BSc (Hons) Biology (Including Foundation Year)

If you are fascinated by the world around you and want to understand how life on earth evolves, adapts, and interacts, then this Biology degree is for you. Biology is the science of life, investigating levels of biological organisation from molecules up to ecosystems. The thread of evolutionary theory runs through all levels of this course, explaining the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of an organism’ structure, function, and behaviour.

This well-established Biology degree is ideal if you want an all-round knowledge of biology. The course provides a strong theoretical grounding and many opportunities to develop practical skills and experiences. Our students have access to state-of-the-art research laboratories, and can learn field research skills in the varied habitats here in south Wales and further afield.

Our Biology degree is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology, the professional body for biologists, so you can rest assured that this course provides the ideal preparation for a career in the field of biology.


UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
3W6M Full-time 4 Years September Glyntaff A
UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
3W6M Full-time 4 Years September Glyntaff A

In the first year of your Biology degree, you will build a strong foundation in key areas in biology, including microbiology, genetics, and ecology. You will develop the techniques and skills to conduct work in the laboratory and in the field. You will also begin to develop your transferable skills, such as the ability to communicate effectively. 

The second year will expand your knowledge in core subject areas such as zoology, genetics, and behaviour, and further develop your communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. Our bespoke seminar on Evolutionary Biology will familiarize you with classic biology texts and invite you to explore contemporary issues in the field.  You will also have the option for further lab-based or field-based study in the second year.

During the third year of your Biology degree, you can specialise even further by choosing subject areas that best fit your career plans and passions. You will conduct an in-depth research project on a specific topic under the supervision of a member of staff and present your capstone research in an academic conference style poster session. 

Foundation year: Biology Degree

  • Scientific Data Literacy
  • Key Skills and Professional Development
  • Foundation Biology
  • Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology
  • Foundation Chemistry
  • Physical Science

Year One: Biology Degree

  • Skills and Professional Development 1 – 20 credits 
  • Genetics and Evolution – 20 credits 
  • Diversity of Cellular Life – 20 credits 
  • Anatomy, Physiology, and Biochemistry – 20 credits 
  • Biodiversity - 20 credits
  • Principles of Ecology - 20 credits

Year Two: Biology Degree

  • Skills and Professional Development 2 – 20 credits
  • Evolutionary Biology Seminar – 20 credits 
  • Human Molecular Genetics - 20 credits
  • Comparative Vertebrate Zoology - 20 credits
  • Behavioural Ecology 

Plus one of:

  • Applied Tropical Conservation - 20 credits
  • The Invisible World – 20 credits 

Year Three: Biology Degree

  • Research Project and Career Development - 40 credits
  • Humans Variation - 20 credits
  • Humans and Other Primates – 20 credits 

Then either:

  • Global Health Challenges - 20 credits
  • Global Ecological Challenges - 20 credits

Plus one of: 

  • Aquatic Biology - 20 credits
  • Functional Ecology - 20 credits
  • Modern Molecular Advances – 20 credits 


We teach using a combination of group activities, lectures, laboratory sessions, tutorials, directed learning, online activities, and both UK and overseas field trips. The number of contact hours per week will vary depending on your module choice and year of study, but on average you can expect 10-12 contact hours over five days a week. You will also need to spend a significant amount of time each week on preparation for classes, background reading, revision, or working on assignments.

Your lecturers are subject experts, who teach in their specialist area across a number of modules and courses. There is also the Biology Speakers Series, which brings a variety of external speakers to highlight the breadth of career pathways possible from a degree in biology.


We are a research active team. Members of the biology teaching team contribute to two main research themes within the university: Genetic and Molecular Research and Wildlife Ecology. Not only do researchers bring their knowledge and passion into their classroom teaching, but students have the opportunity to work on real, current problems with active research scientists in their final year project.


Our students are assessed using a range of approaches depending on module choice and year of study. These assessment methods may include laboratory and field reports, essays, in-class tests, oral presentations, research proposals, field notebooks, and end of year examinations.


USW’s Biology degree has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology following an independent and rigorous assessment. Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of employers. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.


Field Trips

As well as studying the varied habitats accessible in south Wales, our students have the opportunity to learn scientific diving techniques and develop field research skills in the tropical forests and coral reefs of either Asia, Central or South America (additional costs apply).

