Number of credits: 40

Entry requirements: Equivalent to at least C Grade GCE O-level or GCSE in Biology


This module aims to provide the student with a sound understanding of biological principles and with analytical and practical skills appropriate to subsequent degree work.

Intended learning outcomes

Assessable outcomes

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • describe prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell organisation
  • describe molecular structures of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins and explain their roles in living organisms
  • explain the properties and significance of enzymes
  • describe photosynthesis and respiration including biochemical pathways
  • describe structure and function of mammalian organs and systems, for example, the alimentary canal, liver, blood, kidney, reproductive system
  • describe structure and function of angiosperm organs and systems, for example, leaf, xylem, phloem
  • recognise the significance of bacteria, viruses and eukaryotic parasites as disease organisms
  • explain mechanisms of inheritance
  • recognise the significance of Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection and Evolution
  • analyse and interpret data from practical work.

Additional outcomes

Students will have the opportunity to

  • improve their practical skills including microscope, experimental and dissection work
  • enhance their library, IT and language skills.

Outline content

This module begins with an exploration of cell organisation, dealing with both eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Reference is made also to viruses. Study of the biochemical level of organisation follows, including an analysis of enzyme action and significance. The next part of the module deals with the structure and function of mammalian organs and systems, for example, the alimentary canal, liver, blood, kidney. Plant transport systems are also considered. The metabolic pathways of photosynthesis and respiration are studied. The final part of the module deals with the unifying theme of reproduction, genetics, natural selection and evolution. Each topic is investigated in practicals, either through microscope, dissection or experimental work.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods

Lectures introduce the student to the principles of the subjects studied. Practicals provide experience of microscope and experimental work and also enhance understanding of theoretical concepts. Weekly homework assignments develop the student's skills in writing practical reports, enhance understanding and provide feedback on written work. Class visits, for example to the electron microscope unit, and videos may also be used to enhance understanding.

Student views of this module

Macpherson Nwaukoni (Nigeria)
'I chose this module because I intend to study medicine in the future. 
I have found it interesting to work as part of a team for a presentation.  You get to understand the particular topic better and learn more information about it.  The most challenging aspect of the module has been learning to work independently.
For students who choose to study this module there are two things which are the key to success:  hard work and commitment.'

Yang Moyang (China)
'I chose to study Biology because it is related to my degree in Psychology.
The practical part of the course is the most interesting.  I like to work in the lab and prove what I have learnt in class.  Also, it is exciting to learn about aspects of the human body such as digestion and movement.
The large amount of new and difficult vocabulary has been the most challenging part for me.  Also it is difficult to understand and know how a particular tissue works even when I know the new words.
Biology is very difficult but really useful and interesting. Students need to work hard and to try to remember as much as possible.'

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