Biology and English Literature

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A contemporary skills based course producing highly employable professional biologists.

  • Flexible structure of course allowing breadth or specialism
  • Practical course using contemporary learning methods
  • High employability of graduates

There are two additional pathways into Biology, that you may like to consider:

Why study Biology?

This course covers all the core aspects of biology, while allowing you to develop expertise in specialist areas. Biology has a strong practical element and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to study plants and animals in the wild as well as in our laboratories. There is also a strong human biology thread in our degree programme. As well as scheduled practical sessions, day trips and residential field trips provide the opportunity to study topics in greater depth.

Course structure

The course covers a broad range of fundamental biology topics such as cell biology and genetics to plant, animal and human biology. In additional to these core topics, you have a wide range of modules to choose from, allowing you to develop a particular theme which interests you.

You’ll develop a broad range of skills; some specific to Biology, while others are useful in many professional environments. The course is ‘real-world’ focussed; you’ll graduate as a professional biologist prepared to solve a range of problems and keep up to date with scientific advances.

Modules

Year 1

The first year focuses on fundamental topics such as cell biology, genetics, anatomy and physiology, evolution, classification, food production and ecosystems. Associated practical classes give you hand-on experience of these concepts. Optional modules allow you to explore themes in more details such as biodiversity, human biology, food production, nutrition and biochemistry.

Year 2

The second year covers a range of important human, animal and plant biology. You’ll consider important concepts in biology such as ethics, biosecurity, genetics and technology. Optional themes include ecology, microbiology, human pathophysiology, biodiversity and food product development allowing you to develop your interests at a higher level. You can also select optional modules in business, science publishing and psychology.

There is an optional sandwich year between your second and final year, giving you the opportunity to put your knowledge and skills into practice and experience a relevant job.

Year 3

Single honours and major students will carry out a dissertation in the final year. This substantial research project gives you the experience of being responsible for planning, implementing and reporting on a biology topic. In addition you may study topics in medical biology, nature conservation, nutrition, animal behaviour, marine biology, digital imaging and plant biology. Modules in business, psychology and science publishing are also available.

Course assessment

Assessments are varied, designed to be appropriate to the particular skills required for each module. Some modules have coursework and examinations, but many are coursework only. The practical nature of our assessment contributes to our high levels of graduate employment.

Types of assessment include scientific papers, posters, oral presentation, interviews, essays, reports, reviews, leaflets and video presentation. There are also plenty of opportunities to choose the biological theme on which you are assessed, allowing you to have deeper understanding of aspects of biology of interest to you.

  • Laboratories
    We have a number of well-equipped recently refurbished laboratories for a variety of practical work. Some are used for specialist microbiology of biochemistry studies while others are ‘low-hazard’ where you can carry out other activities such as the preparation of food, exercise or psychological studies.
  • Newton Park Campus – ‘Natural Laboratory’
    We also make extensive use of the campus which is a ‘natural laboratory’, boasting many interesting habitats including woodland, farmland, a lake, ponds and a stream.
  • Newton Park Library
  • Biology Resources Room
  • Commons
  • VLE

Resources 

Biology students can hire out equipment using SISO, Bath Spa University’s free equipment loan service. We provide a huge variety of equipment from binoculars, to telescopes and video cameras.

Teaching methods

You’ll be taught using a combination of teaching and learning methods. Interactive lectures provide you with fundamental knowledge which is enhanced by the practical skills you learn in supporting sessions. Around half of your contact time will be in lectures and half in practical or workshop sessions.

Biology with a year in professional practice (UCAS code: S117)

Subject to approval, if you join the programme in 2016, you can opt to take a year in professional practice ('sandwich year') between your level 5 (year 2) and level 6 (year 3) studies.

This placement will enable you to put theory into practice, build professional networks and meet and work with potential employers. It will also help with work management and give you experience to bring back to your studies in your final year.

Your degree title will include the phrase “with a year in professional practice”, so it is clear to all employers that you have this experience as part of your degree.

Study abroad

You’ll have the opportunity to study in a wide range of locations around the world. Our students have completed Erasmus+ and Exchange programmes in a variety of countries including Spain, Sweden and the USA.

Field trips

From Kew Gardens to Haverfordwest, you’ll have opportunities to participate in field trips across the Biology modules. Please note that you’ll have to pay a contribution towards the cost of some of these study visits.

