriate for their audience.
This module takes a molecular approach to understanding heredity and gene function in organisms ranging from bacteria to man. It begins by reviewing genome diversity and how genomes are replicated accurately, comparing and contrasting replication processes in bacteria and man. The module discusses in detail molecular mechanisms, particularly those that ensure information encoded in the genome is transcribed and translated appropriately to produce cellular proteins.
Students will focus on the importance of maintaining genome stability and damaging effects of mutations in the genome on human health. Examples are drawn from a range of inherited genetic diseases such as phenylketonuria and sickle cell anaemia, paying particular focus to how mutations in key genes are driving cancer development.
Teaching is delivered by a series of lectures supported by varied practical work, workshops, guided reading and online resources. Laboratory practicals include investigating how exposure of bacteria to ultraviolet light induces mutations – providing a model for understanding how skin cancer may develop as a consequence of excessive sun exposure.
This course examines the relationship between microbe and host; with particular focus on bacterial and viral pathogens. The diversity of structure, function and metabolism of bacteria, in relation to their role as a cause of disease, is explored and practical skills in bacteriology are introduced. Morphology and reproductive strategies of viruses are examined and methods for controlling viral infections by vaccination or anti-viral therapies are described. The course introduces principles of clinical microbiology by focusing on epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment of infection and host immune defences. The theme is one of "emergence" illustrating how some new infections have come to be a problem in health care and the importance of protective commensal microbes. The laboratory classes focus on diagnostic processes and illustrate the contribution which the microbiology laboratory can make to clinical decision making and epidemiology. This course also deals with the way in which pathogens (mainly bacteria) survive, and sometimes grow, in the environment and the implications this has for health in the community. The course is given in collaboration with health service consultants and workers from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.
When we look at ourselves in the mirror the last thing we consider is that we are only 10% human due to our body comprising ten times more bacterial cells than human cells! There is no mistaking the importance of our bacterial communities in maintaining our proper functioning, eg digesting food, but microbes also cause disease and it is this that normally attracts media attention.
The ‘good vs bad’ nature of microbes is covered in the module Medical Microbiology (the pre-requisite to this module) together with methods for controlling exposure to pathogens; particularly in a hospital setting. But what about the household setting? How dangerous are the microbes living on your household surfaces (including your toothbrush!)? Do disinfectants really kill 99.9% of germs (as stated by all manufacturers)? These questions, and others, are addressed in this module whilst students learn the essential practical techniques necessary to work in both industrial and hospital laboratories. The module also explores the use of microbes as artistic media in the up and coming field of BioArt.
Recent emphasis on global change and biodiversity has raised awareness of the importance of species and their interactions in determining how sustainable our lifestyle is. This module explores the factors that drive population and community dynamics, with a strong focus on multi-trophic interactions and terrestrial ecosystems.
Students will be introduced to population ecology and will discover the abiotic factors that regulate populations, life history strategies of populations, competitive interactions within populations, and meta-population dynamics, in addition to an understanding of how species interact both within and across trophic levels. The module exposes students to the belowground system and will look at how the species interactions and soil communities discussed impact on community structure and dynamics. The module aims to give students a fundamental understanding of ecology - such knowledge is essential for informing conservation and sustainable land-use practices, and efforts to mitigate climate change.
In order to complete this module, students will develop the ability to outline the primary factors that drive population dynamics, whilst critically discussing examples, and will reinforce their understanding of the implications of species interactions for community dynamics. Students will also gain a critical awareness of biotic responses and their contribution to climate change.
The aim of this module is to build on knowledge gained in earlier first year modules: Anatomy and Tissue Structure and Human Physiology. Students will focus on four weekly themes: heart and circulation; muscle and fatigue; nervous system and the urinary system. Students independently learn theoretical background information using online and text-based resources, supported by weekly case study discussions during seminars. Muscle electrical activity and fatigue, ECG and nerve conduction velocity will be explored through experimentation on student volunteers and online simulations.
This module aims to provide students with broad understanding of the discipline of conservation biology. The module starts by defining biodiversity, discussing its distribution in space and time, and its value to humankind, before examining the key anthropogenic threats driving recent enhanced rates of biodiversity loss. The module then focuses on the challenges for conservation of biodiversity at several levels of the biological hierarchy: genes, species, communities and ecosystems, and the techniques used by conservationists at these levels. The final part of the module looks at the practice of conservation through discussion of prioritisation, reserve design and national and international conservation policy and regulation.
