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BSc Developmental Biology / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course description

Our BSc Developmental Biology course will show you how the single cell formed at fertilisation forms an embryo and then a fully formed adult organism.

Developmental biology is a multidisciplinary field that integrates genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, anatomy, physiology and computer modelling, giving you a grounding in a range of biological disciplines.

You will learn how developmental biology is having a significant impact on our understanding of evolution and modern medicine, including the treatment of birth defects, infertility and cancer in humans.

Of particular interest is the use of stem cells to engineer replacement tissues and organs, which could revolutionise medicine.

Special features

A range of study options

You can extend your degree by a year to undertake an integrated master's , gain industrial/professional experience , study with entrepreneurship  or learn a modern language .

It is possible to broaden your degree by taking units from the University College , Business and Management for all Programmes  or the University Language Centre  in exchange for a few units from your degree.

Foundation year available

You can prepare for the full degree course if you do not have the appropriate qualifications for direct entry by undertaking our foundation course first.

Flexibility to transfer between courses

You can transfer between most of our biological sciences degree courses at the end of your first year or, in some cases, later.

Teaching and learning

Teaching and learning will be delivered using a variety of methods. A typical week in your first year of study will comprise approximately 30 hours of activity, of which approximately 15 hours will be timetabled study, such as interactive/active learning lectures, videos, tutorial sessions, laboratory classes and 15 hours will be independent or self-directed study.

As you progress through the course, an increasing emphasis will be placed on independent study, and this reflects you applying your knowledge and skills in individual projects.

The course contains strong practical elements. This commences in year 1 with `Introduction to laboratory science' (semester 1) and `Introduction to experimental biology' (semester 2) which will enable you to develop basic experimental and data analysis skills.

In year 2, the Experimental Design modules (semester 1) will enable you to develop experimental skills, which are closely aligned to your degree programme. In Semester 2, you will take an intensive, degree specific Research Skills Module (RSM) module where you will have the opportunity to learn key experimental skills and design and analyse simple experiments relevant to your degree.

Students studying Organismal degrees, such as Biology, have the opportunity to take a field course instead of a laboratory based practical unit in Semester 2. For students taking BSc (Hons) Zoology, a field course is a compulsory component of both year 1 and year 2.

In year 3, BSc (Hons) students carry out an independent research project. This can involve laboratory or field based research or you can opt to conduct a non-laboratory based project, such as education, business and science media projects. All of these projects contain a research element and will require you to both generate and statistically analyse data.

For the MSci programmes, in year 3, a suite of Experimental Skill modules tailored to groups of degree programmes enables training in more complex experimental skills to take place in preparation for the 7-month MSci research project in year 4.

The course is assessed by a variety of methods, each appropriate to the topic being assessed. These methods include coursework exercises, written examinations, online examinations, presentations and practical demonstrations. You will also have many opportunities to self-assess your progress using online quizzes and tutorial exercises.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment methods vary widely to suit the nature of the course unit and each level of study.

  • Lecture units are usually assessed by written exam (multiple choice or essay-based), which are held at the end of an academic semester in either January or May/June.
  • Field courses are usually assessed via oral and written presentations, group work and/or projects.
  • Practical units are usually assessed by experimental report and/or short written assignment and/or written exam.
  • The proportion of independent study assignments increases during each year of study.

Year 1

Lecture units are usually assessed by e-learning activities during the unit and multiple choice exams at the end of the semester.

Year 2

Lecture units are usually assessed by essay-based exam.

Final year

Lecture units are usually assessed by essay-based exam. Students also take two 'honours' papers: degree programme-specific examinations comprising essays and data-handling problems.

A significant part of the year (accounting for one-quarter of the overall degree mark) is the project, which is assessed by literature review and a written report.

Course unit details

This course is modular. You will study compulsory course units and choose some optional units.

Most units are assigned 10 credits and you will take 120 credits each year.

Course content for year 1

You will gain a broad introduction to biological sciences, covering key concepts such as:

  • biochemistry
  • genetics
  • biodiversity
  • anatomy
  • physiology
  • molecular biology

Year 1 also provides an introduction to the essential data handling and laboratory skills required for all biological scientists.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Academic Tutorials Year 1 BIOL10000 10 Mandatory
Biochemistry BIOL10212 10 Mandatory
Molecular Biology BIOL10221 10 Mandatory
From Molecules to Cells BIOL10232 10 Mandatory
Introduction to Laboratory Science BIOL10401 10 Mandatory
Introduction to Experimental Biology - Molecular & Cellular Biology BIOL10412 10 Mandatory
Biodiversity BIOL10511 10 Mandatory
Genes, Evolution and Development BIOL10521 10 Mandatory
Writing and Referencing Skills (online unit) BIOL10741 0 Mandatory
Body Systems BIOL10811 10 Mandatory
History of Biology BIOL10381 10 Optional
Microbes, Humankind and the Environment BIOL10532 10 Optional
Drugs: From Molecules to Man BIOL10822 10 Optional
Excitable Cells: the Foundations of Neuroscience BIOL10832 10 Optional
Chemistry for Bioscientists 1 CHEM10021 10 Optional
Chemistry for Bioscientists 2 CHEM10022 10 Optional
Fundamentals of Chemistry CHEM10111 10 Optional
Science & the Modern World HSTM10221 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 18 course units for year 1

Course content for year 2

You will continue your studies in greater depth and begin to specialise. You will also undertake an extended essay on a subject-specific topic.

