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Molecular Biology BSc (Hons)
2017 entry

The BSc (Hons) in Molecular Biology involves an introduction to the foundations of molecular and cellular biology and then focuses on topics such as chromosome structure and function, molecular genetics, molecular cell biology, biotechnology, bioinformatics, molecular virology and gene expression.

Molecular Biology at St Andrews incorporates substantial practical laboratory training and development of quantitative skills. Students have the opportunity to engage with a number of specialist topics that reflect the research interests of the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex including, for example, molecular microbiology, marine and environmental biotechnology, molecular virology, chromosome replication, genome stability and chromatin structure and function.

UCAS code

C702

Course type

Bachelor of Science (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four 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 in 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 BSc in Molecular Biology is a four-year course run by the School of Biology. Molecular Biology at St Andrews provides students with high-tech equipment, laboratories and expertise to facilitate learning and to develop the skillset of a modern molecular biologist.

In first and second year, modules introduce you to core subject material relevant to all Biology degree programmes in areas such as animal and plant biology, molecular biology, cell biology and genetics.

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, inquiry-based learning.

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 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, you will take the required modules in Molecular Biology alongside modules in at least one other subject. Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

Students must 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 addresses 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 molecular biology and biochemistry. Students must take all four of the following modules:

  • Molecular Biology: provides an introduction to modern molecular biology, covering fundamental biological processes such as transcription, translation, and DNA replication and repair.
  • Research Methods in Biology: helps you develop essential academic and transferable skills, with major emphasis on problem solving, through a combination of interactive lectures, independent data-handling workshops and group work on a mini research project.
  • Applied Molecular Biology: examines case studies to provide examples of how molecular biology techniques are applied in research to address real-life questions and problems.
  • Biochemistry: a number of central metabolic pathways and their control are studied in detail, alongside examples of their importance in disease and recent metabolomic studies.

Starting 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. 

Here is a sample of Biology Honours modules which have been offered in previous years:

  • Protein Structure and Function
  • Gene Regulation
  • Membranes and Cell Communication
  • Bioenergetics
  • 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 half of the year.

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 the spring visiting days is now open. To book onto a visiting day, please select your preferred choice of date and complete the booking form.

Teaching

Teaching format

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

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • practical classes
  • 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 molecular biologist. Each student is provided with teaching microscopes and is 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. 

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

Fees

Tuition fees for 2017 entry

Scotland and EU Tuition fees for 2017-2018 are yet to be set by the Scottish Government.
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.

Accommodation fees

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.

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

  • researchers in academia and the pharmaceutical and 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.

Students of Molecular 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 can 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.

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