University subject profile: biology – The Guardian

The study of living organisms and the science behind life. Includes nutrition, biology, botany, zoology, genetics, and microbiology
What you’ll learn
The biosciences are a wide field including human biology, bioinformatics, botany, zoology, genetics, microbiology and biochemistry. What you’ll learn depends on how you decide to specialise – you could learn the fundamentals of cell biology, the computer skills needed to understand protein sequences, or the mating habits of orangutans.
You’ll know how to research information, apply it and use specialist equipment. And you’ll develop an understanding of the ethical considerations associated with your field of study.

How you’ll learn
You’ll spend a lot of your time in the laboratory doing practical work, and most courses require students to conduct their own research. There will probably be group projects, so you’ll learn how to work in a team. Chances are you’ll be taught by those at the cutting edge of research. Assessment will involve a mix of coursework, projects and exams. Some courses offer a year in industry – a good way of building your CV.

Entry requirements
Universities are likely to expect biology at A-level or equivalent, and sometimes chemistry. They may also ask for an additional science or maths (or further maths or pure maths). Course requirements will likely range from CCC to AAA. You may be required to attend an interview and give a short presentation on a topic in your field of study.

What job can you get?
Lots of jobs are suited to biology graduates, but if you want to work as a scientist you’ll need to do further study at postgraduate level. If you want to specialise, your degree should give you the skills to turn your hand to forensic science, immunology and toxicology, to name but a few. You could then find suitable research posts in the public and private sector – particularly in industry – or in academia. Many biology graduates end up in the health and social care sector, and in education.

The skills you acquire will also qualify you for jobs outside the lab. Work can be found in local and central government, in NGOs, doing conservation work, and in teaching.


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