BSc Molecular Biology and Genetics


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Key facts

(2014 Research Excellence Framework)


The School of Biological Sciences is a vibrant and friendly academic community firmly embedded in the internationally renowned Norwich Research Park. It boasts extensive state-of-the-art research facilities as well as modern teaching laboratories.

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Key facts


Knowing how tumours form helps us to break them down. Biologists at UEA have shown how cooperating cancer cells help each other survive by sharing growth factors; understanding this process could lead to new forms of cell therapy that would make breaking down tumours easier.

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Join our internationally renowned School of Biological Science based at the heart of the Norwich Research Park, with very close links to partner institutions including The Genome Analysis Centre, Institute for Food Research and John Innes Centre. 100% of our biological research was recognised as ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014). This course gives you plenty of optional modules, giving you the opportunity to study many aspects of molecular biology and genetics.

Our school has world class academics and some of the best facilities in the country including our undergraduate practical laboratories. The majority of learning will take place in lectures, seminars and practical laboratory classes providing you with invaluable contact time with lecturers, while learning through first-hand experience.


This degree programme enables you to discover and understand the molecular processes and genetics that lie at the very heart of biology. You will discover what underpins a range of fields as diverse as evolution, the molecular basis of cancer, and microbial genetics.

We are extremely well placed, with close links to the John Innes Centre and the Institute of Food Research, and scientists from these institutes contribute to the teaching of many of the advanced modules. You will be taught by leading practitioners through our partner institutions on the Norwich Research Park, contributing to our wide range of subjects and modules available to study. A number of our students carry out their final year projects within these institutes, benefitting from the excellent facilities and expertise in numerous aspects of molecular biology.

These features, together with the regular visits and seminar talks given by leading scientists, make UEA one of the best centres in the country in which to study molecular biology and genetics.

Course Structure

This three year degree programme allows you to develop your knowledge of biology in the first year, alongside training you in essential scientific methods and techniques. In your second year you will have the chance to specialise, selecting optional modules according to your own interests, and in the final year you will have the opportunity to undertake a substantial independent research project.

First Year
Your first year of study gives you a thorough introduction to areas which are essential for all biologists and are fundamental to the study of life processes. You will also receive training in essential scientific methods and techniques, including applied maths and statistics.

Second Year
In your second year you will study core modules on molecular biology and genetics, however the majority of your subject choices are optional, with up to seven modules to choose from. They cover a variety of subjects, from biochemistry to plant biology, allowing you to begin tailoring your degree according to your own interests.

Final Year
In your final year of study you will have the opportunity to undertake a substantial independent research project, as well as continuing to study a number of core modules. There is also a greater range of optional modules, allowing you to specialise further in subjects of particular interest to you.

Course Modules 2017/8

Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

Name Code Credits


An introduction to the evolution of the major groups of microorganisms, plants and animals. The module considers structural, physiological and life-cycle characteristics of these organisms. It charts the development of life on land and interprets evolutionary responses to changing environments.




This module introduces the main ideas in behavioural ecology, evolutionary biology, and ecology. It concentrates on outlining concepts as well as describing examples. Topics to be covered include the genetic basis of evolution by natural selection, systematics and phylogeny, the adaptive interpretation of animal sexual and social behaviour, population dynamics, species interactions, and ecosystems.




The module explores the principles of how information is stored in DNA, how it is expressed, copied and repaired, and how DNA is transmitted between generations. The module will provide an introduction to fundamental aspects of biochemistry and cell biology. The essential roles played by proteins and enzymes in signalling, transport and metabolism will be considered in terms of their structures. You will discover how living cells are visualised and the nature of the cell's component membranes and organelles.




The aim of this module is to provide an understanding of the key aspects of physical and biological chemistry that underpin the physiology of living systems. It will provide a basic understanding of a number of physiological processes and functioning of major organ systems of the human body.




The aim of the module is to provide a broad range of teaching relating to skills students will need as biologists and in future employment, including a working knowledge of mathematics and statistics, and skills relating to information retrieval, structuring writing and arguments, data analysis, team work, presenting work verbally and visually and an appreciation of the role of ethics in science. THIS MODULE IS ONLY AVAILABLE TO YEAR 1 STUDENTS. THIS MODULE IS NOT AVAILABLE TO VISITING/EXCHANGE STUDENTS.



Students must study the following modules for 40 credits:

Name Code Credits


The aim is to provide an appreciation of genetics at a fundamental and molecular level and to demonstrate the importance and utility of genetic studies. Genetics and molecular biology lie at the heart of biological processes, ranging from cancer biology to evolution.




The aims are to provide: (i) a background to the fundamental principles of molecular biology, in particular the nature of the relationship between genetic information and the synthesis, and three dimensional structures, of macromolecules; (ii) practical experience of some of the techniques used for the experimental manipulation of genetic material, and the necessary theoretical framework, and (iii) an introduction to bioinformatics, the computer-assisted analysis of DNA and protein sequence information.



