University of Chester

Programme Specification
Biology BSc (Hons) (Single Honours)
2014 - 2015

Bachelor of Science (Single Honours)



University of Chester

University of Chester (Reaseheath College where appropriate)

Chester Campus (Reaseheath College where appropriate)

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Biological Sciences



Department of Biological Sciences

Sunday 1st April 2007

  • To provide a coherent and challenging learning experience for students who have an interest in biological sciences
  • To promote the academic, vocational and personal development of students
  • To encourage a critically and theoretically informed  and reflective approach to academic study
  • To foster an appreciation of the role and value of research and of a scientific approach to study
  • To increase self awareness and insight into both professional and ethical issues relevant to the discipline of Biological Sciences
  • To facilitate access to higher education and lifelong learning by flexibility in admissions procedures, and learning   and teaching styles.

Knowledge and Understanding

1 Principles of biology (eg. structure and function, adaptation, homoeostasis)
2 Physiology, Genetics, Cell Biology and Biochemisty underpinning Biology
3 Organismal structure/function relationships
4 Mechanism and evidence for evolution
5 Work-based or experiential learning
Thinking or Cognitive Skills

1 Synthesize information/data from a variety of sources
2 Analyse/evaluate/interpret data
3 Formulate and test hypotheses
4 Plan, conduct and report on a specific research project
5 Data handling and IT skills
Practical Skills

1. Observe, record accurately and account for features in the laboratory and/or fieldrelevant to biology;
2. Prepare descriptive and interpretive laboratory and/or field reports;
3. Demonstrate the skills involved in the preparation of practical reports
4. Use IT and understand both descriptive and inferential statistics

Key Skills

  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

1. Communicate effectively (written and verbal)Application of numerical skills and use of scientific notation and units
2. Use of IT (data presentation, statistical analysis, CAL)
3. Learning to work as a member of a team and working to deadlines
4. Learning to learn - using appropriate modes of study and accessing information sources
Transferable Professional Skills

1. Learn in familiar and unfamiliar situations;
2. Communicate effectively (in writing, verbally and through presentation);
3. Apply basic numerical skills in the scientific context;
4. Use information technology competently and appropriately (e.g. use of standard word processing packages; internet; databases; spreadsheets and specialist software as appropriate);
5. Work as part of a team.

Full-time students study 120 credits per year for the three years.  Part-time students study the same quantity of credit in total but the maximum time for completion is seven years.

Students study a number of compulsory core modules, covering essential skills and concepts in biology, chemistry, cell biology and research skills.  At various stages in the programme, students may choose from a range of optional modules but we strongly advise them to follow one of two routes: the Human Sciences route or the Animal Behavioural route. These reflect the large variation in Biological Sciences and the research interests of the staff.  These routes are most apparent at Level 6:-

  • Animal Behavioural route modules include: Animal Behaviour and Conservation, Conservation and Environmental Impact, Physiology and Behaviour, Animal Cognition, Evolution and Human Behaviour.
  • Human Sciences route modules include: Medical Microbiology and Infection Control, Immunology and Haematology, Health Improvement, Nutritional Disorders, Sport and Exercise Nutrition, Forensic Toxicology.

Credit is awarded for the achievement of the learning outcomes of the modules.  Modules are closely linked to the research expertise of the staff concerned with delivering them. There is a commitment to the development of transferable skills within the curriculum and personal profiling as an aid to personal development. The learning outcomes at each level are carefully graded to ensure progression and in keeping with national frameworks. Employability and subject key skills are incorporated at each level and also delivered in a progressive fashion in keeping with national expectations of graduate capabilities. The QAA (2007) benchmark statements for Biosciences have been used to guide the content of the modules and mapping has been done to ensure adequate coverage of threshold statements.

Students undertaking this programme will be expected to undertake a research module.  This can be either:

  • BI6110 Dissertation (40 credits)
  • BI6112 Research Project (20 credits) 

