Biology MBiol (Hons)
2017 entry

Biology involves the study of life at all levels of organisation, 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.

The MBiol allows you to combine undergraduate and postgraduate study into a single five-year programme, graduating with a Masters degree. The course is designed to enhance your research experience, preparing you for a career within the scientific sector.

Students can also take Biology as a standard four-year BSc degree.

UCAS code

C101

Course type

Master in Biology (Integrated Masters degree)

Course duration

Five years full time

Entry requirements

SQA Highers

AAAB (including Biology or Human Biology and one other science from the following:

  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Physics.)
GCE A-Levels AAB (including Biology and one other science from the following:
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Physics.)
IB points

36 (including HL6 in Biology and HL6 from one of the following science subjects:

  • Chemistry
  • Computing Science or equivalent
  • Physics
  • Design Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Further Mathematics.)

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.

Find out more about international entry requirements.

How to apply

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

Students must have studied Biology or Human Biology at SQA Higher, GCE A-Level or equivalent.

Faculty entry requirements

You must also meet the Faculty of Science minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold. 

Other qualifications

Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty.

Find out more about Faculty of Science entry requirements.

Course information

The MBiol in Biology is a five-year Integrated Masters course run by the School of Biology. Biology at St Andrews provides students with high-tech equipment, laboratories and expertise to facilitate learning and to develop the skillset of a modern biologist.

In the first three years of your degree, you will cover the fundamental aspects of Biology and begin to focus on advanced core material in your chosen area.

In your fourth year, students typically undertake a year-long research placement often away from St Andrews, in a research institute or in industry, along with an experimental design distance learning module.

The fifth and final year of the Masters degree involves highly specialised taught courses in your chosen specialty.

Centres of research within the School of Biology offer students the experience of working alongside experts and the opportunity to develop their own research in Honours years.

These facilities include:

  • The Scottish Oceans Institute: houses a modern aquarium and laboratories for molecular, developmental and physiological studies of marine systems. The institute is ideally placed on the seashore near grey and common seal colonies and bottlenose dolphin feeding areas.
  • The Centre for Biological Diversity: has excellent facilities for ecological and evolutionary research on small animals (including birds, insects and fish) and on plants. 
  • The Biomedical Sciences Research Complex: offers large multi-group laboratories that are focused on structural biology, molecular microbiology, virology, chemical biology and molecular medicine.

Find out more about studying Biology at St Andrews.

Modules

In the first three years of your degree, you will take the required modules in Biology alongside modules in at least one other subject. Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

In first year, modules introduce you to core subject material relevant to all degree programmes in areas such as animal and plant biology, molecular biology, cell biology and genetics. Both of the following modules are compulsory.

  • Biology 1: provides an introduction to molecular and cellular biology. It covers cell diversity and the origins of life, cellular structures and fundamental processes.
  • Biology 2: provides an introduction to the diversity of life on Earth and will address key elements of organismal and ecological aspects of life.

In second year, modules are chosen which will best prepare you for your intended degree (or group of possible degrees) and new topics are introduced in some second-year modules such as evolutionary biology and ecology.

  • Research methods in Biology: this module will help you develop essential academic and transferable skills, with major emphasis on problem solving. This is achieved through a combination of interactive lectures, independent data-handling workshops and group work on a mini research project.
  • Evolutionary Biology: gives an overview of the history and major principles of modern evolutionary biology.
  • Ecology: introduces basic concepts in population and community ecology and how they relate to biodiversity.
  • Vertebrate Zoology: explores the diversity of vertebrate animals, beginning with the closest relatives of vertebrates and the evolutionary origins of the group.

In third year, you will have the opportunity to begin specialising in Biology via the wide range of core modules provided. The modules cover a variety of topics from animal plant interactions and zoology to pharmacology and neuroscience.

Biology Honours modules which have been offered in previous years include (but are not limited to):

  • Evolution
  • Ecosystems and Conservation
  • Developmental Biology
  • Animal Behaviour: A Quantitative Approach
  • Terrestrial Zoology.

In fourth year, students typically undertake an independent 7 to 12-month research placement hosted by an external institute or company. The external placement gives students the opportunity to practice and learn a range of scientific and generic skills, including an element of independent working in a working environment outside of St Andrews.