Students will develop a range of skills including the ability to discuss the principle threats to global biodiversity and the rationale for biodiversity conservation, in addition to application of a range of metrics to quantify biodiversity. Students will gain a critical understanding of the various approaches to conserving genetic, species and ecosystem diversity, as well as an enhanced knowledge of quantification of popularisation approaches to prioritisation of conservation goals, and how nature reserves can be designed to improve conservation potential.
The aim of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to design and undertake a project from start to finish, which will involve working as part of a team and collecting individual and group data in an unbiased scientific manner. Students will develop the ability to distinguish effectively between variation due to robust effects and underlying uncontrolled variation, whilst statistically analysing and presenting their findings to the class in a suitable format.
By the end of the module, students will have the ability to critically appraise information and report the findings of their scientific endeavours to different audiences using a variety of methods, including scientific reports and PowerPoint presentations, in addition to developing a range of generic and specialist skills gained that will be useful in a competitive job market.
Students will be able to understand and integrate information from a variety of sources, whilst utilising skills of written critique of primary and secondary literature. They will also be developed in the ability to interrogate bibliographic databases and summarise pertinent information.
Vertebrates (including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) display a staggering diversity of shapes and sizes, and are adapted to a wide array of environments, from hot deserts to freezing oceans. The aim of this module is to introduce this broad range of forms and functions, putting physiological and behavioural processes firmly within a whole organism and evolutionary context.
This module will introduce students to the major vertebrate taxonomic groups: it will explore how they have evolved to exploit different environmental niches on land, in water and in flight; and how their anatomy, reproduction, thermoregulation, etc. have all become fine-tuned to cope with the challenges of their evolved lifestyle. Students will be able to apply their general knowledge of vertebrate biology to species-specific examples: comparing and contrasting different forms and functions; and critically evaluating hypotheses proposed in order to explain vertebrate diversity.
They will also gain more generic transferable skills such as critical discussion, application of knowledge to new situations, data analysis and report writing.Throughout the module, students will consider how form, function and strategy will impact the vulnerability of vertebrates to on-going environmental change.
In this module students will work together as a team to propose a solution to a problem of biological relevance, for example antibiotic resistance, invasive species or healthy ageing. The solution may be a patentable, commercial product or a policy proposal. Weekly workshop sessions will be held for the whole class which will include presentations from external speakers on topics such as intellectual property, project management and negotiating skills. Each team will choose a leader who will be responsible for organising regular meetings in which ideas are developed, tasks assigned and information gathered. The team will produce a report in the form of a patent application or policy document which will form part of the module assessment. The remainder of the assessment will be based on an oral presentation. Peer-assessment will be used to adjust tutors' marks according to individual contribution to the project.
This module explores how and why animals behave in the way that they do, building on many of the major themes of the Evolution module to highlight the links between behaviour, ecology and evolution. The central aim will be to understand the fitness consequences of behaviour - by focusing on three of the most important topics in behavioural research (reproduction, sociality and communication), we will investigate how the behaviour of an individual has evolved to maximise its survival and reproductive success.
Students will gain an understanding of how and why we study animal behaviour, at the same time developing their appreciation of scientific best practice. Students will be encouraged to relate specific knowledge to broader issues in ecology and evolution, and to critically reflect on what animal behaviour can tell us about behaviour in our own species. Additionally, students will be able to describe what behaviour actually is and understand the major factors that influence how animals (including humans) behave. Students will also develop the level of knowledge necessary to discuss a wide diversity of animal behaviours in a broad range of species, and describe the major approaches to understanding behaviour and apply Tinbergen's four questions to behavioural processes. Students will gain an enhanced understanding in a range of areas, including the importance of both nature and nurture in the evolution of behaviour, the ecological pressures that shape behaviour, the importance of the fitness consequences of behaviour at the individual level and the concepts of kin selection and inclusive fitness
For 50 years, thanks to evolutionary theory, we’ve known why we are fated to age and die, but our understanding of the mechanisms has been a lengthy evolution in itself. Only relatively recently, with the use of modern molecular biology tools, do we begin to understand the mechanistic basis of the ageing process, from early notions about rates of living to current ideas about modular yet interacting mechanisms including autophagy, protein synthesis, nutrient sensing, insulin-like signalling and disease resistance. Even now we do not clearly know what makes us age. Ageing is perhaps the most multidisciplinary area of study and is certainly one of the last great mysteries in biology.
