Biological Sciences

About us

We are one of the largest biology departments in the UK.

Happy researchers

As the modern inheritors of our 400-year-old reputation for excellence, our staff and students contribute to a vibrant academic community whose visions are shaping tomorrow’s world.

The leading edge

The School of Biological Sciences is at the leading edge in teaching, research and innovation. Independent rankings such as the Times Higher Education consistently place us amongst the top 25 universities in the world for biological sciences.

Our learning and teaching environment

Our undergraduate students rate us highly for the quality of our education. Today’s students can study a wide range of topics, providing a strong grounding in fundamental biology with the flexibility to gain experience in the most recent research developments in biological science during the later years of their degree programme. Several courses are taught jointly with other Schools to provide interdisciplinary opportunities to our students.

We offer 12 innovative masters programmes, including collaborative programmes with other research organisations which extend the breadth of topics our students can study.

Taught courses are supported by our Biology Teaching Organisation with provides academic and pastoral support.

Our Research

Our students are taught by some of the world’s leading scientists and we are one of the top biology departments in the UK for the quality and impact of our research. More than half of our research activity was rated as ‘world-leading’ in quality and scope in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

Our research is focused around four main themes. All of our Principal Investigators and their research teams contribute to one or more of these themes.


The School of Biological Sciences is committed to contributing to social responsibility and sustainability at the University of Edinburgh. The School supports the participation of various teams in the University Sustainability Awards. The teams currently hold or are working towards a bronze or silver level Award.

Our people

The success of our research and teaching is testament to the excellence of our people: some 130 academic teaching staff and independently-funded research fellows, and the 400 research assistants and technicians and more than 200 PhD students who work with these Principal Investigators. Around 90 professional services staff support the School's academic activities.

We are proud to hold an Athena Swan Silver Award in recognition of our success at promoting career equality for women in biological sciences, and have an active programme to promote and support diversity amongst our staff and students.

Research training and career development

The School has an active programme of support and development opportunities for early-career researchers (postgraduate and postdoctoral research staff and personal fellowship holders). BioDocSoc, our postdoctoral and postgraduate society, supports both social and professional development.

PhD students and research masters students are members of the Graduate School of Biological Sciences, which provides overarching support for research students.

PhD training programmes

Research career development