School of Biomedical Sciences

BSc (Hons) Human Biosciences

Will gene therapy become an established treatment for cancer? What are the potential benefits of stem cell research? How has the revolution in genome sequencing provided insights into human biology? On this flexible course, you’ll develop skills and knowledge across the spectrum of subject disciplines – enabling an understanding of these and other key questions relating to human biology, health and disease.

This course is delivered by the School of Biomedical Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and enhanced by links with healthcare professionals. You’ll benefit from a rich and varied learning environment. You will also have the opportunity to enhance your employability with an optional placement year. We’re very proud of our National Student Survey (NSS) 2018 return showing that the course had an overall student satisfaction of 95 per cent*.

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First choice for health

Delivered by professional experts, our programmes are tailored to you and your career. Together, we address today's most challenging healthcare issues, through research-informed teaching and active, real-world learning.

#firstchoiceforhealth

Careers with this subject

Career options

Careers options include: biomedical research, biomedical NHS and public health laboratory assistants, medical laboratory technology, health counselling, pharmaceutical sales and marketing, health product research and development, environmental agencies, food quality control, cosmetics industry, scientific writing and publishing, teaching profession and further postgraduate study (MSc, MRes, PhD).

With regards to career options, in addition to the five ring-fenced places for transfer to medicine and dentistry after year 1 for BMS or HB, we also have the additional route for graduates of all our undergraduate programmes.

The programme also has an enhanced admissions process for medicine and dentistry. So if you are considering applying for either of these courses you may wish to consider applying to Plymouth in light of the following. Further information regarding admissions and interviews etc. is available from the medical and dental school admissions team meddent-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

  • A tranche of students on track to gain 1st Class (>70 per cent) will be guaranteed an interview (NDSL)
  • Waive the requirement for GAMSAT
  • Entry requirement – > 70 per cent in final degree score
  • Satisfactory in Interview
  • OH or DBS satisfactory reports 
  • Two year currency
There are also 10 ring-fenced places for our graduates onto the Physician Associate programme.

Key features

  • Delivered by the School of Biomedical Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and enhanced by links with healthcare professionals.
  • A strong foundation in a broad range of bioscience disciplines underpinned by a biomolecular knowledge-base relevant to contemporary human biosciences today.
  • Opportunities to include optional elements of psychology at each stage of the programme.
  • Enables students to explore themes of personal interest within the biosciences at all stages.
  • Staff with expertise in a wide range of biomedical research topics directly inform learning and teaching.
  • Strong international reputation in translational research with significant financial investment in laboratory infrastructure.
  • Emphasis on practical laboratory skills relevant to research and other scientific careers.
  • Benefit from a rich and varied interdisciplinary learning environment, which includes collaboration with a wider health care education community at the University.
  • Optional placement opportunities provide students with relevant work experience.
  • Personal tutoring in modules throughout the programme of study.
  • Equips graduates with the confidence, knowledge, skills and other attributes suitable for a wide variety of careers within this rapidly expanding field.
  • This course has competitive entry for up to ten ring-fenced places at the end of stage one for progression onto medicine and dentistry. Applicants must meet minimum academic requirements for consideration. e.g A levels - Minimum of AAB to include A grades in Biology, one other science from Chemistry, Maths, Physics, or Psychology. General Studies will not be accepted.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In your first year, a foundation of theory and practicals will introduce you to the most important organism – Homo sapiens, and you'll develop key graduate skills in communication, data analysis and IT.
    Core modules
    • BHCS1001 Biomedical Investigation and Experimentation

      To introduce the learner to key elements of investigation and experimentation within the biomedical sciences and to support the development of the basic skills and knowledge required for effective practice in these discipline areas

    • BHCS1002 Human Anatomy and Physiology: Cells to Systems

      This module offers an introduction to the key anatomical features of the body and how physiological function is controlled to maintain homeostasis and health. It will commence with an exploration of cell and tissue biology and the founding principles of genetics, embryology and human development. The module will conclude with an exposition of anatomy and physiology of the major human organ systems.

