Biology and Music

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How to Apply

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This course covers all the core aspects of biology while still allowing you to develop expertise in specialist areas. Biology has a strong practical element and you will have plenty of opportunities to study plants and animals in the wild as well as in the laboratory. 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.

It will particularly appeal to students that have studied a biologically orientated subject at A level such as Biology, Environmental Science or Geography. However, if you are considering studying with other qualifications, but have a keen interest in Biology, you are also encouraged to apply.

Our staff are friendly and enthusiastic with expertise in many areas of biology from occupational diseases to plant anatomy and wildlife conservation. By the end of your degree you will be particularly well equipped to be a professional biology but you will also have a broad range of transferable skills and the versatility to succeed in many other careers. There is also the opportunity for you to gain work experience in a relevant organisation as part of your degree programme.

Our campus is particularly suited to the study of biology, boasting many interesting habitats including woodland, farmland, a lake, ponds and a stream. As well as these important natural resources we also have a boat, wildlife video system, walled garden, greenhouses, recently refurbished laboratories and a range of specialist equipment and computer software. In brief, we can provide everything you need to make your biological studies relevant, interesting and applicable to a rewarding career.

Above all we are looking for motivated and committed students who wish to push the boundaries of their academic knowledge and get the best possible preparation for any future career – but also who want to become socially engaged global citizens, ready to make a difference. You will benefit from joining the Bath Spa University community if you are willing to take advantage of the many opportunities that will be available to you outside of your study – such as volunteering, joining clubs and societies, and taking part in extra-curricular activities.

We are ranked 1st of all UK universities for Overall Satisfaction and Assessment & Feedback and ranked 3rd for Teaching and Personal Development. (Source: National Student Survey, 2014). This feedback from our students demonstrates the quality of experience you will receive if you study with us.

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 still allowing you to develop expertise in specialist areas. Biology has a strong practical element and you will have plenty of opportunities to study plants and animals in the wild as well as in the laboratory. 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.

Our staff are friendly and enthusiastic with expertise in many areas of biology from occupational diseases to plant anatomy and wildlife conservation. By the end of your degree you will be particularly well equipped to be a professional biology but you will also have a broad range of transferable skills and the versatility to succeed in many other careers. There is also the opportunity for you to gain work experience in a relevant organisation as part of your degree programme.

Our campus is particularly suited to the study of biology, boasting many interesting habitats including woodland, farmland, a lake, ponds and a stream. As well as these important natural resources we also have a boat, wildlife video system, walled garden, greenhouses, recently refurbished laboratories and a range of specialist equipment and computer software. In brief, we can provide everything you need to make your biological studies relevant, interesting and applicable to a rewarding career.

Course structure

In your first year you will study the core module, Introduction to Biological Sciences. This allows you to develop your understanding of the fundamentals of biology from cell biology and genetics to characteristics of plant and animal communities. You may also choose to study additional modules in human biology, biochemistry, biodiversity and nutrition.

In the second year you will look at the biology of plants, animals and humans in greater depth and be able to study additional topics that particularly interest you, such as ecology, environmental sustainability, biodiversity, microbiology, human pathophysiology, and food product development. A work placement module gives you the opportunity to gain academic credit for relevant voluntary or paid work carried out during your second year. There are also modules in business, science publishing and psychology available to complement your Biology modules.

In your final year of study you will specialise in topics such as animal behaviour, marine biology, nutrition, digital imaging, food safety, nature conservation, medical biology and plant biology. All students also carry out an independent study as part of their dissertation which enables you to pursue an area of biology which is of special interest to you. In addition modules in business, sociology, psychology and publishing are available.

Overall you have the opportunity to study a wide range of topics, but can specialise in areas which are of particular interest to you.

Modules

Year 1

  • Introduction to Biological Sciences (compulsory)
  • Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Food Nutrition and Health
  • Fundamentals of Biochemistry
  • Global Food Issues
  • Human Biology
  • Investigating Earth Environments

Year 2

  • Biology: The Science of Life (compulsory)
  • Biological Research Skills (compulsory)
  • Applied Microbiology
  • Biodiversity Tools and Techniques
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Epidemiology and Public Health
  • Food Product Development
  • Human Pathophysiology and Nutrition
  • Work Placement
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Biological and Cognitive Psychology
  • Science Publishing

Year 3

  • Biology Dissertation (compulsory)
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Digital Imaging
  • Environmental Consultancy
  • Food Safety
  • Marine Biology
  • Medical Biology
  • Nature Conservation in Context
  • Nutrition and Exercise Science
  • Plants and People
  • Enterprise: Creating Your Own Business
  • Successful Freelancing
  • Science Publishing Project
  • Neuropsychology
  • Individuals, Health and Society

Course assessment

We use a wide variety of assessment types in our modules, including essays, practical reports, oral presentations, posters and leaflets. Some first and second year modules have an examination component, but all final year modules are coursework only.

