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What makes an Integrated Masters in Biology at Worcester special?

Biology is one of the most actively changing subjects in the sciences, constantly seeking solutions to the many challenges that shape our world. At Worcester we engage with Biology in all its breath-taking sweep and scale, from the molecular level through whole organisms and beyond to their relationships with each other and the wider environment.

In the fourth (masters) year you will undertake a very research oriented programme which will take full advantage of the academic and commercial research expertise in Biology within the department.

* subject to approval

Key features

  • Study for a four year Integrated Masters degree in Biology in a friendly and supportive environment.
  • Learn more about the latest technologies that are driving pure and applied Biology research.
  • Learn about Biology research and its importance and application to solve problems encountered in industry.
  • Gain extensive practical experience and knowledge by working with academic and technical experts in new and refurbished laboratories using a range of specialist equipment.
  • Obtain a valuable postgraduate qualification and enhance your chances when applying for scientific jobs or a PhD degree.
  • The option to exit after three years and be awarded a BSc (hons) in Biology.

Entry requirements

What qualifications will you need?

Entry requirements

  • 96 UCAS Tariff points MUST include A level Biology and A level in another science, maths or statistics.
  • 104 UCAS Tariff points MUST include A level Biology
  • Other qualifications will be taken into account when considering your application, typical BTEC entry would be DMM.
Other information

If your qualifications are not listed, please contact the Admissions Office for advice on 01905 855111 or email admissions@worc.ac.uk for advice.

Further information about the UCAS Tariff can be obtained from www.ucas.com

Course content

What will you study?

Here is an overview of current modules available on this course. Regular updates may mean that exact module titles may differ.

Year 1

Mandatory

  • Cell Biology
  • Comparative Animal Physiology
  • Introduction to Ecology
  • Animal Diversity

Optional

  • Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Introduction to Nutrition in Humans
  • Introduction to Forensic Biology
  • Introduction to Human Biology and Disease
  • Introduction to Biological Chemistry
  • Basis of Biological Surveying
  • Human Origins

Year 2

Mandatory

  • Plant Biology
  • Project and Career development
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology

Optional

  • Animal Behaviour
  • Work Experience
  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Agents and Allergens
  • Animal Senses and Survival
  • Human Genetics
  • Medical Forensic Science
  • Human Systems Physiology
  • Applied Human Metabolism
  • Comparative Digestion and Nutrition
  • Invertebrate Biology
  • Population and Community Ecology
  • Ecology of Fresh Waters
  • Soils and the Environment
  • Field Techniques and Identification skills.

Year 3

Mandatory

  • Independent Study
  • Plant Development and Physiology

Optional

  • Mammalian Reproduction
  • Work Experience
  • Animal Movement
  • Forensic DNA Analysis
  • Biological Indicators for Crime Reporting
  • Pharmacology
  • Genomics and Bioinformatics
  • Animal Welfare and Ethics
  • Extension Module
  • Parasitology
  • The Biochemistry of Cancer
  • Research Methods and Research Project
  • Residential Ecology Field Trip
  • Zoo-based Conservation

Year 4

Mandatory

  • Research Methods
  • Applied and Commercial Research
  • Integrated Masters Thesis/Project in Biology

The course deals with many different groups of organisms in terms of their structure, development, physiology, metabolism and ecology. It also explains how a range of new techniques, such as the sequencing of the entire genomes of an increasing number of species, have added enormously to knowledge so that modern biologists can address questions that were unanswerable in the past.

A key strength of the course is the clear linkage between this new information and established knowledge. For example, the new ‘genomics’ material is taught in association with Mendelian genetics and modern ‘bioinformatics’ methods are used to show how evolution can be followed by examining DNA and amino acid sequences from different species.

Year 4 modules are common to a range of Biological Science Integrated masters courses but each subject specialisation will be achieved by students varying their selection of topics from within menus of material within each module. For example, a Biology student will undertake an appropriate research project which will differ from the choices available to a Biochemist. Although there will be generic material, the individual skills delivered within the Applied and Commercial Research and Research Methods modules will also be tailored to deliver the individual needs of each Integrated Masters course.

Applied and Commercial Research is a unique aspect of our Integrated Masters programme compared with other institutions. It will offer students valuable insights into applied and commercial rather than just pure research. Most of this module will take advantage of current commercial and applied research expertise in our Charles Darwin Laboratories including the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit.

View the Biology Programmes Overview.

Teaching and Assessment

How will you be taught?

We enable you to develop the independent learning capabilities that will equip you for lifelong learning and future employment, as well as academic achievement.  A mixture of independent study, teaching and academic support through the personal academic tutoring system enables you to reflect on progress and build up a profile of skills, achievements and experiences that will enable you to flourish and be successful. In year 4 you will interact with other students from other disciplines to produce a commercial research proposal which you will ‘pitch’ to customers. This module will also allow you to reflect on your role. Year 4 will also involve independent learning via a 60 credit dissertation.

