Biology - using your degree
A degree from Scotland's first university is an excellent start to any future career. St Andrews has a reputation for excellence and the ability to attract the brightest students world wide. With this as a starting point you are well on the way to impressing future employers.
Biology graduates have characteristics many employers seek (see Employability Profile) and Bioscience graduates are employed in a range of posts which may, or may not, be related to the discipline they studied. They include accountancy and other related financial professions, teaching, forensic scientist, higher education lecturer, immunologist, scientist, industrial research scientist, process development, research scientist (medical), toxicologist and commercial,industrial and public sector management.
Where do our graduates go?
Caroline is an Environmental Biology and Geography graduate. She now works for The Building Research Establishment.
Read Caroline's and other biology graduates case studies to hear what their jobs involve, how they got there, and how to successfully follow the same career path.
|Year of graduation||Organisation/Company||Position|
|These are some of the first roles taken on by students six months after graduation:|
|2011||Rodney Fex Shark||Great White Shark Diving Crew|
|2011||Bangor University||MSc Marine Biology|
|2011||Assumption Grammar||Primary Science Teacher|
|2011||Oxford University||PGCE Secondary Biology|
|2011||Norbrook Laboratories Limited||Validation Analyst|
|2010||Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust||Conservation Field Worker|
|2010||All Response Media||Media Executive|
|2010||TechFest-SetPoint||STEM Brokerage and Ambassador Co-ordinator for NE Scotland|
|2010||BBC Scotland||Researcher and Contributor|
|2009||James Cook University||Research Assistant|
|2009||Edinburgh Royal Infirmary||Clinical Assistant|
|2009||Mad Science North West||Science Presenter|
|2009||Edinburgh Napier University||MSc Drug Design & Biomedical Science|
|2009||Scottish Youth Parliament||Fundraising Assistant|
|2009||University of Dundee||Molecular Biology Assistant|
|2009||Byre Theatre||Assistant Manager|
|2009||Medicines Evaluation Unit||Clinical Project Manager|
|2009||City University London||Science Journalism Course|
|Longer term career paths:|
|2008||Big Earth Productions||PA|
|2007||Source MDx||Research Associate|
|2007||British Antarctic Survey||Fieldwork Assistant/Biologist|
|2002||Moray Council||Biology Teacher|
|1999||DEFRA]||Fisheries Programme Manager|
|1999||Ministry of Defence||Civil Servant|
Network with alumni
- LinkedIn this professional networking site can be a great way to make contact with St Andrews alumni. By joining the St Andrews alumni groups, University of St Andrews Alumni and University of St Andrews - Mentorship Programme, you are able to make contact directly with alumni with a LinkedIn profile.
- Careers Alumni Network- a database of St Andrews graduates who have volunteered to offer careers information to existing students.
In 2011, 32% of biology graduates went on to do postgraduate study.
Advisers are able and willing to discuss postgraduate applications - vocational and academic.
Summer internships/work experience
One of the key aspects that often helps graduate recruiters to differentiate between candidates during the selection process is work experience. Students and graduates who have had internships or vacation placements usually have a much better understanding of the roles they are applying for and the industry or business sector they want to join after graduation. High Fliers - The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2012.
Refer to Careers A-Z Environmental Sector - How to get experience
Pharmaceutical or Biotechnology industries
Refer to Careers A-Z Pharmaceutical or Biotechnology industries - How to get experience
The Biopharma Skills Consortium (BSC)
The BSC, which comprises seven universities from across the south-east, has launched a new online tool dedicated to helping students seeking work placements and graduate employment within the life sciences industry.
Offer an internship program in various business areas. Website.
Cancer Research UK
Summer research internships at the London Research Institute. Closing date 18 February 2013. Further details.
Get involved in the St Andrews iGEM Team, an international competition in synthetic biology. Student teams from around the world undertake 10-week summer research projects. Further details.
Society of Biology – Travel Grants
£500 travel grants available for overseas travel in connection with biological study. Closing date 29 March 2013. Further details.
Offer 12 week placements to penultimate years. Register your interest.
Merck, Sharp and Dohme
Offer summer placements in the pharmaceutical industry. Further details.
National Institute of Medical Research, MRC
Offer paid summer research placements in medical research, apply early are advertised on a rolling basis. Further details.
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
A wide range of placements are typically available to students studying for their first degree (including medical and veterinary students) who are seeking research/work experience, usually during the summer break. They also welcome applications from master students. Further details.
Bright Green Placements
Offer a variety of paid placements in small Scottish companies. Past roles have included environmental and transport. Several geography students have used these placements as springboard to a graduate role. Further details.
Offer summer placements in all areas of the business. The RWE npower Energy Challenge is a team competition (winning team goes dog sledging in the Arctic) which provides another route into placements and graduate programmes – St Andrews teams have won this twice.