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.

We strongly believe that learning is not a one-way process and our teaching reflects this philosophy. We encourage discussion and participation in our classroom sessions and provide a lot of choice within assessments. This helps you focus on aspects of biology which particularly interest you, whilst ensuring we maintain the highest academic standards. Our range of natural and specialist resources support our wide range of teaching methods.

Teaching methods

The Newton Park campus is an excellent location for the study of Biology. The 'natural laboratory' of our campus provides a rich variety of woodland, grassland and freshwater habitats, which are used extensively in practical work.

Our laboratories, glasshouses and experimental areas provide specialist facilities for a wide range of biological studies including aquatic, ecological, anatomical and soil analysis. Our modern ecological surveying equipment such as bat detectors and night vision wildlife camera enables you to be involved in interesting and contemporary biological research studies.

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

260–300 UCAS Tariff points with minimum 80 points from a relevant science subject such as biology, chemistry, human biology, environmental science or social biology.

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!”

Music courses at Bath Spa University are ranked 10th out of 71 providers nationally for overall satisfaction, and BA (Hons) Music scored 97% for overall student satisfaction in NSS 2015!*

Great opportunities for music-making and an exciting and varied programme in classical, jazz, musical theatre, opera and world music.

Performance

This is a highly practical course. Every week a day is dedicated to ensemble performance and related activities for students in all years - these include choirs, orchestras, wind band, big bands and gamelan. There are also numerous other ensembles including brass, wind and string groups and an experimental ensemble called Material. There are regular student performances through the year, both at the Michael Tippett Centre, and in Bath as well as beyond. Each year, the School promotes opera and musical theatre productions, in which music students take part. Recent operas have included Philip Glass's Satyagraha, Mozart's The Magic Flute, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Handel's Semele and Puccini's Il Trittico. Musical theatre productions have included Sondheim's Into the Woods, CompanyA Little Night Music and Seussical.

To see which instrumental and vocal tutors are currently available for one-to-one practical tuition please click here.

Composition

Composition students work in a wide variety of musical styles and genres and have regular opportunities of working with professional performers. Recent visiting ensembles who have performed student work have included Ensemble Bash, Plus Minus, the Kreutzer Quartet and the New London Chamber Ensemble. There are also regular opportunities for performances of student work by our own student ensembles and there is a commission project for all final year composition students.

Orchestra and Choir

Visiting performers and composers

We have regular visits from high-profile international performers and composers. Recent visitors have included Peter Donohoe, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Judith Weir, Joanna MacGregor, Tim Hugh, David Matthews, Trevor Wishart, Denis Smalley, Graham Fitkin and Kathy Hinde.

Facilities

Based at the Michael Tippett Centre, we have excellent facilities including:

  • A purpose-built concert hall with superb acoustics
  • 17 practice rooms, three with electronically variable acoustic
  • A wide range of medieval, renaissance and baroque instruments, and a large collection of percussion and orchestral instruments
  • A Javanese Gamelan
  • A high spec music technology laboratory
  • Five recording studios 
  • Two band rehearsal rooms
  • Large well-stocked Music Library and a wide range of online musical resources

Bath and nearby Bristol are busy centres for performance with many international music festivals, touring operas, concerts and shows. Bath particularly has an extensive semi-professional and amateur life with many opportunities for students to join in music-making in the city.

Partnerships

We are proud to have very valuable partnerships with a variety of organisations in the region. These enable our student work to reach a wide audience and they also facilitate student placements and professional networking. They include:

  • Bath International Music Festival
  • Bath Philharmonia
  • Bath Abbey
  • The Holburne Museum
  • Iford Arts
  • Wiltshire Music Centre
  • Bath Young Recital Artists Trust

Why study Music?

There is a strong practical element to the course. Each year there are music-making opportunities ranging from large works for choir and orchestra (such as Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, Faure’s Requiem, and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms) through to opera and musical theatre productions. There are regular opportunities for students to perform in prestigious venues off campus - recent venues have included the Assembly Rooms, Guildhall, Bath Abbey, Wells Cathedral, Bath Pump Room and Oxford's Holywell Room. Our jazz students perform widely too, including in our arts centre Burdall's Yard. There are also opportunities to develop teaching and community music skills, to explore musicology and to develop interdisciplinary creative projects with students from other courses within the university.