The Biology course includes modules with significant fieldwork elements, which come with certain physical demands. If you have a disability that is likely to be affected by physical demands, please get in touch with the course leader Tracie McKinney as soon as possible. All applicants are encouraged to attend a University Applicant Day to discuss the field courses with our staff, including current additional costs and the nature of the activities that are undertaken. 

There may be additional costs associated with this course


Our George Knox laboratories are part of a £15m investment in science for the University, meaning you will be taught in new and well equipped spaces.These join the Grade II listed Alfred Russell Wallace building which is also used for teaching.

You will benefit from several well-equipped laboratories for practical and project work. Our facilities include:

  • Microbiology laboratory capable of handling pathogens (category 2)
  • Molecular biology laboratory for DNA isolation and analysis
  • Projection microscopes in the microbiology and microscopy laboratories for group teaching
  • General biology laboratories for teaching, including a range of skeletons for vertebrate zoology
  • Computer rooms with specialist GIS software to support your learning

We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.


Contextual offers

We may make you a lower offer based on a range of factors, including your background (where you live and the school or college that you attended for example), your experiences and individual circumstances (as a care leaver, for example). This is referred to as a contextual offer and we receive data from UCAS to support us in making these decisions. USW prides itself on its student experience and we support our students to achieve their goals and become a successful graduate. This approach helps us to support students who have the potential to succeed and who may have faced barriers that make it more difficult to access university. Here is a link to our Contextual Admissions Policy.  

Other qualifications and experience

We can also consider combinations of qualifications and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable. We can sometimes consider credits achieved at other universities and your work/life experience through an assessment of prior learning. This may be for year one entry, or advanced entry to year two or three of a course where this is possible.

To find out which qualifications have tariff points, please refer to the UCAS tariff calculator.

If you need more help or information or would like to speak to our friendly admissions team, please contact us here

Typical A-Level Offer

DD, 48 tariff points to include a relevant Science subject but exclude General Studies

Typical Welsh BACC Offer


Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Pass Pass Pass or BTEC Diploma Pass Pass in a relevant subject

Typical Access to HE Offer

Pass Access to HE Diploma in Science with a minimum of 48 UCAS Tariff points

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 3 GCSEs including Mathematics and English at Grade C/Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent but consideration is given to individual circumstances

International Entry Requirements

If your current qualifications don't meet the entry requirements for entry onto year 1 of your chosen undergraduate degree, we offer one-year International Foundation Programmes through our pathway partnership with QAHE to help you reach the level required for progression. For more information visit our Pathway website.


We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.

English Requirements

In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.

However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course


August 2024 - July 2025 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £15260 

August 2025 - July 2026 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

Student Perks

At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.

Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.

Click here to learn more about student perks at USW.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit / Equipment *
Students undertaking courses that contain elements of outdoor fieldwork must wear appropriate outdoor clothing, which includes suitable wet weather gear, rugged boots/shoes and hat/gloves. The location and weather will determine the nature of clothing/footwear worn, and therefore the cost, and students will be informed of these requirements at the start of their studies. Please note that inappropriate clothing/footwear may prevent students from participating in an activity. The School of Applied Sciences subsidises the cost of compulsory fieldwork in the UK and overseas. Optional fieldwork modules are typically at the cost to the student. Generally, students will be expected to pay for their food unless specifically included within the field course. Students will need to supply suitable field notebooks in order to take observations/notes during field courses. Please note that some fieldwork may require visas and vaccinations, which are at the cost to the student and will vary depending on individual circumstances.
Field trip £2200 - £2500
Up to two and a half weeks in a tropical location including marine and terrestrial study sites. Recent study centres have included Mexico, Honduras and Borneo. £350 for scuba dive training as an additional option.
Placement *
Students who successfully secure a placement in industry to complete their major research project would be expected to pay their own travel costs to and from the venue during the period of placement. The cost of this will of course vary and some students have also paid for accommodation close to their place of work for the duration of their placement.


Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs

Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).

To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.

UK students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International and EU students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK. 

Admissions statement

There is high demand for Biology graduates. Graduates of our biology degree have found employment in a range of fields, including environmental consultancy, hospital laboratories, the food and drink industry, and teaching. Many biology undergraduates progress to MSc courses in the biological sciences. You may also choose a postgraduate research programme, such as a Masters by Research or a PhD.

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.