This module introduces the area and the methodologies with which ageing is studied. Teaching is through lectures, workshops, practical work, individual and group-based coursework and private study.
In this module students are given an overview of the cellular and molecular processes that underpin the development of cancer. This will enable students to discuss the various factors that can affect cancer susceptibility. Students will look at the approaches taken to treat cancer, including some of the new generation of molecularly-targeted cancer therapies.
This module looks at the fundamental mechanisms regulating cell proliferation and differentiation and how the cell cycle is central to the development and maintenance of cells and tissues including the role of stem cells. It covers the mechanisms by which cells become terminally differentiated to perform specialised functions and how this process depends on coordinated regulation of the cell cycle, gene expression and apoptosis. The cell cycle’s role in the regulation and differentiation of both somatic and stem cells will be covered. Students will examine the roles of embryonic stem cells in development, and the roles of adult stem cells in the maintenance of various tissues in the adult organism. The module will look at both established and recently developed stem cell technologies. This includes adult, embryonic, cloned embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell technologies. The pros and cons of autogenic and allogenic therapies will be discussed. The results of the latest clinical trials and the ethics of the different stem cell technologies will also be covered.
The ability of cells to communicate with one another using signalling pathways is of fundamental importance in multicellular organisms such as mammals. Cell signalling enables the transmission of information that is required for the correct co-ordination of metabolism, growth and development.
This module revises the basic principles of cellular communication, exploring the molecular basis of signalling in detail by using key signalling pathways as examples. The combination of Lectures and Workshops allows students to evaluate influential scientific discoveries, whilst Laboratory practicals provide the opportunity to put theory into practice.
This module explores some of the key roles played by ion channels and calcium ions in the communication that takes place within and between cells. The module is split into two linked themes. Firstly, an introduction to the diversity of ion channel families and their biological functions including the many different cellular processes throughout the life history of cells that are regulated by calcium ions as signals. Secondly, an investigation of the importance of ion channels and calcium signalling in animals, and human physiology in particular, using examples of diseases that are caused when ion channels malfunction (e.g. myotonia, malignant hyperthermia, sudden heart arrest caused by long QT syndrome.) or calcium signalling is disrupted (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, polycystic kidney disease, pancreatitis). Students also gain hands-on experience of the techniques used to study ion channels and calcium signalling in cells.
Every day our body does something remarkable, but we are completely unaware of it most of the time: our immune system is constantly protecting us from pathogens in our environment as well as threats from within. This highly evolved, interdependent collection of organs, cells and chemical messengers is continually scanning our tissues for any unwanted intruders or abnormal cells. When we get ill, with a cold for example, full mobilisation of our immune system sends armies of cells and molecules to fight the problem in what can sometimes literally be a fight to the death. Fortunately for us, our immune system wins the battle almost every time!
In this module we examine the various components of the immune system – the organs, cells, and messengers, and how they function in health and illness. We look at particular threats such as allergies, infectious diseases and cancer, providing students with a good understanding of how this vital component of our bodies keeps us well.
In this module, students will be shown how, through manipulation of species, communities and ecosystems, habitats can be managed in a sustainable way that preserves and enhances their aesthetic, scientific, recreational, and often utilitarian, value. The creation of new habitats will be considered, as well as management of existing areas of conservation interest. The module is largely taught by external lecturers who are directly involved in the application of ecological principles to practical problems.
Students will develop the level of ability required to describe the nature of selected habitat types, as well as explaining a series of underlying ecological processes which necessitate management. Students will also be able to identify the techniques used for conservation management specific to a range of habitat types, in addition to reinforcing a range of transferrable skills, such as the ability to present scientific data clearly and concisely, in both written and oral format. Students will learn to work autonomously as well as being involved in group work.
