University of Chester

Programme Specification
Natural Sciences BSc (Hons) (Single Honours)
2017 - 2018

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


F300 PS / F100 CB


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.

The course is Recognised by the Institute of Physics (Physical Sciences pathway only)

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 BSc 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 BSc Natural Sciences programme also aims to provide an insight into current scientific developments and their impact on society.


  FHEQ Level 4  FHEQ Level 5   FHEQ Level 6 
 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. All modules at L4 except SE4001 & SE4003 All modules at L5 except WB5101 All modules at L6 except SE6037 & SE6040
 The mathematical concepts and principles that are relevant to the analysis and solution of applied scientific problems.  SE4003 SE5001 + math content of all the above math content of all the above
 An appreciation of how the concepts, theories and principles of the chosen specialism feed into and support modern technology.   SE5051 + applied content of all the above All modules at L6 except SE6037 & SE6040
 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.  SE4001  WB5101 SE6037
 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.  SE4001  

SE6011 SE6018 SE6043 SE6037


  FHEQ Level 4 FHEQ Level 5 FHEQ Level 6
A systematic approach to defining and investigating scientific problems and the ability to display creativity and innovation in tackling non-routine applications. All modules at L4 except SE4003 all modules at L5 except WB5101  all modules at L6 except SE6037 & SE6040
The ability to integrate knowledge and understanding across scientific disciplines in building an appreciation of multi-disciplinary areas. SE4008 all modules at L5 except WB5101 SE6018 SE6012 SE6018
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. SE4008 SE4007 SE4014 all modules at L5 except WB5101 all modules at L6
The ability to plan a scientific investigation; to evaluate the results and to make appropriate recommendations based upon these. SE4008 SE4007 SE4014 SE4024 all modules at L5 except WB5101 all modules at L6 except SE6037




   FHEQ Level 4 FHEQ Level 5  FHEQ Level 6 
Identify and safely use laboratory equipment within a physical, chemical or biological science context, executing an experimental investigation including using apparatus to acquire data SE4007 SE4008 SE4014 SE4024    
Be able to analyse experimental data using appropriate techniques including mathematical and statistical software, to be able to determine and interpret the associated measurement uncertainties, and to report fully the results of such an investigation.  SE4001 SE4003  SE5001 all modules at L6 except SE6037 & SE6040
 To be aware of health and safety constraints and the appropriate precautions to be taken SE4001  SE4007 SE4008  SE4014 SE4024    
 Be motivated and able to work and learn independently.  SE4001  WB5101  SE6010
 Plan and manage time, resources and projects safely and effectively.  SE4001 WB5101 or SE5051 SE6010  SE6040
 Exercise independent thought, and have the confidence to make value judgements based on limited information   SE5051 SE6010
Be ready and prepared for their careers and committed to maintaining high professional and ethical standards.  SE4001 WB5101 or SE5051 SE6010 SE6037 & SE6040


   FHEQ Level 4 FHEQ Level 5   FHEQ Level 6
Demonstrate Information Technology Literacy   SE4001 SE4003 use of IT is implicit in all modules at L5 use of IT is implicit in all modules at L6
 Improving own learning and performance  SE4001 through coaching and mentoring in all modules at L5 through coaching and mentoring in all modules at L6, especially SE6010
 Working with others and as part of a team all laboratory work at L4 is done as part of a team  WB5101  SE6037 & SE6040
 Communicate information orally, visually and in writing to a professional standard to both scientific and non-scientific/technical audiences.  SE4001  SE5051  SE6010
 Understand and use a systematic scientific method based approach to the solutions of scientific problems, using creativity to establish innovative solutions that are subject to some degree of scientific or technical uncertainty. through all laboratory work at L4 through all labopratory & course work at L5 Rigorous application of scientific method is emphasised in all modules except SE6037 at L6
 Ability to apply quantitative methods and computer software in order to solve scientific problems.  SE4001 SE4003 SE5001 and through math content of all scientific modules at L5 All modules at L6 except SE6037 & SE6040 are rigorously quantitative and use comuter software as part of their toolkit.
 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. SE4001 & all laboratory-based work through all labopratory & course work at L5 Evaluation of scientific information is intrinsic to all L6 modules except SE6037, explicitly evaluated in SE6010

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 BSc 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 BSc 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 BSc Natural Sciences programme, students will take:


Level Credit Name
SE4001 4 20 Professional Skills for Scientists and Engineers
SE4003 4 20 Mathematics for Scientists and Engineers
SE4007 4 20 Chemistry Fundamentals
SE4008 4 20 Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry
SE4014 4 10 Materials Science and Engineering
SE4023 4 10 Introduction to Thermodynamics
SE4024 4 20 Classical and Quantum Physics

