Biology and Philosophy and Ethics

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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!”

This course is concerned with pursuing and answering questions of truth, knowledge, meaning and reality and exploring crucial ethical issues facing humanity. The approach taken is global, contemporary and applied, and enables you to develop as an analytical, critical and systematic thinker.

Philosophy and Ethics is offered as a Major, Joint or Minor component of a Combined degree. If you want to combine it with Study of Religions you should take the Religions, Philosophies and Ethics specialised award.

Why study Philosophy and Ethics?

‘What I love about this course is being able to discuss and explore topical issues within philosophy and religions with an open mind. Bath Spa has a very good reputation and there is a very personal feel to it’

Philosophy and Ethics at Bath Spa is concerned with pursuing and answering the kind of questions that lie behind all academic disciplines and subjects, for example:

  • what is truth?  
  • what can one know?
  • what is ultimately real?
  • what is the meaning of life?
  • how should one live in the world?

Arguably, nothing is outside the reach of philosophical and ethical enquiry.  All human activities are inevitably shaped by particular assumptions, beliefs and values.  It is the aim of philosophy and ethics to explore the nature of those assumptions, beliefs and values.  For example: what precisely is it that shapes our understanding of mind, religion or society?  In what ways are our thoughts limited by our environment, history or language?  How should one evaluate human relationships, the past or works of art?  

By developing and practising philosophical and ethical analysis and enquiry, you can explore any area of human interest with a level clarity, coherence and rigour unrivalled by other academic disciplines and subjects.

Philosophy and Ethics at Bath Spa University has developed a distinctive identity within the national marketplace for undergraduate philosophy provision.

World Philosophies: The programme is designed to allow you to explore philosophy and ethics as a global phenomenon.  That is, in addition to teaching you about Western’ philosophical and ethical perspectives, the subject introduces you to the philosophies and ethics of the Indian subcontinent and China.  This approach challenges the Anglo-American and analytic focus of philosophy departments in the UK and undermines the assertion that ‘Philosophy speaks Greek and only Greek’.

Doing Philosophy: Rather than teaching philosophy primarily as a history of ideas, Philosophy and Ethics at Bath Spa is concerned with enabling you to develop as analytical, critical and systematic thinkers.  The programme has been constructed to foreground teaching and learning events that promote the formation of subject-specific and employment-facing thinking and practical skills.

Contemporary / Applied: The programme is aimed at exploring how philosophical and ethical analysis can be applied to a range of contemporary debates, issues and problems.  Staff research interests usefully inform teaching and learning events at this point, notably through applied projects and the teaching of such topics as the ethics of war, ecological ethics and the philosophy of gender.

Course structure

In Year 1 we offer a core module which introduces philosophical and ethical enquiry, providing you with the tools of philosophical and ethical analysis, and critically examining core concepts in epistemology, metaphysics and ethics. There is an optional module in global religions and philosophies, looking at major traditions and movements, and key thinkers.

The core module in Year 2 focuses on philosophy in Indian and Chinese traditions. Optional modules include ethics within religious and humanist traditions, on topics such as medical ethics and social justice, and philosophy, religions and the environment, on topics such ecological degradation and nonhuman rights

There is also a Special Project in which you can explore topics of your choice, engage in a placement or project relevant to employment, or take part in a summer school in another country such as Korea.

In the third year, options include a philosophical module on the meaning of human existence, encompassing such topics as absurdity and purpose, identity and mortality and a module on religion, philosophy and gender. There is also a special research project which could focus on Applied Ethics, a Dissertation which allows for in-depth concentration on a topic of your choice, or an employment related project.

 

NOTE: You will need to study another subject to study with Philosophy and Ethics.

 

 

Modules

 

 

Year 1:

  • Beyond Belief: Introduction to the Study of Religions and Spiritualities (core module);
  • Truth and Value: Introduction to Philosophical and Ethical Enquiry (core module);
  • Global Religions and Philosophies

Year 2:

  • Darshana, Dharma and Dao: Philosophy in the Indian and Chinese Traditions (core module);
  • Ethics, Religion and Humanism: Contemporary Moral Dilemmas;
  • Special Project;
  • Philosophy, Religions and the Environment

 

Year 3:

  • Dissertation;
  • Employment related placement (alternative to Dissertation);
  • Religion, Philosophy and Gender;
  • Life and Meaning;
  • Advanced Special Project;
  • Culture and Counterculture: from Orientalism to the ‘Hippy Trail’.

Course assessment

Mainly by coursework such as essays, reports, projects, presentations, on- line discussion board participation. There are also some timed elements such as critical analyses or examinations.

The approach taken to the study of Philosophy and Ethics at Bath Spa is distinctive in taking a global approach. Philosophies studied include South and East Asian philosophies as well as Western approaches. We stress ‘doing philosophy’ and developing your own abilities to argue a case and analyse appropriate evidence. We apply philosophical and ethical thinking to address contemporary concerns such as gender and sexuality, environmental ethics, war and conflict and medical ethics. There are opportunities to follow up your own interests or career plans in a variety of special projects, employment related placements and a dissertation.

We offer excellent teaching with attention to individuals, and staff are active in research and scholarship in their specialist areas. We welcome non-traditional entrants and mature students.

Teaching methods

We offer excellent teaching with attention to individuals, and staff are active in research and scholarship in their specialist areas. We welcome non-traditional entrants and mature students.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

Please contact our Admissions team (see above)

Entry requirements

260–300 UCAS Tariff points.

Career opportunities

Philosophy and Ethics develops many skills valued by employers such as clarity and precision in thinking, the ability to recognise unnoticed assumptions, the expertise to present a strong case, and to see the ethical issues involved in everyday decisions. Graduate careers for which Philosophy is good preparation include: law, civil service, local government, journalism, financial institutions, management, and IT. Some of some of our students have gone on to teach Religious Education, Philosophy and/or Citizenship in secondary or primary schools, where there is a shortage of specialists. Others have gone on to further academic study.

Since 2010, employers such as Global Xchange. Ethicall, Citizens' Advice Bureau and Birmingham University have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Healthcare Assistant, Fundraiser,  Children's Home Activities Coordinator and Assistant to the Communications Director.

What students say...

Lindsay Horler, Philosophy & Ethics with Study of Religions, Year 3:

“I chose to study this particular course because I was interested in studying Eastern as well as Western philosophy, and Bath Spa is probably the only University in the UK which offers such an in-depth enquiry into Eastern philosophical thought. While studying Philosophy & Ethics with Study of Religions at Bath Spa I have not only enhanced my intellectual skills, but I have also developed as a person. By thinking critically about philosophical ideas from Anglo-American, European and global perspectives, I have been able to think critically about my own philosophical beliefs.

What I enjoy most about Bath Spa University is that I can speak to my course tutors whenever I have questions to do with my course, or anything else for that matter.”