Microbiology for the biomedical scientist comprises screening samples to identify and assess microbiological pathogens that cause disease and, enable front line medical staff to choose the correct therapy for successful eradication of the infection. Increasing numbers of these infections are community acquired and many are contracted from, or in, the environment. The environment therefore plays an increasing role in the life cycle and ecology of many pathogens. This in turn, is having an increasing impact on human health and national health services. The increase is a combination of changing environmental conditions (such as land use changes, global warming) and an ever evolving microbial community, most of which do not harm but a few can cause mild to fatal diseases when the opportunity arises. Also cycling in the environment are obligate pathogens which will cause infections if contracted. Furthermore, there are new diseases emerging (e.g. Ebola) and others thought to have been controlled are now re-emerging such as cholera. Using specific microbial pathogens as examples, this module examines the factors and interactions that allow microbial infections to be transmitted from the environment to humans and how their life cycle plays an important role in their emergence, persistence, transmission and infection. It also examines antibiotic resistance: how it has emerged, the different types of resistance, its management and the complications that it imposes on the treatment of these diseases. After attending this module you will still be able to go out into the natural environment but, as a result, you may be a little more cautious.
1. Exam: 2 hour paper with two questions in sections A and B and you are required to answer one question from each.
2. Coursework is an extended essay of 2000 words based on the lectures and field trip. The title will be announced in the first lecture.
The aim of this module is to illustrate some of the ways in which plants achieve this and to provide an insight into the physiological mechanisms that underlie plant ecology. Students will explore how plants respond to specific environmental cues and the ways in which they are able to adapt to a variety of stressful environments. All of these processes will be viewed from both an agricultural and an ecological perspective. Students will also gain an understanding of the environmental constraints on plant growth and productivity and an appreciation of the degree of plasticity and adaptability that plants display. They will develop an appreciation of the importance of a detailed understanding of these plant traits if we are to achieve the increases in crop productivity (through management or breeding) that will be required for food security in the face of global climate change.
This module will equip students with the ability to describe a range of features related to the subject, including the range of plant photomorphogenic and photoperiodic responses to light and their ecological significance, the response of plants and communities to high temperature and salinity, the rationale behind the use of deficit irrigation to increase water use efficiency , plant adaptations for efficient extraction of nutrients from the soil, the way in which leaves and roots function in drought-prone environments, and the regulation of growth of leaves and roots in drought-prone environments. Students will also develop the skill level required identify the practical applications of modifying plant responses to their light environment, discussing the problems posed by a hot dry climate for plant growth and functioning and the rationale for breeding/engineering plants for increased water use efficiency, in addition to gaining the necessary understanding of the cellular and whole plant tissue basis of plant drought resistance and the physiological basis of salt tolerance.
Research and practice in biomedicine continues to evolve more rapidly than at any other time in history, raising fascinating but complex moral and ethical challenges for those studying and working in the field. Understanding ethics in biomedicine and the relationship between science and society has become an essential element in biomedical degree training.
This module builds on the Biomedicine and Society module, aiming to help students develop a deeper understanding of key ethical principles used in biomedicine and some major cultural, social and political influences that define research agendas and fuel ethical debates in the public perception of biomedicine.
The module takes on a seminar format structured around three core themes:
This module focuses on the phenotypic and genetic responses of organisms to their environment, and how a fundamental understanding of the principles of evolution and ecology can help us to explain many important biological phenomena. The module will address a number of recent advances in our understanding of ecology and evolutionary biology, and will serve as an introduction to different methods for conducting cutting edge science. Students will gain the ability to synthesise information from a range of sources and to present it in a balanced and coherent way.
This module will use a combination of lectures and workshops to examine a range of topical areas in ecology and evolutionary biology. Specifically, students will develop the ability to explain the fundamental principles underpinning ecology and evolutionary biology, and will gain confidence in constructing detailed arguments supporting or contradicting key issues in evolution and biology. Students will be encouraged in developing their own ability to analyse and assess complex topics in this area, therefore demonstrating their own expertise in problem solving. The module will present a wide range of primary literature, and will expect students to synthesise information from a variety of sources, and present their findings to their peers.
The module will be taught by a range of staff within the Biodiversity Theme and beyond, including individuals with specific expertise in the key topics covered, in order to tackle a number of contemporary and important issues in ecology and evolutionary biology. Students are prompted to think about the ‘bigger picture’ and to synthesise disparate sources of information in order to provide a balanced and unbiased summary of the issues. An emphasis will be placed on understanding and applying the scientific method to contentious areas in the field.
How is DNA, the fundamental building block of life, organised and expressed in different types of organisms such as bacteria and humans? Lectures comparing eukaryotic and prokaryotic gene organisation and expression, chromatin structure and DNA repair will seek to answer this question. In addition, you will study the application of genetics to science and technology during practical and workshop sessions, providing you with the opportunity to develop group and independent working skills whilst reinforcing theoretic concepts.
