Biological and Earth Sciences

The curriculum for this course comprises academic input from four departments within the Faculty of Science, which encompasses the following subject areas: biology, geography and geology. The Sea Mammal Research Unit contributes a marine biology element, and aspects of the University's interdisciplinary undergraduate programme in sustainable development are also incorporated through contributions from various Schools. 

Subject content

The curriculum for this course explores key concepts and theories in the Faculty of Science at the University. 

Topic examples

  • FUNdamentals of rocks: exploring rocks and minerals 
  • Infectious diseases 
  • Glaciers: how they work and why they are relevant 
  • Ice age! Climate drivers and ecosystem responses in recent Earth history 
  • Animal borne sensors: investigating oceanographic conditions 
  • Sing with me! Cultural transmission of humpback whale song. 

 Examples of laboratory sessions or fieldwork students might expect: 

  • Breath-holding laboratory 
  • Shore work: algal zonation 
  • Coastal restoration: saltmarsh survey and measuring mud! 
  • Biological staining and bacterial morphology  
  • Understanding species identification using carnivorous plants 
  • Simulating natural selection - using lego! 

These examples are merely a sample and are based on previous years. Topics may change based on the curriculum chosen by the department in any given year.  

Academic skills

Aside from the study of specific content, students will learn to improve their academic writing, learning to shape arguments and developing an academic writing style, whilst also improving their subject-specific vocabulary. 

Learning experience

Students will experience a mixture of lectures, seminars, group work and independent study on this course. Lecture content is taught by academic staff of St Andrews and is underpinned by additional practical sessions in laboratories and on field trips, with experienced graduate students assisting. 

Additional information

The academic course is enhanced by field trips to sites of scientific interest, and cultural enrichment is provided through the general Academic Experience Courses, which includes an extensive programme of social and cultural activities, sports and much more. 

Course outcomes

Students will receive an official certificate from the University of St Andrews to confirm their successful completion of the course.