    • BHCS1003 Human Metabolism

      This module offers an introduction to the biochemistry underlying human metabolism. In particular, the module explores the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the human body extracts energy from nutrients to sustain life. The significance of metabolic dysfunction in relation to human disease pathology and diagnosis is emphasised.

    • BHCS1005 Human Disease

      Concepts associated with altered health states due to environmental, developmental and genetic causes are explored. Pathological changes at the cellular, tissue and organ level are discussed. Genomic and bioinformatic technologies are introduced, and their application to clinical and personalised medicine considered.

    • BHCS1006 Infection and Immunity

      This module introduces the student to infection & immunity and the study of microorganisms with a particular emphasis on food-borne pathogens. It explores concepts of food safety, gut organisms, infectious disease and the body's ability to resist and repel such disease via a range of immune responses.

    • BHCS1011 Study skills and personal development

      This module supports the development of key study and learning skills. Timetabled tutorials will help promote self-reflection and provide a framework for personal development planning and careers.

    • PSYC108PP Psychobiological and Cognitive Aspects of Health Behaviour

      This module introduces the psychology of choices and behaviour, with an emphasis on health. We will examine health behaviours, choices, and risks with a particular consideration of how these are influenced by biological and social factors. Students will have the opportunity to design and conduct a small research project in groups, with presentation of this project forming the assessment for the module

  • Year 2
  • The focus in your second year will be to develop a deeper understanding of human physiology and neurobiology, genetics and molecular cell biology, metabolism, infection and immunology. You'll also enhance your knowledge and practical skills in experimental and investigative techniques with a methods module.
    Core modules
    • BHCS2003 Genetic Continuity and Diversity

      Processes which maintain genetic stability or promote genetic variation at various levels of biological organisation are considered. Applications of advances in genetics are examined in topics such as developmental genetics, epigenetics, genomics and proteomics, recombinant DNA technology, and human genetic diversity.

    • BHCS2004 Cell Biology in Health and Disease

      This module examines the fundamental principles of cell biology in health and disease. It will include the theory and practice of cellular laboratory science and introduce the scope and practice of light microscopy and histology in clinical investigation and cellular pathology.

    • BHCS2006 Infection, Immunity and Disease

      This module is to develop an in-depth understanding of the immune system and pathogenic infection. It highlights the integrated cellular responses that prevent infection and the underlying principles that govern these actions, and it looks at measures to prevent and control infections, including health protection measures, antimicrobial therapy and vaccination.

    • BHCS2018 Systems Physiology: Function and Dysfunction

      This module examines physiological mechanisms of function of major body systems at the cellular, tissue, organ and whole human levels. It also explores mechanisms of dysfunction at the cellular, organ and systems level. The module will emphasize relationships between structure and function and will emphasize the correlations between normal physiology and pathophysiology, normal anatomy and pathology, and homeostasis and homeostatic imbalances.

    • BHCS2019 Methods in Human Biosciences

      Laboratory studies and data analysis are essential elements of human biosciences. Practical work needs to be performed safely and efficiently within an appropriate experimental design, results described and analysed competently, and outcomes effectively presented. This module focuses on such core skills and techniques.

    • BHCS2027 Placements and Employability

    Optional modules
    • BHCS2020 Human Metabolism

      This module explores control and regulation of human metabolic pathways, stressing how metabolism responds to physiological fluctuations and to pathological disruptions of cellular, tissue and whole body homeostasis. It probes how disease biochemistry is exploited in clinical diagnostics and describes analytical techniques.