Students will select 80 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module aims to develop understanding of contemporary biochemistry, especially in relation to mammalian physiology and metabolism. There will be a particular focus on proteins and their involvement in cellular reactions, bioenergetics and signalling processes.




THIS MODULE IS ONLY AVAILABLE TO ANY STUDENT THAT SATISFIES THE PRE-REQUISITE REQUIREMENTS. Alternative pre-requisites are BIO-4001A and BIO-4002B, or BIO-4003A and BIO-4004B. This module will provide an opportunity to discuss various aspects of biology in society. Students will be able to critically analyse the way biological sciences issues are represented in popular literature and the media and an idea of the current 'hot topics' in biological ethics. Specific topics to be covered will involve aspects of contemporary biological science that have important ethical considerations for society, such as GM crops, DNA databases, designer babies, stem cell research etc. Being able to understand the difference between scientific fact and scientific fiction is not always straightforward. What was once viewed as science fiction has sometimes become a scientific fact or scientific reality as our scientific knowledge and technology has increased exponentially. Conversely, science fiction can sometimes be portrayed inaccurately as scientific fact. Students will research relevant scientific literature and discover the degree of scientific accuracy represented within the genre of science fiction.




This module explores the molecular organisation of cells and the regulation of dynamic cellular changes, with some emphasis on medical cell biology. Dynamic properties of cell membranes, cell signalling, growth factor function and aspects of cancer biology and immunology. Regulation of the internal cell environment (nuclear organisation and information flow, cell growth, division and motility), the relationship of the cell to its extracellular matrix and the determination of cell phenotype. Aspects of cell death, the ageing process, developmental biology, mechanisms of tissue renewal and repair. It is strongly recommended that students taking this module should also take BIO-5003B or BIO-5009A.




This module investigates the principles of evolutionary biology, covering various sub-disciplines, i.e. adaptive evolution, population ecology, molecular and population genetics, speciation, biogeography, systematics, and finishing with an overview of Biodiversity. This module will enable you to understand, analyse and evaluate the fundamentals of evolutionary biology and be able to synthesise the various components into an overall appreciation of how evolution works. Key topics and recent research will be used to highlight advances in the field and inspire thought. Weekly interactive workshops will explore a number of the conceptual issues indepth through discussions, modelling and problem solving.




This module aims to provide an understanding of the themes and principles of physiology and a detailed knowledge of the major human organ systems. Topics include: Information transmission by the nervous system and the integrative processes of the spinal cord and brain; Reaction to the environment through perception of external stimuli by sensory receptors, including the eyes and ears; The muscular and skeletal systems, including muscle contraction and its control, bones and joints; Respiration, gas transport, blood circulation and heart function; Kidney function in excretion and in water and mineral homeostasis; Nutrition and the digestive system; The endocrine system and its role in human disease. A central principle in physiology is the concept of homeostasis. An understanding of how disease affects the ability of organ systems to maintain the status quo is an important part of this course.




Pre-requisites: Students must have taken BIO-4003A and either BIO-4001A or BIO-4004B to take this module. A broad module covering all aspects of the biology of microorganisms, providing key knowledge for specialist Level 6 modules. Detailed description is given about the cell biology of bacteria, fungi and protists together with microbial physiology, genetics and environmental and applied microbiology. The biology of disease-causing microorganisms (bacteria, viruses) and prions is also covered. Practical work provides hands-on experience of important microbiological techniques, and expands on concepts introduced in lectures. The module should appeal to biology students across a wide range of disciplines and interests.




The module aims to provide an appreciation of modern plant biology, with a molecular perspective and an emphasis on plant development and plant response to the environment.



Students must study the following modules for 60 credits:

Name Code Credits


Primarily an alternative to BIO-6019Y research project module. An introduction to biological research in a more structured manner than BIO-6019Y. Provides an insight into experimental design, establishing crucial research and work skills.




This module provides a comprehensive coverage of contemporary biological studies of genomes. There will be a strong focus on the molecular basis of gene expression in a range of organisms, with a particular emphasis on the regulatory processes that affect expression at the genome level, including epigenetic ones. Topics covered will also include contemporary DNA sequencing technologies, comparative and functional genomics, the organization of prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes, global regulation of gene expression and the mechanisms that maintain genome integrity. Other lectures will highlight how modern genomics approaches are being exploited within BIO to address significant biological problems. The associated practical programme will also enhance students understanding of contemporary approaches used to characterise gene function, together with bioinformatics, as well as enhancing their practical skills in the analysis of genomes and gene products.




