The discipline of Bioscience covers the study of life and all living things. Bioscience encompasses the exploration of living organisms and life processes from the molecular, through to cells and individual organisms to populations and whole communities of animals and plants. At school, biology covers the broad topics, but university allows you to choose which area you would like to study – whether this is animals, diseases or genetics!
One of the most exciting aspects of biosciences is the real and true application to life. Biosciences teach students skills that are demanded in nearly all forms of life. If you want to be part of a team that tackles the problems of diseases as important as cancer, to ensuring the survival of a species of animals – biosciences could be the field for you.
What will I learn?
This varies a lot depending on which specialist area you would like to study. Broadly, all students will be educated in the basic foundations of all living things: from basic metabolism to cellular biology, genetics to anatomy and physiology to evolution.
As a student progresses, the course becomes more specialised in their chosen area. Generally, the method of teaching relies more on the student being able to critically read scientific literature and being able to think like scientists. You will undertake a final-year research project, where you can explore a topic within your interests with support from world-leading academics and become a member of the research community.
The skills gained from a Bioscience course are vast and varied. Graduates have gone on to careers in conservation, animal care and research for the ecology and zoology-based courses. Other fields enable graduates to enter medical research, or to work in a hospital as part of the diagnostic team. The transferable skills gained extend outside of just lab-based jobs and offer varied career options in the academic, industrial, environmental, medical and commercial sectors.Biosciences
At Cardiff University, all Bioscience courses share a common first year, that means everyone studies the same material. This system gives you the option to switch to another Bioscience course at the end of the first year. You also have the choice to do a ‘Sandwich’ programme, where you would take a year out of studying to undertake a relevant work placement. Cardiff is renowned for its field courses, where you get a hand- on learning experience.
Biology at university is a lot more in depth than what you would have studied at school. The great thing about university study is that you can choose modules to reflect your interests and focus on what you enjoy most. You could find yourself specialising in Conservation Biology, Behavioural Ecology, Pollution Biology, or a combination of them all.
Biology is a practical subject and you will undertake regular lab work to reflect this as well as have the option to attend a field course. During the field course you could be studying river ecology in Wales or exploring tropical ecology in Kenya!
Biochemistry is the study of biological systems at the molecular level. Properly functioning balances of chemical reactions in the body are responsible for health whilst dysfunctional balances are responsible for diseases. Biochemical reactions underpin life and impact everything from metabolism to genetics.
If you want to further your understanding of how organisms function, and the chemistry behind medication and diseases then Biochemistry could be for you!
With an emphasis on the experimental basis of biochemistry and practical modules that cover modern research techniques such as DNA manipulation and analysis, this course is a great stepping stone to a career in scientific research.
Biotechnology is widely believed to be the key science for the 21st century as it can be used for the benefit of health, industry, agriculture, society and the environment. By using specialised knowledge of biological systems, biotechnology progresses new developments ranging from stem cell therapies and new drugs based on molecular understanding to genetically engineered crops and new generations of diagnostics.
Using a combination of chemistry, physics, engineering, medicine and business, biotechnologists gain a wide skill set. Through the study of Biotechnology, students will develop an integrated understanding of current and future applications of the subject as well as aspects of commercialisation and an understanding of industry. During the course, there is a compulsory year in industry enabling you to develop your expertise in a commercial biotechnology environment.
Ecology is a biological based subject which covers important topics such as the study of habitats and the complex relationships between living organisms and their environments. With human growth and expansion threatening the homes of many animals, a scientific approach to the study of environmental problems is increasingly important. The study of Ecology works towards developing a sustainable future for both ourselves and the Earth.
Students will learn to understand the complex ecological relationships between microbes, plants and animals, as well as the factors controlling biodiversity. The course relies strongly on practical work ranging from laboratory simulations to residential field courses. You could be surveying otters in mid-Wales or examining marine ecology in the Caribbean!