    • PSYC204 Applied Topics in Health and Cognition

      This module explores applications of basic research and psychological theory in two areas: health psychology and cognitive psychology. (This module is subject to availability)

  • Year 3
  • Enrich your experience and boost your career prospects by taking an optional work placement for a minimum six months full-time (or part-time equivalent). Once completed, you’ll receive the Certificate of Work Experience as valuable evidence for future employers. 
    Core modules
    • BHCS3030 Biomedical Sciences: Placement

      This module provides an opportunity for professional training of at least 26 weeks duration with an approved placement provider or host organisation between Stage 2 and 4. While on placement, students will gain work experience related to their degree programme, be able to apply their knowledge and expertise, and learn further skills and relevant techniques.

  • Final year
  • In your final year, you will have a choice of two personal research project modules to suit your career aspirations. A wide range of modules will develop your critical understanding of cutting-edge research.
    Core modules
    • BHCS3001 Personal Research Project

      The module requires students to perform a self-directed research study project that includes the design, implementation, collection, analysis and interpretation of scientific data. It also involves the evaluation and interpretation of scientific literature, evaluation of current issues and concepts and the ability to reflect upon continuing professional and personal development.

    • BHCS3031 Personal Development and Employability

      The module aims to provide personal academic support and careers guidance. It will provide a forum for students to discuss their achievements and develop plans to address potential areas of weakness and achieve future career goals.

    Optional modules
    • BHCS3003 Clinical Microbiology

      This module provides knowledge and skills that will enable students to operate effectively in a modern infection sciences laboratory. The module will develop an in-depth understanding of the commonly encountered infections, tests to identify the disease agents and the principles of antimicrobial therapy.

    • BHCS3006 Cellular Basis of Immunity

      This module provides theoretical skills that will enable students to explore immune processes focussing on the role of immune cells and their molecules in host immune defences to pathogens and chronic diseases. Contemporary immunology research issues and their translation to clinical practice will be explored in a critical manner.

    • BHCS3007 Current Issues in Neurobiology

      This module provides an in depth understanding of the molecular, cellular and systems mechanisms that underlies nervous system function and dysfunction related to key contemporary issues in neuroscience

    • BHCS3009 Medical Genetics

      Medical genetics explores how genetics affects human health. Techniques for human genetic analyses are considered, and chromosomal, single gene and multifactorial disorders reviewed. The relevance of modern genetic and genomic technologies for public health and personalised medicine are examined.

    • BHCS3014 Reproductive Science

      This module provides the theoretical underpinning that will enable students to operate effectively in a modern reproductive science laboratory. Current concepts and techniques in reproductive biology and pathology, with particular reference to infertility and assisted reproduction, will be explored in a critical manner.

    • BHCS3022 Contemporary Issues in Human Health

      Rapid developments in the biomedical sciences are affecting many aspects of human health, and there are profound economic, social, legal and ethical implications of many recent advances. This module allows students to select topics of personal interest for in-depth study and encourages effective communication to peers and other audiences, providing good skills for future career development

    • BHCS3024 Diet, Exercise and Chronic Disease

      This module examines the roles of diet and exercise in the development and management of chronic disease states. The focus is on the major chronic diseases - obesity, CVD, type2 diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis.

    • PSYC392 Current Topics in Applied Psychology

      This module allows students to develop a critical appreciation of recent research in applied psychology. Students study four topics in depth. These are introduced by staff teaching in their specialist research area. (This module is subject to availability)

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc Human Biosciences programme specification 1391

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

104 - 120

A Level: Typical offer of 104-120 points from a minimum of 3 A levels including grade B in Biology OR Human Biology and grade C in second Science, listed above. Excluding General Studies. 

Note: 104 points offer maybe given if student has relevant work experience or other study.

BTEC: DDM Applied Science, Medical Science acceptable provided you have at least 6 specialist units in Biology and Science (Maths, Chemistry, Physics) subjects. Please contact the admissions team if you require further advice.

International Baccalaureate: 27 overall to include 5 in Biology at Higher Level and 5 in a second science subject at Higher Level.

IELTS: Overall average score of at least 6.5, with a score of at least 6.5 in the listening and reading sections and at least 6.5 in the writing and speaking sections.