Advice on this choice will be provided to students by the Department at Level 5.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
BI4110 4 Essential Physiology 20 Comp
BI4111 4 Genetics and Evolution 20 Comp
BI4112 4 Cell Biology and Biochemistry 20 Comp
BI4113 4 Introductory Microbiology and Immunology 20 Optional
BI4114 4 Data Handling and Project Design 20 Comp
BI4118 4 Introduction to Animal Behaviour 20 Optional
BI4128 4 Wildlife Ecology 20 Optional
BI5110 5 Research Methods 20 Comp
BI5111 5 Biology of Disease 20 Optional
BI5113 5 Experiential Learning 20 Optional
BI5114 5 Applied Molecular Biology 20 Optional
BI5115 5 Applied Microbiology 20 Optional
BI5118 5 Behavioural Ecology 20 Optional
BI5119 5 Adaptations to the Environment 20 Optional
BI5121 5 Field Ecology 20 Optional
BI5126 5 Wildlife Crime and Conservation 20 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional
XN5112 5 Human Metabolism 20 Optional
BI6110 6 Dissertation 40 Optional
BI6112 6 Research Project 20 Optional
BI6114 6 Medical Microbiology and Infection Control 20 Optional
BI6115 6 Immunology and Haematology 20 N/A
BI6116 6 Clinical Biochemistry and Genetic Analysis 20 N/A
BI6117 6 Forensic Toxicology 20 Optional
BI6124 6 Clinical Medicine and Immunology 20 Optional
BI6125 6 Blood Sciences 20 Optional
BI6129 6 Animal Behaviour and Conservation 20 Optional
BI6130 6 Conservation and Environmental Impact 20 Optional
BI6132 6 Physiology and Behaviour 20 N/A
BI6134 6 Animal Cognition 20 Optional
BI6136 6 Evolution and Human Behaviour 20 Optional
BU6017 6 Managing New Business Ventures 20 Optional

Students graduate with BSc Honours on completion of Level6 having obtained 360 credits (120 per year).
Students may obtain an exit award of Dip HE on completion of Level5 having obtained 240 credits (120 per year).
Students may obtain an exit award of Cert HE on completion of Level4 having obtained 120 credits.

Entry Requirements:

    • A minimum of 220 UCAS points, of which 200 points must be obtained from GCE and/or VCE A Levels (12 or 6 unit awards), including a grade C in ONE subject. The remaining points may be achieved from GCE and/or VCE A/AS Levels, VCE double award, or Level 3 Key Skills certification

      The department requires one of the following subjects as essential for entry:
      A2 Level: Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Science, Applied Science
      AS Level: Biology, Human Biology, Social Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Science
      VCE A Level: Science

    • BTEC National Diploma/Certificate (Applied Science): merit profile
    • Irish Highers/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjectsincluding Biology, Chemistry or Human Biology
    • International Baccalaureate: 24 points, including 4 in Biology or Chemistry
    • QAA recognised Access To Science course, Open College Units or Open University Credits

The subject benchmark statements for bioscience (QAA 2007) have been used as a guide in developing the programme as they define the nature of the programme and identify the skills and attributes expected to be acquired by the biosciences graduate. The statements have been used in conjunction with the relevant programme specifications and the University’s internal programme documentation.

Generic standards: transferable and core skills

Students can take options within the programme which means that they will be achieving standards in those benchmark areas appropriate to their chosen route Human Sciences or Animal Behavioural route.  

Subject-specific standards (as appropriate)
Molecular aspects of biology (including biochemistry)
Organisms Ecology
Environmental biology   

Members of the Department of Biological Sciences have many years of experience in offering distinctive programmes of study at diploma, undergraduate, postgraduate and post-experience levels. The Department has considerable experience of supporting the learning needs of mature students and of students generally with ‘non-standard entry’ qualifications. Considerable experience has been achieved with students with limited entry qualifications both in terms of academic performance and personal development. Consequently, students encounter a broad range of teaching and learning experiences across all levels of study as befits the subject matter. Methods of teaching and learning are indicated clearly in each module descriptor and the list that follows describes the variety of approaches used by tutors.  Lectures: These feature in most modules as an effective way of imparting important content, themes and pointers for further study. However, they are supplemented by a variety of other methods of teaching and learning as described below. Practical classes: The majority of modules at Levels 4 and 5 include practical classes. These provide the opportunity for students to develop their data handling and analytical skills as well as their practical skills (eg. handling equipment). An important aspect of practical work is also the opportunity it offers for groups work encouraging working with others. At level 6, the amount of practical work is limited but those students who do a dissertation normally undertake a practical project involving an empirical study. Seminars are used most often in modules at Level 6 in which group sizes are relatively small and students tend to be more confident. Selected topics of the module content are chosen to provide the opportunity for more in-depth study and dissemination of ideas.  Amongst other key skills, students are able to practise oral communication skills in a relatively informal context.  When students have specific queries that have not been addressed during formal teaching sessions, they can contact module tutors directly. In practice, these discussions tend to focus on assessment issues, including feedback on formative essays, the initial drafts of assignments, and performance in examinations. A system is in operation whereby students can make appointments to consult tutors. 

