Undergraduate study - 2022 entry
Open to the world

BSc Biological Sciences (Plant Science)

UCAS code: C200

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Biological Sciences

College: Science and Engineering

Study abroad

Introducing BSc Biological Sciences (Plant Science)

Whether your interests are in pure or applied science and whether you prefer to work at the environmental, organismal or molecular level, now is an exciting time to be a plant scientist.

As well as conserving biodiversity, we need to develop sustainable systems of plant production to secure supplies of food, fibre and industrial feedstock. In addition, bioenergy and synthetic biology are rapidly expanding areas within which Plant Science is at the forefront.

Areas of study

You will investigate:

  • how plants grow and develop
  • how they respond to and interact with their environment
  • how they evolve and diversify
  • how they are used

Why Edinburgh?

We have a strong international reputation for plant science research and offer many research opportunities. This ranges from fundamental topics such as how plants sense time, to applied studies on the future of food production and the biotechnological use of plants as vaccines.

We study plants ranging from single-celled algae, to liverworts, snapdragons and crop plants to answer a wide variety of biological questions.

There is close collaboration with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Your final year project can be based there, or at one of the many plant research institutes in the area.

Flexibility

Biological Sciences explores the study of living organisms, covering everything from the interactions of animals in their environment to how genes are expressed.

We offer 12 different biological sciences subject areas, including plant science. Regardless of your initial application choice, you will have the opportunity to explore aspects of each of our programmes in the early years and choose to specialise in whichever one interests you.

Year 1

All biological sciences students study the same core courses in Year 1. These courses provide a broad foundation in biology, practical and analytical skills.

You will learn core laboratory techniques, and study modern biology subjects which span the breadth of the biological sciences subject areas, and may also include biological chemistry.

You can also choose optional courses. These can be from other academic areas across the University.

Key skills

As an integral part of your studies, you will gain key skills that enhance your long-term employability.

Year 2

You will begin to specialise in a specific area of biological sciences, choosing courses that cover topics such as:

  • molecular and cellular biology
  • biochemistry
  • biotechnology
  • genetics
  • ecology
  • evolution
  • animal and plant biology

We give students all the information they need to build their programme to suit them.

The compulsory (and recommended) courses for Plant Science cover topics such as:

  • plant hybridisation and evolution
  • plant hormones and cell signalling
  • DNA replication
  • origin of hereditary variation

You can still choose courses from other areas of the University as optional courses.

At the end of Year 2, you will progress into your chosen biological subject specialisation, which will lead to your honours programme of choice.

Year 3

You will specialise in your preferred area of biological sciences, choosing from our subject specialisations:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Cell Biology
  • Development, Regeneration and Stem Cells
  • Ecology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Zoology

Your courses will prepare you for exploring scientific literature, analysis of scientific data and research work. You will also receive training in laboratory skills and may take courses that concentrate on fieldwork.

In Plant Science some of the things you will learn about are:

  • acclimation and adaptation of plants to diverse environmental stresses
  • construction and functions of different plant tissues and organs
  • how plants work and how this knowledge is being used in crop improvement and biotechnology

It is possible to take a combination of courses that will allow you to swap honours programme at the end of Year 3.

You may have the opportunity to study abroad.

Year 4

You will study Plant Science at a deeper scientific level exploring topics such as:

  • the diversity of land plants
  • plant biotechnology
  • molecular mechanisms of the clock gene in plants
  • plant identification in the field

You will undertake an individual research project working in one of our academic research laboratories.

You will also take part in seminars and debates on scientific papers with staff and other students. This will develop your presentation, discussion and critical appraisal skills.

Our facilities

In-person teaching for biological sciences courses takes place at the University's King's Buildings Campus. The teaching of other courses may be based in other University venues in Edinburgh.

Facilities at King's Buildings

We have a variety of different teaching spaces including:

  • lecture theatres
  • tutorial rooms
  • well-equipped teaching laboratories
  • modern group study spaces
  • computer laboratories

Other resources

You will also have access to the University's libraries and other computer laboratories.

Much of the study material is available online.

In the later years of your programme, you may be involved in projects at allied research institutes in the local region.

Study abroad

Study abroad opportunities are optional. These are competitive and are currently undertaken in Year 3.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Most courses combine:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • practical or workshop sessions
  • individual study
  • team projects

Teaching time

Your weekly timetable in Years 1 and 2 is likely to involve around:

  • nine hours of lectures
  • eight hours of practicals or workshops
  • two hours of tutorials

In later years, you will undertake more personal study and research. You will also be linked with a research group and complete an in-depth project as an important part of your final-year assessment.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a mixture of in-course assessments and examinations.

A research project or dissertation will form an important part of your final-year assessment.

Programme details

Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme details (2021/22)

The skills you will gain on this programme are transferable and highly valued across many career pathways. They include:

  • problem-solving
  • analytical and quantitative reasoning skills
  • presentation and communication
  • group working and collaboration
  • time management

Our graduates

Biological Sciences students go on to work in a range of different fields, within and outside of science. The career path you choose is up to you and will depend on your experiences, skills, values, and interests.

Some choose to go on to further study before entering successful career paths in academia or another area.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA - AAAB (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA - ABB.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 32 points with 555 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: AABB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 32 points with 555 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: Biology and Chemistry, both at B or above. If you don't have either Biology or Chemistry at A, you must have A in either Mathematics or Physics. Higher Applications of Mathematics is not accepted in place of Higher Mathematics. Advanced Higher Biology and Chemistry are recommended. National 5s: English at C and Mathematics or Physics at B.
  • A Levels: Biology and Chemistry, both at B or above. If you don't have either Biology or Chemistry at A, you must have A in either Mathematics or Physics. GCSEs: Mathematics or Physics at B or 6 and English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Biology and Chemistry at 5. SL: Mathematics (from 2021, Mathematics: Analysis and approaches only) or Physics at 6 and English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

For direct entry to second year the standard requirements must be exceeded, including the following:

  • SQA Advanced Highers: AAA in one set of exams to include Biology, Chemistry, and either Mathematics or Physics.
  • A Levels: A*AA in one set of exams in Biology, Chemistry, and either Mathematics or Physics.
  • IB: 38 points with 666 at HL to include Biology and Chemistry at 6. SL: Mathematics (from 2021, Mathematics: Analysis and approaches only) at 6 (if not at HL).
Other entry pathways

Entry to many degrees in Science & Engineering is possible via other qualifications (eg HNC/D, Access, SWAP).

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BSc Biological Sciences (Plant Science)

Additional costs

Study material

You may incur additional costs of up to £150 for each year of your programme. This is for purchasing books or other compulsory study material.

Field or residential courses

You may also incur additional costs for field or residential courses. You may choose to take more than one of these courses. All Year 4 students attend a compulsory field or residential course.

The costs for field courses will be due to be paid in the year the course is taken. Currently, field or residential course costs vary from (on average) £150 to £300 per course for transport and accommodation.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

More information

How to apply

School: Biological Sciences

College: Science and Engineering