Biological Sciences

Focus your study on all types of microorganisms, acquiring the theoretical and practical skills needed for a career in microbiology.

Key information

Award

BSc

Duration

3 years

full-time

Minimum entry

Three A-level offer: A A A

See full entry requirements

Applications : admissions ratio

7 : 1

Based on 2020 entry data

  • UCAS course code: C500
  • ECTS: 180
  • Start date: October 2022
Apply on UCAS

Overview

Biological Sciences at Imperial aims to understand the behaviour of living systems from the level of cells up to whole organisms and ecosystems.

The Department of Life Sciences offers a number of degrees in Biological Sciences, with some degrees enabling you to choose from a broad selection of modules, and others allowing you to specialise in a particular area.

This specialist course focuses on all types of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses.

You will acquire all the skills you need for a career in modern microbiology, covering the fundamental science of different types of microorganism as well as the important biotechnological, industrial, medical, food and agricultural applications.

Study programme 

All Biological Sciences students follow the same core modules for the first year, covering the basic areas of biology alongside key scientific skills. This gives you a solid grounding in the fundamental topics, and prepares you for advanced study.

In the second year you study further core modules including virology and genetics.

In your final year you will complete a research project on a topic of your choice, and choose from an even wider selection of modules such as epidemiology, immunity and infection, and a tropical biology field course.

Our teaching is enriched by the Department’s internationally leading research programme, so you’ll be learning at the very cutting edge of the subject. You will also benefit from access to our outstanding facilities, including for genomic and cell biology studies, tissue culture suites and the most modern microscopes.

Transfer between courses

Professor Pietro SpanuThe structure of the Department's courses means that transfer between different Biological Sciences degrees is usually possible up until the end of the first year.

  • Transfer onto Language for Science courses must be completed at the very start of the first year.
  • Transfer onto Year in Industry/Research courses should be completed at the start of the second year to allow time to arrange a suitable placement.
  • Transfer onto the Management Year is subject to approval from the Imperial College Business School; and academic performance in the first two years of the degree (students should be working to a 2:1 standard by the end of their second year).
  • It is not possible to transfer onto one of the Biochemistry or Biotechnology degrees from a Biological Sciences degree.

If you are an international student, transferring to a different course could have an impact on your student visa. Please visit our International Student Support webpage for further information.

Structure

Find out more about the limited circumstances in which we may need to make changes to or in relation to our courses, the type of changes we may make and how we will tell you about them.

Year 1

Core modules

  • Biological Chemistry and Microbiology
  • Cell Biology and Genetics
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Evolution and Diversity

Year 2

Core modules

  • Applied Molecular Biology
  • Bioinformatics, Statistics and Programming
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Microbiology
  • Tutored Dissertation

Optional modules

  • Molecular and Cell Biology Skills
  • Computational 'Omics

Year 3

Core modules

  • Science Communications plus Dissertation
  • Research Project - laboratory, data or field-based

Optional modules

You will choose one module from each group below:

Group 1
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Metabolic and Network Engineering
  • Plant Biotechnology and Development
Group 2
  • Advanced Bacterial and Eukaryotic Cell Development
  • Advanced Topics in Infection and Immunity
  • Advanced Topics in Parasitology and Vector Biology
  • Integrative Systems Biology
  • Symbiosis, Plant Immunity and Disease
  • The Microbiome
Group 3
  • Advanced Immunology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Disease Ecology and Epidemiology
  • Molecular Basis of Bacterial Infection
  • Synthetic Biology

Download the programme specification‌ [PDF] – this is the most up-to-date version available for this course. It may change for your year of entry. If/when changes to this course are approved by the College, we will update this document and the information on this course page.


I-Explore

Through I-Explore, you'll have the chance to deepen your knowledge in a brand new subject area, chosen from a huge range of for-credit modules.

All of our undergraduate courses include one module from I-Explore's wide selection. The module you choose will be fully integrated into your course's curriculum and count as credit towards your degree.

Find out more about I-Explore

Teaching and assessment

Teaching

You will spend time in the laboratory, lectures, tutorials and seminars, as well as undertake site visits, a group project and a research project to aid the understanding of real world application.