This module will examine how biological understanding can contribute to “global change solutions” in respect to a number of key issues, including food production, biofuels and the continuing protection of the ozone layer. However, it will also place that biological understanding in its wider context, not least by considering how the same fundamental information on specific biological approaches can lead to diametrically opposed positions on the utility and desirability of actually using the biology (e.g. the debate around GM crops).
Students will examine how different interpretations of biological technology relate to the underlying biology, and will additionally benefit from a workshop that will consider the needs of “science communication” beyond the scientific community. The module will not only provide a detailed understanding of a range of “global change solutions”, it will also consider how biology is used (and abused?) in assessing climate change and the possible responses and solutions.
Successful students will be able to describe the biology of a range of examples of both responses to global change, and possible biology-based solutions to ameliorate those responses, and recognise the wider context of the underlying biology of global change effects and/or solutions, for example in policy or the practical deployment of new technologies. Students will develop their critical skills, enabling them to evaluate the biological evidence in relation to global change effects and solutions, and assess how such evidence is used to support sometimes diametrically opposed views specific issues. This module will enhance students’ ability to write effective, concise, accurate summaries of complex biological topics in styles appropriate for different audiences, e.g. the scientific community, policy makers or the general public.
Plants and animals in their natural environments interact with a wide range of other living organisms. These include both beneficial interactions and damaging encounters with parasites, pathogens and herbivores. The module examines the different kinds of organisms that have evolved a parasitic lifestyle and the ways in which they parasitize their hosts. In parallel, the module will introduce the different strategies that plants and animals use to defend themselves, including the recruitment of other organisms to act as allies. The continuing conflict between hosts and parasites results in a so-called 'evolutionary arms race'.
Practical work will develop laboratory skills, and assessment will develop skills in data analysis, writing and argument. The module will also examine the evolutionary costs and benefits of defence, and the evidence for short and long-term immunological memory. Since the module is aimed primarily at addressing ecological and physiological questions rather than the biomedical aspects of parasitology, the focus will be on invertebrate rather than vertebrate hosts.
Students will be able to describe a range of subject specific topics, such as the main groups of parasitic organisms and their lifestyles; the structural and behavioural defences against parasites, pathogens and herbivores in plants and animals, and the key features of innate and adaptive immunity in plants and animals. This module will also enhance students’ ability to identify the main selective processes shaping the evolution of host resistance to parasites, along with providing explanations as to why many defence mechanisms are inducible rather than permanently expressed, and how specialist herbivores and parasites have co-evolved with their hosts to overcome resistance.
Join a discussion and debate where you are encouraged to critically examine primary literature and ideas on topical issues in conservation biology in the UK and globally. Gain an understanding of the key factors that constrain conservation and of the interdisciplinary nature of conservation problems in the real world.
This module aims to provide an understanding of the organisation of the human genome, how disease genes are mapped and how mutations are identified leading to the development of diagnostic tests. The impacts of massively parallel next generation DNA sequencing, microarrays and SNP genotyping on gene discovery and disease diagnosis are examined. The application of modern genetic techniques to identifying susceptibility genes for complex, multifactorial traits will also be studied. A range of diseases will be examined in detail both in lectures and in case study workshop sessions. The final lecture looks at gene therapy and considers the future for treatment of genetic disorders. The practical session aims to give students an opportunity to study their own DNA in a forensics scenario, using techniques that are widely applicable in modern molecular genetics.
Students will be introduced to the importance of molecular, metabolic and cellular interactions within parasitic protists, and between a range of parasitic protists and their hosts.
The course will provide students with an understanding of how the life cycle strategies used by protists enable them to gain access to, and survive within, the host as well as the impact that protist parasites have on human health. Practicals will provide an opportunity for students to apply immunological skills to investigate the host-parasite interaction.
Nervous system function, from formation in the embryo to sensory systems and the neural control of complex behaviours, is the focus of this module. The emphasis is on model systems and the use of genetic tools to elucidate developmental pathways and neural circuits. Practical exercises are used to illustrate some of the functions of nervous systems and how these can be manipulated by genetic intervention.
Students are encouraged to access and evaluate information from a variety of sources and to communicate the principles in a way that is well-organised, topical, and recognises the limits of current hypotheses. On completion of the module, students will be equipped with practical techniques including data collection, analysis and interpretation.
