University of Chester

Programme Specification
Natural Sciences BSc (Hons) (Single Honours)
2014 - 2015

Bachelor of Science (Single Honours)

Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences

University of Chester

University of Chester

Thornton Science Park

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Science & Engineering Natural Sciences

Physics, Astronomy & Astrophysics

Intention to seek accreditation with the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Science and Engineering

Friday 1st November 2013

The Natural Sciences degree programme is a multi-disciplinary course which aims to satisfy the criteria of the appropriate accrediting bodies.  Accreditation by the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry will be pursued. The degree programme offers options to allow the depth of study required by the professional institutions to be matched by the breadth necessary for a true interdisciplinary scientific education. 

The B.Sc. programme aims to:

  • Offer an interesting, challenging, and industrially relevant degree programme that cultivates the synergy between teaching and research;
  • Lay a common foundation of scientific principles through a core curriculum supplemented by optional modules to allow a suitable degree of specialism;
  • Develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the fundamental scientific and mathematical tools and techniques used for analysing and modelling complex technological systems;
  • Equip students with an awareness of science in the wider social, commercial, ethical and sustainable context;
  • Provide opportunities for access and personal and professional development that will enable students to reach their full potential in all aspects of University life;
  • Inspire a commitment to life-long learning;
  • Create highly motivated graduates who will be in demand by a wide spectrum of employing organisations.

Overall, the B.Sc. Natural Sciences programme also aims to provide an insight into current scientific developments and their impact on society.

Knowledge and Understanding

  • The fundamental concepts, theories, principles and limitations of physical science, and chemistry /biotechnology; specialising in one of these areas but with a firm grasp of the basic concepts, theories and principles of the others.
  • The mathematical concepts and principles that are relevant to the analysis and solution of applied scientific problems.
  • An appreciation of how the concepts, theories and principles of the chosen specialism feed into and support modern technology.
  • The commercial and economic context of modern science including the business practices and management techniques that are used to achieve scientific and technical objectives, and how regulatory issues influence scientific activities.
  • The need for a high level of professional and ethical conduct in science and technology, and the need for scientific activities to promote responsible and sustainable development.

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

  • A systematic approach to defining and investigating scientific problems and the ability to display creativity and innovation in tackling non-routine applications.
  • The ability to integrate knowledge and understanding across scientific disciplines in building an appreciation of multi-disciplinary areas.
  • To be able to select an appropriate strategy to tackle a problem involving one or more unknowns, and to synthesise the results to an appropriate level of detail, taking into account the limitations of the techniques and methods used.
  • The ability to plan a scientific investigation; to evaluate the results and to make appropriate recommendations based upon these.

Practical Skills

  • Identify and safely use laboratory equipment within a physical, chemical or biological science context.
  • Be able to execute an experimental investigation including using apparatus to acquire data.
  • Be able to analyse experimental data using appropriate techniques including mathematical and statistical software, and to be able to determine and interpret the associated measurement uncertainties.
  • To be able to report fully the results of such an investigation.
  • To be aware of health and safety constraints and the appropriate precautions to be taken.

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

  • Communicate information orally, visually and in writing to a professional standard to both scientific and non-scientific/technical audiences.
  • Ability to apply quantitative methods and computer software in order to solve scientific problems.
  • Acquire, evaluate, manage and understand the context of scientific information from a range of sources including ICT and conventional resources, and apply it in the solution of scientific problems.
  • Work as part of a team.
  • Use creativity to establish innovative solutions that are subject to some degree of scientific or technical uncertainty.
  • Understand and use a systematic scientific method based approach to the solutions of scientific problems.

Transferable Professional Skills

  • Be motivated and able to work and learn independently.
  • Plan and manage time, resources and projects safely and effectively.
  • Exercise independent thought, and have the confidence to make value judgements based on limited information.
  • Be ready and prepared for their careers and committed to maintaining high professional and ethical standards.

Scientists use the principles of rationalism and the scientific method to investigate the natural world and, through understanding, manipulate natural phenomena for the benefit of mankind.  The natural scientist is therefore an inquisitive and creative individual able to synthesise knowledge out of observation and experimental data using the tools of theory and mathematical manipulation.  To facilitate this, the Natural Sciences B.Sc. curriculum has been developed to provide a general scientific education with sufficient specialisation to produce graduates with the strong academic background and problem-solving attributes demanded by today’s hi-tech industries. 

The Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry are potential external accrediting organisations for the Natural Sciences B.Sc. course.  

The Institute of Physics provides either full accreditation for dedicated physics courses, or recognition for degrees with a substantial physics content.  The “core physics” content identified by the Institute of Physics is covered in the Natural Sciences physical sciences course modules and therefore accreditation can be pursued. 

The Royal Society of Chemistry does not prescribe the topics to be covered for accreditation, but provides guidance on the depth, breadth and practical skills that are required. 

The structure and content of this programme has been determined from a variety of sources:

  • The Institute of Physics “The Physics Degree: Graduate Skills Base & the Core of Physics” 2011.
  • The Institute of Physics Register of Recognised Courses (2013).
  • The Royal Society of Chemistry Accreditation of Degree Programmes 2013.
  • The UK Quality Code for Higher Education. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, April 2012.
  • The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, August 2008.
  • The Northern Ireland Credit Accumulation and Transfer System (NICATS): Principles and Guidelines 2002.
  • Beyond the honours degree classification; The Burgess Group final report, October 2007.
  • Proposals for national arrangements for the use of academic credit in higher education in England, Final report of the Burgess Group, December 2006. 

Following the approach used by the QAA, the threshold levels relevant for achievement of each level and exit award within this programme are:

Certificate of Higher Education: 120 credits
Students will have a firm knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of core scientific subjects. They will have learned how to take different approaches to solving standard problems.  Students will be logical, numerate and able to communicate accurately.  They will have developed both independent learning and team working skills.

Diploma of Higher Education: 240 credits
Students will have developed a sound understanding of the principles involved in core scientific subjects, and will know how to apply those principles to solve more advanced problems. They will be able to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems.  Students will be numerate and able to communicate effectively.  In employment, they will be able to take personal responsibility and work individually or as part of a team.

Bachelor of Science - Honours: 360 credits
Students will have developed an understanding of a complex body of knowledge relevant to application of the scientific method.  They will have developed analytical and problem-solving skills that can be brought to bear in a range of advanced scientific situations.  Honours graduates will be effective communicators, able to evaluate evidence, arguments and assumptions and reach sound judgments.  In employment they will be motivated, efficient, and able to take personal responsibility and make decisions in complex and unpredictable circumstances. 

The first year of study lays the foundations of scientific principles across a range of subject areas, and is common to all Natural Sciences students.  It has some commonality with the core first year engineering courses taught in the Faculty, giving the students opportunities to mix with and learn from a wider cohort from an extended range of disciplines.  In the second year the students pursue either a physical science pathway with a significant mathematical content, or a chemistry/biotechnology pathway. In the final year the students undertake an extended individual project, are introduced to the essentials of modern business practice, and make a selection from a number of specialised options within the structured learning environment, thereby tailoring the degree to meet there own specific needs and interests.  

At level 4 of the B.Sc. Natural Sciences programme, students will take:


SE4001420Professional Skills for Scientists and Engineers
SE4003420Mathematics for Scientists and Engineers
SE4007420Chemistry Fundamentals
SE4008420Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry
SE4009420Physics Fundamentals
SE4010420Physics of Atoms and Materials

Prior to progression to level 5 of the B.Sc. Natural Sciences programme, students will have the option of either a physical science (P) or a chemistry / biotechnology (CB) pathway.  Students who pass SE4003 Mathematics for Scientists and Engineers at level 4 without compensation will be able to select either the physical science (P) or the chemistry / biotechnology (CB) pathway.  Students who have passed this module with compensation will be restricted to the chemistry / biotechnology pathway.  In either case, students will discuss their pathway with their tutor, and the tutor’s recommendation will be recorded.

Students will take the following core modules along with either the three physical science (P) modules or the three chemistry / biotechnology (CB) modules:


LevelCreditNameCore, P or CB
WB5101520Work-based LearningCore
SE5009520Thermofluids and Statistical ThermodynamicsCore
SE5010520Analytical ScienceCore
SE5001520Mathematics and ModellingP
SE5011520Electromagnetic Fields and WavesP
SE5012520Quantum Mechanics and the Theory of SolidsP
SE5013520Separation ProcessesCB
SE5014520Chemical ScienceCB
SE5015520Biotechnology and Bioinformatics for Disease and NutritionCB

At level 6 of the B.Sc. Natural Sciences programme, students will take the following core modules: 


SE6003620Mapping the Modern Business Landscape
SE6010640B.Sc. Individual Project*

*The individual project will be either physics-based or chemistry / biotechnology based depending on the pathway taken at level 5. 

