As a biology student you will study a wide variety of living organisms which inhabit the planet around us. This degree course begins by keeping the broadest possible perspective through the first two years. Then towards the end of your degree, whether your interests lie at the level of the biosphere, the whole organism, the cell, or the biomolecule, you can specialise to reflect the strengths and interests you develop.‌

The questions of biology are of great importance today. How can a pathogenic virus such as influenza spread from pigs or birds to be transmitted between humans? Dragonfly How can we work out the evolutionary history of living organisms and decipher what their most ancient ancestors looked like? How will different species respond and adapt to global climate change?

As you develop your practical skills and stimulate your curiosity with project work you will become involved with active research, giving you the opportunity to contribute to the biological discoveries of tomorrow.

Key information

EU Applicants
The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students enrolling in the 2018 and 2019 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland. EU Students will retain that status for the duration of their four year degree.

  • UCAS: C100
  • Qualification: BSc (Hons)
  • Study methods: Campus based, Full-time, Part-time
  • Start date: September
  • Course Director: Dr Charles Eliot Timothy Paine
  • Faculty: Faculty of Natural Sciences
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Dr Charles Eliot Timothy Paine

University of Stirling Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK

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What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Four-year Honours degree

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

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points

BTEC (Level 3):

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

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

Foundation Apprenticeships

considered to be equivalent to 1 Higher at Grade B

Essential subjects:
As listed above or equivalent.

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply
Mathematics Standard Grade (2), National 5 (B), 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 international students who do not meet the required academic and English-language 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 requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

More information on our English language requirements

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.

Alternative routes

Year 2 entry may be possible for applicants with suitable qualifications. Please contact Admissions with queries. 

Fees and costs

Fees 2018/19

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 14,460
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £9250 – with a generous package of scholarship options

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for overseas undergraduates will be held at the level upon entry.

If you plan to commence your studies at the University of Stirling in January 2018, please note you will be subject to our 2017/18 fees. Please contact us for more information.

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. 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.

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

Semesters 1 - 4

student working in a science lab In Years 1 and 2 you will take core modules in:

  • Cell Biology, Physiology, Genes and Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity
  • Practical Skills in the Natural Sciences and Quantitative Techniques
  • Year 2 field course in ecology and identification skills
  • Additional modules in other disciplines. The majority of students select from the core modules offered in Ecosystem, Environmental and Aquatic Sciences

Semesters 5 - 6

In Year 3 you will take a core module in:

  • Plant Ecology and Physiology

You will also take five modules from the following options: Animal Ecology, Marine Biology, Animal Cell Biology, Microbiology, Animal Physiology, Population & Community Ecology.

Semesters 7 - 8

In your final year you will undertake an independent research project and study between four or six advanced modules from a range of options which currently include:

  • Immunology and Disease
  • Molecular Techniques
  • Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics
  • The Evolution of Sex
  • Proteomics
  • Cell Birth, Life and Death
  • Conservation Biology
  • Conservation Management
  • Conservation Genetics
  • Tropical Ecology
  • Statistics Using R

You can also choose to go on the ecology and animal biology field course to southern France during the vacation between Year 3 and Year 4.

students with a water sample

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 in Biological and Environmental Sciences, but you are also encouraged to develop your own ideas during the project. Some students organise projects with other research organisations, usually when they have already established a relationship with the organisation during vacation work.

In recent years, students on the Biology course have completed projects within the broad disciplines of Animal Behaviour, Plant Physiology and Ecology, Animal Ecology, Molecular Cell Biology, Parasitology, Molecular and Population Genetics.

The 10-day field course in ecology and animal biology takes place in the Cévennes in France, a rugged mountain landscape of exceptional natural beauty and tremendous biodiversity. The organisms that live there include over 2,300 flowering plant species, 2,000 invertebrate species and 300 vertebrate species. Notable among these are wild boar, otters, vultures, and grey wolves. The region exemplifies the deep historical connection between humans and the natural world, and is recognised as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. During the field trip students learn various techniques in field sampling, identification, experimental design, data analysis and presentation.

Please note that costs for travel, food and accommodation for a 2nd-year compulsory field course in Scotland and any optional overseas field classes in 3rd or 4th year have to be paid by students.

Delivery 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.

Combined degrees

Combined degree courses are available linking Biology to other subjects. You can find more information on our website at:

Biology can be studied with:
CourseUCAS Code
Mathematics CG11
Professional Education (Secondary) CX11
Psychology CC18
Professional Education (Primary) with Specialism in Environment XC11

(For a Combined Honours degree the specific entry requirements of both subjects apply. See individual subject entries.)

Learn more about studying these subjects

Recommended reading

The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins, Published by Norton, 1996 (or any other edition). 

Modes of study

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

Find out more

Why Stirling?


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

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes applications from all countries.

Study abroad opportunities

You have the opportunity to study abroad through Stirling's well-established connection with several North American, Australian and European universities.

students on a hillside with a butterfly net



Biological and Environmental Sciences (BES) within the Faculty 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. 

Academic strengths

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.

Our students

Alumni testimonials


I have enjoyed the wide range of subjects I have been able to cover and the flexibility that Stirling offers. I have also had the opportunity to take part in an exchange programme to Guelph in Canada as well as a residential overseas field course. I can’t believe how fast the last four years have gone and I do feel like I made the right choice to come to Stirling. After I leave I would like to go on to do a PhD, which is something I would never have thought of doing, but Stirling has given me the confidence to believe that I can.

Emily-Jane Hull BSc (Hons) Biology, graduated 2006.

Studying Biology at Stirling University has been one of the best decisions I have made; the courses are interesting and well thought out, the staff are very approachable, and I feel fully prepared for graduate employment. The teaching staff are fantastic and go out of their way to help you, for example there are opportunities for work placements during the summer months. The course itself provides a great balance between the different areas of biology, with plenty of practical classes both in the lab and field.

One of the main benefits for me for studying at Stirling was the course flexibility, as I have changed my degree twice. This is such a great benefit to have, especially if you are not sure exactly what route you want to take your degree. There are also great study abroad opportunities; one of the highlights of my degree was spending a year at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. I cannot recommend studying at Stirling enough, my time here has been amazing!

Catriona Henderson 4th year Biology student 2012

Our staff

Dr Paine's research centers on the community structure and dynamics of tropical rain forests. Questions he finds exciting include... Why do species differ so widely in abundance? What keeps rare species from going extinct? He has several ongoing projects in French Guiana and Peru to address these and other topics. In Peru, he has monitored the performance of seedlings in permanent plots since 2003, providing substantial information on community structure and dynamics. A current project is to experimentally manipulate a subset of these plots to evaluate the relative importance of terrestrial mammals, herbivorous insects and pathogenic fungi as drivers of community assembly. By simultaneously building a database of functional traits for Peruvian tree seedlings, we will further assess the affects of these factors on the functional composition of rain forest plant communities. 

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Biology graduates from Stirling now have successful careers in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and agricultural industries. Many have employment in conservation management and environmental agencies. Other career paths have included the civil service, forensic science, teaching, the food industry, hospital analytical laboratories, and government and industrial research laboratories.

About one third of recent Stirling Biology graduates have continued their studies to obtain a further qualification, such as an MSc or PhD. Graduates have also secured posts in fields unrelated to Biology. These include careers in management, journalism and the media, finance and other areas of commerce, law, computing and the leisure industry.

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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