Assessment

You will be assessed by a combination of:

  • Coursework
  • Essays
  • Individual research
  • Laboratory write-ups
  • Presentations
  • Reports
  • Written examinations

Staff expertise

At Imperial, you will be taught by a range of teachers of all levels from Professors to PhD students, including some who undertake groundbreaking research and are regarded as experts in their field.

You may also experience peer teaching and be taught by specialists external to the College.

Associateship

As well as your main Imperial degree, you will also receive the award of the Associateship of the Royal College of Science (ARCS) on completion of this course.

The Royal College of Science is one of three historic Colleges that came together to form Imperial College London in 1907.

Find out more about our Associateships.

Compare this course

See how this course compares with similar courses at different institutions.

Discover Uni compares things like student satisfaction and what graduates do after they finish the course.

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis – see selection process below.

For advice on the requirements for the qualifications listed here please contact the Department (see Contact us).

We also accept a wide range of international qualifications. If the requirements for your qualifications are not listed here, please see our academic requirements by country page for guidance on which qualifications we accept.

A-levels

Minimum entry standards

Our minimum entry standard for 2022 entry is AAA overall, to include:

  • A in Biology
  • A in Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics
  • A in another subject

General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.


Typical offer range

As a guide, here are the typical offers made to at least 80% of A-level applicants for 2020 entry:

  • Three A-level offer: AAA

Practical endorsement (practical science assessment)

If you are made an offer you will be required to achieve a pass in the practical endorsement in all science subjects that form part of the offer.

The practical endorsement is part of the reformed English linear A-levels.


Additional Mathematics support

Our A-level Mathematics online course covers a range of key topic areas to help you gain a deeper understanding of the skills and techniques required to succeed in your A-level Mathematics exams.

This optional course has been built around the A-level syllabus with the aim of developing your thinking skills, fluency and confidence.

Please note: this course is not compulsory and does not form part of the entry requirements for this course. It is available free of charge via the EdX website. It is self-paced so you can start it at any time.

International Baccalaureate

Minimum entry standards

Our minimum entry standard for 2022 entry is 38 points overall, to include:

  • 6 in Biology at higher level
  • 6 in Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics at higher level

Typical offer range

As a guide, the typical offer made to at least 80% of IB applicants for 2020 entry was 38 points.


Mathematics Higher Level for award in 2022

For entry in 2022, the Mathematics Analysis and Approaches or the Applications and Interpretation syllabi will be accepted at higher level with no preference.


Additional Mathematics support

Our A-level Mathematics online course is available free of charge via the EdX website.

Although this optional course has been built around the A-level syllabus, it is relevant to your curriculum too.

Please note: this course is not compulsory and does not form part of the entry requirements for this course. It is self-paced so you can start it at any time.

Advanced Placements

The grades detailed below are the minimum requirements for students offering only Advanced Placements as their exams for entry to Imperial.

If you are studying a High School Diploma that is accepted by Imperial alongside Advanced Placements, requirements may apply to both your Diploma and Advanced Placements.

Please consult our country index to check whether we accept your High School Diploma programme for admission.

Our minimum requirement for this course is grades 5, 5, 5 to include:

  • 5 in Biology
  • 5 in Chemistry, Physics (1 or 2 or C) or Calculus (AB or BC)
  • 5 in another subject (excluding Art, Music and languages other than English)

Additional Mathematics support

We have recently launched an A-level Mathematics online course, which is available free of charge via the EdX website.

Although this optional course has been built around the A-level syllabus, it is relevant to your curriculum too.

Please note: this course is not compulsory and does not form part of the entry requirements for this course. It is self-paced so you can start it at any time.

Selection process

Assessing your application

Admissions Tutors consider all the evidence available during our rigorous selection process and the College flags key information providing assessors with a more complete picture of the educational and social circumstances relevant to the applicant. Some applicants may be set lower offers and some more challenging ones.


Interviews

Generally, the department does not hold interviews.

Deferred entry

Applications from school leavers who wish to take a gap year are welcome. Applicants must state in their UCAS personal statement how they propose to spend their time.

Foundation programmes

A foundation course is a one-year preparation course, designed for international students, which leads to undergraduate programmes in the UK. Foundation programmes are normally for school-leavers who have studied a non-British curriculum but wish to pursue a degree at a UK university.