Genetics is the investigation of natural developments in all organisms. It is a form of biological study at the smallest level, from examining aspects of DNA (the nucleic acid) to the full genome (every gene that a person possesses).
In recent years, there have been great developments in our knowledge of genome structure and organisation from projects such as the Human Genome Project. This has revolutionised our understanding of all biological systems and their evolution. Consequently, geneticists have never been more valued, with the subject becoming relevant to every sphere of biological study including medical, animal and biotechnological investigations.
Students will learn about every aspect of Genetics and have the opportunity to practise genetic engineering techniques. You can also easily combine your studies with other specific areas of Bioscience.
Microbiology is the study of micro-organisms (or simply microbes). They include protozoa, bacteria and viruses, together with microscopic fungi and algae, and they are all crucially important to life on earth.
If you are fascinated by the ways that microbes produce hydrogen, methane or visible light, or how others resists the effects of antibiotics or irradiation levels that would kill a human, then the study of Microbiology might be for you! How to harness these different properties is still a mystery; but this course will equip you with the practical skills and knowledge to start a career in research, where you could become the sort of expert who might make such discoveries.
Students will learn how to identify microbes, handle them safely in the laboratory and study their unique properties. You will discover the essential roles microbes play in nature and also the problems they cause. From laboratory work, the course will explain how we use microbes to control pests, produce valuable enzymes and antibiotics, or genetically manipulate them to produce hormones such as insulin.
Molecular Biology looks at the smallest components of an organism, how they interact and their physiology (for example, how food is metabolised). It combines with the molecular aspects of Biochemistry, Genetics and Biotechnology to give students an expansive study area.
Students will gain a broad knowledge of the molecular aspects of biology to meet with the ever-increasing applications of the rapidly expanding subject area. If you have an interest in the basis of life and the science behind living systems then Molecular Biology could be for you!
Zoology is an exploration into the roles of all kinds of animals in their ecosystems. The subject ranges from the evolution and characteristics of the main animal groups through to animal behaviour and habitats, to physiology and cell biology. Zoologists are needed to maintain healthy natural environments for animals, control pests and preserve endangered species, especially during a time of human growth and expansion which threatens their homes.
If you are interested in animal biology, their behaviour and evolution, then Zoology could be the course for you! Students will not only learn about animals but how to apply their knowledge to human problems such as ecologically responsible pest control, conservation or cancer research. You will gain hands-on training in modern laboratory and field research techniques, and have the opportunity to take a year out to engage in your studies in jungles and zoos across the world.
The Biomedical Sciences are concerned with the human body – how it should work and what occurs when someone falls ill. They look at the different approaches taken to understand disease to scientifically develop treatment options. It is the science which underpins medicine and medical research and consequently covers a vast spectrum.
You have the choice to either keep your studies broad or specialise in a field such as Anatomy, Neuroscience or Physiology.
Anatomy is the identification and description of the structures of living things, including the human body. Typically, you will study the course through observation, dissection, histology and embryology. Students will take a hands-on approach in laboratory based learning including dissections of selected regions of the human body mixed with seminars on topics such as tissue engineering and development biology.
Neuroscience is the study of how the nervous system develops, its structure and what it does. The human brain contains one hundred thousand million nerve cells! How it works remains one of the most incomprehensible questions of all time. Can the brain understand the brain? Can it understand the mind? Is the brain a giant computer or something more? Studying Neuroscience will attempt to answer these questions using approaches from all different aspects of Bioscience.
Physiology is concerned with how the body works; it is sometimes called the “science of life” and aims to understand how living things work. Students will consider the various mechanisms that support the functional organisation of the human body. The subject is closely linked to medicine as there is a constant interaction between the advances in clinical research and physiological science.
What will I Learn?
Within the medical sciences, students will become more engaged in the science behind medicine, and will be brought up to date with global knowledge of disease. This prepares the graduate to engage in the research world and to contribute towards it, or to become part of the diagnostic team in a hospital.