Work placements, industry links and internship

Our students have worked with clients such as the NHS, Bristol Zoo, Operation Wallacea, English Nature and local authorities.

List of current alumni careers

Biology graduates have a range of professions including teaching, medical lab assistant, wildlife trust warden and science technician. Graduates have been employed by companies including NHS, New Zealand Department of Conservation and RSPB.

Competitions/awards

We’ll encourage you to participate in local and national science festivals.

Each year we award five prizes to our students. These are the Bath Spa University Biology Prize for best performance (one per year of study); the Oxford University  Prize; and the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management Prize.

Application method

All applications are through UCAS.

Course enquiries

The University has a programme of Open Days throughout the year where you can learn more about our courses, see our facilities and talk to some of our current students. See the main University web pages for more information.

If you wish to know more about the content of the Biology degree please contact the Biology Subject Leader, Dr Ian Todd.

Entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed below:

  • A Level - A level grades BCC -CCC with Grade C in Biology, Human Biology, Environmental Science or Social Biology minimum.
  • BTEC- Extended Diploma minimum grades Merit, Merit, Merit (MMM) accepted in a science or related subject.
  • International Baccalaureate - A minimum score of 26 points with evidence of study in Science accepted.
  • Access to HE courses - Typical offers for applicants with Access to HE will be the Access to HE Diploma or Access to HE Certificate (60 credits, 45 of which must be Level 3, including 30 at merit or higher) in a science or related subject.

English Language Requirements for International and EU Applicants

IELTS 6.0 - for visa nationals, with a minimum score of IELTS 5.5 in each element.

Career opportunities

We realise that having a degree relevant to employers is crucial if you are going to find a job at the end of your studies. We are particularly aware of skills employers need and this is reflected in the content and structure of modules. Our assessment is very 'real world' focussed to make assignments more interesting and relevant to biological employment.

Our graduates are successful and many take further qualifications such as PGCE, Masters or doctorates. Others have been employed in both public and private organisations such as ecological consultancies, water companies, wildlife trusts, teaching and government agencies such as the Environment Agency.

Since 2010, employers such as Yeovil Hospital, Hanson, the NHS and Bath Spa University have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Medical Lab Assistant, Student Cardiac Physiology and Science Technician.

What students say...

James Pymm, Biology, graduated 2012:

“I am currently taking a graduate internship at Bath Spa as a science technician and looking into applying for a course in graduate medicine. 

There is a real focus on quality teaching at Bath Spa. The class sizes are small enough that everyone knows everyone and the staff get to know specifically what you are interested in, which creates a really positive atmosphere and makes Bath Spa a great place to learn in. 

The course is driven towards making you as employable as possible and has proved to be the perfect spring board for me to start doing what I want to do.”

Katie Duke, Biology & Business, graduated 2006:

“I work for the Royal Agricultural College as Enterprise Co-ordinator. It is a great job and every day is very different. My main responsibilities are helping to encourage students to set up their own business and promoting rural entrepreneurship. In addition, I run a small business for the RAC called Muddy Wellies which is a drinks range with the proceeds invested in student enterprise. I also run a national business case study competition for Universities called the Grassroutes Challenge.

I would advise students to get as much work experience/voluntary work, as possible. I really enjoyed working as a Student Ambassador when I was at Bath Spa. I even met my husband Matt when we were both working as Student Ambassadors!”

Lectures and seminars are lively and offer plenty of opportunities for involvement and debate. Throughout your study you can experiment with new ideas and new perspectives, both critically and creatively.

English at Bath Spa is a dynamic subject offering a broad and stimulating approach to literary studies.

Why study English Literature?

Literature can change the way we see the world; it can introduce us to new experiences; it can be dangerous, or exciting, or heart-rending.

Here at Bath Spa we welcome students who share our passion for the written word. A current student describes the course as 'enlightening, eye-opening and endlessly entertaining'.