Foundation programmes are offered by many UK universities, but only UCL’s Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Science and Engineering (UPCSE) is considered for entry to Imperial.


UCL UPCSE

A year-long programme for international students whose school leaving qualifications do not allow them direct entry to UK universities. Students must complete four modules across the year – two compulsory and two elective modules:

ModuleStatus
Research and Academic Skills: Science and Society Compulsory
Academic English Compulsory
Biology Elective
Chemistry Elective
Mathematics Elective
Physics Elective
Information correct at time of publishing, but subject to change
Summary of the table's contents

To be considered for admission to Biological Sciences, international students studying UCL UPCSE must achieve:

  • 70% overall
  • 80% Biology
  • 80% Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics

Contextual admissions

We want to make sure that the Imperial learning community is as diverse as the society we serve. So to make our admissions process as fair as possible, we have introduced admissions schemes for Home students that allow us to consider your application in the full context of any additional barriers you may face.

Find out if you meet the eligibility criteria for our contextual admissions schemes. 

This department will make you a guaranteed offer if you have predicted grades that meet the minimum College entry standard of AAA at A-level or an equivalent level qualification and you demonstrate motivation to study the specific subject area.

Read more about the contextual admissions scheme in this department and others.

Second year entry

For Biological Sciences, Biochemistry and Biotechnology, we sometimes accept transfers from other institutions into the second year. Students should provide us with a transcript of their first year grades and details of their Pre-University Qualifications and the grades attained in them.

Offers are based on the number of places available (if any), the relevance of the modules covered in the first year elsewhere and the grades achieved. If we feel direct entry to the second year wouldn't be possible we may offer you first year entry instead.

We do not accept any transfers into the third year of any of our courses.

Important information (all Life Sciences applicants)

Applicants who are unsuccessful cannot be reconsidered for entry within the same cycle but may reapply the following year without prejudice with a new application. We consider resit students in open competition with all other applicants.

We do not accept Access courses, Foundation years or OU courses.

General studies will not be accepted at any level. Other qualifications, such as Key Skills or Critical Thinking, while useful, will not count towards an offer.

English language requirement (all applicants)

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the higher College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for undergraduate applicants.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students who apply for this course.

For more information about the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS), please see the International Student Support website.

View our terms and conditions on visas.

Competence standards

Our competence standards highlight the core skills students should be able to demonstrate by the end of this course.

View the Department of Life Sciences' competence standards [PDF]

We believe in providing the widest practicable access to all of our degree programmes and will make reasonable adjustments wherever possible to support your study. For more information, please contact the Department using the contact details below.

Department of Life Sciences

T: +44 (0)20 7594 5398
E: lifesciences.admissions@imperial.ac.uk

Tuition fees and funding

We charge tuition fees for every year that your course lasts. The fee you will be charged is based on your fee status, which is determined by government regulations.

Home rate of tuition

2022 entry

The fee for Home students has not been confirmed for the 2022-23 academic year. The fee is controlled by the UK government and we will update this page when it is announced.

As a guide, the Home fee for 2021-22 was £9,250.

For each subsequent year, you should expect and budget for your tuition fee to increase by an amount in line with inflation. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPIX) value, taken from April in the calendar year in which the academic session starts.

For example, the RPIX value in April 2022 will apply to fees for the academic year 2022–2023.

Fee status

Whether you pay the Home fee depends on your fee status.

Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status.

Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

EU/EEA/Swiss students

The Government has confirmed that EU/EEA/Swiss students who begin a course before the 31 July 2021 will be eligible to pay the same fee as Home students and have access to student finance for the duration of their course, as long as they meet certain requirements which are unchanged from previous years. This includes students who begin the course remotely.

EU/EEA/Swiss students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note we do not expect this to apply to Irish students or students benefitting from Citizens' rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively. However, we are currently awaiting the formal publication of the amended Fees and Awards regulations.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website has useful information on the conditions you currently need to meet to be entitled to pay tuition fees at the Home rate for study on a higher education course in England and reflect the regulations as they currently stand (not the amended regulations which are subject to publication). 

UKCISA has also provided some information in response to Questions for students starting their course from the 1 August 2021.

Government funding

If you're a Home student, you can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan from the UK government to cover the entire cost of tuition for every year of your course.

You can also apply for a means-tested Maintenance Loan to help towards your living costs.

Overseas rate of tuition

2022 entry

£36,200 per year.

For each subsequent year, you should expect and budget for your tuition fee to increase by an amount in line with inflation. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPIX) value, taken from April in the calendar year in which the academic session starts. For example, the RPIX value in April 2022 will apply to fees for the academic year 2022–2023.

Fee status

Whether you pay the Overseas fee depends on your fee status.

Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status.

Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

EU/EEA/Swiss students

The Government has confirmed that EU/EEA/Swiss students who begin a course before the 31 July 2021 will be eligible to pay the same fee as Home students and have access to student finance for the duration of their course, as long as they meet certain requirements which are unchanged from previous years. This includes students who begin the course remotely.

EU/EEA/Swiss students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note we do not expect this to apply to Irish students or students benefitting from Citizens' rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively. However, we are currently awaiting the formal publication of the amended Fees and Awards regulations.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website has useful information on the conditions you currently need to meet to be entitled to pay tuition fees at the Home rate for study on a higher education course in England and reflect the regulations as they currently stand (not the amended regulations which are subject to publication). 

UKCISA has also provided some information in response to Questions for students starting their course from the 1 August 2021.

Additional course costs

This section outlines additional costs relevant to this course. These are not included in your tuition fees. It's possible that all, or only some, of these will be relevant to you.

Figures are approximated, usually based on costs in the most recent academic year. They are likely to change each year but it's useful for you to be aware of the things you may have to pay for. This can help you budget for life at Imperial.

Mandatory costs are those that you will need to pay to fully participate in and complete your studies. Optional costs are not essential to your studies so you can opt-out of these.


Summary
DescriptionMandatory/optionalGuide to cost
Field trip (African biology; food and accommodation) Optional £350
Field trip (African biology; flights) Optional Variable
Field trips (first year) Mandatory Provided
Personal Protective Equipment Mandatory Provided
Please review the information below for more information on the costs listed in the table.

African biology field trip

The optional African biology field trip is specific to Biological Sciences courses, Ecology and Environmental Biology, and Microbiology.

It takes place in your third year and costs £350 (2016-17) and this cost includes food and accommodation.

You will need to pay for and organise travel to and from Africa, and it is recommended to bring spending money of between £25 and £50.

First year field trips

Your first year field trips are funded by the Department of Life Sciences, and are provided free of charge.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wearing personal protective equipment is compulsory for some activities on this course. Where this applies, the Department of Life Sciences will provide you with the necessary PPE free of charge to ensure you can undertake lab work safely. This includes:

  • Lab coat
  • Goggles

Accommodation and living costs

Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.

Most Imperial undergraduates choose to live in our halls of residence in their first year. You can compare costs across different accommodation options.

Read our rough guide to university spending in London.

Careers

Life sciences graduates enjoy excellent career opportunities. Most of our graduates study for a higher degree in life sciences and many follow careers in the field, particularly in the research and management areas of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, biomedical science, food technology, agrisciences, and pest, disease and environmental management.

Similar opportunities exist for life scientists in government and independent laboratories involved in medical research, public health, forensic investigation, disease research, conservation, and pollution. Some of our graduates also go on to work in medical careers, become teachers, or even work in the media.

Recent graduates of the Department have become:

  • Co-founder, Environmental startup
  • Software Engineer, Accenture
  • PhD Student, Francis Crick Institute
  • Research Associate, Genomics and genetics research institute
  • Scientific Officer, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

How to apply

UCAS key information

  • UCAS course code: C500
  • UCAS institution code: I50
Apply on UCAS

Apply on UCAS

You can start and track your application on UCAS Hub. There you can add this course as one of your choices.

Application deadlines

26 January 2022 at 18.00 (UK time).

If your application includes a medicine course, the deadline is 15 October 2021 at 18.00 (UK time).

Any questions?

Explore our step by step guide on how to apply. You can also find answers to your questions about admissions.

If you have a disability or impairment, the Disability Advisory Service are here to support you and answer your questions.

You may also be interested in the following related departments and the courses they offer:

Connect with us

Researcher in Life Sciences lab

Got a question?

T: +44 (0)20 7594 5398
E: lifesciences.admissions@imperial.ac.uk

Department of Life Sciences

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