Cell Biology

Study Cell Biology and graduate with a university degree

Image of phenoloxidase stained cells from the wax moth

The study of biological systems at the cellular, and subcellular, level is key to understanding how organisms develop, how they respond to their environment and how the diseased state differs from the healthy state. Recent advances in cell biology are enabling cell biologists to:

  • Detect, prevent and treat disease in both animal and plant systems
  • Explore the processes associated with ageing 
  • Improve the quality and quantity of important food crops
  • Develop novel and sustainable fuels
  • Assess the impacts of environmental changes on biological systems

The Cell Biology degree at the University of Stirling offers a unique interdisciplinary training in areas which underpin modern biology.

Entrance requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:
ABBB - one sitting.
AABB - two sittings.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points

Essential subjects:
To include one of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics.

Three-year Honours degree

SQA Adv. Higher:

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
35 points

Essential subjects:
To include Biology and one of Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology or Physics.

Other qualifications

Year one minimum entry
Scottish HNC/D - Bs in graded units
English, Welsh and NI HNC/D - Merits and Distinctions.
Advanced entry
Year 2 entry may be possible with HND in a Science based subject. For information on accepted courses please consult our Advanced Entry pages.

Access courses:
Access courses and other UK/EU and international qualifications are also welcomed.

Essential subjects:
As listed above or equivalent.

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply
Mathematics Standard Grade (2), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C) or equivalent.
If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

INTO University of Stirling offers an International Foundation programme for those students who do not meet the required criteria. This course offers a route to study at University of Stirling through an excellent teaching and learning experience located in the high-quality study facilities on campus. Successful completion of the International Foundation in Science, Computing and Engineering to the required standard provides guaranteed progression to this degree.

English language skills

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Modes of study

Full-time (three modules per semester).
Part-time (one or two modules per semester).

Course contact

Dr Jacqueline Nairn University of Stirling
Scotland, UK
+ 44 (0) 1786 467821 www.stir.ac.uk/natural-sciences

Find out more


Degree course

Semesters 1 - 4

In Years 1 and 2 you will take core modules in:

  • Cell Biology, Physiology, Genes and Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity
  • Practical Skills in the Biological and Environmental Sciences and Quantitative Techniques
  • Additional modules in other disciplines. The majority of students select from the core modules offered in Environmental Science and Aquatic Sciences

Semesters 5 - 6

In Year 3, you will take modules in:

  • Animal Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Laboratory and Field Techniques
  • The Animal Cell

You will also take two modules from the following options: Animal Ecology, Marine Biology, Plant Ecology and Physiology.

Semesters 7 - 8

In your final year you will undertake an independent research project and a number of advanced modules from a range of options which currently include:

  • Immunology and Disease*
  • Molecular Techniques*
  • Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics*
  • Proteomics & Systems Biology*
  • Cell Birth, Life and Death*
  • The Evolution of Sex
  • Conservation Biology
  • Conservation Genetics

* These modules are requiredBisphosphoglycerate mutase from red blood cells with an effector bound

A research project is a major component of the final year course. The variety of project topics offered to students reflects the active research interests of academic staff but you are encouraged to develop your own ideas during the project. Some students have organised projects with other research organisations, usually when they have already established a relationship with the organisation during vacation work.

Examples of relevant projects include:

  • Expressing genes involved in Golgi secretion
  • Study of immunoglobulin M and monoclonal antibodies from Cod
  • PCR analysis of marine microorganisms in a changing climate
  • Why and how the fly immune system degenerates as flies age

Teaching and assessment

Teaching is delivered in the form of formal lectures and practical classes, tutorials, seminars, computer-based learning, guided reading and research. Modules are assessed by a combination of coursework and examination completed during the semester. For many modules the marks awarded for coursework contribute 40 – 50 percent of the final grade but for some modules this is as high as 100 percent.

Related degrees

Study abroad

You have the opportunity to study abroad through Stirling's well-established connections with several international universities.


Teaching provision in Cell Biology has been assessed by the Scottish Funding Council and rated as 'highly satisfactory'.


Biological and Environmental Sciences (BES) within the School of Natural Sciences is a multi-disciplinary department that participates in research and teaching in a broad range of subjects in the biological and environmental sciences. The principle focus of the research is at the interface between the environment and society. Within BES, staff conduct research in areas as diverse as the reconstruction of past landscapes; conservation, environmental impact assessment and environmental management; evolutionary ecology of plants and animals; and cellular biology and immunology.  BES is a friendly, vibrant, and dynamic place in which to learn and research with a great sense of belonging engendered in our students from their very first days at the University.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast)

Research-led teaching is the key to deep learning and understanding. The academic staff in Biological and Environmental Sciences at Stirling are typically world leaders in their respective fields, thus ensuring that research-led teaching is at the core of all of our courses. Many students work closely with academics throughout their time and benefit from actively participating in research programmes. We have strong contacts with external conservation and environmental organisations who also contribute to the undergraduate experience. This approach ensures that our students appreciate the transferable nature of a science degree and see how their learning can be applied to the real world.

A variety of assessment methods are employed throughout our degree course.

Our students

I chose Cell Biology at Stirling because of the interdisciplinary training which provides a good combination of practical and theoretical courses. It provided me with the option of choosing a diverse range of topics within the first two years of study and then focusing solely on my chosen degree. The staff have a wealth of knowledge which they are enthusiastic to share with their students, and combined with the smaller class numbers this ensures a higher level of individual attention. The new and improved laboratories and facilities have created an excellent place to learn, and all of these factors have equipped me to leave feeling fully prepared for a successful career.

Niki McAllister, 4th year Cell Biology student 2012


94% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education, 2012/13).

Career opportunities

Cell Biology graduates from Stirling may follow careers in the pharmaceutical, healthcare and biomedical, biotechnology, and agricultural industries. Other career paths may include the civil service, forensic science, teaching, the food industry, and government and industrial research laboratories.

Fees 2016/7

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 13,760.00
Scottish and EU students TBC
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Fees 2015/6

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 13,425.00
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government.

Please note: Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

Cell Biology
  • Degree award BSc (Hons)
  • UCAS Code C130
  • Type Campus based, Full-time, Part-time
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