Important information

Please note: this Biology course has been changed since the Undergraduate Prospectus was printed. The course structure has changed, and there is now the opportunity to study for a fourth year and graduate with a Master's degree (MBiol), in addition to the existing BA degree.

If you are applying to start in 2019 please use the following link:

If you already have a place to start the Biological Sciences course in 2018 please use the following link:

About the Course for Entry in 2018

Biology is a single honours degree course taught jointly by the Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology. The course combines traditional, underpinning topics such as animal and plant systematics and relationships, with modern developments and techniques in all spheres of biology, from the molecular and cellular to the whole organismal and ecological. We pride ourselves on the fact that very few mainstream topics of biology in its widest sense are completely unavailable to our undergraduates and all the major research areas in the Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology contribute to the Biology course.

Although everyone leaves with the same degree, a BA (Honours) Oxon, because of the extremely diverse nature of the courses taught and the option system in the second and third year, our graduating students can design themselves either a very general background encompassing a wide range of topics, or instead, specialise in detailed aspects of animals, plants, cells or ecology—it’s up to student themselves.

Biology at Oxford is a three year Honours degree course. You will spend the first year encountering the full range of biology, developing an understanding of the integration between the levels and discovering, perhaps to your surprise, the similarities of some of the laws governing interactions between molecules, cells, individuals and populations. To many, the transition from A level (or equivalent) biology to first year university biology is a surprise which takes some coming to terms with. We take you back to basics, and reintroduce you to the essential excitement of living things.

All topics in the first year of the course are compulsory, to provide you with a broad and solid background for further specialised study. The first year lecture courses include “Cells & Genes”, “Ecology”, “Organisms” and “Quantitative Methods”. Alongside the lectures, there are compulsory practical classes that focus on providing the practical skills relevant to modern biology. Additional to this, you will attend a week long field course in Wales in the summer term.

In the second year the depth of material covered increases in preparation for the third year. Here you will be able to specialise, pursuing the latest research, both pure and applied, in those subjects that interest you most.

The final year the course broadens into a choice of around 20 options (including two overseas field courses). Recent changes to the course structure have placed additional emphasis on emerging topics relevant to society such as GM crops, bio-fuels, stem cells and ageing.

You can find out more about the lectures and tutorials, practicals, field courses and projects by following the menu options.

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