BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences

The course

UCAS code
4 years
Delivery type

Led by a research-active team, our biology degrees explore issues of key importance in the modern world.

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2023 Autumn Open Days

Get a feel for student life at Heriot-Watt. Attend subject talks, explore our facilities and speak to our friendly students and staff about Biological Sciences.


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Our biology degrees explore key challenges of the modern world. You'll learn from renowned, research-active experts and gain a deep understanding of the fascinating world of living organisms. 

Why study biological sciences? 

Our BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences explores the fundamentals of modern environmental, plant, animal, and cell biology. We adopt a multidisciplinary approach, integrating concepts from biology, chemistry, and mathematics to help you develop a holistic understanding of living systems. 

This degree focuses on the principles of biological sciences, including: 

  • Ecology 
  • Zoology 
  • Botany 
  • Microbiology 
  • Biochemistry 
  • Molecular biology  
  • Applied aspects of these disciplines such as food science and brewing 

Biology has a significant impact on our daily lives. By studying biological sciences, you will gain an understanding the complexities of biology. This is crucial for addressing global challenges such as: 

  • Climate change 
  • Biodiversity loss 
  • Emerging diseases 
  • Sustainable resource management 

Our curriculum equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to make a positive impact on these critical issues. 

About your biological sciences degree

Our biological sciences degree promotes critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and problem-solving skills. You’ll learn about scientific concepts, evaluate research findings, and present innovative solutions to complex biological problems using a range of media.  

We encourage teamwork and interdisciplinary collaboration. You’ll engage in group projects, scientific discussions, and research initiatives. 

This degree emphasises hands-on laboratory work and practical field research. You’ll have access to our state-of-the-art labs where you can put theoretical knowledge into practice. This will help you gain valuable skills in interpreting and analysing scientific data. Fieldwork also provides an opportunity to engage with real-world ecosystems.  

As well as developing your skills in biological sciences, our degree will shape the sought after soft skills, such as problem-solving, communication skills, and practical presentation skills. It will also help you understand the vital role of a biologist across a range of professional fields including, research and development, quality assurance, environmental monitoring, and public health. 

We offer flexible study options. For example, you can transfer between our biology degrees until the end of year 2. This allows you to time to make final decisions on your area of specialism and degree of choice.  

Our other biology degrees include: 

High-academic performing students can study our MBiol Biology degree. This is a fantastic opportunity to broaden knowledge and deepen research skills. 

Our facilities 

While studying biological sciences, you’ll have access to our high-spec labs, the latest technologies and industry-standard equipment.  

Some examples of our facilities and equipment include: 

  • Proteomic facility – this includes MALDI-TOF which is used to analyse gene expression in yeast and bacteria. It offers rapid and accurate identification of proteins and peptides, making it a valuable tool in research, disease diagnosis, and drug discovery. 
  • Plant growth rooms – for plant molecular biology and genetic engineering of cereal plants. 
  • DNA and genetic engineering lab - Dedicated facilities of animal cell culture for studying diet-gene interactions. In addition to several laboratory-scale fermentation units there is a complete range of equipment for recombinant DNA work and genetic engineering. 
  • Food studies equipment - for physical analysis for food-related studies. This includes a rheometer and a texture analyser. 

Our research 

We are well known for our strong research focus in various areas of biological sciences. Our research activities encompass both fundamental and applied research, addressing critical issues in the field and making significant contributions to scientific knowledge. 

This degree is aligned with our research objectives to advance our understanding of the natural world, address global challenges, and contribute to scientific advancements that benefit society. 

Foundation Global College pathway for this degree 

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, have a look at foundation study with Heriot-Watt Global College, where you can follow an accelerated pathway which will get you onto the second year of this degree. 

David Hunter, Biology student

Heriot-Watt first appealed to me because of its location. The University also has a good reputation within science and engineering and graduate employment.

David Hunter, Biological Sciences BSc (Hons)

Course content

Year 1

All year one students take the same subjects. 