Work Related Studies
All students will be required to undertake work related studies at level 5 of the programme. There will be choice offered so that students can either do Work Based Learning (organised by the Centre for Work Related Studies) or do Experiential Learning which is organised and staffed by the Department of Biological Sciences.

Intranet-based support materials
The University has an intranet (IBIS) available to all students on or off campus. This offers access to a wide range of facilities including Learning Resources, the Library, e-mail and all modular support materials. Staff are increasingly using IBIS for making additional support materials available for students as a VLE. 

Directed reading
As reading is central to the process of knowledge acquisition in higher education, module tutors provide reading lists to guide their students to appropriate material. Increasingly, these lists include references to the Internet and electronic sources, as well as more traditional book and journal references.  

Group work
The QAA subject benchmark (2007) document lists teamwork as one of the six categories of graduate transferable skills that needs to be demonstrated in higher education.  Throughout the programme, teamwork has been incorporated with progression incorporated from one level to the next. In many modules, particularly in practical work in the laboratory or field, students are encouraged to work in groups and to share ideas. The assessment in certain modules is based on group assignments. 

Prior to the start of the programme, all students have an Induction Programme which introduces them to the University and the Department. There are group sessions on, for example, learning to learn, plagiarism, preparing for assignments and using IBIS. The Learning Support Sevice is also introduced.

The University's level related criteria are a key reference when designing modular assessments. More recently, the Key Skills Handbook provides useful guidance on level-related assessment. Therefore, progression towards more complex and involved assessments, that require greater levels of study autonomy and greater levels of critical analysis, underpins the overall assessment strategy of the programme. Regular and structured formative assessment is a feature of the programme ensuring that students have regular and informed feedback on their learning.

Course Work and Examinations

It is departmental policy to use a variety of assessment processes so that our students can demonstrate their abilities in a variety of assessment modes. Generally, staff choose 50% course work and 50% examination except for those modules where this would be inapplicable such as the dissertation module. 

We feel that in preparing course work, which can include essays, laboratory and field exercises and presentations, students are given time and scope to present their work in a variety of modes particularly where an examination would be inappropriate. However, we are aware that examinations have an important role in summative assessment and give academic credibility (both externally and internally) to our degree programmes. 

The programme is designed to equip graduates with the necessary knowledge and practical (transferable) skills to embark on careers within the bioscience industries, teaching, further training for specialist careers or postgraduate studies. Whilst it is expected that the majority of each cohort will initially embark on such career pathways, the embedded transferable skills throughout the programme make the graduate highly employable. Graduates from the programme should be able to

(i) adopt a systematic and rigorous approach to academic study

(ii) demonstrate extensive knowledge and a critical understanding of relevant theories and concepts

(iii) integrate and synthesise knowledge and understanding from different areas of the biological sciences

(iv) be able to use a broad range of practical skills as applied to the biological sciences

(v) apply a critically and theoretically informed perspective to relevant issues and current developments (as appropriate) in biological sciences

(vi) apply and evaluate a scientific approach to academic study;

(vii) demonstrate the competence and skills necessary to progress from tutor-centred to student-centred learning

(viii) adopt appropriate teamwork, problem-solving, communication and presentation skills and ICT and numeracy

(ix) plan and implement an appropriate research project and critically reflect on their practice.

The Mission of the Department is to teach and facilitate learning in biology, from introductory to postgraduate level, as an academic discipline and as a basis for applied vocational training. In support of this, the Department encourages the development of links with professional biologists and the wider community.  It also strives to foster student autonomy in learning, and to promote and support research and scholarly activity in the biological sciences. 

The programmes of study in the Dept of Biological Sciences fully embrace the University’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity.  The  University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.  The ultimate objective of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for.  At a departmental level all programmes are developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:

  • Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. 

  • Each module and programme is developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.

  • There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Department works closely with Learning Support Services in delivering this support through Incluysion Plans.

  • The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues.  Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.

  • Supportive formative exercises are presented in modules in the first year to give all students an equal chance of succeeding.

  • Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking and the blue sticker scheme also enhance equal opportunity to all students.

  • In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements.

  • All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.

  • All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their PAT roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of the Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise.   


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