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 Health 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) 2020 return showing that 100% of students believe the course is intellectually stimulating*.

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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.

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Call our Clearing hotline: 0333 241 6929

Contact us today to discuss your options and secure your place on one of our courses with vacancies this September.

Find out more about Clearing

Careers with this subject

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

Key features

  • Delivered by the School of Biomedical Sciences in the Faculty of Health 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

    • Biomedical Investigation and Experimentation (BHCS1001)

      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

    • Human Anatomy and Physiology: Cells to Systems (BHCS1002)

      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.

    • Human Metabolism (BHCS1003)

      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.

    • Human Disease (BHCS1005)

      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.

    • Infection and Immunity (BHCS1006)

      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.

    • Study skills and personal development (BHCS1011)

      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.

    • Psychobiological and Cognitive Aspects of Health Behaviour (PSYC108PP)

      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

    • Genetic Continuity and Diversity (BHCS2003)

      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.

    • Cell Biology in Health and Disease (BHCS2004)

      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.

    • Infection, Immunity and Disease (BHCS2006)

      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.

    • Systems Physiology: Function and Dysfunction (BHCS2018)

      This module examines human physiological mechanisms of function of major body systems at the cellular, tissue, organ and organism level. 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 correlations between normal physiology and pathophysiology, normal anatomy and pathology, and homeostasis and homeostatic imbalances.

    • Methods in Human Biosciences (BHCS2019)

      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.

    • Placements and Employability (BHCS2027)

    Optional modules

    • Human Metabolism (BHCS2020)

      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.

    • Psychology of Health and Well-being (PSYC518)

      This module draws upon concepts and theories in health psychology, clinical psychology and forensic psychology. It sets out to evaluate how these applied areas of psychology address a range of societal problems associated with health and wellbeing. Key concepts and theories which have been used to address these problems and develop relevant interventions will be also be covered.

  • 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

    • Biomedical Sciences: Placement (BHCS3030)

      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

    • Personal Research Project (BHCS3001)

      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.

    • Personal Development and Employability (BHCS3031)

      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 and professional goals.

    Optional modules

    • Clinical Microbiology (BHCS3003)

      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.

    • Cellular Basis of Immunity (BHCS3006)

      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.

    • Current Issues in Neurobiology (BHCS3007)

      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

    • Medical Genetics (BHCS3009)

      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.

    • Reproductive Science (BHCS3014)

      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.

    • Contemporary Issues in Human Health (BHCS3022)

      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

    • Diet, Exercise and Chronic Disease (BHCS3024)

      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.

    • Applications of Psychological Theory (PSYC606)

      This module is designed to develop an advanced critical understanding of the application of psychological approaches where there have been recent advances in theory and research. Material will be drawn principally from the areas of cognitive psychology and neuropsychology We will examine how these approaches advance our understanding of people's behaviour, thoughts and feelings in different applied settings.

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.

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the changeable nature of the situation and any updates to government guidance, we may need to make further, last minute adjustments to how we deliver our teaching and learning on some or all of our programmes, at any time during the academic year. We want to reassure you that even if we do have to adjust the way in which we teach our programmes, we will be working to maintain the quality of the student learning experience and learning outcomes at all times.
Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

104 - 120

GCSE: Grade C/4 or above in Mathematics and English. Consideration may be given to equivalent qualifications such as Functional Skills.

Plus one of the following:

A levels: 104–120 Tariff points to include a minimum of three A levels, including Grade B in Biology/Human Biology, and Grade C in a relevant second science. General Studies excluded.

Relevant second sciences: Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Applied Science, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Geology, Geography, and Psychology.

Access to HE Diploma: Pass an Access to HE Diploma with 33 Level 3 credits at Merit or Distinction, including 15 Level 3 credits in Biology and 18 Level 3 credits in Chemistry, Maths, or Physics.

BTEC RQF National Extended Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: DDM – depending on the BTEC and units studied. If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application or contact Admissions for further advice.

International Baccalaureate: 26–29 points overall to include Grade 5 in Higher Level Biology and Grade 5 in a second relevant science. English and Mathematics accepted within as GCSE equivalent at higher level = 4, standard level = 5

International qualifications: We welcome applicants offering a wide range of international qualifications. Applications are considered on an individual basis, depending on the subjects studied.
English language requirements

IELTS: Overall average score of at least 6.0, with a score of at least 5.5 in all elements.

Other qualifications: Applicants with other qualifications should contact the Admissions Office for advice.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2021-2022 2022-2023
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £14,200 £14,600
Part time (Home) £770 £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 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. For more information about fees and funding please visit www.plymouth.ac.uk/money.

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Health and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Health additional costs.

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.

Progression routes

International progression routes

The University of Plymouth International College (UPIC) offers foundation, first-year and pre-masters programmes that lead to University of Plymouth degrees. Courses are specially designed for EU and international students who are missing the grades for direct entry to the University, and include full duration visa sponsorship. You can start in January, May or September, benefitting from small class sizes, top-quality tuition and 24/7 student support.


Find out more at plymouth.ac.uk/upic or contact our team at info@upic.plymouth.ac.uk

Harriet Saunders – BSc (Hons) Human Biosciences graduate

"My time during my undergraduate degree was extremely valuable in shaping my future."

"During year one and two, modules in genetics particularly took my interest and I was able to learn about various aspects of human biosciences. The course had fantastic content with a great mix of lectures, tutorials and lab based learning. Thanks to the fantastic support from my lecturers and tutor, I was able to learn about the application process, how to receive funding and how to successfully carry out a placement year. This allowed me to complete my placement year in Radboud UMC, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, where I was a student intern in molecular neurogenetics, with support from the Erasmus scheme. This was a fantastic opportunity, being able to live abroad, meet amazing people and gain important international contacts. I graduated in 2017 and took up a job as a Genetic Technologist at the West Midlands Regional Genetics Laboratory. Shortly after, the research I carried out on my placement year was published in the Molecular Genetics and Genomic Medicine journal and I was named joint first author."

"I would definitely encourage all students to carry out a placement year wherever possible as it gave me a fantastic insight into how to prepare for life after graduation."

"I am extremely grateful for the time I spent at Plymouth and thanks to the support of the fantastic staff, the diversity of the modules and the quality of the teaching, I am leading a successful career in genetics. I now have a place at UCL to study MSc Prenatal Genetics and Fetal Medicine in September 2020 and I am very excited for the future of my career."



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 Health.

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

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 Discover Uni is updated annually in September.

The results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Graduate Outcomes survey (GO) are made available to prospective students and their advisors through the Discover Uni website.