Semester 1

  • Introductory Biology 1   
  • Practical Skills in Biology 
  • Shaping Tomorrow Together A 
  • Mathematics for Scientists 1 

Semester 2 

  • Biology Practical 
  • Introductory Biology 2  
  • Chemistry for the Life Sciences   
  • Shaping Tomorrow Together B 

Year 2

Semester 1 

  • Metabolism in Human Nutrition  
  • Research Methods in Biology 

Semester 2 

  • Introduction to Microbiology 
  • Cell and Molecular Biology  

Optional courses in Semester 2 include: The Biosphere, Systemic Physiology and Anatomy, Animal Biology, Science and Exploitation of Plants, Chemistry for the Life Sciences, Management in a Global Context, Social Psychology . 

Year 3

Semester 1

Optional courses in Semester 1 include: Biotechnology, Introduction to Food Microbiology, Pathobiology of Human Disease, Molecular biology, Practical Marine Biology, Marine Biodiversity, Introduction to Process Technology, Fundamentals of Marketing. 

Semester 2 

  • Global Research Skills 

Optional courses in Semester 2 include: Applied Systems Human Physiology, Applied Studies in Human Health, Marine Environmental Biology, Medical Microbiology, Operations Management. 

Year 4

Semester 1 

  • Honours Research Project - Execution  

Optional courses in Semester 1 include: Scientific Management of Marine Environments, Marine Biological Survey and Analysis, Receptor Signalling in Health and Disease, Stressors and Sustainability, Immunology, Microorganisms in Human Health and Drug Discovery, Microbial Molecular Ecology

Semester 2

  • Honours Research Project – Dissemination 

Optional courses in Semester 2 include: Management of Marine Developments and Protected Areas, Management of Marine Developments and Protected Areas, Aquatic Toxicology, Molecular Toxicology, Genomics and Proteomics in Disease, Plant Health, Antibiotics and stress responses in E. coli, Marine Fisheries Biology  

Discover Uni course data

Discover Uni provides data on each university's degree courses across a range of measures including student satisfaction, graduate jobs and salaries.


Work and study

This is what our BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences students are doing 15 months after graduating:

  • 60% are working
  • 5% are studying
  • 20% are working and studying.


  • The average salary of students 15 months after graduating: £23000
  • The average UK salary of students 15 months after graduating from a similar course: £23500

Potential career paths

  • Natural and social science professionals
  • Science, engineering and technology associate professionals

Entry requirements

Year 1

Standard entry requirements

  • Highers AABB (including a science subject)
  • A-Levels BBC - ABB (including a Maths or Science subject)
  • Int. Baccalaureate 27 points to include a science subject at Higher Level 5
  • BTEC DMM (in relevant subject)
  • HNC C in graded unit (in relevant HNC)

Minimum entry requirements*

  • Highers BBBC (including a science subject at B)
  • A-Levels BBC (including a Maths or Science subject)

Additional information
Suitable science subjects are Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Human Biology, Mathematics and Physics.

* Minimum: under our Fair Access Policy, we will relax our standard entry requirements for Scottish students depending on their circumstances. Our minimum requirements will apply if you:

  • live in an area within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation lowest 20% (SIMD20), or
  • are care experienced.

We can also make exceptions for some Scottish students with grades above minimum but below standard. Read more about our Minimum and standard entry requirements

Year 2

  • Advanced Highers BB (including Biology or Human Biology plus Highers AABB)
  • A-Levels ABB (including Biology or Human Biology)
  • Int. Baccalaureate 32 points (with Biology or Human Biology)
  • HNC B in graded unit (in relevant HNC)
  • HND BB in graded units (in relevant HND)
  • BTEC DDM (in relevant subject)

Year 3

  • HND AB in graded units (in relevant HND)

Additional information

English language requirements

The minimum requirement for English language for all our undergraduate Biology courses is IELTS 6.0. Please see our English language requirements.


Tuition fees for 2023 entry
Status* Scotland England / Wales / N Ireland / Rep of Ireland International**
Fee Paid by SAAS £9,250 £22,264

* Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.

** 'International' includes applicants from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in UK. (This does not include students from the Republic of Ireland - see above). Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your studies at Heriot-Watt over and above tuition fees in an academic year. Depending on your programme of study, these may include: protective equipment, field trips, professional memberships, studio fees, required course texts or other study resources.

Scholarships and bursaries

Featured scholarships

Bursaries for students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales

In addition to government loans and grants towards the costs of fees and living costs, we are offering generous financial support to attract and support eligible undergraduate students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales:

  • Heriot-Watt University Bursary (up to £3,100 per year)
View details about the Heriot-Watt University Bursary

View our full range of undergraduate scholarships.