Projects involve extensive data collection, either in the laboratory or field, of a particular topic supervised by a member of staff of BIO or an affiliated institute. Topics are chosen in consultation with the supervisor. The project report is submitted at the end of the Spring Semester. Projects may also be available for suitably qualified year long visiting students registered in BIO. Students may be moved to BIO-6023Y based on Stage 2 results.




This module is about the understanding of the theory and practice of science communication research. The first half of the module will lead the student through a variety of research techniques and frameworks which can be applied to social science research, and in particular the discipline of Science Communication. The second half of the module will enable the student to develop their own research project. Students who wish to take this module will be required to write a statement of selection. These statements will be assessed and students will be allocated to the module accordingly.



Students will select 0 - 60 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module deals with the concepts and principles of genetic analysis of cancer. The various roles of genes in development, apoptosis, the cell cycle, metastasis and angiogenesis are covered for example. A discussion on the potential of novel therapies concludes the module. This module takes advantage of several experts from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Students will thus gain an in-depth appreciation of cancer as a disease process from both the scientific and clinical viewpoints.




To provide an understanding of key topics within cell biology and how these relate to human diseases. This module is concerned with the structure and function of cells in health and disease. It includes demonstrations of some of the imaging techniques used in the study of Cell Biology and workshops on how to design experiments and analyse a paper.




The module deals with signal transduction mechanisms, particularly in mammalian cells and with emphasis on human disease. Topics include the molecular basis of cell surface receptor activation, G-protein coupled receptors, kinases/phosphatases, 2nd messengers such as calcium and inositol lipids, and ion channels. The module then goes on to consider signalling mechanisms important for cell growth, differentiation and survival.




The module provides up-to-date learning in evolutionary medicine and the evolution of disease. The module examines how evolutionary principles illuminate and provide fresh insight into a broad range of contemporary health problems including infectious, chronic and nutritional diseases and disorders. Topics are introduced in a multidisciplinary approach that takes into account the relationship between biology and society. The course covers 4 areas: (i) principles of evolutionary medicine - humans in their evolutionary context; (ii) evolution and non-infectious diseases (cancer, lifestyles, ageing); (iii) evolution and infection (vaccines, antibiotics, pathogens, emerging diseases); (iv) personalised medicine and social context of evolutionary medicine.




This module provides a detailed coverage of the biology of selected infectious microorganisms, in the context of host and responses to pathogens. The properties of organs, cells and molecules of the immune system are described, along with the mechanism of antibody diversity generation, and the exploitation of the immune response for vaccine development. Examples of microbiological pathogens such as Salmonella typhimurium and Mycobacterium tuberculosis are used to illustrate major virulence strategies.




BIO-6005B provides a detailed understanding of cutting-edge developments in microbial cell biology. Essential techniques used to carry out modern day molecular microbiology will be covered. These techniques will be further explained in the context of work done on model microbial systems in research conducted on the Norwich Research Park (NRP). The module is taught by world-leading research scientists from the NRP and focus on the structure and analysis of bacterial genomes, the bacterial cytoskeleton, sub-cellular localisation, cell shape and cell division and intercellular communication between bacteria and higher organisms. There will also be research-led seminars delivered by NRP PhD students.



Students will select 0 - 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


The module sets out to explain the molecular basis of the often complex catalytic mechanisms of enzymes concentrating particularly on their relevance to and applications in biotechnology and medicine. An extended practical based on the kinetics of a model enzyme, chymotrypsin, helps underpin concepts learnt in the module.




This module brings an understanding of how science is disseminated to the public. Students on the module will be made aware of the theories surrounding learning and communication. They will investigate science as a culture and how this culture interfaces with the public. Students will examine case studies in a variety of different scientific areas. They will look at how information is released in scientific literature and how this is subsequently picked up by the public press. They will gain an appreciation of how science information can be used to change public perception and how it can sometimes be misinterpreted. Students will also learn practical skills by designing, running and evaluating a public outreach event at a school or in a public area. Students who wish to take this module will be required to write a statement of selection. These statements will be assessed and students will be allocated to the module accordingly.



Students will select 0 - 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module will discuss the mechanisms that drive embryonic development, including the signals and signalling pathways that lead to the establishment of the body plan, pattern formation, differentiation and organogenesis. Lectures will cover different model organisms used in the study of development with a focus on vertebrate systems. The relevance of embryonic development to our understanding of human development and disease is a recurring theme throughout the module, which also covers stem cells and their role in postnatal development and healthy tissue maintenance.




This module provides a overview of the uses of microorganisms in biotechnological principles. It provides training in the basic principles that control microbiological culture growth, the microbial physiology and genetics that underpin the production of bioproducts such as biofuels, bioplastics, antibiotics and food products, as well as the use of micro-organisms in wastewater treatment and bioremediation.