Access Courses: Pass Access (e.g. science, combined science, medicine) with at least 45 credits at level 3, 30 must be at distinction level and come from at least two specialisms such as: maths, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology. The remaining 15 level 3 credits must be at merit from environmental science, psychology, science related subject. Must have GCSE English and Mathematics at grade C / 4 or above


For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2018 2019
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International £13,000 £13,400
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

Additional costs 

  • The tuition fees do not cover the costs of purchasing books or stationery, printing, thesis branding, or photocopying costs.
  • If/when you are on placement there may be additional costs incurred for subsistence and travel.
  • Failure to attend the requisite immunisation clinics at the times stated would result in you having to self-fund your immunisation schedule.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Prize winners - Henry Kitchener Prize 2016

Melissa Pirie, a Human Biosciences graduate was highly commended for her essay at the Institute for Food Brain and Behaviour event in London.

Melissa is now studying medicine with the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.

Our facilities

The School of Biomedical Sciences is based in purpose-built building linked to the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.

You will find some of the best undergraduate laboratories in the country.

Find out more about our facilities

Systems Biology Centre

The Systems Biology Centre offers genomics and proteomics facilities to researchers within and external to the University.

Find out more about the centre in our video

Research

Learn about our varied research topics within the Biomedical Research Group, which include:

Non-invasive pre-natal testing, new targets for cancer treatment, understanding macrophages, combating sepsis and self-disseminating vaccines.

Discover more about the Biomedical Research Group

Dr Louise Belfield - BSc (Hons) Human Biosciences and PhD Immunology graduate

I came into higher education through a non-traditional background, so studying at Plymouth opened a host of new possibilities for me. It allowed my curiosity to flourish and I could pursue my interest in human biology.

Louise is now a lecturer in biomedical sciences at the University.

Learn more about Dr Louise Belfield

Freya Teesdale – current BSc (Hons) Human Biosciences student

“Having completed my second year on the human biosciences course I was successful in getting a place on the University's summer research bursary scheme allowing me to spend two months working alongside one of my lecturers and PhD students researching how macrophages behave in some gut diseases, setting up my own experiments from scratch.”

"After that, I chose to do another placement – this time six months long, at Derriford Hospital in their diagnostic laboratories. I spent most of my time in flow cytometry, using lasers and fluorescent tags for proteins to test for certain types of blood cancer, but I also rotated in Tissue Typing with the transplant and transfusion lab team, Molecular biology and genetic testing, and histopathology with brightly coloured tissue dyes. It was fascinating to see the inside of an NHS lab as they carried out their routine and specialised tests inspiring my final year dissertation in cancer immunology."

"Next year is my final year, and I am pursuing a dissertation in cancer immunology (inspired by my time at Derriford) and modules that will complement that. I will also be applying for PhDs in the hopes of a career in research, where I can get lost in the science itself."


Georgia Leach – BSc (Hons) Human Biosciences graduate

I learnt to be independent at Plymouth, a skill that is key in my current role. I worked on long term projects at Plymouth like research projects and my dissertation which taught me how to manage my time and meet deadlines.

Since graduating, Georgia has been employed by Hologic, a global women’s healthcare company

Learn more about Georgia Leach

Immunologist’s teaching excellence recognised in national award

Dr Andy Foey, Associate Professor in Immunology in the School of Biomedical Sciences, has won the inaugural Teaching Excellence Award given by the British Society for Immunology (BSI). 

The BSI established the award to recognise immunologists who use excellent communication skills to convey immunology concepts to a range of students in an engaging and accessible manner, and inspire the next generation of experts in the profession. 

Learn more about Dr Andy Foey’s teaching award

Dr Andy Foey with Dr Helen Collins, BSI Education Secretary and head of the judging panel that awarded the prize

*These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Unistats is updated annually in September.

The results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE) are made available to prospective students and their advisors through the Unistats website.