* Source National Student Survey 2015.

Course structure

Year 1:

For single honours students there are no optional modules in Yr 1: all students take the same modules.

Performance Studies consists of one-to-one instrumental or vocal lessons, with workshops on performance techniques, aural awareness, and conducting. Students can opt for classical or jazz performance and are assessed on their contribution to ensembles.

Creative Forum is a composition skills module which includes free composition, while focusing on a range of compositional techniques, notation, arranging, orchestration, and the use of music technology.

Music in the West and Global Musical Styles include study and research skills for musicians, analytical skills and the close study of landmark musical works and genres from medieval to pop, with a series of seminars around cultural and musicological issues in music today.

Year 2:

You develop skills in teaching and in the area of music management and promotion through the Professional Musician module. This offers you the opportunity to undertake a placement in an organisation of your choice. In addition to the Professional Musician module (which is core) there are a number of optional modules. You continue to develop your musical skills, and increasingly you will specialise in areas of particular strength and interest – for example in performance, composition or musicology in classical or jazz styles. There is a wide choice of modules, ranging from Performance to Music Analysis.

Year 3:

You have the freedom for creative output in specialisms such as performance or composition together with the choice of a wide range of supporting modules, from the Opera Project to Music Psychology and Music in Action (which is a community music module). Practical workshops in performance and composition are a key feature of the course.

Magic Flute opera perforamance

Modules

Year 1:

  • Performance 1 (including first study instrumental/vocal lessons, optional second study, aural awareness, conducting, ensemble skills)
  • Creative Forum 1 (composition skills, harmony, music technology)
  • Music in the West (musical styles, set works, research skills, critical musicology)
  • Global Music (musical styles, ethnomusicology, field work)

Year 2:

  • Professional Musician (including a work placement, introduction to teaching, marketing and the music industry)
  • Performance 2 (in Classical and Jazz streams)
  • Creative Forum 2 (including collaborative composition with dance or film, as well as orchestration and arrangement)
  • Musical Theatre Practice (taught in collaboration with Drama)
  • Opera Project
  • Musicology 2
  • Music Analysis

Year 3:

  • Performance 3 (includes a public recital)
  • Composition (a composition portfolio)
  • Independent Study (dissertation or lecture recital)
  • Musicology 3 (popular music and music for screen)
  • Music in Action (Community Music)
  • Musical Theatre Project
  • Opera Project
  • Music Psychology

Course assessment

We assess students through coursework (including compositions and essays), spoken presentations and through practical assessments such as recitals, technicals and rehearsals.

Facilities on campus are superb, and include a purpose-built concert hall (the Michael Tippett Centre), a suite of sound-proofed practice rooms, a wide range of specialist instruments (including three Steinway grand pianos), networked music technology labs, digital recording studios, band rehearsal rooms and a well-stocked music library. There is also a wealth of online resources and all lecturers make use of our Virtual Learning Environment (Minerva) where course materials are made available to students.

Music workshop

Teaching methods

Music is taught through workshops, masterclasses, lectures, seminars, individual tutorials and instrumental/vocal lessons. All of our teaching sessions are highly interactive, whether face-to-face or online (for example, through wikis or discussion boards).

Practical workshops in performance and composition are given by distinguished full-time staff who are all practising performers, composers and musicologists. Clarinettist Professor Roger Heaton is one of this country's foremost performers of new music, recording regularly for CD and radio, and was formerly Music Director and Conductor of Rambert Dance Company; Dr Matthew Spring is a leading performer of early music with his group Sirinu, and his major book 'The Lute in Britain' has recently been published by Oxford University Press. Dr Charles Wiffen is a pianist and musicologist who has performed and recorded widely in the UK (including in the BBC Proms) and abroad and has previously taught at the Royal College of Music and Trinity College of Music in London.

Students have the opportunity to work regularly with distinguished visiting lecturers, performers and composers in a masterclass format. Recent visiting performers and composers have included Dame Emma Kirkby, Ensemble Bash, the Smith Quartet, Jason Rebello, Andy Sheppard, Gavin Bryars, Graham Fitkin and Mark-Anthony Turnage.

To see which instrumental and vocal tutors are currently available for one-to-one practical tuition please click here.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

Please contact Bath Spa Admissions by email or phone +44 (0)1225 875609

Entry requirements

280-320 UCAS Tariff points, preferably including Music at minimum grade B, plus a good standard of practical instrumental/vocal performance at Grade 8 (ABRSM) or equivalent.