Students will select 0 - 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


The aim of this module is to give students a deep understanding about conservation genetics / genomics based on an evolutionary / population-genetic framework, thereby covering contemporary issues in conservation biology, evolution, population biology, genetics, organismal phylogeny, Next Generation Sequencing, and molecular ecology. A background in evolution, genetics, and molecular biology is recommended. This is an advanced course in evolutionary biology / conservation genetics that will benefit students who plan to continue with a postgraduate degree in ecology, genetics, conservation, or evolution, plus students wishing to deepen their knowledge in 1st and 2nd year conservation / evolution / genetics modules.




This module aims to provide an understanding of plant-microbe interactions, particularly at the molecular level. There is an emphasis on how microbes cause disease and how plants combat microbial pathogens. This module is taught by world leading scientists from the John Innes Centre, Sainsbury Laboratory, and UEA. This module includes a series of research seminars that will support the taught material. These will be given by younger scientists from the above centres of excellence.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

Entry Requirements

  • A Level ABB to include Biology/Human Biology. Science A-levels must include a pass in the practical element.
  • International Baccalaureate 32 points with HL 5 in two subjects including Biology. If no GCSE equivalent is held, offer will include Mathematics and English requirements.
  • Scottish Highers Only accepted in combination with Scottish Advanced Highers.
  • Scottish Advanced Highers BCC to include Biology. A combination of Advanced Highers and Highers may be acceptable.
  • Irish Leaving Certificate AABBBB or 2 subjects at H1 and 4 at H2, to include Higher Level Biology.
  • Access Course Pass the Access to HE Diploma with Distinction in 30 credits at Level 3 and Merit in 15 credits at Level 3, including 12 Level 3 credits in Biology
  • BTEC DDM in a relevant subject. Excluding Public Services and Forensic Science. Applied Science and Applied Science (Medical Science) preferred. BTEC and A-level combinations are considered - please contact us.
  • European Baccalaureate 75% overall, including 70% in Biology

Entry Requirement

GCSE Requirements:  GCSE English Language grade 4 and GCSE Mathematics grade 5 or GCSE English Language grade C and GCSE Mathematics grade B. 

General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.  

UEA recognises that some students take a mixture of International Baccalaureate IB or International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme IBCP study rather than the full diploma, taking Higher levels in addition to A levels and/or BTEC qualifications. At UEA we do consider a combination of qualifications for entry, provided a minimum of three qualifications are taken at a higher Level. In addition some degree programmes require specific subjects at a higher level.


Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students from all academic backgrounds. We require evidence of proficiency in English (including speaking, listening, reading and writing) at the following level:

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall (minimum 6.0 in any component)

We will also accept a number of other English language qualifications. Please click here for further information.

INTO University of East Anglia 

If you do not meet the academic and/or English language requirements for this course, our partner INTO UEA offers guaranteed progression on to this undergraduate degree upon successful completion of a foundation programme:

INTO UEA also offer a variety of English language programmes which are designed to help you develop the English skills necessary for successful undergraduate study:



The majority of candidates will not be called for an interview. However, for some students an interview will be requested. These are normally quite informal and generally cover topics such as your current studies, reasons for choosing the course and your personal interests and extra-curricular activities.

Gap Year

We welcome applications from students who have already taken or intend to take a gap year, believing that a year between school and university can be of substantial benefit. You are advised to indicate your reason for wishing to defer entry and may wish to contact the appropriate Admissions Office directly to discuss this further.


The School's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

We encourage you to apply if you have alternative qualifications equivalent to our stated entry requirement. Please contact us for further information.

Fees and Funding

Undergraduate University Fees and Financial Support

Tuition Fees

Information on tuition fees can be found here:

UK students

EU Students

Overseas Students

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to ensuring that costs do not act as a barrier to those aspiring to come to a world leading university and have developed a funding package to reward those with excellent qualifications and assist those from lower income backgrounds. 

The University of East Anglia offers a range of Scholarships; please click the link for eligibility, details of how to apply and closing dates.

How to Apply

Applications need to be made via the Universities Colleges and Admissions Services (UCAS), using the UCAS Apply option.

UCAS Apply is a secure online application system that allows you to apply for full-time Undergraduate courses at universities and colleges in the United Kingdom. It is made up of different sections that you need to complete. Your application does not have to be completed all at once. The system allows you to leave a section partially completed so you can return to it later and add to or edit any information you have entered. Once your application is complete, it must be sent to UCAS so that they can process it and send it to your chosen universities and colleges.

The UCAS code name and number for the University of East Anglia is EANGL E14.

Further Information

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances with the Admissions Office prior to applying please do contact us:

Undergraduate Admissions Office (Biological Sciences)
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

Please click here to register your details online via our Online Enquiry Form.

International candidates are also actively encouraged to access the University's International section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515