Biology at Heriot-Watt University addresses issues of key importance in the modern world with emphasis placed on the applied aspects of each area, so that knowledge gained may be used to benefit society. Our most recent addition to the subject group is Sports Science, where we put biology and science at the heart of Sports performance, nutrition, physiology and psychology.

Our biology graduates have a strong record of employment in fields ranging from marine biology to pharmaceuticals, medical, water, the food industry and public sector organisations.

View all biology courses

Studying biology at Heriot-Watt provides a thorough grounding in cell and molecular biology, microbiology, marine and environmental biology, toxicology and biotechnology. Emphasis is placed on the applied aspects of each discipline, so that knowledge may be used for the benefit of society.

The suite of biology degrees sits within the Institute of Life and Earth Sciences at Heriot-Watt University. We offer seven degrees within the biology subject area, each allowing students to gain a firm foundation before specialising into their preferred field. Each degree comprises one or more key compulsory courses with a choice of optional courses that allows it to be fashioned to an individual student’s interests, within the constraints of the programme of study. 

The newest addition to the suite of degrees are our Sports and Excersise Science BSc (Hons). The Sports degrees open to applications for September 2022 entry. These degrees comprise a core of sport and exercise science with an additional emphasis on the study of topics central to human health and well-being, such as biology, nutrition, physiology, and psychology.

Our biology degrees (with the exception of the Sports degrees) share courses at Level 1 while in later levels they comprise a mixture of compulsory and optional courses that reflect the specialist subject. Transfer between degrees is flexible during Levels 1 and 2, and possible in some cases during Levels 3 and 4.

Student experience

After Level 2, our classes tend to be smaller, informal and yet academically demanding. Traditional lectures, informal tutorials, laboratory classes, project work and field courses are included within the curriculum. We also provide support and advice through our academic tutoring system and opportunities to develop the interpersonal skills which are important in establishing future career aspirations.

In studying BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences you have the opportunity to experience the Oriam. Scotland's High Performance sport centre located at our Edinburgh campus. Along with providing excellent teaching facilities for these programmes, the Oriam is also a training facility for Scottish Rugby Union and the Scottish Football Association, as do Heart of Midlothian F.C. for first-team training and to run their football academy. The Oriam is also the home for Badminton Scotland, Scottish Squash and Basketball Scotland.

360 Virtual Tours

View a 360 tour of our Biology Teaching Lab and John Muir Aquarium

Teaching and assessment

Learning methods include:

  • lectures and tutorials
  • computer and project-based learning
  • laboratory-based teaching
  • fieldwork and site visits
  • presentations by visitors from industry

    Assessment is mixed and varies from subject to subject; most are assessed by a combination of coursework and examination.