Teaching

You are taught through a combination of lectures, practical work, field work, video presentations, group tutorials, discussions, directed reading, and formative assessments. The first year also includes study skills sessions. The course is very practical and offers you the opportunity to undertake an independent project in your third year. The emphasis on the development of ‘hands on’ practical skills will provide you with useful skills for your future career.

In addition, meetings with personal academic tutors are scheduled on at least 4 occasions in the first year and three occasions in each of the other years of a course.

You have an opportunity to take a work experience module in your second or third year, to engage with an Erasmus scheme and spend a semester abroad, or to become involved in staff research through the Vacation Research Assistantship Scheme. Year 4 will involve much more independent work and group work and the chance to engage in a substantial piece of research.

Contact time

In a typical week you will have around 16 contact hours of teaching. The precise contact hours will depend on the optional modules selected and in the third and fourth years you will normally have slightly less contact time in order to do more independent study.

Typically class contact time will be structured around:

  • 4 hours of lectures
  • 11 hours of supervised laboratory practicals
  • 1 hour of group workshops
  • 1 hour of Study Skills (first year only)

Independent self-study

In addition to the contact time, you are expected to undertake around 27 hours of personal self-study per week.  Typically, this will involve going over your lecture notes and reading around the topic in order to reinforce the content, completing online activities, reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library and online, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for examinations. Independent learning will substantially increase in year 4. 

Independent learning is supported by a range of excellent learning facilities, including the Hive and library resources, the virtual learning environment, and extensive electronic learning resources.

Teaching staff

You will be taught by a teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. You will mainly be taught by senior academics, but visiting speakers with specialised expertise may deliver some sessions. Technicians support practical sessions. Research assistants post doctorial researchers will support pure and applied research in year 4.

Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader. Teaching is informed by the research and consultancy, and 93 per cent of course lecturers in the Biological Sciences have a higher education teaching qualification or are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy. Twenty per cent also have Teaching Fellowships from the University of Worcester. You can learn more about the staff by visiting our staff profiles.

Assessment

The course provides opportunities to test understanding and learning informally through the completion of practice or ‘formative’ assignments.  Each module has one or more formal or ‘summative’ assessments which are graded and count towards the overall module grade.  

Assessment methods include practical reports, presentations, posters, on-line activities, essays and examinations (which may be practical, written, data analysis, seen exams or open book exams).

The precise assessment requirements for an individual student in an academic year will vary according to the mandatory and optional modules taken, but a typical formal summative assessment pattern for each year of the course is:

Year 1
4 practical reports
3 practical files
6 exams of 1.5 or 2 hours duration
1 practical test
1 presentation
1 poster

Year 2
2 practical reports
5 exams of 1.5 or 2 hours duration
2 poster presentations
1 presentation
1 practical test
1 practical handbook
1 bioinformatics handbook
1 data exercise
1 lay summary
1 literature portfolio
1 research proposal
1 CV and practice job interview

Year 3
1 Independent study report
2 poster presentation
2 presentations
4 examinations of 1.5 or 2 hours duration
1 on-line activity
1 essay
1 practical test
2 practical reports
1 scientific review article
1 summary and critical discussion of academic papers

Year 4
2 PDP action Plans
1 Grant application
1 Lab notebook
1 Group action plan
1 Group business pitch
1 Reflective account
1 Interim dissertation viva
1 Dissertation report
1 poster presentation

Feedback

You will receive feedback on practice assessments and on formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback on examination performance is available upon request from the module leader. Feedback is intended to support learning and you are encouraged to discuss it with personal academic tutors and module tutors as appropriate.

We aim to provide you with feedback on formal course work assessments within 20 working days of hand-in.

Meet the team

Here are a few members of the department who currently teach on this course:

  • Lorraine-Weaver-200x200

    Lorraine Weaver

    Lorraine is Head of Biological Sciences and has a range of interests, from the physiology and behaviour of large agricultural animals to the ecology of Bryophytes, the latter being one of her main research interests.

  • Dr Mike Wheeler

    Dr Mike Wheeler

    Mike is currently investigating the function of a large family of secreted proteins likely to be involved in cell-cell communication in the model plants, Arabidopsis thaliana and Physcomitrella patens.

    In addition to his research into plant molecular genetics Mike is also developing means of using molecular biology to solve problems in conservation biology which is a longstanding passion of his. In this area Mike is currently developing eDNA (environmental DNA) techniques to assess the effect of invasive and non-native species on species of conservation concern.

