In the School of Biosciences, we have a community spirit and students learn with and from each other. We are also renowned for our innovative teaching methods, including:
new ways of using IT in lectures allow you to revisit the teaching at a later dateacademic-developed animations to help explain tricky conceptsfinal year communication projects teaching you how to share scientific knowledge with the public.
Our Biology degree is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB).
Our degree programme
In your first year, you are introduced to a broad survey of the various biological disciplines, including biochemistry, biodiversity, cell and molecular biology, evolution, genetics, human physiology, and field study work. You also take a skills course to gain more expertise in laboratory practical work, and the analysis and presentation of biological data.
In your second year, you develop your knowledge of gene regulation, cell biology, microbiology, animal and plant physiology, and human health and disease. The modules at this stage go into greater depth and subjects can include animal form and function, plant physiology and adaptation, gene expression, infection and immunity, microbial physiology and skills for bioscientists 2.
During the summer vacation after your second year, there are also opportunities to work in one of our research labs on an eight-week Summer Studentship. The School attracts a large research income (about £4.5 million per year) and is ranked 7th in the UK for research intensity (outperforming 19 of the 24 Russell Group universities).
In your final year, the range of optional modules increases to allow you to specialise in subjects that interest you, such as neuroscience, virology, immunology, bioinformatics, cell signaling, aging, cancer, primate biology or climate change and conservation. You also complete an eight-week research project, which may be laboratory, business, computing or communication based.
Your 'Sandwich Year' is taken between your second and final years. It provides an excellent opportunity to gain relevant work experience in industry in the UK or abroad. During your placement you are paid by your employer and produce an independent research project.
Alternatively, you can study or work abroad as part of your degree on our Biology with a Year Abroad programme. You can also take our three-year Biology degree, without a year abroad or a sandwich year.
We recently spent £2 million on our laboratories to ensure that you develop your practical skills in a world-class environment. We give you extensive practical training and you spend up to three days a week in the laboratory during your final year project.
Kent & Medway Medical School
is moving forward with the Kent & Medway Medical School (KMMS), due to take
the first cohort of students in September 2020.
Medical School will be a significant addition to the University, with exciting opportunities
for education and research in the School of Biosciences.
You can join BioSoc, a student-run society. Previous activities have included research talks and social events.
We also encourage our students to attend outside conferences and events. In 2015, Kent students competed with 280 teams and won the gold medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Giant Jamboree in the USA.
Our school collaborates with research groups in industry and academia throughout the UK and Europe. It also has excellent links with local employers, such as:
NHSGSKMedImmuneEli LillyLonzaAesica PharmaceuticalsSekisui DiagnosticsCairn ResearchPublic Health England.
Teaching includes lectures, laboratory classes, workshops, problem-solving sessions and tutorials. You have an Academic Adviser who you meet with at regular intervals to discuss your progress, and most importantly, to identify ways in which you can improve your work further so that you reach your full potential.
Most modules are assessed by a combination of continuous assessment and end-of-year exams. Exams take place at the end of the academic year and count for 50% or more of the module mark. Stage 1 assessments do not contribute to the final degree classification, but all stage 2 and 3 assessments do, meaning that your final degree award is an average of many different components. On average, 29% of your time is spent in an activity lead by an academic; the rest of your time is for independent study.
The Sandwich Year is assessed by a presentation and a written report and contributes 10% to the overall mark.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- the chemistry that underlies biochemical reactions and the techniques used to investigate them
- the principles that determine the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules and be able to explain detailed examples of how structure enables function
- the molecular basis of genetics and be able to explain some detailed examples
- gene expression, with a detailed knowledge of specific examples, such as the structure, arrangement, expression, and regulation of genes and relevant experimental methods
- a wide range of cells (prokaryotic and eukaryotic) and be able to explain critically how they develop and how their properties suit them for their biological function, and how they could be investigated experimentally
- suitable experimental methods for the investigation of relevant areas of biochemistry, organismal biology, ecology and molecular biology
- the chemical and thermodynamic principles underlying biological catalysis and the role of enzymes and other proteins in determining the function and fate of cells and organisms
- the analysis of the impact of external influences on growth, development and reproduction, and explain reproductive strategies
- the interactions of structure and metabolic function at cellular and organismal levels
- the significance of internal and external influences on the integration of metabolism for survival and health
- the methods and principles underlying taxonomy and classification
- the principles and processes governing interactions of organisms and their environment
- the way a professional biologist can contribute to the organisation in which they work.