Environmental and Renewable Energy
Envirocruit.com Advertises internships and jobs.
Global Engineering and Development Consultancy which offer environmental science summer internships. Website.
A global corporate social responsibility consultancy which runs three internship programmes throughout the year. Website.
Summer Institute: Environmental Stewardship This funded US study programme allows you an insightful academic as well as cultural experience. Read the case study of a St Andrews student who successfully applied to the programme.
Scholarships & Awards
- Society of Biology–Travel Grants £500 travel grants available for overseas travel in connection with biological study. Closing date 29 March 2013.
- Society for Reproduction and Fertility – funding for undergraduate students undertaking summer project related to reproduction.
- Society of Biology Undergraduate Research Bursaries Programme – 8 week award
- BBSRC – Research experience placement funding
- Biochemical Society – support for 6- 8 weeks lab based project – deadline 13 February 2013. For more information contact email@example.com
- Wellcome Trust biomedical UG research bursaries Deadline 15 February.
Work experience examples of biology students
|Year of graduation||Organisation/Company||Position|
|2012||The Whale Museum, San Juan Island||Work experience|
|2010||AstraZeneca||Work experience in oncology clinical development|
|2009||The Millennium Elephant Foundation, Sri Lanka||Summer voluntary work|
- Read a number of case studies written by biology students, on our work experience case studies database.
- If you have undertaken any type of work experience, then why not inspire students by sharing your story.
Employability profile: what you can offer employers
Over the course of your degree you develop a good mix of subject specific and transferable core skills (communication, team work, time management, presentation etc). Consider these alongside your other activities, such as paid work, volunteering, family responsibilities, sport, membership of societies, leadership roles, etc. Think about how these can be used as evidence of your skills and personal attributes. Then you can start to market and sell who you really are, identify what you may be lacking and consider how to improve your profile.
The profile below identifies the skills that can be developed through the study of your discipline based on subject benchmark statements developed by UK higher education academic communities. It may help you to identify the valuable skills that you can offer to potential employers.
- demonstrate a wide knowledge of essential facts, major concepts, principles and theories associated with the chosen discipline
- analyse critically and assess information and data, and their setting within a theoretical framework
- deploy appropriate practical and presentational techniques and methodologies including data analysis and the use of statistics to communicate results
- engage with current developments in the biosciences and their applications, and the philosophical and ethical issues involved
- exercise intellectual skills including applying subject knowledge and understanding to address familiar and unfamiliar problems and appreciating the need for ethical standards and professional codes of conduct
- apply practical skills including designing, planning, conducting and reporting on investigations through individual or group projects, paying due attention to risk assessment, relevant health and safety regulations, and procedures for obtaining informed consent
- apply numeracy, communications and information technology skills efficiently
- use effective interpersonal and teamworking skills including demonstrating an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of science and of the validity of different points of view
- self-manage and pursue professional development and think independently, set tasks and solve problems.
Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines
These can often be a good source of information on internships, jobs and postgraduate study.
- Society of Biology - (formerly the Institute of Biology and the Biosciences Federation)
- Society of Biology - Life Sciences Jobs Board advertises the latest biosciences positions in the UK. Open to everyone, not just members of the Society.
- Society of Biology list of useful websites
- Society for General Microbiology - Career Resources
- Institute of Biomedical Science - Careers in Biomedical Science
- British Medical Jobs search for jobs across the UK within the healthcare and medical industries
- The Academy of Medical Sciences - Various links to information on Biomedical Science and Academic Medicine
- Zenopa- recruitment site for jobs in healthcare, animal care, the pharmaceutical industry and other scientific sectors.
Scientist Training Programme (STP)
NHS Healthcare Scientist Training Programme
From 2011, in England the new graduate entry Healthcare Scientist Training Programme (STP) will replace the Clinical Scientist Training Scheme.
The application cycle for 2013 is now open. Full details. The closing date is 1 February 2013. Students have until 10am on Monday 4 February to complete the on-line tests. The graduate management scheme on Facebook lists the open days at trusts, which ideally, students should visit before making an application. These are taking place NOW. For example on Monday in Newcastle, on Wednesday in Bristol.
NHS Careers is providing the following advice to applicants intending to attend any of the open days:
- they must book their attendance at these events by contacting the organisation direct using the details provided in the event. They can NOT book their place through the events page on Facebook.
- they should be made aware that not all organisations are holding open days. All open days that we are aware of have been advertised - if a particular NHS organisation /specialism is not on this list there is no point contacting NHS Careers or the STP helpline asking if they are holding an event.
- they should only attend an open day if it is for the specialism they are going to apply for.
Opportunities elsewhere in the UK