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Evolutionary Biology BSc (Hons) 2021 entry

The BSc (Hons) in Evolutionary Biology deals with the theory of evolution, evolutionary genetics, environmental physiology, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, evolution of behaviour, biodiversity and conservation, human evolution, and evolutionary ecology.

How to apply Register your interest

UCAS code

C182

Course type

Bachelor of Science (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

  • Start date: 6 September 2021
  • End date: 30 June 2025

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Entry requirements

These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

    • Standard entry grades: AAAB, including Biology (or Human Biology) and one other science from the following:
      • Chemistry
      • Mathematics
      • Physics. 

    • Minimum entry grades: AABB, including Biology (or Human Biology) and one other science from the following:
      • Chemistry
      • Mathematics
      • Physics. 

    • Gateway entry grades: BBBB

    • Standard entry grades: AAB, including Biology and one other science from the following:
      • Chemistry 
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.

    • Minimum entry grades: ABB, including Biology and one other science from the following:
      • Chemistry 
      • Mathematics
      • Physics.
    • Standard entry grades: 36 (HL 6,6,5), including HL6 in Biology and HL6 in one of the following subjects:
      • Chemistry
      • Mathematics
      • Physics. 

    • Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5), including HL6 in Biology and HL5 in one of the following subjects:
      • Chemistry
      • Mathematics
      • Physics. 

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

Direct entry to second year

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course.

International applicants

If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum score of 6.0 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English language qualification.

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. Preference will be given to candidates offering strong science qualifications over and above the stated minimum requirements.

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

Other qualifications

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Course information

The BSc in Evolutionary Biology is a four-year course run by the School of Biology. Evolutionary Biology at St Andrews provides students with high-tech equipment, laboratories and expertise to facilitate learning and to develop the skill set of a modern evolutionary biologist.

In first year and second 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.

Alongside biology, in the first year of your studies, you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised

In third year, there is a shift from core, broad-themed modules to more specialised modules which allow students to prepare for their Honours degree. In fourth year students continue specific research in their chosen area through student-led, enquiry-based learning.

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course.

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 two years of your degree (known as sub-honours), you will take the required modules in biology alongside modules in at least one other subject.

Typically, you will take core modules in your first two years, and advanced modules in your final two years (known as Honours). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

Students take the following compulsory first-year modules:

  • 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. Students must take the following compulsory modules:

evolutionary biology and ecology. Students must take the following compulsory modules:

  • Evolutionary Biology: gives an overview of the history and major principles of modern evolutionary biology.
  • Research Methods in Biology: develops 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.

Students must also take two of the following modules:

  • Ecology: introduces basic concepts in population and community ecology and how they relate to biodiversity.
  • Invertebrate Zoology: surveys the major invertebrate groups, emphasising the diversity of body plans while demonstrating how the common functional requirements such as feeding, reproduction, respiration and excretion are achieved.
  • 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 continue to specialise in Evolutionary Biology via a wide range of modules covering core topics. Modules that have been offered in previous years include:

  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Ecosystems and Conservation
  • Evolution
  • Genes, Cells and Development
  • Infection and Disease.

In fourth year, you will study your chosen subject area at a deeper scientific level and will also have the opportunity to select from an extremely wide range of small, group-specialised modules. These modules are taught by academics at the forefront of their discipline who are teaching to their research strengths. A research project is also undertaken which occupies between a third and half of the year.


The compulsory modules listed here must be taken 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. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.

Teaching

Teaching format

The BSc in Evolutionary Biology is taught through a combination of:

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

Typical class sizes:

  • First year: lectures 250 to 330, practicals 80 to 100 students
  • Second year: lectures 80 to 150, practicals 40 to 60 students
  • Third year: lectures 20 to 70, practicals 20 to 60 students
  • Fourth year: 5 to 25 students

The practical elements of the course, which are taught in the laboratory and in the field, enable you to learn the wide range of skills required of a modern molecular biologist. Students are 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.

Fourth-year teaching differs from the typical lecture, seminar and tutorial format which students will experience from years one to three. Fourth year allows you to focus on a major project which occupies between a third and half of the year. Working on this project will enable you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees. The project can also lead to your first publication in a scientific journal.

When not attending lectures, tutorials and practical classes you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:

  • working on individual and group projects
  • undertaking research
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations
  • preparing for examinations.

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of biology. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of laboratory classes and seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

You can find contact information for all biology staff on the School of Biology’s website.

In addition to your studies in the School of Biology, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page. 

Field trips

From first year to Honours, students studying Evolutionary 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 where recent courses have visited 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 fourth year some modules are entirely assessed by coursework, while others still include written examinations in addition to coursework.

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 aims to provide feedback on assessments and coursework within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

Meet us online

If you're interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a virtual visiting day or daily information session to find out about our courses, how to apply, and to meet current students.

Undergraduates

Upcoming online visiting days:

  • Wednesday 30 September 2020
  • Wednesday 7 October 2020
  • Wednesday 14 October 2020
  • Wednesday 28 October 2020
  • Wednesday 4 November 2020

Fees

Tuition fees for 2021 entry

Scotland Tuition fees for Scottish applicants have yet to be set for 2021 entry.
Rest of the UK £9,250
EU and overseas £25,100

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.

Accommodation fees 

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation. 

Additional compulsory charges

There are no additional fees for any of the compulsory modules. However, students may be asked to contribute towards the costs of participation in optional field-trip modules.

Funding and scholarships

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

Your future

Careers

Graduates from the School of Biology have a wide range of skills sought by employers:

  • laboratory and field data collection
  • data handling and presentation
  • problem-solving
  • teamwork
  • planning
  • organisation and communication skills. 

Biology graduates have secured employment as:

  • clinical scientists
  • consultant ecologists
  • marine mammal scientists
  • museum curators
  • school teachers.

Beyond biology, recent graduates have gained employment in a wide variety of business sectors such as marketing and finance. Others have gone on to study for a wide range of Masters and PhD programmes in the UK and overseas.

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

Biology students may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad site

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.

Students of Evolutionary Biology may be interested in joining the popular student-run Biology Society, which organises regular social meetups and biology-related events throughout the year.

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 an arrangement of species to show evolutionary relationships between animals. 

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings, parks and beaches, providing a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. Find out more about the town of St Andrews.

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: bioadmissions@st-andrews.ac.uk

Biology website

Policies

Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).

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