Biological Sciences study guide 2023/24

Biological Sciences at Bristol

The current School of Biological Sciences was founded in 1990 from the fusion of the Departments of Zoology and Botany. Our teaching has been rated as excellent by Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the combination of excellence in research and teaching places us in the top rank of UK biology departments.


We have an international reputation for the outstanding quality of our research, all of which underpins our teaching approach. Many of our staff are world leaders in their fields, giving you the opportunity to learn about the most up to date perspectives from those involved in shaping the latest advances in biology.
We are very proud of both our research breadth and depth. With respect to breadth we literally go from enzymes to ecosystems and with regard to depth, you will be taught by international experts in animal behaviour, molecular biology, evolution and ecology.


Our teaching standards have been rated as 'excellent' by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). You will be taught by lecturers who are actively engaged in projects at the cutting edge of their research specialisms. You will benefit from the expertise of the researchers who actively shape our degree courses, which progress from building a rigorous foundation in biology to covering the latest cutting-edge topics in the life sciences.


The University has invested £56 million in an iconic new building that forms a research hub for interdisciplinary research, facilitating major advances across the sciences. The Life Sciences building is located at the heart of the University campus, adjacent to other core science and medical schools, it couples central positioning with the best in sustainable design and energy efficiency. It also has plants cascading from the balconies of the atrium on the inside and a large living green wall on the outside.

The imaginatively-designed building features multiple break-out spaces and a five-storey laboratory wing which will enhance the student experience by facilitating research-led study and staff-student interaction. This flagship project underscores the University's belief that many of the 21st century's most exciting discoveries will emerge from biology, and that the next generation of biology graduates will have opportunities unparalleled anywhere else.

Unit structure

The school offers many classes that are based in a single semester, and can therefore accept unit requests from Study Abroad students who want to join Bristol for just the autumn or spring semester.

Unit levels

The school offers units across all undergraduate levels of study: year 1 (level C/4), year 2 (level I/5), and year 3 (level H/6) units. Postgraduate units are not available.

Unit codes

Unit codes in the School of Biological Sciences begin with 'BIOL'. This is followed by a number indicating the year (1, 2, 3). For example:

  • BIOL10000 = year 1 unit
  • BIOL20000 = year 2 unit
  • BIOL30000 = year 3 unit.

For more information about each unit, check the University's unit catalogue for 2023/24. Applicants on all study abroad programmes must review the unit details on the catalogue before listing unit choices on their application form. This includes checking the format of assessment for each unit. The unit catalogue for 2023/24 is expected to be updated by the end of April 2023.

Your unit choices cannot be guaranteed. Some units may not have capacity to accommodate all of the unit requests we receive. Registration on a unit also depends on whether you meet the pre-requisite conditions through prior study at your home university.

Units available on the study abroad programme in 2023/24

The following units from the School of Biological Sciences are open to inbound Study Abroad students.

Year 1 (level C/4)


  • Diversity of Life Part A (TB1) - BIOL10010 
  • Life Processes Part A (TB1) - BIOL10009 


  • Current Topics in Biology (TB2) - BIOL10001
  • Diversity of Life Part B (TB2) - BIOL10007
  • Life Processes Part B (TB2) - BIOL10008

Year 2 (level I/5)


  • Evolutionary Biology (TB1B) - BIOL20212. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 7-12)
  • Molecular Genetics (TB1) - BIOL20015 
  • Quantitative and Computational Methods (TB1) - BIOL20020
  • Science and Success: Writing, Speaking and Communicating Science (TB1A) - BIOL20017. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 1-6)


  • Animal and Plant Physiology (TB2) - BIOL20022
  • Animal Behaviour (TB2)- BIOL20023
  • Cell and Developmental Biology (TB2) - BIOL20024
  • Ecology and Conservation (TB2) - BIOL20025
  • Neuroethology (TB2) - BIOL20026
  • Plants and Planet (TB2) - BIOL20021

Year 3 (level H/6)

These are new units for 2023-24, and all run in the spring semester (TB2). There are no units available in TB1

  • Animal Communication and Cognition (TB2) - BIOL30018
  • Biological Interactions (TB2) - BIOL30019
  • Blue Planet (TB2) - BIOL30020
  • Evolution: from Genomes to Biodiversity (TB2) - BIOL30021
  • The Future of the Green Planet (TB2) - BIOL30022
  • Plants and Sustainable Food Production (TB2) - BIOL30023
  • Staying Alive: the sensory and behavioural biology of survival (TB2) - BIOL30024

Year 4 (level M/7)

None available. 

Application queries

Contact the Centre for Study Abroad inbound team if you have any queries about the application process for the study abroad programmes:

Phone: +44 117 39 40207


Students cannot audit units. Study abroad students are fully registered on units for credit purposes and must attend teaching only for classes that they are registered on.

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