Understanding how life works depends to a great extent on understanding how proteins work. Thanks to the Human Genome Project, we now have a catalogue of all the proteins that are encoded in the human genome. This might be thought of as life’s toolbox. The next questions are: how do those tools work; how do they interact with each other; and how have they evolved over the billions of years of evolutionary time that have led to us? This module introduces modern techniques for the study of protein structure, function and evolution.
Lectures cover: structural-functional relationships in proteins; methods for detecting the action of Darwinian selection in protein evolution; methods for reconstructing the evolutionary events that have led to present-day proteins; and, the new lab techniques that are allowing us to study protein function on a large scale. In the practical sessions, you will gain hands on experience of molecular phylogenetics – the main tool for studying evolution at the molecular level – as it is applied to proteins. Assessment is by an exam and a coursework essay on a protein of your choice, giving you a chance to apply your new knowledge of protein biochemistry to any of your own areas of interest in biology.
Modern resource-intensive agriculture has proved incredibly successful in delivering relatively abundant, cheap food (at least in the developed world), but sometimes at considerable environmental cost. Therefore the general public is usually keen to embrace "sustainable agriculture" but is generally unaware of the economic and food production costs of proposed changes in crop management. By emphasising the concept of crop resource use efficiency, this module focuses on the viability of less intensive agricultural systems.
Students will critically examine primary literature on topical issues concerning the sustainability of different agricultural systems. They will gain an understanding of the key factors constraining food production, and the environmental and food production consequences of different crop production systems.
In addition to gaining the ability to identify key issues affecting the sustainability of agriculture, students will critically appraise the literature on these issues, and will develop the skillset required to recognise the economic and societal problems constraining the adoption of more environmentally sustainable agriculture. Ultimately, students will gain the ability to discuss alternative scenarios and solutions for key environmental problems associated with agriculture and document said issues in a cogent and critical manner.
This module is presented by academics with many years’ experience working on international tropical disease research. In the era of increasing international travel and trade, and considering the potential effects of climate change, parasites and pathogens that cause tropical diseases are an increasingly important group of organisms globally. These pathogens include viruses, bacteria, protists, worms and arthropods of various kinds.
Students will focus on the biology of the major pathogens including their life cycles, transmission mechanisms, pathology, diagnosis, treatment and control. There will be an emphasis on insect transmitted diseases such as malaria, dengue and neglected diseases such as leishmaniasis. Students will discuss international public health, and specific factors that prevent successful control within economically deprived communities.
Molecular approaches will not be covered in detail. Case study workshops will look at disease outbreaks, and practical sessions will explore and develop concepts from lectures and demonstrate some practical techniques that can be used to facilitate research into tropical diseases.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster visit our Teaching and Learning section.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Our programmes maintain an excellent record for graduate prospects. A degree in biological sciences opens up a wealth of opportunities in careers ranging from Biotechnologist, Microbiologist, Molecular Geneticist, Forensic Scientist, Pharmaceutical Scientist, Food Technologist, Material Technologist, in addition to careers in research.
In addition to developing your subject knowledge, a degree at Lancaster will equip you with a range of computing, intellectual, practical, numerical and interpersonal skills. The abilities gained on the programme will increase your appeal to employers in a wide variety of sectors, and our careers service offers help and advice for all of our graduates for as long you need it.
If you wish to enhance your career prospects by extending your study to postgraduate level, you may wish to undertake a PhD at our brand new Graduate School where you can join our vibrant community of PhD students and make a direct contribution to the world-class research output, whilst developing the skills that you need to enjoy a rewarding career in your chosen field.
We offer a variety of extra-curricular activities and volunteering opportunities that enable you to explore your interests and enhance your CV. Our weekly careers bulletin and careers blogs are written by student volunteers, and inform you of careers events. The Students’ Union-run Green Lancaster programme offers placements with external organisations, allowing students to gain volunteering experience at weekends by working in the local community, taking part in a wide range of activities and developing their practical skills.
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring you not only gain a highly reputable degree, you also graduate with the relevant life and work based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award which offers you the opportunity to complete key activities such as work experience, employability awareness, career development, campus community and social development. Visit our Employability section for full details.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2019/20 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2018 were:
Some science and medicine courses have higher fees for students from
the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. You can find more details here:
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
Students also need to consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation it may be necessary to take out subscriptions to professional bodies and to buy business attire for job interviews.
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Typical time in lectures, seminars and similar per week during term time
Average assessment by coursework