In the Research Skills unit, you have the opportunity to carry out techniques that are widely used in current biological science research.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Academic Tutorials Year 2 BIOL20000 10 Mandatory
Developmental Biology RSM BIOL20972 10 Mandatory
Molecular and Cellular Biology EDM BIOL21041 10 Mandatory
Dissertation BIOL21090 10 Mandatory
Genome Maintenance & Regulation BIOL21101 10 Mandatory
The Dynamic Cell BIOL21121 10 Mandatory
Principles of Developmental Biology BIOL21172 10 Mandatory
Organismal Genetics BIOL21371 10 Mandatory
The Biology of Being Human BIOL20982 10 Optional
Proteins BIOL21111 10 Optional
Cell Metabolism & Metabolic Control BIOL21132 10 Optional
Cell Membrane Structure & Function BIOL21141 10 Optional
`Omic Technologies & Resources BIOL21152 10 Optional
Fundamentals of Bacteriology BIOL21181 10 Optional
Principles of Infectious Disease BIOL21192 10 Optional
Plants for the Future BIOL21202 10 Optional
Ecology & Ecosystems BIOL21211 10 Optional
Animal Diversity BIOL21221 10 Optional
Fundamentals of Evolutionary Biology BIOL21232 10 Optional
Immunology BIOL21242 10 Optional
Parasitology BIOL21252 10 Optional
Endocrinology BIOL21261 10 Optional
Gut and Renal Human Physiology BIOL21272 10 Optional
Animal Physiology BIOL21281 10 Optional
Human Anatomy & Histology BIOL21291 10 Optional
Clinical Drug Development BIOL21302 10 Optional
Drugs & the Brain BIOL21312 10 Optional
Membrane Excitability: Ion Channels & Transporters in Action BIOL21321 10 Optional
Motor Systems BIOL21332 10 Optional
Sensory Systems BIOL21341 10 Optional
Molecules and Cells in Human Disease BIOL21351 10 Optional
Haematology BIOL21361 10 Optional
Introduction to Virology BIOL21381 10 Optional
Anatomy of the Special Sense Organs BIOL21402 10 Optional
Drugs: Models & Mechanisms BIOL21412 10 Optional
Animal Behaviour BIOL21432 10 Optional
Disease in Nature BIOL21442 10 Optional
How to Make a Brain BIOL21451 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 38 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

Final year topics reflect the current hotspots of bioscience endeavour and the research interests of our staff, and are constantly being updated.

You will undertake an independent in-depth research project that may involve supervised practical work in a laboratory, or you may choose to work on e-learning, educational, data analysis, bioinformatics or enterprise topics. 

Please note the course units listed below are just a small selection and do not represent the number and breadth of course units available on this course.

Course units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Academic Tutorials Year 3 BIOL30000 0 Mandatory
Projects BIOL30030 30 Mandatory
Project Literature Review BIOL30101 10 Mandatory
Comparative Developmental Biol (L) BIOL31451 10 Mandatory
Advanced Developmental Biology (E) BIOL31642 10 Mandatory
Post-Genome Biology (L) BIOL31301 10 Optional
Biochemical Basis of Disease (E) BIOL31332 10 Optional
Advanced Immunology (E) BIOL31371 10 Optional
Gene Regulation & Disease (E) BIOL31381 10 Optional
Evolution of Genes, Genomes & Systems (E) BIOL31391 10 Optional
Human Genetics & Evolution (E) BIOL31402 10 Optional
Protein Sorting (L) BIOL31411 10 Optional
Cell Signalling (E) BIOL31441 10 Optional
Chemical Communication in Animals (L) BIOL31461 10 Optional
Bioethics: Contemporary Issues in Science & Biomedicine (E) BIOL31522 10 Optional
Human Reproductive Biology (E) BIOL31561 10 Optional
Advanced Endocrinology (L) BIOL31571 10 Optional
Cardiovascular Systems (E) BIOL31582 10 Optional
Imaging in Biomedical Research (E) BIOL31631 10 Optional
Advances in Anatomical Sciences (L) BIOL31651 10 Optional
Molecular Biology of Cancer (E) BIOL31742 10 Optional
Stem Cells (L) BIOL31751 10 Optional
Cell Adhesion (L) BIOL31771 10 Optional
Immune Response & Disease (E) BIOL31802 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 24 course units for year 3

Scholarships and bursaries

A small number of scholarships may be available to overseas applicants. Details will be made available once confirmed.

What our students say

Being a student on one of the smaller courses in biological sciences is great. There are only ten students in my year so we have all become really close friends. In addition to this, as a small group, we are able to have regular discussions with our course director so we can keep updated with any changes that are to be made to the course, ask for advice when needed and give our opinion on modules.

Jenaid Rees

Find out more about what it's like to study at Manchester on the  Biology, Medicine and Health Student Blog .

Facilities

Learning facilities

Our modern teaching labs are equipped for a range of biological and biomedical techniques. The following are just a few of the techniques you could undertake during your degree:

  • polymerase chain reaction (PCR);
  • DNA sequencing;
  • gel electrophoresis;
  • spectrophotometry;
  • dissection and histology;
  • electroencephalography (EEG) and electrocardiography (ECG);
  • immunofluorescence microscopy.

Our computing facilities include access to over 200 PCs in dedicated clusters and e-learning tools including online lecture notes, discussion boards, lecture podcasts and quizzes.

You will also have access to the University's other facilities for undergraduate students.

Research facilities

As a final year student, you have the opportunity to undertake a project in the labs of our world-class bioscience researchers.To support our research, we have extensive research facilities equipped with high-quality technology.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk