This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll start Stage 1 with a 60-credit introductory science module, then continue with another 60-credit science module.
- At Stage 2, you’ll study two 30-credit biology modules and choose a further 60 credits from a range of science modules.
- At Stage 3, you’ll study a 60-credit biology module, choose a further 30-credit module and complete your degree with a 30-credit project module.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
Stage 1 starts with an interdisciplinary broad science module in which you’ll investigate a series of questions that teach scientific thinking. Your next science module focuses on further key ideas in science and includes distinct practical blocks.
In Stage 2, you’ll study two compulsory 30-credit modules. The first covering the biology and diversity of whole organisms from an evolutionary perspective, including adaptation and natural selection. The other covering cellular biology in greater depth. You’ll also choose another 60 credits from a range of options.
In Stage 3, the 60-credit compulsory module explores a range of advanced topics in biological science in more depth. You’ll then choose a complementary 30-credit module. And complete your degree with a 30-credit project module, undertaking your own individual investigation.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 17 March 2020.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. This qualification uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material. Online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes. Many alternative formats are available
- working with specialist reading material such as scientific journals
- using scientific terminology and mathematical, statistical and experimental techniques
- undertaking practical work, field work or using an online laboratory experience
- working together with other OU students and tutors in online tutorial rooms
- using and/or producing data summaries, graphs, tables, diagrams and/or screenshots
- researching, using and acknowledging/referencing external/third party online material.
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding.
- Cognitive skills.
- Practical and professional skills.
- Key skills.
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.
For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
Classification of your degree
On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BSc (Honours) Biology degree. The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third-class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.
You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you’ll need to succeed. If you’re not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.
Answer a few quick questions to check whether you’re ready for study success
- Stage 1 includes a compulsory module, Questions in science (S111) – check you’re ready to study this module.
How much time do I need?
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Preparing for study with an Access module
If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You’ll get:
- a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:
Science, technology and maths Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics. It'll help develop your study skills in advance of your OU qualification, and you get to explore a number of STEM subjects including science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.
View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module
Skills for career development
On completion of your biology degree, you’ll be an adaptable graduate with a range of transferable skills that are highly valued in the wider jobs market. You’ll have developed analytical, numerical and problem-solving abilities and gained proficiency in data handling, using computers as well as have team-working and communication skills. Employers may also look for evidence of practical laboratory or fieldwork experience to support the skills gained throughout the degree. Even if your future job doesn’t involve practical work, your experiences of designing, carrying out, trouble shooting and persistence in online or home-based investigations demonstrate valuable employability requirements.
Employers of biology graduates include central and local government, the NHS, the water and horticultural industries, food and drink companies, media and communications, multinational oil companies, the pharmaceutical industry, conservation bodies, schools and universities – in roles such as:
- biotechnology and biomedical engineering
- data analysis, bioinformatics and diagnostics
- environmental management, protection and conservation
- exploration and extraction of natural resources
- health and healthcare-related professions
- product design and development
- research, investigation and laboratory work
- science information management
- science communication
- scientific and medical sales
- teaching (science is a shortage subject at secondary school level; there may be training incentives)
- waste management, recycling and sustainability.
This programme has been awarded interim accreditation by the Royal Society of Biology. Degree accreditation by the Royal Society of Biology acknowledges academic excellence in the biosciences, and highlights degrees that educate the research and development leaders and innovators of the future. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates have met defined learning outcomes, including gaining substantial research experience. Following a successful demonstration to the Society that these graduate attributes have been attained, and graduation of the first cohort of students from the programme, the programme may be awarded full accreditation.
Biology graduates displaying self-awareness, interpersonal skills and problem-solving abilities are well-placed to enter scientific and non-scientific careers. The logical approach developed is relevant to a range of employment sectors including financial, business and the public sector. OU study prepares you for careers beyond your degree subject keeping future options open.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree):
- analytical scientist
- bioinformatics data analyst
- countryside manager
- laboratory technician
- industrial researcher
- research scientist
- science administrator or manager
- science communicator
- science teacher
- scientific journalist
- technical consultant
- technical writer