Biology and History

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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

“The Bath Spa Biology team gives you the confidence to go on and achieve any aim you set for yourself, and the freedom to explore science in the most incredible environment.”
Liza Stanley, Biology graduate

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.


  • 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.

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 internships

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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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!”

A challenging and dynamic approach to the study of history and its impact on the contemporary world.

  • A rich variety of historical topics and approaches
  • Committed, expert and friendly staff
  • Combine the study of the past with an understanding of its application in the present

"I loved the fact that the course was really challenging, and gave me the opportunity to learn about a wide and varied period of history. The tutors were always friendly, encouraging and approachable. It was a life changing experience, and the best thing I have ever done."
– Nicola Tallis, History graduate

Why study History?

History is an exciting and challenging discipline, whether studied as a single honours degree or as a component of a combined award. It provides an essential foundation for exploring fundamental questions about beliefs, values and identity; it is impossible to comprehend the contemporary world without it.

We offer you the opportunity to study a wide range of sources, periods and themes. Our teaching offers local, national and international perspectives, broad surveys, and in-depth study.

You can study history as a single honour degree, or in combination with subjects such as English Literature, Philosophy and Ethics, Geography or Heritage.

Course structure

We combine the academic study of history with an investigation into its public role and purpose – heritage and memory; people and places. You’ll gain broad historical skills and expertise, including:

  • how to read historical texts;
  • how to use historical sources – visual, written, material; and
  • how to discuss and debate historical subjects.

Our modules range from the study of broad historical periods to focused explorations of specific topics. These reflect the research interests of our staff, and their most recent investigations and discoveries.

You’ll graduate with a wide range of personal, intellectual and transferable skills, relevant both to academic study and your ambitions beyond university.


  • Year 1
    We provide the foundations for you to develop historical skills and expertise. At the heart of this is a core module, which can be accompanied by a range of optional modules. You may cover, for example, the social history of 16th and 17th century England, or politics and people in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Year 2
    We offer you the chance to specialise a little more. You’ll build on and extend your knowledge and develop your confidence to deal with new subjects and approaches. Underpinning this, you’ll explore the history and philosophy of our subject: how ideas about the past and its study have changed over time, and how the study of history has influenced and been influenced by wider changes in society.
  • Year 3
    The focus of the third year will be on your dissertation. You’ll identify and develop your own historical question, conduct research and prepare an extended piece of writing. New topics are offered through optional modules, such as political, social and cultural history; public history; and the impact of the past on the modern world.

Course assessment

Work is assessed in a variety of ways including essays, research papers, group presentations, projects, portfolio and reports. There are timed assessments and end of year examinations in some modules. Different assessment methods allow you to develop and demonstrate different skills, many of which are also useful in other settings, such as planning ahead, working to deadlines, and managing priorities.

Study abroad

Our students make good use of the opportunities to study abroad through Erasmus and other programmes, usually in the second year, with one of our many partner universities. You’ll be able to find out more about this during your first year, including meeting up with students who have already benefited from the experience.

Students opting to join one of the study abroad programmes might find themselves in Denmark, Spain, Australia or North America. We have developing partnerships with universities in China and the Far East.

Field trips

Our field trips take us a few miles away to Bristol and its historic dockside, to major national museums and galleries, and further afield to Rome or Florence. Linked to our teaching, trips change from year to year, but there are always opportunities to learn outside the seminar room.

Work placements, industry links and internships

Placement modules prepare you for the world of work. We have an extensive network of partners across local, regional and national organisations, and can help you make the most of the opportunity to work with them.

You’ll have the opportunity to work on projects with our partners in the city and region. This might involve research in a historic house, oral history projects, or devising public events and exhibitions. Through these projects you’ll work collaboratively, manage your time, develop project management skills, and prepare for a future career

Teaching methods

We run lectures, seminars and workshops. You’ll also attend individual tutorials, where you might rehearse ideas for a project or piece of research, or to talk through how you did in an assignment – and what you might do differently next time.

As well as the history team, you can take advantage of the learning support provided across the University, whether to develop your writing skills or to learn how to use new techniques and technologies.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

Enquires should be directed to Dr Alan Marshall, Head of Humanities:


Entry requirements

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

  • A Level - Grades BCC- CCC accepted with Grade C in History or related subject preferred
  • BTEC - Extended Diploma grades Merit, Merit, Merit (MMM) preferred in a related subject.
  • International Baccalaureate - A minimum score of 26 points required.
  • 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).

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

Employers welcome the analytical and problem-solving skills and the flexible approach to learning that history students acquire. You’ll not only gain knowledge and understanding of history as a scholarly discipline, but you’ll also develop a multitude of skills that will be useful in your future working life. As a result our history students find employment in a wide variety of careers:

List of current alumni careers

Our history graduates have entered careers in:

  • education (at all levels);
  • the police force;
  • social services;
  • the charitable sector;
  • events management;
  • the National Health Service; and
  • museums and heritage.

You may also choose to continue your studies at postgraduate level.

Since 2011, employers such as Unilever, The National Trust, Don Foster (MP),  The Jane Austen Centre, The Bishop's Palace Trust (Wells)  and The Association of Learning Providers have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Archives and Records Assistant, Historical Researcher, Curriculum Assistant, Part time lecturer and Historical Educator.

What students say...

Recent graduates:

“Studying History at Bath Spa University has proved an excellent foundation for my future academic pursuits. Prior to studying History at Bath Spa I had no real sense of my future career plans. However, the course has provided me with the inspiration, enthusiasm and skills to pursue postgraduate study. The course has also provided me with transferable skills should my projected career plans change.”

“I have found studying History at Bath Spa University immensely enjoyable and rewarding. The History faculty has been supportive, knowledgeable and approachable. I found the course offered real value to my professional and personal development.”

Kindra Jones, History, graduated 2011:

“I run my own business, KITHE, providing historical characters and events to museums, schools and heritage sites in the UK. Covering from early medieval through to the Second World War, I am constantly researching and adding to my wardrobe and artefacts.

All the skills that I need on my current career path were enhanced during my time at Bath Spa. When talking to the public my answers must be concise, well organised and backed by research, skills that the numerous essays and presentations helped me to develop. Professional correspondence and meetings with clients are critical for the bigger events, and I feel that my course prepared me for these very well. When I first started university I suffered from panic attacks when giving presentations, over the course these lessened until they stopped entirely. This was in large part due to my tutors working with me to find ways to make them less stressful and easier for me to cope with. I was so lucky to have great tutors.”

Nicola Tallis, graduated 2011:

“I loved the fact that the course was really challenging, and gave me the opportunity to learn about a wide and varied period of history. The tutors were always friendly, encouraging and approachable. It was a life changing experience, and the best thing I have ever done. The course prepared me for my career amazingly well. I went on to do an internship at Hampton Court Palace, and I could never have done this had I not done my course. I had to give a presentation at the end of my internship, and had I not done this many times at university, I would have had little confidence. As it was, I was complimented on my excellent verbal presentation skills! It improved my writing and referencing skills, and now I’m writing a book. It also made me consider the bigger picture in a way I never have done before, and this is crucial when you are carrying out historical research and writing a book.”