Prior to progression to level 5 of the BSc 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 and one option module along with either the four physical science (P) modules or the four chemistry / biotechnology (CB) modules:


Level Credit Name Core, P or CB
WB5101 5 20 Enhancing your Employability through Work-based Learning Option
SE5051 5 20 Natural Sciences Experiential Learning Option
SE5026 5 10 Thermodynamics Core
SE5049 5 10 Analytical Chemistry Core
SE5050 5 10 Microscopy, Solids & On-line techniques Core
SE5001 5 20 Mathematics and Modelling P
SE5011 5 20 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves P
SE5012 5 20 Quantum Mechanics and the Theory of Solids P
SE5027 5 10 Statistical Thermodynamics P
SE5013 5 20 Separation Processes CB
SE5014 5 20 Chemical Science CB
SE5015 5 20 Biotechnology and Bioinformatics for Disease and Nutrition CB
SE5028 5 10 Analysing Biological Systems CB 

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


Level Credit Name
SE6037 6 10 Business Skills & Professional Ethics
SE6010 6 40 BSc Individual Project*
SE6040 6 10 Project Management

*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 the following modules to a total of 60 credits.  Students may select from modules suitable for the P or CB pathway, depending on which pathway they followed at level 5.  Note (1) two modules are suitable for either pathway, and (2) if either of SE6042 or SE6043 is selected, then the other 10-credit module must also be selected to give a total of 60 credits selected.


Level Credit Name Pathway
SE6005 6 20 Finite Element Analysis P
SE6011 6 20 Nuclear Technology P
SE6012 6 20 Surfaces, Coatings and Nanotechnology P or CB
SE6018 6 20 Renewable Energy, Sustainability and Low-Carbon Technology P or CB
SE6043 6 10 Air Chemistry & Pollution CB
SE6015 6 20 Chemical Reactors and Catalysis CB
SE6042 6 10 Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Drug Development CB


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
SE4014 4 Materials Science and Engineering 10 Comp
SE4023 4 Introduction to Thermodynamics 10 Comp
SE4024 4 Classical and Quantum Physics 20 Comp
SE5001 5 Mathematics and Modelling 20 Optional
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
SE5026 5 Thermodynamics 10 Comp
SE5027 5 Statistical Thermodynamics 10 Optional
SE5028 5 Analysing Biological Systems 10 Optional
SE5049 5 Analytical Chemistry 10 Comp
SE5050 5 Solids, Microscopy and On-line Techniques 10 Comp
SE5051 5 Natural Sciences Experiential Learning 20 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional
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
SE6015 6 Chemical Reactors and Catalysis 20 Optional
SE6018 6 Renewable Energy, Sustainability and Low Carbon Technologies 20 Optional
SE6037 6 Business Skills and Professional Ethics 10 Comp
SE6040 6 Project Management 10 Comp
SE6042 6 Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Drug Development 10 Optional
SE6043 6 Air Chemistry and Pollution 10 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 Certificate of Higher Education in Natural Sciences.

Diploma of Higher Education in Natural Sciences: 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 Diploma of Higher Education in Natural Sciences.

BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences: 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 BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences.


The Physical Sciences pathway of the Natural Sciences programme is Recognised by the Institute of Physics.  The pathway meets the educational requirements for Associated Membership of the Institute, and provides a route to full Institute membership following appropriate professional experience.

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

UCAS points: 120 UCAS points from GCE A Levels or equivalent. Typical offer - BBC/BBB
Specific subjects required: Two core Science subjects at GCE A Level or equivalent. If Physics is not offered as one of the sciences then Mathematics at A level or equivalent is also required.

BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM

BTEC Diploma: D*D*

Irish/Scottish Highers: BBBB including subjects stated above
International Baccalaureate: 28 points including 5 in HL Maths and 5 in one other core science subject
Access Access to HE Diploma, to include 45 credits at level 3, 30 of which must be at Merit (including 15 in Maths)

OCR National Extended Diploma: Merit 1

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma - DDM

OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma - D*D*

Extra Information:

Please note that we accept a maximum of 8 points from GCE AS Levels and that Welsh Baccalaureate (core) and A level General Studies will be recognised in our offer.  We will also consider a combination of A levels and BTECs/OCRs.

For international entry requirements, you will need to visit and select the appropriate country.

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.

The programme is delivered in English and provided the student has attained the defined standard there are no other cultural issues.

F300 (Physical Science pathway); F100 (Chemistry / Biotechnology pathway)

At level 5 students following the Physical Science pathway must take SE5001, SE5011, SE5012 and SE5027.

At level 5 students following the Chemistry / Biotechnology pathway must take SE5013, SE5014, SE5015 and SE5028.


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