For biology students, this will be a 12-month research project, collecting data within a research group at St Andrews or in an external organisation (environmental company, conservation NGO or research institute). A research placement in an external organisation is subject to this being arranged and funded successfully by the student, facilitated by expertise in the School of Biology.

During fifth year, you will take advanced research-led modules in your chosen speciality subject to availability. Advanced modules offered in the past include:

  • Advanced Biological Statistics
  • Animal Cognition
  • Physical Oceanography
  • Scientific Communication in Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Evolution in Action
  • Marine Mammals and Man.

The modules listed here are the compulsory modules that students must take in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. A full list of all modules currently available can be found in the module catalogue.

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.

 Undergraduates

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

Teaching

Teaching format

The MBiol in Biology is taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • practical classes
  • field work
  • research projects.

The practical elements of the course taught in the laboratory and in the field enable you to learn the wide range of skills required of a modern biologist. Each student is provided with teaching microscopes and are taught in state of the art teaching laboratories. Alongside the development of practical biological skills, students are also given the opportunity to expand on their presentation and IT skills.

During fourth year, your project will be fully supervised at the host institute or company.

Field trips

Throughout the course, students studying Biology will also have the opportunity to go on field trips to gather data. Those who have a particular interest in ecology or marine biology will be perfectly located in St Andrews on the shores of the east coast. In Honours years, students can explore further afield in places such as Indonesia and Antarctica.

Assessment

During first and second year, all modules are assessed by an equal weighting of coursework and written examinations.

In third year, most modules give a higher weighting to examinations, and in fifth year some modules are entirely assessed by coursework, while others still include written examinations in addition to coursework.

During the external placement in fourth year, you will be assessed jointly by the immediate supervisor in your host institute or company and a member of staff in the School of Biology.

Most examinations are held at the end of the semester during a dedicated exam diet and revision time is provided beforehand.

Group activities may also be assessed and in this case marking methods will be communicated to you in advance.

The School provides feedback on assessments, with a view to improving your performance in future.

Fees

Tuition fees for 2017 entry

Scotland and EU £1,820
Rest of the UK £9,250
Overseas £20,570

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Additional compulsory charges

Students need to cover costs for lab and course materials of up to £25 each year. There are also additional charges of up to £100 in third year for either a field trip, a reading party excursion or a biochemistry lab class. Substantial additional expedition costs apply to some fourth year modules, including demand-driven modules such as Polar Ecology and Scientific Diving.

No specific funding is allocated for external research placement although it is expected that students can apply successfully for grant funding associated with the specific projects they develop and the external organisations where they have their placement.

Accommodation fees

Students who choose to take industry or research placements during fourth year outside of St Andrews may also encounter increased accommodation costs.

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation in 2017.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships.

Your future

Careers

Biology graduates are in high demand and are keenly sought after by institutions including the government, universities, research centres and major companies. Those who take an Integrated Masters degree receive advanced research training and are prepared for a career within the scientific sector.

Biology graduates have gone on to find success in a wide variety of careers including:

  • professional biologists in biological research, conservation, higher education and the pharmaceutical, biomedical 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.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Study abroad

The University is delighted to offer undergraduates a number of exciting opportunities to apply to spend a semester or year abroad as part of a St Andrews degree programme. St Andrews is partnered with large and small institutions, ancient and young, across the globe. What unites all of our programmes is the quality of the academic provision, ensuring that participation in a St Andrews Study abroad programme opens the door to a new and valuable academic experience at another world-class institution. Study Abroad for credit is permitted on existing University-approved programmes only.

Working abroad

Completing a work placement abroad is a good opportunity to gain work experience in another culture or language and to enhance valuable skill sets. As part of specific degree programmes in Biology, you may apply to undertake a work placement abroad for credit.

Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Biology students have lectures and practicals in purpose built facilities on the North Haugh. Also at the North Haugh, students can study and access library resources at the JF Allen Science Library. One other area available for biology students is the Bell Pettigrew Museum in the Bute Building, a spectacular Zoology museum which includes the arrangement of species to show the evolutionary and taxonomic relationships between animals.

There’s also the opportunity to join the popular student-run Biology society, which organises regular social meetups and biology-related events throughout the year.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As the campus is located around town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland. Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.

Contact

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

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3401
Email: biology@st-andrews.ac.uk

Biology website