In addition, students will make a selection of three of the following modules.  Students may select from modules suitable for the P or CB pathway, depending on which pathway they followed at level 5.  Note, one module is suitable for either pathway.


SE6005620Finite Element AnalysisP
SE6011620Nuclear TechnologyP
SE6012620Surfaces, Coatings and NanotechnologyP
SE6013620Renewable Energy and SustainabilityP or CB
SE6014620Environmental Science and Process SafetyCB
SE6015620Chemical Reactors and CatalysisCB
SE6016620Pharmaceuticals and Food TechnologyCB


Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
SE4001 4 Professional Skills for Scientists and Engineers 20 Comp
SE4003 4 Mathematics for Scientists and Engineers 20 Comp
SE4007 4 Chemistry Fundamentals 20 Comp
SE4008 4 Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry 20 Comp
SE4009 4 Physics Fundamentals 20 Comp
SE4010 4 Physics of Atoms and Materials 20 Comp
SE5001 5 Mathematics and Modelling 20 Optional
SE5009 5 Thermofluids and Statistical Thermodynamics 20 Comp
SE5010 5 Analytical Science 20 Comp
SE5011 5 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves 20 Optional
SE5012 5 Quantum Mechanics and the Theory of Solids 20 Optional
SE5013 5 Separation Processes 20 Optional
SE5014 5 Chemical Science 20 Optional
SE5015 5 Biotechnology and Bioinformatics for Disease and Nutrition 20 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Comp
SE6003 6 Mapping the Modern Business Landscape 20 Comp
SE6005 6 Finite Element Analysis 20 Optional
SE6010 6 BSc Individual Project 40 Comp
SE6011 6 Nuclear Technology 20 Optional
SE6012 6 Surfaces, Coatings and Nanotechnology 20 Optional
SE6013 6 Renewable Energy and Sustainability 20 Optional
SE6014 6 Environmental Science and Process Safety 20 Optional
SE6015 6 Chemical Reactors and Catalysis 20 Optional
SE6016 6 Pharmaceuticals and Food Technology 20 Optional

Certificate of Higher Education in Natural Sciences: 120 credits
Students who achieve 120 credits at level 4 may exit at the end of year one with a Certificateof Higher Education in Natural Sciences.
Diploma of Higher Education in Natural Science: 240 credits
Students who achieve 120 credits at level 4 and 120 credits at level 5 may exit at the end of year two with a Diplomaof Higher Education in Natural Sciences.
BSc (Hons) Natural Science: 360 credits
Students who achieve 120 credits at level 4, 120 credits at level 5 and 120 credits at level 6, will exit the programme with a B.Sc. (Hons) Natural Sciences.

The admissions data provided below was correct at the time of creating this programme specification (August 2014). Please refer to the prospectus pages on the corporate website for the most recent data.

300 UCAS points from GCE A Level or equivalent (such as BTEC), including two core sciences at A2 level, where core sciences are identified as physics, chemistry or biology. If physics is not included as one of the two sciences, then A2 level mathematics at grade B or higher is also required.
International Baccalaureate 28 points including 5 in Maths.
Access to HE Diploma with Maths at Level 3.

The QAA does not issue a specific Subject Benchmark Statement for Natural Sciences, therefore individual subject benchmark statements have been consulted for Physics, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2008), Chemistry (2007) and Biosciences (2007).

The learning outcomes defined below represent the common factors of these individual Benchmark Statements, along with the relevant subject-specific content.

A range of diverse teaching and learning strategies is deployed across the programme, with the appropriate method selected to deliver the best opportunity to attain learning outcomes and reinforce the student learning experience.  

During the first year’s core syllabus a broad combination of strategies is used to reflect the students’ diverse backgrounds, to ease the transition from School to University and to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning.  As the student progresses, a greater emphasis is placed upon team and group working, the use of industrially-relevant problems, and transferable skills including communication skills.

During the more specialist second and final year, emphasis is placed upon a deepening scientific understanding that is informed by the research and scholarship of academic staff and involves a significant element of project work.   