Single Hons applicants will be interviewed.

Students with instruments

Career opportunities

During the course you will explore the constantly changing needs of the employment market, and you will undertake a placement in Year 2. (Recent placements have included the Bath International Music Festival, Bath Philharmonia, the BBC Proms, Welsh National Opera, BBC Music Magazine, Dorling Kindersley and Real World).

Career possibilities include:

  • Performing
  • Teaching
  • Music in the community
  • Composing for concert, screen, stage and education
  • Music and arts management
  • Music promotion and publishing

Graduate Profile: Jason Thornton

Jason Thornton is the music director of Bath Philharmonia. He has worked extensively with many of Britain’s orchestras and choirs including, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players, Halle Orchestra, English Northern Philharmonia, London Philharmonic Choir and the Philharmonia Chorus. Abroad he has worked with the Cyprus Chamber Orchestra, Jykvaskyla Sinfonia (Finland) and the North West Symphony Orchestra (Seattle). Recent performances have included collaborations with Peter Donohoe, Natalie Clein, Joanna MacGregor and Sir Willard White.

 Kill It Kid band members

Graduate Profile: Alastair King

As a composer, Alastair has written music for many film and television productions. He has contributed additional music to 'Harry Potter and the Order Of the Phoenix' (Warner Brothers), the Academy-Award winning Wallace and Gromit movie, 'The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' (Dreamworks/Aardman), 'Shrek' (Dreamworks) and 'Chicken Run' (Dreamworks/Aardman). He is also Principle Conductor of the Chamber Orchestra of London and has conducted a variety of other orchestras and choirs including The London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia, London Session Orchestra, Metro Voices, RSVP Voices, the Bach Choir and the Choir of the King’s Consort.

Graduate Profile: Trish Brown

Trish is a versatile vocalist, sax player, conductor and musical director. She MD’d Lil’ Big Band for three years at Bath Spa University and more recently The Trish Brown All-Stars. Her love for music is also expressed in her work as an arranger and singer songwriter, with her current project The Trish Brown Band performing a fusion of originals and jazz standards around the South West. Her recent performances have been at Glastonbury Festival 2011 and Marlborough Jazz Fest 2011, as well as Bristol Harbour Festival 2011. Trish is also an arts professional, having worked in music management and promotion. She currently works at St George's Bristol as an Events Manager.

Since 2010, employers such as The Ministry of Sound, The Mayflower Theatre (Southampton), Apple, the Royal Opera House and Wells Cathedral School have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also progressed into roles including Singing Teacher, Music Therapist, Musician (session, composer and teacher), Music Technician, Music Therapist, Royal Opera House Steward, Private Music Teacher.

What students say...

Kate Stevens:

Why did you choose your course and what do you like about it?

"Music has always been a huge passion of mine, especially within Theatre. Bath Spa offered me all the subjects and topics of music that I wished to concentrate on. I love their wide range of ensembles to be involved in, and the performance opportunities that you get as a BSU Music student. In my first year the choir and orchestra performed in Bath Abbey, conducted by Jason Thornton, performing Faure’s Requiem and other orchestral works. We have also performed new compositions by Harrison Birtwistle and Gavin Bryars. There are also Master classes available for each taught instrument, by professional musicians. The course is a musician's dream."

What do you like about Bath Spa University? 

"Bath Spa has a beautiful campus, with lots of places to escape to, like the lake – but beware the swans! The location of the campus is out of Bath, but only a 5 minute journey to the centre, which I feel is perfect as you don’t feel crowded, and with its open spaces you can really breathe in the country air."

 Dixieland Jazz band

Joe Gatley: 

Why did you choose your course and what do you like about it?

"Music at Bath Spa appealed to me because of its strong emphasis on performance, and also being part of a vibrant School of Music and Performing arts. This has allowed me to work and socialise with students from related courses such as Drama, Performing Arts and Commercial Music. Every year the music department stages Opera and Music Theatre productions to a very high standard, which is something that really interests me. There are a large number of ensembles to take part in, and also the support and facilities to start your own if you wanted to. Through these ensembles the music department puts on concerts through-out the year, with many opportunities for solo performances."

What do you like about Bath Spa University?

"Bath Spa University has a very friendly atmosphere, and has a campus in fresh, rural surroundings that is not too big so you feel familiar with it almost straight away. Everything on campus is quite close together, and the library is well stocked and has good computer facilities." 

To see which instrumental and vocal tutors are currently available for one-to-one practical tuition please click here.