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Biology involves the study of life at all levels, from the molecular biology of virus replication to the study of animals and plants in their natural habitats. Biology also touches on many aspects of contemporary life, from drug design and investigating the molecular basis of Alzheimer’s disease, to the migration and conservation of marine mammals – all of which can be studied at St Andrews.



Biology BSc (Hons)
Biology MBiol (Hons)
Behavioural Biology BSc (Hons)
Biochemistry BSc (Hons)
Biochemistry MBiochem (Hons)
Biomolecular Science BSc (Hons)
Cell Biology BSc (Hons)
Ecology and Conservation BSc (Hons)
Evolutionary Biology BSc (Hons)
Marine Biology BSc (Hons)
Marine Biology MMarBiol (Hons)
Molecular Biology BSc (Hons)
Neuroscience BSc (Hons)
Sustainable Development BSc (Hons)
Sustainable Development MA (Hons)
Zoology BSc (Hons)

Joint degree options

The Biology BSc programme can be taken with another subject as part of a joint degree or a "with" degree.



Ecosystem-Based Management of Marine Systems MSc
Marine Mammal Science MSc
Sustainable Aquaculture MSc/PGDip (Distance Learning)
Sustainable Aquaculture (Invertebrates) or (Vertebrates) PG Certificate (Distance Learning)


Please contact a supervisor in your research area to inquire about PhD opportunities.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at an open day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.


Booking for our autumn visiting days will open in early September 2017.

  • Wednesday 27 September 2017
  • Wednesday 4 October 2017
  • Wednesday 18 October 2017
  • Wednesday 25 October 2017
  • Wednesday 1 November 2017



  • November 2017 - date to be confirmed.

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Biology research areas

Research in Biology at St Andrews is organised into three major interdisciplinary centres which encompass the full spectrum of research in biological sciences, spanning investigation on the properties and behaviour of individual molecules to planetary environmental dynamics.

Research in biological sciences is underpinned by world-class research-led teaching and wider impacts on policy, public engagement and the economy.

Biomedical Sciences Research Complex

Researchers from the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC) perform highly innovative, multi-disciplinary research in 11 broad areas of biomedical research, employing state-of-the-art techniques to address key questions at the leading edge of the biomedical and biological sciences. The ethos of the BSRC is to break down barriers between scientific disciplines and conduct world-class research on the broad theme of infection and immunity.

The BSRC occupies a modern, purpose built laboratory space. Large multi-group laboratories are focused on structural biology, molecular microbiology, virology, chemical biology and molecular medicine. In addition there are state-of-the-art facilities for mass spectrometry, X-ray crystallography including crystallisation robotics, EPR, NMR and imaging. Two new high containment level laboratories have been built and equipped, allowing research on pathogenic viruses, bacteria and parasites.

Find out more about current BSRC projects

BSRC supervisors for postgraduate research:

Centre for Biological Diversity

The Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD) is an interdisciplinary group of researchers across St Andrews focused on the measurement, origin and consequences of biological variation. The centre’s objective is to advance scientific understanding of the diversity of life and contribute pro-actively to policy that protects biological diversity.

The CBD has excellent facilities for ecological and evolutionary research on small animals (including birds, insects and fish) and on plants. For larger animal work, Edinburgh Zoo’s Living Links – a field station and research centre for the study of primates – is only an hour’s drive away. Established links to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (as well as the local St Andrews Botanic Garden), and the nearby James Hutton Institute provide scope for larger-scale experimental projects.

Find out more about current CBD projects

CBD supervisors for postgraduate research:

Scottish Oceans Institute

The Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI) is an interdisciplinary research institute studying the marine environment which forms a key focus for research excellence in marine-related science. Research interests range from the deep oceans to the coasts, and from the people who use and interact with the sea, to the biological and physical processes that make the oceans function.

SOI is ideally placed on the seashore adjacent to sandy beaches and rocky coasts and positioned close to grey and common seal colonies and areas where bottlenose dolphins feed each summer. The Institute also hosts the largest seal experimental facility in Europe and houses a modern aquarium and well-equipped laboratories for molecular, developmental and physiological studies of marine systems.

Find out more about current SOI projects.

SOI supervisors for postgraduate research:

Funding opportunities

There is a range of funding opportunities available to prospective undergraduates, postgraduates and PhD students.


St Andrews offers a number of funding opportunities for undergraduate study.

Undergraduate scholarships

Taught postgraduate students

Funding is available for postgraduate taught study.

Postgraduate taught scholarships

PhD students

The School receives support from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). UK and EU nationals holding a good first degree may apply for these research council studentships.

Funding for PhD students

Careers for graduates in biology

After studying Biology at St Andrews, students are well prepared to become the next generation of managers and scientists and managers delivering research and scientific expertise in academic, industry, governments and non-governmental organisations. A degree in Biology also provides students with transferable skills applicable to a wide range of scientific and non-scientific careers.

Graduates have gone on to find success in a wide variety of careers in research, industry and business. For example:

  • professional biologists in biological research, conservation, higher education, and the pharmaceutical and biomedical and other industries
  • researchers and advisers in government
  • journalists
  • advisers, researchers and managers in the National Health Service
  • teachers
  • forensic scientists
  • management consultants
  • marketing and advertising experts. 

See recent graduate employment case studies.

Many recent Biology PhD graduates have continued their academic careers working as postdoctoral researchers in laboratories worldwide, including research groups at prestigious universities.

PhD graduates have found employment with varied organisations, such as:

  • Physiological Society
  • Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
  • Wellcome Trust
  • Havor Conservation Trust.

In addition to working in social, behavioural, biomolecular, ecological, environmental, marine and virology research environments, the School of Biology’s PhD graduates have secured posts in areas as diverse as higher education management, teaching, publishing and journalism, the charitable sector, the food and biotechnology industries, the police and the BBC.


REF 2014

In the UK Research Excellence Framework 2014, Biology research at St Andrews was ranked second in the UK based on the impact of its research.

University league tables

Biology at St Andrews was rated top in Scotland and fourth in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2017 for student satisfaction.

The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2017 ranked Biology at St Andrews top in Scotland for teaching quality and student experience.


School of Biology
University of St Andrews
Biomedical Sciences Research Complex
North Haugh
St Andrews
KY16 9ST

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3401

Biology website   Biology research portal