The development of the learning outcomes is promoted through the following teaching and learning methods:

  • Lectures are the primary means of conveying academic material and information.  Most lecture courses provide problem sheets, worked examples and/or case studies. Students will also be directed to suitable resources involving a range of ICT to enable then to develop their understanding of the subject matter during their private-study. 
  • Tutorials and Example Classes are normally delivered to smaller (than class sized) groups of students.  These classes provide an opportunity for academic staff to resolve problems in the students' understanding.
  • Workshops are used to enable students to work on “open-ended” problems related to real scientific and technical situations.  They also provide good opportunities for developing team-working and communication skills as well as individual skills.
  • Laboratory Classes are used to introduce experimental techniques and practical methods.  They provide an excellent opportunity for students to practise team-working and communication skills.  Students will have significant exposure to hands-on laboratory work throughout their degree programme.  Students may be required to work independently or in small groups.
  • The Individual Project is completed in the third year of the degree programme.  This project represents a substantial individual investigative project on a scientific topic within the student’s chosen specialist area. It is conducted under the supervision of a member of staff.  This project provides an excellent opportunity for the student to pull together every aspect of their development during the programme.  

The department will make the maximum use of industry-university links so that graduates will be aware of modern commercial and managerial practices appropriate to the scientific and technological industry environment.

Opportunities for the student to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes are provided through the following summative assessment methods:

  • Written Examinations are typically of 2 hours duration.  The content of these exams is previously unseen by the student, and many modules use written exams as the main assessment method.  Different modules will use open or closed book, multiple choice, open ended and essay type exams.
  • Coursework Assignments are used throughout the curriculum where students are required to seek additional information so that they can develop and demonstrate their understanding of the course material.  The exact form of assignment is chosen to allow the student the best opportunity to demonstrate their attainment of a particular learning outcome.  In particular Laboratory Reports and/or Portfolios are used where the attainment of a subject specific practical skill is relevant, Technical Reports are used where the use of primary source material is requiredCoursework may constitute the only or the major form of assessment in some modules and can be conducted on an individual basis at the beginning of the degree programme, or increasingly as small groups as the student progresses.  Coursework assignments increase in size and complexity as students progress through their degree, culminating in the Level 6 Individual Project Dissertation where students have the opportunity to integrate their learning from throughout their programme of study.
  • Oral and Poster Presentations are often included as part of coursework assignments.  These presentations allow students to develop their communication skills.
  • Computer Based Tests and Assessed Simulations are used in modules that involve a substantial computer-based element. 
  • Peer Assessment is often used in modules that involve a substantial team-working element.  Normally, students will have the opportunity to moderate the final marks for group activities, to reflect the contributions of different team members and to encourage full and equal participation by each student.  Students may also peer review other students' coursework to develop their critical thinking skills, but this case, the quality of the peer review is assessed.
  • Class Tests are conducted during the course of the academic year to assess students’ progress.  The results from class tests provide a useful opportunity to give developmental feedback to students.
  • The Individual Project is the largest project element and is undertaken during the third year of the degree programme.  The project is assessed via a written dissertation, a conference style oral presentation and the student’s response to questions.  It is expected to be at a professional level.
  • Formative Assessments do not contribute to the final marks achieved for each module, but provide an opportunity for students to develop their critical evaluation skills and to monitor their own academic progress.  They also provide a useful opportunity for lecturers to give feedback to the students and to monitor and improve the students learning experience.  These assessments will take the form of diagnostic tests, in-class tests and on-line tests during lectures, and evaluation and discussions relating to logbooks and equipment during laboratory classes.  Students will have opportunities to develop their oral and presentation skills during tutorials and workshops. 

Graduates will embody the creative way of approaching scientific challenges that is generic across all scientific disciplines.  The graduates will: 

  • Be inquisitive and curious about the natural world and the man-made environment that surrounds them.
  • Be rational and pragmatic, interested in the practical steps necessary to tackle a scientific problem or to investigate scientific phenomena.
  • Want to achieve sustainable solutions to problems and will have strategies for being creative, innovative and overcoming difficulties by employing their knowledge in a flexible manner.
  • Be numerate and highly computer literate, and capable of attention to detail.
  • Be aware of the social, cultural, environmental, health and safety, and wider professional responsibilities they should display.
  • Appreciate the international dimension to science and technology, including commerce and communication.
  • When faced with an ethical issue, be able to formulate and operate within appropriate codes of conduct.
  • Be professional in their outlook, capable of team working, effective communicators and able to exercise responsibility.

These characteristics will fit the graduates for a wide range of career options, including scientific, technical, supervisory and managerial career paths, and for further study by taught (M.Sc.) or research pathways.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

* F300 (Physical science pathway); F100 (Chemistry / biotechnology pathway)

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