The English programme is large and varied and offers you plenty of choice. It is designed to balance the study of canonical writers - Shakespeare, Wordsworth, James Joyce, Charlotte Bronte - with texts and writers who may be less familiar to you. We are keen to bring literature to life, and the course features options that include field trips to London, Oxford, Krakow and Auschwitz, and Berlin, amongst others. The modules range from those on specific authors (Shakespeare, Ian McEwan, or Virginia Woolf, for instance), to topic-based subjects (Writing and the Environment, Post-Colonial Literatures, or Literary London), to period-based study (Gender and Eighteenth-Century Fiction or Gothic Origins and Innovations). You will be encouraged to explore diverse areas of literature and to investigate issues that matter to you.

English staff are committed to sharing their literary enthusiasms with students. We are all active researchers, writing scholarly books and articles and engaged in debate on literary and critical issues. We have specialists in the Gothic, writing and the environment, Renaissance literature, women's writing and modern and contemporary culture.

We are also passionate about teaching: we encourage our students to bring their own literary loves into the seminar room and we aim to foster a supportive atmosphere of lively, interactive debate. Lectures and seminars offer plenty of opportunities for involvement and debate. Throughout your study you can experiment with new ideas and new perspectives, both critically and creatively.

Don't just take our word for it: in the 2011 National Student Survey *100%* of our BA Hons. English Literature students were satisfied with their experience of the course.

Course structure

The English Literature course at Bath Spa offers a large range of diverse modules. Although most English modules are optional, there are core modules in Years 1 and 2 which provide a common framework to explore central issues and aspects of literary study. The course is structured to allow an extended independent project or dissertation in Year 3.

In year 1, all students study the core module, Critical Reading I, which covers texts ranging from Ovid's Metamorphoses to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre to James Joyce's modernist classic Ulysses. There are also a number of optional modules which give students the chance to broaden their experience of literature before moving into more specialised study in years 2 and 3. To accompany the core module you can study contemporary literature, 19th-century literature, or you can explore the 18th century or the Renaissance.

In year 2, all students study the core module, Critical Reading II, which, as its title suggests, follows on from Critical Reading I. In the year 2 core module, you will read a range of prose, poetry and drama; the authors studied include Samuel Richardson, Samuel Beckett, Shelley, Keats, Aphra Behn and Sylvia Plath. This module also features a PDP/employability strand, closely linked to its academic content.

In the third year of the course, a project or dissertation is core for students on the single honours BA English route and for those students taking English as their major. All other third-year English modules - of which there are a wide variety - are optional.

The reading list for the compulsory first year core module (EN4001: Critical Reading 1) is listed below. It is important that only the editions listed are purchased.

  • Genesis, chapters 1-22, in the Authorised Version, translated 1611. Suggested editions are from Grove Press or Oxford University Press, or the on-line text athttp://etext.virginia.edu/kjv.browse.html
  • William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra (1607), (ed.), Norton Critical Edition.
  • Alexander Pope, Selected Poems, Pat Rogers (ed.), Oxford University Press.
  • William Wordsworth, Selected Poems, Stephen Gill and Duncan Wu (eds), Oxford University Press.
  • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847), Richard J. Dunn (ed.), Norton Critical Edition.
  • James Joyce, Ulysses (1922), Jeri Johnson (ed.), Oxford University Press.

Modules

Year 1

All students take Critical Reading I in the first year. This core module introduces a variety of texts and critical debates, and provides a foundation for English Literature in Years 2 and 3. All other first-year modules are optional.

Year 2

Current Year 2 modules:

  • Critical Reading II (core);
  • Theatre, Sex and Power in Early Modern England;
  • Nineteenth-Century European Literature;
  • Gothic Origins and Innovations, 1780-1890;
  • Poetry;
  • Historical Fiction;
  • Three Women Writers;
  • Gender & Eighteenth-Century Literature;
  • Canadian Literature and Culture;
  • Post-Colonial Literatures;
  • Practical Criticism and Close Reading;
  • Reading Animals;
  • Writing America: Identity, Ethnicity, Nationhood;
  • Manifesto!;
  • Crime Fiction;
  • Twentieth-Century Irish Writing;
  • Renaissance Worlds: sixteenth and seventeenth-century poetry;
  • Adventures in Periodical Culture: beyond the book, 1700-1960.