  • Professor Mahmut Tör

    Professor Mahmut Tör

    Mahmut is Chair of Molecular Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of Worcester.

    In addition to being an active researcher Mahmut leads on a number of undergraduate modules.

  • Dr Steven J Coles

    Steve achieved a first class honours degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of the West of England (UWE, 2005) before undertaking a PhD in Biomedical Sciences (Neurochemistry) which he attained in 2008 (UWE). Following his studies, Steve joined the School of Medicine at Cardiff University as a post-doctoral research scientist (Department of Haematology), where his research focussed on tumour immunology and immunotherapy in a type of blood cancer known as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

  • Dr Kate Ashbrook

    Dr Kate Ashbrook

    Kate's background includes four years of post-doctoral studies at the University of Bath and a period as a field researcher for the Canadian Wildlife Service where she contributed to long-term monitoring of a seabird colony in Nunavut, Canada.

    Her research interests focus on using modelling to understand the dynamics of ecological systems and inform conservation management.

  • allain-bueno-science-university-worcester

    Dr Allain Bueno

    Dr Allain Bueno joined the University of Worcester in January 2012 after 4 years of Post-doctoral studies at the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London. Dr Bueno holds strong experience in clinical sciences, having worked and taught in a leading tertiary referral hospital. His current area of research includes the biochemistry of dietary fats, cell membrane phospholipids and anti-oxidant protection in health conditions.

Careers

Where could it take you?

Employability

For the first three years you will follow the same modules as students on the BSc (Hons) course, which offer excellent practical hands-on experience in these areas.  

The course prepares you for a number of degree paths including scientific researcher within government, industry or medical institutions, medical and laboratory sales, nature conservation, a range of public sector work and a teaching career.

It is becoming increasing difficult for graduates to obtain PhD positions with only a BSc (Hons) degree. Graduates with an Integrated Masters degree would have significant additional research expertise that would enable them to progress straight to an MPhil/PhD position. There is an increasing need for graduates in the UK economy as skilled researchers for UK PLC. Such graduates have much to offer within the general area of applied biological research but also, critically, to drive forward the innovation that is vital for the UK economy.

The Biological Sciences courses have a strong applied component. We have retained a great deal of practical and field work, both of which have been greatly reduced in many universities; these give our students an advantage when seeking employment or continuing their studies through a higher degree. This has suited students well for careers in the laboratory or the field. Some are engaged in research or education and some undertake medical qualifications or complete higher degrees.

There are many opportunities to extend your experience and enhance your CV by carrying out voluntary work. Staff members in the Institute have links with several Wild Life Trusts (including Worcestershire Wildlife Trust) and other environmental and conservation agencies, Sea Life Centres, Safari Parks etc. and can help organise voluntary work (which can feed into Independent Studies projects in the final year of study). There has also been the possibility for students to gain experience by volunteering to work within the Environmental Sustainability Eco Campus initiative.

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Costs

How much will it cost?

Full-time tuition fees

UK and EU students

The standard tuition fee for full-time UK and EU students registering in the academic year 2018/19 will be £9,250 per year.

For more details, please visit our course fees page.

International students

The standard tuition fee for full-time international (non-EU) students registering in the academic year 2018/19 will be £12,100 per year.

For more details, please visit our course fees page.

Part-time tuition fees

UK and EU students

The standard tuition fees for part-time UK and EU students registering on this course in the academic year 2018/19 will be £1,156 per 15-credit module, £1,542 per 20 credit module and £2,313 per 30-credit module.

For more details, please visit our course fees page.

Additional costs

Every course has day-to-day costs for basic books, stationery, printing and photocopying.  The amounts vary between courses.

You will also need a lab coat, which can be bought for around £13.

Accommodation

Finding the right accommodation is paramount to your university experience, and our welcoming student communities are great places to live and study.

We have over 1,000 rooms across our halls of residence. With rooms to suit every budget and need, from our 'Traditional Hall' at £98 per week to 'En-suite Extra' at £159 per week.

For full details visit our accommodation page.

Apply

How do you apply?

Applying through UCAS

Biology MBiol (Integrated Masters) - C1C1

UCAS is the central organisation through which applications are processed for entry onto full-time undergraduate courses in Higher Education in the UK.

Read our How to apply pages for more information on applying and to find out what happens to your application.

UCAS CODE:

C1C1

Apply now via UCAS

Get in touch

If you have any questions, please get in touch. We're here to help you every step of the way.

Admissions office

01905 855111
admissions@worc.ac.uk

Lorraine Weaver

Head of Biological Sciences
01905 855598
l.weaver@worc.ac.uk

ISE Academic Support Unit

01905 855201/02/23
ise@worc.ac.uk