You gain the following intellectual abilities:
- the ability to recognise and apply subject-specific theories, paradigms, concepts or principles. For example, the relationship between genes and proteins, or the nature of essential nutrients in microbes, cells, plants and animals
- the ability to analyse, synthesise and summarise information critically, including published research or reports
- obtain and integrate several lines of evidence to formulate and test hypotheses
- apply subject knowledge and understanding to address familiar and unfamiliar problems
- recognise the moral and ethical issues of investigations and appreciate the need for ethical standards and professional codes of conduct.
You gain subject-specific skills in the following:
- designing, planning, conducting and reporting on investigations, which may involve primary or secondary data such as from a survey database. Data may be obtained through individual or group projects; obtaining, recording, collating and analysing data using appropriate techniques in the field and/or laboratory, working independently or in a group in a responsible, safe and ethical manner. For example, students must pay due attention to risk assessment, and procedures for obtaining informed consent
- an appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms, their molecular, cellular and physiological processes, their genetics and evolution, and the interrelationships between them and their environment
- the ability to handle biological material and chemicals in a safe way, thus being able to assess any potential hazards associated with biological experimentation
- perform risk assessments prior to the execution of an experimental protocol
- to be able to use basic and advanced experimental equipment in executing the core practical techniques used by biologists
- to find information on biological topics from a wide range of information sources and maintain an effective information retrieval strategy
- to be able to plan, execute and assess the results
- to identify the best method for presenting and reporting on biological investigations using written, data manipulation/presentation and computer skills
- be aware of the employment opportunities for biology graduates.
You gain transferable skills in the following:
- identifying individual and collective goals and responsibilities and performing in a manner appropriate to these roles
- recognising and respecting the views and opinions of other team members, negotiating skills
- evaluating performance as an individual and a team member, and evaluating the performance of others
- developing an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of science and of the validity of different points of view
- receiving and responding to a variety of sources of information: textual, numerical, verbal and graphical
- communicating to a variety of audiences using different formats and approaches
- citing and referencing work in an appropriate manner
- sample selection, recording and analysing data in the field and/or the laboratory, validity, accuracy, calibration, precision, replicability and uncertainty during collection
- preparing, processing, interpreting and presenting data, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques, statistical programmes, spreadsheets and programs for presenting data visually
- solving problems by a variety of methods including the use of computers
- using the internet and other electronic sources critically as a means of communication and a source of information
- to be able to work independently using effective time management and organisation skills
- identifying and working towards targets for personal, academic and career development
- developing an adaptable, flexible, and effective approach to study and work
- the ability to function effectively in a working environment.
The programme aims to:
- instil a sense of enthusiasm for the application of different methods and disciplines to biology, confront the scientific, moral and ethical issues and engage in critical assessment of the subject material covered
- provide a broad and balanced foundation of the science that underpins biology and methodology in a modern society including a detailed knowledge of the biological techniques and methods of assay, analysis and examination used by biologists and biomolecular and organismal knowledge required for understanding of life at all levels of complexity
- provide a stimulating, research-active environment in which you are supported and motivated to achieve your academic and personal potential
- educate you in the theoretical and practical aspects of biology
- provide you with the ability to undertake an independent research project
- prepare you for further study, or training, and employment in biology and non-biology based careers, by developing your transferable and cognitive skills
- develop the qualities needed for employment in situations requiring the exercise of professionalism, independent thought, personal responsibility and decision making in complex and unpredictable circumstances
- provide an opportunity to gain experience as a biologist working in a professional environment such as industry, hospital research laboratories and government research laboratories
- develop employment-related skills, including an understanding of how to relate to the structure and function in an organisation, via a sandwich year
- provide access to as wide a range of students as practicable.