Year 3

Current Year 3 modules:

  • Research Project (compulsory for Single and Major Hons. English);
  • Shakespeare;
  • Aspects of Modernism;
  • Writing and the Environmental Crisis;
  • Twentieth-Century European Literature;
  • Virginia Woolf;
  • Sylvia Plath;
  • Bronte and Dickens;
  • Gothic Revivals;
  • Authors, Books and Readers in Early Modern England;
  • Literary London;
  • Margaret Atwood;
  • In Search of America;
  • Publishing: the Literary Journal;
  • Empire and Identity in the 18th Century;
  • Caribbean Writings, 1950 - the present;
  • Women's Writing 1960-2000;
  • Irish Women's Writing;
  • European Drama from Ibsen to Ionesco;
  • Ian McEwan;
  • Gender, Race & Nation in Early Modern Britain;
  • Literature & Evil;
  • Love & Desire in Contemporary Culture;
  • Meanings of Friendship in Literature and Philosophy;
  • Literary Women, Work and Art: Romantic to Modern;
  • Contemporary Crime Fiction;
  • Digital Literary Studies;
  • Literature and Psychology.

Course assessment

The course is assessed by coursework (including essays, portfolios, study journals and reviews), projects and dissertations, individual and group presentations, and seen and unseen examinations. An increasing proportion of English assessment is online and we offer plenty of guidance and support on writing for the web, for example.

English staff are all active researchers in their fields, writing scholarly books and articles and engaged in debate on literary and critical issues. We are also expert and enthusiastic teachers: our staff have held National Teaching Fellowships and have won awards for the quality of their teaching. Year on year, National Student Surveys show that students value our commitment to undergraduate teaching.

Students on our course also have access to a well-stocked library that includes a large range of high-quality online resources, such as The Dictionary of National Biography, the OED, Early English Books Online, and JSTOR, a database of journal articles.

Teaching methods

English modules are taught via seminars, lectures, individual tutorials, and IT workshops.

In addition, there are opportunities for field trips to enrich the course: places we visit include the City of London, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Krakow and Auschwitz, and Berlin.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

admissions@bathspa.ac.uk

Entry requirements

280–320 UCAS Tariff points including A-level English Literature at grade B minimum.

Career opportunities

Our students go on to higher degrees, to teaching, journalism and PR/marketing, librarianship, and to other careers where excellent communication skills and analytical abilities are valued, such as arts management and the civil service.

Through Artswork, our Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, you’ll have access to cutting-edge resources in the areas of publishing and broadcast media to prepare you for careers or for self-employment in the media and creative industries. We have a wealth of contacts in the media and creative industries and our students are well-placed to gain internships and placements.

Since 2010, employers such as Edward Elgar Publishing, Amberley Publishing. Steel Media, IHS Global Insight and The Green Living Magazine have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Editorial Assistant, Marketing Executive, Communications Officer, Account Executive PR and Middle East and Telecommunications editor.

What students say...

Chris Simmonds, English Literature, Year 3

“The staff here are very approachable and easy to talk to and there are plenty of services to help with anything from finance to careers. The tutors have office hours at convenient times so if you need any advice on an assessment they are more than able and ready to help. The general feel of the campus, and the knowledge that you as a student are being represented in the decision making process of how the university is run, really makes you feel at home. You couldn’t find a better place to study.

I am currently applying for a job with the Civil Service. The way that the course encourages you to think critically and objectively as well as to plan ahead will definitely assist me in this process and any future jobs I may have.”

Recent graduate:

"It is, perhaps, only after graduating that students have the time to reflect on how well the course was designed, administered and delivered… without exception, the English Literature tutors all possessed great enthusiasm… Their choice of set texts and teaching style provoked engagement and involvement and I always looked forward to their classes… Studying English Literature at Bath Spa University was an enlightening, enriching, and a very rewarding experience. I will miss it greatly and remember it fondly."

Nathan Jones, English Literature, Year 3:

“I have always had an intense love for literature which I gained from studying both English and Greek literature and plays at A level. English is all about your opinion and how you respond to a particular text which I find hugely appealing as I love to vocalise and write down my opinions. English is not just reading books though; it is about comprehending the historical, political, social and ideological movements both inside and outside the text’s context. 

The first thing that struck me about Bath Spa University was the sheer sense of serenity I got while visiting. I come from East London, a place of buildings and business, which is all very hectic; I really enjoy being surrounded by greenery and foliage. I strongly believe being surrounded by such things is conducive to a healthy working environment. If I have a stressful day, a walk around the campus, past the ponds or in the gardens always eases my mind and lets me unwind.”