Manchester, University of

At a Glance

In Depth

Why Study Biology at Manchester University

Our Faculty of Life Sciences is one of the best in the country for both research and teaching quality. 95% of our research is classed as internationally significant and we are one of the top three bioscience research centres in the country. Decide to study with us and you will be joining a dynamic community of scientists working at the cutting edge of research.

You will benefit from state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities in which we have invested £150 million in the last eight years. We offer innovative teaching techniques including eLearning, and the opportunity to be taught by leading experts from across the breadth of the life sciences.

Our broad range of courses and flexible approach allow you to follow your interests while developing your knowledge of new and exciting topics. You could, for example, undertake a field course in Africa or Central America, take a placement in an institution almost anywhere in the world, and hear the views of world leading philosophers on current advances in the Life Sciences.

A research focused curriculum including; ‘Frontiers of Science’ lectures and seminars, a comprehensive training programme in laboratory skills, experimental design and academic writing, and the opportunity to undertake a research project in our research labs, ensures that if you aspire to a career in life sciences research you will be equipped for success at PhD level and beyond.

More employers recruit from The University of Manchester than from any other university (more than 20,000 companies). We are the most targeted university by the UK's top 100 employers, followed by London, Warwick, Cambridge and Oxford. From the very start of your degree we focus on building the skills and attributes that will make you attractive to future employers. As well as research careers our graduates have moved on to success in a range of fields including the media, education and finance. Opportunities to undertake an industrial or professional placement year, learn a language alongside your degree or participate in our innovative Manchester Leadership Programme will significantly enhance your future employability.

Manchester is an amazing place to spend your student years. As well as gaining a degree that is well respected by employers around the world, you can enjoy all the attractions of a major city. Manchester has something for everyone, from restaurants and pubs, to cinemas, shops and live music venues. We also have the largest Students' Union in Europe. Student nights at the Union are legendary, but the Union also runs hundreds of societies for you to join and campaigns across a range of important issues. 

Teaching

Courses

We offer over 20 degree courses across the breadth of the Life Sciences from Anatomy to Zoology encompassing the study of biology at the molecular and cellular level as well as the study of whole organisms and ecosystems:

  • Anatomical Sciences
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Biology with Science and Society
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Biotechnology
  • Cell Biology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics
  • Life Sciences
  • Medical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neuroscience
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology and Physiology
  • Physiology
  • Plant Science
  • Zoology

Most of our Single Honours courses are available in three formats:

  • Three-year degree
  • Four-year degree “with industrial or professional experience”
  • Four-year degree “with a modern language”

We also offer a foundation year for students who do not have the appropriate entry qualifications. The Foundation Year provides the necessary academic background in biology, chemistry and mathematics to prepare you for study on any one of our Courses.

Flexibility

Choice and flexibility are the hallmarks of our courses. We recognise that your interest in particular aspects of bioscience may develop only when you are more familiar with subjects at university level. Our degree courses in Life Sciences, Biology and Biomedical Sciences in particular provide the opportunity to change to virtually any other at the end of your first year. As well as changing degree courses, you can also opt on, or off, the placement year.

Facilities and Teaching methods

Our teaching was rated “excellent” in the latest independent review. The Faculty is an innovator in teaching methods, pioneering the use of computer- based eLearning, and in student support, such as the student-led PASS (Peer Assisted Study Scheme). In addition to traditional lectures, a significant amount of teaching is conducted in informal tutorials, seminars and laboratory sessions, so there are many opportunities for you to interact with staff and other students.

Outstanding teaching facilities include access to more than 200 PCs and a dedicated eLearning team, leading-edge equipment and experimental techniques in our teaching laboratories, and anatomy facilities with a wide range of dissection, histology and computing resources and dedicated teaching staff.

Contact time

You will typically have around least 16-18 hours contact type per week with staff in a variety of settings from large lectures to small group tutorials.

Research

Life sciences is an exciting and fast-moving area, so it is important that your first degree is undertaken in an active, interdisciplinary research environment.

Our curriculum is informed by our research, so you will learn cutting-edge science, taught by the very researchers who have made the discoveries. You have the opportunity to make your own contribution to our research, if you choose to carry out a project in the laboratories of these leading scientists in your final year.

Our research facilities are extensive and include state-of-the-art equipment and expertise in many areas of life sciences. We are ranked second in the UK for research power and 95% of our research is classified as being of international significance.

The Faculty has more than 1,000 people involved in research activities and we hold more than £100 million in research grants and contracts. Our advanced research facilities have all been recently built or refurbished at a cost of over £150 million and encompass over 28,000m2 of research space.

The John Rylands University Library is one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the country, housing 4 million printed books and manuscripts, over 41,000 electronic journals and 500,000 electronic books.

Employability

Around one third of our students undertake postgraduate study, most of whom progress into a career in scientific research.

Typically 50% of our students choose careers related to the life sciences, both lab based and otherwise, including research, clinical science, conservation, medical communications and teaching. Typical employers in this area include:

Science in the lab

  • Pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca
  • Research institutes including Cancer Research UK
  • Universities including University of Sydney and University of Cambridge
  • NHS

Science outside the lab

  • Biotechnology companies including Syngenta and ThermoScientific
  • Conservation projects including the Kalahari Meerkat Project (South Africa) and the Millennium Seed Bank
  • Publishing companies including Springer Healthcare and Informed Direct
  • Teach First

Many of our students take advantage of the many transferable skills they develop as part of their degree to move into careers outside of the life sciences field. Typical employers include:

  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers
  • JP Morgan
  • Sony
  • Ministry of Defence
  • BBC

Graduate Case Study

Peter Fison – Television Researcher, Windfall Films

Peter graduated in 2008 with a 2:1 in Zoology. He now works as a television researcher for Windfall Films who have produced documentaries including ‘Inside Natures Giants’ and ‘Meet the Elephant Man’. Peter believes the communication skills he developed through his tutorials, as well as a healthy dose of luck (!), helped him develop a career in this exciting field:

‘My first job was a lucky break, a friend knew a friend... So I rang him. If there’s one thing that Manchester provides in spades it is the opportunity to meet people and have a drink, so I used this. We met in a pub and I got my first job on a BBC Natural World production.

With this job under my belt I applied for an exciting new anatomy series ‘Inside Nature’s Giants’. The show is based around the dissection of large species. I have filmed dissections of Elephants, Whales, Giraffes and Hippos to name a few. This series has given me some amazing opportunities to work and meet with eminent scientists like Joy Reidneberg, Jim Hicks and Richard Dawkins.

This all sounds very fortunate and it was, but TV doesn’t suffer fools gladly. That’s where my Manchester degree put me in good stead. It gave me a head start in how to research science. I had some great tutorials too (the biology of Harry Potter creatures being a personal favourite). They taught me how to communicate science with both top experts and the public.’